The Meaning of Dhamma, no. 9
The Saddaniti explains dhamma as pu~n~na, virtue:
<"Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacaarin"ti evamaadiisu pu~n~ne.
In a passage such as ³The dhamma truly protects the person who practises
it², dhamma refers to virtue.>
The Commentary to the ³Muulapariyaayasutta² explains: ³Dhamma well-practised
issues in bliss² (Sn.v. 184), dhamma means merit (or kusala), gu.na.
The Saddaniti explains dhamma as disciplinary offense in a similar way as
<"Cattaaro paaraajikaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu aapattiya.m.
In passages such as ³four disciplinary offenses involving defeat
(paaraajika)², dhamma means disciplinary offense. >
The Saddaniti explains dhamma as knowable (neyya):
<"Kusalaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu ~neyye.
In a passage such as ³wholesome dhammas etc.² the word dhamma means what is
knowable, what is to be known.>
N: Neyya: gerund of neti: to lead, guide, understand. neyya: to be
With the expression, Kusalaa dhammaa"ti-aadiisu¹, the text refers not only
to kusalaa dhammaa, but also to akusalaa dhammaa and abyaakataa dhammaa
(indeterminate, neither kusala nor akusala) and these are to be known,
As we have seen, in the Abhidhamma all that is real, inside or outside, is
classified as these three dhammas. They are sabhaava, they each have their
own specific nature (or characteristic), and these characteristics are
unalterable. Kusala is always kusala, akusala is always akusala. They are
not abstractions: when their specific characteristics appear, they are are
to be understood, neyya. Their true nature can be known.
Also the Commentary to the ³Muulapariyaayasutta² explains dhamma as neyya:
<And in the passage: ³All dhammas in all their modes enter the threshold of
the Exalted One¹s portal of knowledge,² it is the knowable. Here the word
occurs in the sense of things endowed with a specific nature (sabhaava).
This is the word-meaning: ³They bear their own characteristics, thus they
are dhammas² (attano lakkha.na.m dhaarentii ti dhammaa).>
The word dhamma is associated with dhaareti: to bear.