Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
The title ‘appakā te manussesu’ - ‘So Few out of Many Humans’ – is chosen to introduce the second chapter because of its verses that rouse gratitude for this rare opportunity and inspire a sense of urgency to walk on the path. These very verses denote the concept of this chapter and conclude various suttas throughout the Tipiṭaka including the following three suttas. They can further be found in the Dhammapada under the chapter of paṇḍitavagga.
Not only do the verses presented here inspire gratitude and rouse to practice based on how rare the opportunity is – they also explain the path and what to avoid staying out of darkness and what should be pursued.
This chapter again endeavours to indicate the good fortune that one encounters walking on the path. It may seem natural that one lives in an era where the teaching of the Buddha and the Dhamma is available both as pariyatti and paṭipatti. It also may seem natural for those walking on the path that they do so because they are pursuing an inherent desire.
However, is one really aware of the good fortune that pariyatti can stimulate one for paṭipatti?
However, is one really aware, that it is only because of past acquired merits that one is in the position of a ‘sutavant puthujjano puggalo’1, and now feels drawn to the teaching, and is trying to come out of the ignorance of an ‘assutavā puthujjano puggalo’?
… pubbe ca katapuññatā;
… the merit of past good deeds,
… right aspirations for oneself
this is the highest welfare2
It is indeed rare that all these conditions ripen to receive and practice Dhamma.
So, the introductions in this chapter likewise reveal the commitment of Brahma Sahampati who made it his mission to induce the undecided Buddha after his enlightenment to teach the beneficial Dhamma to those who would be able to understand it. Without Brahma Sahampati’s noble volition perhaps the Buddha would have never shared the Dhamma and no one would then have this opportunity.
The introductions also refer to the Buddha’s commitment to teach the Eightfold Noble Path in spite of his original hesitation to commence teaching the Dhamma, perceiving the ignorance of the majority of beings?
“Kicchena me adhigataṃ, halaṃ3 dāni pakāsituṃ;
rāgadosaparetehi4, nāyaṃ dhammo susambudho.
Paṭisotagāmiṃ nipuṇaṃ, gambhīraṃ duddasaṃ aṇuṃ;
“What I have acquired through my hard work,
why should I teach it?
Overcome by craving and aversion, they will not easily grasp this Dhamma!’
Going against the stream they will not see that what
profound, difficult to understand and minute,
Delighting in craving and with faculties that are bound to darkness.
For some more prospective on some terms:
These verses refer to those beings that will not encounter and accept the teaching of the Buddha and will remain in the state of darkness (‘kaṇhaṃ dhamma’ — ‘dhamma’ is translated as state; ‘kaṇhaṃ’ is the state of darkness). Whenever the mind dwells in thoughts of ‘killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slandering, abusive speech, gossip, covetousness, ill-will, and wrong belief’ or one performs respective acts or actions as its result, one remains in a state of darkness.
In the term ‘okā anokamāgamma’ — ‘Giving up home for homelessness’ ‘oka’ denotes ‘shelter, a resting place’ and it’s opposite: ‘anoka’ denotes ‘leaving home, shelter for homelessness’.
Further ‘kāma’ is generally used to express ‘desires, wishes, longings’ but is especially related to ‘sense desires, the objects of sensual and sexual pleasures’, ‘kilesa’ ‘impurity, mental corruption, human passion, moral defilement’ is derived from ‘kilissati’—‘to dirty oneself, to impure oneself’.7
Being really stirred one should make all possible efforts of turning into a ‘bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho’:
‘Bhagavato ovādānusāsaniṃ sakkaccaṃ suṇantīti sāvakā’
‘Hearing attentively the instructions of the Bhagavā
thus they are his disciples’!
1. sutavant puthujjano puggalo: somebody who has heard, encountered + ordinary world-ling, person + individual
3. halaṃ/alaṃ: enough, why should
4. rāgadosaparetehi: raga + dosa + parete + hi: craving + aversion + overcome + because
5. āvuṭa: covered, hindered
6. Pāsarāsisuttaṃ, also named Ariyapariyesanāsuttaṃ, Opammavaggo, Mūlapaṇṇāsapāḷi, Majjhimanikāyo