Venerable, so acording to commentaries and abidhamma can the uncompound dhammas be self? I know that probably not, but I would like if you could explain in short the position of the abidhamma and commentaries on this. Thank you.
Dear Dhamma friends,
Lot has been discussed about the word ‘dhamma’. Let me also join to give some more meanings to this word. This word is used in the Tripitaka over and over again. The meaning depends where it has been used. It has no exclusive meaning. Let me give only a few.
The word ‘dhamma’ which is Pali is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dharma’ Let us examine its etymology (nirukti). In the word dharma the root dhr’ means to ‘hold’, ‘bear’ or ‘maintain’ So it can be even established as ‘law’ Dhamma has multiple meanings such as justice, morality, ethics, religion, religious merits, law, good work, nature etc. Most of these meanings are cognized in the Tripitaka text and should be taken as and where it appears.
Ven. Walpola Rahula wrote: "There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute Nirvana. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term." [What the Buddha Taught (Grove Press, 1974), p. 58]
Let us see some places where the word Dhamma has been used.
a) Dhammapada – Verse 279
“sabbe dhamma anatta iti yada pannaya passati – atha dukkhe nibbindati esa visuddhiya maggo
sabbe: all: Dhamma: states of being (five aggregates)
; anttati: are without self: iti yada: when this; pannaya passati: is realized with insight: atha: then; dukkhe: from suffering; nibbindati: get detached; esa: this is; visuddhiya: to total freedom of blemishes, (nibbana); maggo: the path.” In simple terms:
“When one perceives with wisdom that all things are without a self,
then one turns away from suffering. This is the path of purification”
does not mean Buddha's teaching, but should be interpreted rather more generally as "thing". In this meaning a "dhamma" is truly everything. It includes conditioned things (sanskara)
and unconditioned things (basically only Nirvana and space). Whereas impermanence and unsatisfactoriness are characteristic only of conditioned things, non-self is a characteristic of all things, even unconditioned ones. Dhammasanganiprakaranaya
. This is a book which gives an extensive explanation of conscious related dhammas.
kusala – what are the good states of consciousness?Kamavachara thoughts of the sensuous universe.
There are over 100 good thoughts described in the book as Dhamma. Also 37 bodhipakshika Dhamma are included. In this section all kusala chittas are considered as Dhamma.
akusala – What are the bad states of consciousness?
The twelve bad thoughts (twelve akusala chitta) are explained here. Here also hundreds of related bad thoughts are given. Here akusala chittas are dhamma
aviyakruta – What are the indeterminate states of consciousness?Here neutral feelings (kamavaccara kusala kamma) having no effect or vipaka are considered.
There is a long list of aviyakruta dhamma explained in the book which any interested may read.
There are five niyamas taught in Buddhism. They are:
1. Utu Niyma: This is the natural law of the non-living matter. This natural law orders the change of seasons and phenomena related to climate and the weather. It explains the nature of heat and fire, soil and gasses, water and wind. Most natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes would be governed by Utu Niyama.
2. Bija Niyama: Thisis the law of living matter, what we would think of as biology. The Pali word bija means "seed," and so Bija Niyama governs the nature of germs and seeds and the attributes of sprouts, leaves, flowers, fruits, and plant life generally.
3. Kamma Niyama: Kamma, or karma in Sanskrit, is the law of moral causation. All of our volitional thoughts, words and deeds create an energy that brings about effects, and that process is called karma
4. Dhamma Niyama:
The Pali word dhamma, or dharma in Sanskrit, has several meanings. It often is used to refer to the teachings of the Buddha. But it also is used to mean something like "manifestation of reality" or the nature of existence. One way to think of Dhamma Niyama is as natural spiritual law. The doctrines of anatta (no self) and shunyata (emptiness) and the marks of existence for example, would be part of Dhamma Niyama.
5. Chitta Niyama: Citta or chitta, means "mind," "heart," or "state of consciousness." Citta Niyama is the law of mental activity -- something like psychology. It concerns consciousness, thoughts, and perceptions.
c) Dhamma as refuge in Triple Gem
Triple Gem or Jewel is Buddha, Dhamma and Sanga. Here Dhamma means the teaching or the doctrine of Buddha. Dhamma includes everything good and bad in the universe. Then how can we take refuge?
Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American Theravada monk and scholar, explained that dhamma
as refuge refers to two things. At an elementary or mundane level, the dharma refuge is the Buddha's teaching — "the conceptually formulated, verbally expressed set of doctrines taught by or deriving from the historical figure Gotama." This teaching serves as our guide to the deeper level of dharma, which the Bhikkhu described as "a state of wisdom-consciousness that arises when all the requisite conditions for realization are fully matured."
There are four conditions to attain Nibbana.
1. Associate a kalyana mitta or a noble friend
2. Listen to dhamma (teachings of Buddha)
3. Act or maintain ‘yonisomansikaraya’ Wise reflections
4. Follow the ‘Dhammanudhammapatipada’ or the Noble path
Here Dhammanudhammapatipada is also the teaching of Buddha.
e) Susima Sutta - SN Susisma Paribrajaka
In the above sutta the Blessed One says to Susima Paribrajaka that:
“ pubbe ko Susima dhammatithi nanan, pacca nibbane nananti”
“First, Susima there is the knowledge of the regularity (dependant co-arising) of the Dhamma, after which the knowledge of unbinding”
Here Dhamma means paticca samuppada
. For further understanding read Dhammatithi Nana of Patisambhidamagga Prakaranaya of KN
f) Atthasalini – Commentary of Patisambhidamagga Prakaranaya
This is what Atthasalini says about Dhamma
“And the word Dhamma (state) is used in the sense of ‘scriptural text’ , ‘root condition’, ‘virtue’, ‘absence of an entity’, ‘living thing’ etc. such passages as, ‘This one studies the Dhamma, Sutta and the Geyya’, dhamma means scriptures. In the passages as, “Knowledge of root-conditions is analysis of dhamma” dhamma means root condition or cause’. In such passages as,
“Dhamma, adhamma bear no equal fruits
One leads to Heaven the other leads to Hell”Here Dhamma means virtue or good quality
. In such passages as, “At the time of consciousness, coming in to existence, there occur Dhammas and again, he abides watchful over certain dhammas” -’ dhamma implies ‘absence of an entity called living soul’
Above are only few examples of what Dhamma is.