Dhamma in Abhidhamma

What should we understand when being told that a dhamma is a thing established by own-nature (sabhāva-siddha);that it is an existent verifiable by its own distinctive intrinsic characteristics.

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Bhikkhu Bodhi

"The dhammas are not noumena hidden behind phenomena, not "things in themselves" as opposed to "mere appearances," but the fundamental components of actuality."

"The familiar world of substantial objects and enduring persons is, according to the dhamma theory, a conceptual construct fashioned by the mind out of the raw data provided by the dhammas. The entities of our everyday frame of reference possess merely a consensual reality derivative upon the foundational stratum of the dhammas. It is the dhammas alone that possess ultimate reality: determinate existence "from their own side" (sariputo) independent of the mind's conceptual processing of the data."

-Abhidhammatha Sangha: A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma

Another great book for delving further into this subject

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Ven. Nyanaponika Thera

"dhamma... may well be rendered as 'phenomenon' - if only we keep in mind that in Abhidhammic usage 'phenomenon' must not be thought to imply a correlative 'noumnenon'...."

"The analysis undertaken in the Dhammasangani shows the smallest accessible psychic unit, a moment of consciousness, is as little... as the material atom of modern physics. Like the physical atom, a moment of consciousness is a correlational system of its factors, functions, energies, or aspects, or whatever other name we choose to give to the 'components' of that hypothetical psychic unit. In the Abhidhamma these 'components' are called simply dharma, that is, 'things' or 'states.'"

-Abhidhamma Studies, Ven. Nayanaponika Thera

Great book by the way.

Dhammas in the Abhidhamma

There are two types of dhammas that are explained in the Abhidhamma. They are pannatti and paramattha. Pannatti consists of names and things. All the names we call and all the words that are used are called "sadda pannatti". Through them, we know the things concerned. Thus, the things are 'attha pannatti".Pannatti changes its designation when its form or substance changes. Therefore, this is conventional truth ( sammuti sacca). Using the conventional truth, Buddha taught about morality, obligation of human society, conditions of success in life and so on.
Paramattha is the ultimate reality. The dhamma of ultimate reality is that it never changes its nature or characteristic. It is forever real. The ultimate reality is abstract truth ( paramattha sacca). Buddha used the abstract truth to expound the wisdom of realization and liberation.

Earl Hardie Karges's picture

Dhammas vs. Dhamma

I can appreciate the two-truth solution as to how we perceive reality, conventional views vs. a deeper truth, which is a brilliant foresight toward the modern physics view of reality BTW. But I don't think 'dhamma' needs to be included in the discussion. Dhamma (singular) is where we go for refuge: the law of nature, the vision of the Buddha, to be accepted and not debated, or not much, anyway. Dhammas (plural) is something different, and highly debatable, the nature of ultimate reality, material vs. spiritual, particle vs. wave, etc. That's fine, but that's not where I go for refuge...