Before answering this question we need to understand the meaning of Dhamma. Then the reasons why we must study and practice Dhamma can be discussed.
(1) DHAMMA AND THE SECRETS OF LIFE
An easy to understand explanation of Dhamma is “the secret of nature which must be understood in order to develop life to the highest possible benefit.”
(2) To develop life to the highest level means reaching a stage of life that is free from all problems and all dukkha. Such a life is completely free from everything that could be signified by the words “problem” and “dukkha.”
(3) A clarification of the word “secret” is important to the understanding of our topic. If we do not know the secret of something then we are unable to practice successfully to obtain the highest results and maximum benefits from it. For example, progress exploration of outer space and developments in nuclear power, as well as other areas, have been possible through the understanding of the secrets of these things. The same thing is true of life. In order to reach the highest possible development of life we must know life’s secrets.
(4) Life, especially in the context of Dhamma, is a matter of nature (dhamma-jäti). This Pali word dhamma-játi may not correspond to the English “nature” exactly, but they are close enough.
Take it to mean something which exists within itself, by itself, of itself, and as its own law. This sense of nature is not opposed to man as some Westerners would have it, but encompasses man and all that he experiences. We must understand the secret of the nature of life, which is to understand Dhamma.
(5) DHAMMA: THE FOUR ASPECTS
The Dhamma of life has four meanings:
1. Nature itself,
2. The law of nature,
3. The duty that must be performed according to that law of nature,
4. The fruits or benefits that arise from the performance of that duty.
Always keep these four interrelated meanings in mind.
(6) Please investigate that Truth within yourselves, in this body and mind that you imagine to be yourselves. Within each of us are various natures compounded into a body, into a being. Then there is the law of nature that controls those natures. And there is the duty that must be performed correctly by and for all things regarding the law of nature. Lastly, there are the results of the performance of that duty. If the duty is performed correctly, the result will be well-being, tranquility, and ease. If the duty is performed incorrectly, however, the result will be dukkha unsatisfactoriness, anguish, pain, frustration. Even at this beginning level, please observe carefully and each one of us there are all four aspects of Dhamma or nature.
When we have investigated these four meanings of nature completely, we will see that life is made up of just these four aspects of nature. Now, however, we have yet to understand them correctly and completely.
We have not truly penetrated into the secret of what we call life. We have not grasped the secret of Dhamma, so we are unable to practice in a way that gets the fullest benefit from life. Let us take the time to study the words “Dhamma” and “secret of life” enough that we may take advantage of them.