The Five Rarities

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th to 7th April 1962

[These three talks based on a sutta in the Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book of the fives]

① The appearance of a Buddha in the world is a very, very rare thing or matter to come by. Most of the world systems are empty worlds (suñña-kappa) with no appearance of a Buddha. There is only construction and destruction of many world systems. During these periods, no one knows how to cultivate goodness or practice jhāna. Thus, there's no need to speak about the way to Nibbāna. Therefore, living beings were mostly in dugatis (i.e., apāyas). Humans act blindly with wrong views, with most of them sinking into the downward paths of saṁsāra (the doors to hells, animal, and ghost realms are opened for them. These things are created by their defiled minds and actions, not by God).

② The presence of someone who can teach the sacca dhammas of the Buddha is also a very rare occurrence. (For example, Ledi Sayadawgyi and Mogok Sayadaw, who were extremely rare among Dhamma teachers.)

③ For humans, the desire to listen to and understand the sacca dhammas is also a very difficult task (even among Buddhists). There are three ways to listen to the Dhamma: 1. Normal way 2. with contemplation 3. Directly practice the 8-fold path. Every Buddhist should listen to the Dhamma up to the last stage of practice to benefit. All the Buddha Dhammas are meant for practice.

Even though the Buddha does not exist anymore, the Dhamma Buddha still exists. The Dhamma is the real Buddha (as Buddha taught to the monk Vakkali—"You see Dhamma and you see the Buddha."). He became a Buddha through the Dhamma. Everyone becomes a noble being (ariya) because of the Dhamma. If we do not practice in accordance with the Dhamma, then Buddhists are not his true children and are disobedient to him. Thus, we are without the Sāsana (just sinking in the downward saṁsāra along with other faith followers).

④ Putting into practice according to the nature of Dhamma is also a rare thing to happen. (i.e., becoming Dhammānudhammappaṭipatti). For example, when observing the khandhas, instead of seeing anicca, one only sees it as nicca (constant), which becomes only dhamma and not dhammānudhammappaṭipatti—not according to the nature of dhamma. Also, instead of dukkha, anatta, and asubha, they are seen as sukha, atta, and subha, and do not become anu-paṭipatti.

You attain Nibbāna only if Dhamma fits anu-paṭipatti (Dhamma = anu-paṭipatti). The number ④ point is the most important factor for the realisation of Nibbāna. The first three factors in saṁsāra could happen to most beings. This one may be the most difficult one to achieve. If the practice does not fit anu-dhammapaṭipatti, inversions (vipallāsa) come into the practice. It becomes a wrong perception, knowing, and viewing, which are kilesas coming into the practice, and will not lead to attaining Nibbāna.

Sayadaw gave an example of the practice of observing according to the Dhamma. He said if dukkha vedanā arises, one recognizes it as vedanā and then observes its anicca. This is anu-paṭipatti. On the contrary, it is wrong to think of what happened to me as a feeling, or that this is how I feel. There are three points in contemplation: perceive as vedanā, know as vedanā, and contemplate it as anicca. These Dhammas are very difficult to see and to know, so they are very hard to come by. Contemplate with right perception, knowing, and view. If you can contemplate in this way, you will attain Dhamma before long because no kilesas are coming in. Without contemplation, it becomes zero. With the right contemplation, it’s closest to Nibbāna.

Only becoming Dhammānudhammappaṭipatti is the middle way. That's the way to arrive at the D.A. process. All the Buddha’s teachings of practice are the middle way; if not, it’s not the way of the Buddha.

⑤ Repay the Gratitude (kataññutā-katavedi) is not in the sense of a worldly affair, but by practicing Dhamma and realizing the fruits of the practice. This is also very rare indeed. Repaying the gratitude of one’s parents is also very important. The Buddha was warning us of the right time to repay the gratitude (Today, even the Chinese - mainly the younger generation - are increasingly ignoring this important responsibility as human beings. They’re influenced by Western views as the sun sets in the western hemisphere.) For the yogis, first, they have to finish their practices above everything else. As an example, Sāriputta never went back after he left his home behind, and only after finishing his practice he went back to repay the gratitude to his mother. (The Buddha also). This is the right time to do so because time is precious and Dhammānu-dhammappaṭipatti chances are very rare to come by in the whole of Saṁsāra!

