The Meaninng of Dhamma, no 12. (conclusion)
- The Meaning of Dhamma, No 12.
Fourteen meanings of "dhamma" listed in verse 784 of
the Abhidhaanappadiipikaa (a 12th cent. Pali thesaurus) along with
dhammo sabhaave pariyattipa~n~naa-,
~naayesu saccappakatiisu pu~n~ne.
[sabhaava, pariyatti, pa~n~naa, ~naaya, sacca, pakati, pu~n~na, ~neyya,
gu.na, aacaara, samaadhi, nissattataa, aapatti, kaara.na, etc.]
These meanings have also been explained by the Saddaniti. The term
aacaara means conduct, here right conduct.
The Tiika explains several of these meanings as follows.
The Tiika explains as to sabhaava, with its own specific nature:
sabhaavo avipariitattho, with its own nature in the sense of being
The characteristics of realities are unequivocal, unalterable. Lobha
cannot be changed into dosa, they each have their own nature or
characteristic. One may change the name of ultimate realities, but
their characteristics are unalterable.
As to pariyatti, the texts, the Tiika explains: pariyaapu.nitabbaa
vinayaabhidhammasuttantaa: the Vinaya, the Abhidhamma and the
Suttanta should be thoroughly learnt.
As to �aaya, method, the Tiika explains: �aayo yutti, sappa.tipadaa
vaa maggaadayo: the method is the application, with the practice or
the Path and so on.
The aim of the teachings is not merely knowing the texts, but the
application of the dhamma in developing the eightfold Path.
As to �eyye, (dhamma as) what is to be known, the Tiika explains:
~neyye sa"nkhaaravikaaralakkha.nanibbaanapa~n~nattivasena pa~ncavidhe
~neyye: what is to be known as fivefold: with reference to what is
conditioned (sa"nkhaara), alteration or subject to change (vikaara),
characteristic, nibbaana and concept.
Conditioned dhammas arise and fall away, they are subject to change.
They have the three characteristics (lakkha.na) of impermanence,
dukkha and anattaa. Nibbana is the unconditioned dhamma. As we have
seen, also concept, pa��atti, can be seen as dhamma. As the Saddaniti
In such passages as dhamma that is a designation, dhamma that is an
dhamma that is a term, dhamma means concept.>
As to nissattataa, the Tiika explains: sattasabhaavassa abhaavataa:
the absence of the nature of a living being.
As to aapatti, the Tiika explains: paaraajika.m dhamma''nti,
disciplinary offenses involving defeat (paaraajika).
As to kaara.na, cause or reason, the Tiika explains: saha dhammena
niggayhaa''tyaadiisu kaara.ne: having refuted with dhamma and so on,
is dhamma as reason.
In the Diigha Nikaaya, Mahaa Parinibbaanasutta (D II, 104) the
Buddha explains to Maara that he will not pass away until monks and
laypeople are able to explain the dhamma and refute vain doctrine by
The commentary states: with a teaching, sahadhammena, namely, with
words that have reason and cause, sahetukena sakaara.nena vacanena.
Thus, dhamma can mean kaara.na, reason or cause.
Conclusion: there are many meanings of dhamma as it is used in
different contexts. As we have seen, the aim of the teachings is not
merely knowing the texts, but the application of the Dhamma in
developing the eightfold Path. Where dhamma is explained as
pariyatti, we read : < pariyaapu.nitabbaa vinayaabhi-
dhammasuttantaa: the Vinaya, the Abhidhamma and the Suttanta should
be thoroughly learnt.> One should not only read the texts, but
consider again and again the meaning of the teachings so that
understanding of realities can grow. One may intellectually
understand dhamma as nissattanijjiivataa, without a being, without a
living soul, but through the development of understanding of the
characteristics of realities appearing through the senses and the
mind-door the truth can be realized.
Each dhamma that appears through one of the six doorways has its own
specific characteristic, it is sabhaavo avipariitattho, with its own
nature in the sense of being definite, distinct.
In being mindful of sound, of hearing, of attachment, one can learn
that all these dhammas appearing in daily life are subject to
conditions. There is no self or person who could exert control over
them or who would be their possessor. As the Saddaniti explains:
<.Thitaavasaa dhaatu dhamma.t.thitataa dhammaniyaamataa"ti-aadiisu
In the passage such as �An element that is beyond control because of
the causal law of dhamma, the natural order of dhamma�, dhamma means
what is subject to conditions. >
In the fourth Application of Mindfulness of the satipa.t.thaanasutta
we read about contemplating dhammas as dhammas. All objects of
mindfulness which have not been classified in the first three
Applications of Mindfulness are classified in the fourth Application
As the Saddaniti explains: "dhammesu dhammaanupassii viharatii"ti-
aadiisu (dii. ni. 2.373) nissattanijjiivataaya.m.
and again, �he abides contemplating dhammas as dhammas�-dhamma
implies absence of an entity or living soul.�....
All dhammas are without a living soul, they are not a person, not a
being, not self.
With thanks to Jim and Dimitri, who inspired me to carry on this study.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]