Friday, December 11, 2009

Six Rare Things (Buddhist Sutras)

Numerical Discourses (Anguttara Nikaya), Book of the Sixes

Six Rarities
(AN.VI.96) The Buddha declared, "These six things, O monastics, rarely appear in the world:
  1. Rare in the world is the appearance of a Tathagata [a teaching Buddha].
  2. Rare in the world is the appearance of one who teaches the Dharma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata.
  3. Rare in the world is it to be reborn in the land of the noble ones [Ariyayatane, which according to the commentary is the mid-country (of India)].
  4. Rare in the world is the possession of unimpaired physical and mental faculties.
  5. Rare in the world is absence of stupidity and dullness.
  6. Rare in the world is a desire for wholesome qualities.

The Blessings of Stream-entry (enlightenment)

(AN.VI.97) The Buddha declared, "There are, O monastics, these six blessings in realizing the fruit of stream-entry:

  1. 1. One is firm in the good Dharma.
  2. 2. One is unable to fall back [in that the stream-enterer's confidence in Buddha, Dharma, and (ariyan) Sangha is now unshakable].
  3. 3. One has set a limit on suffering [namely, one will be reborn no more than seven times and never on any plane lower than the human].
  4. 4. One is endowed with uncommon knowledge [asadharana-├▒ana, like direct experience of nirvana, which means at the very least that a stream-enterer has a thorough and liberating comprehension of the Four Noble Truths]
  5. One has clearly understood causes.
  6. One has clearly understood the phenomena arisen by causes.

Conviction in Conformity with the Dharma

(AN.VI.98-101) The Buddha declar-ed, "Truly, O monastics, that a monastic who considers

  • any formation as permanent,
  • any formation as pleasant,
  • anything as a self, or
  • nirvana as suffering

can have a conviction (saddha, confidence or faith) that 'conforms with the Dharma,'* that cannot be.

  • And that one who is without a conviction that conforms with the Dharma should enter into the certainty of rightness, that too cannot be.
  • And that one who has not entered into the certainty of rightness should realize the fruits of stream-entry (i.e., become enlightened), once-returning, non-returning, or arahantship, that too cannot be."

*NOTE: Conformity with the Dharma, anuloma-khanti, is explained in Patisambhidamagga, Vol. II, p. 236, which says in part that the "conformity" or "adaptation" is that of insight-knowledge with the supramundane path; the conformity refers to an acceptance (or conviction) of just that. To accept and approve that all formations are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self -- this is the conviction (khanti). The "conforming conviction" is either slight, medium, or strong, explained in very technical cognitive terms concerning the meticulous Abhidharma analysis of mental states and insight knowledges. (For further details, see Bhikkhu Bodhi, Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya, pp. 302-303, notes 46-47).

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