The five dullabha dhammas talk about the five kinds of rare things to have (In the sutta, AN 5:143 Sārandadasuttaṃ — the 500 Licchavis were arguing about “the manifestation of five gems which are rare in the world.” According to them, they are the gems of an elephant, the horse, the jewel, woman, and the steward, etc. Nowadays, for humans, the rare things are quite different. It depends on their defilements.) Suñña-kappa is the useless ear and mostly beings are in apāyas. It’s very rare to find someone who can teach what the Buddha had taught. If Dhamma exists then the Buddha still exists. If you do things which he didn’t teach it becomes useless and far from the path and fruit. The Buddha was leaving behind Dhamma Inheritance for us, and if we’re misusing it, we are becoming the same as evil sons and daughters to good parents. There are three kinds of listening to Dhamma—just for listening, noting with contemplation, and following the instructions and practicing. These are necessary for how to listen to Dhamma. Only with the practice, the dullabha dhammas of no. ①, no. ②, and no. ③ are to be fulfilled.

The khandha body is showing its anicca to you. If you don’t see anicca and instead see nicca, it becomes dhamma but not according to its nature (i.e., anupaṭipatti). You’re not practicing in accordance with it. The khandha is showing its dukkha and you think of it as sukha. The khandha is showing its asubha and you think of it as subha. For example, it shows its excrement, urine, etc., but you take it as beautiful (humans too crazy for sexual pleasure they are chasing for these things of the opposite sex and sometimes even end up with suicide or killing others for these dirty things. Worse than this is the abnormality of homosexuality, even animals are not interested in it.) You’ll attain path and fruit only by practicing accordingly to what the dhamma is showing you. It’s quite rare to see someone in this situation. If you can practice accordingly, you can attain path and fruit quickly. No. ①, no. ②, and no. ③ could be possible for people, but if you do not fit in with no. ④, you can’t get path and fruit. It’s clear as the most important point. Mostly, people are doing prayers (pūjā) instead of practicing rightly. Dhamma is showing its anicca and if taken as nicca, then inversion comes in (i.e., wrong perceiving, knowing, and viewing). If you have completed the above three points and are lacking this one (no.4), you can’t get the path knowledge.

This has nothing to do with pāramīs. We are not looking or observing it correctly. What will happen if it doesn't fit with it? Three kinds of D.A. process come in or kilesa comes in between them. Even the practitioner can’t get it and there is no need to talk about others. For example, on the body dukkha vedanā arises and you know it as dukkha vedanā and then pay attention to its vanishing. Perceiving and knowing it as dukkha vedanā and paying attention to its vanishing. If not like this, what happens to me? It becomes wrong perceiving. You have to contemplate with the right perception, knowing, and viewing. If your contemplation fits these three points you will get Dhamma before long. If not contemplated, it becomes zero. It’s not an empty zero. The zero which leads you to apāyas. Instead of practising accordingly, you’re practising incorrectly. Therefore, the Buddha was warning us as if hundred thousand humans die and after death no one is reborn in sugatis. Human beings have a desire to live in the world of rising and vanishing. They don’t like the non-arising and non-vanishing, this is referring to the middle way of Dhammānu dhamma paṭipatti.

The Buddha mentioned—it’s rare to find someone who understands and repays the gratitude that is due. We should emphasize this as a main factor. We should practice and ensure our own safety first, and then think of others (Sayadaw gave the example of Sāriputta to his mom). You should take care of your own matters first, and then address the matters of others. The Buddha was reminding people, whether man or woman, whoever desires for Nibbāna must have this kind of spirit.

[Some Buddhists make vows that are impossible to fulfill, such as "I will not attain Nibbāna until all sentient beings are liberated." It was something like— "Only after all the oceanic water has been drunk by me and has become empty, then I would attain Nibbāna." This goes against the Buddha's teachings.]

revised on 2024-07-09

  • Content of Part 14 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.

據英譯者—鄔達摩比丘交待,此譯文僅能免費與大眾結緣,作為法的禮物(Dhamma Dāna)。你可以在任何媒體上重新編製、重印、翻譯和重新發布這部作品。