Sati1 wrote:It is commonly said that this is a degenerate time for the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, I see plenty of reasons to actually consider this a bright time for those who have a potential interest in finding a deeper meaning to life and eventually embark on the path:
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times. It is an age of wisdom and an age of foolishness.
Sati1 wrote:1-teachings about almost any topic are available for free online as PDFs in English
This means that the true Dhamma and the counterfeit Dhamma (SN 16.13
) are both easy to find. Unfortunately, it does not mean they are necessarily easy to distinguish.
Sati1 wrote:2-other followers can be contacted from anywhere in the world, as in this forum
3-lessons can be learned anywhere in the world from highly qualified teachers, as on Dharmaseed or Buddhist Geeks
Similar to #1 above, this means that those who can teach the path can be found and that those who would lead others astray can be found just as easily. Discernment is required in order to distinguish one from the other. This is a bit of a catch-22, since discernment is something developed along the path. It takes a long time of observing others to truly know their traits (AN 4.192
Sati1 wrote:4-with the advent of machines, robots, computers and the internet, new time is made available in one's day-to-day life for practice (eg with washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and online shopping)
This means time is free but it also means that hardships are less often encountered. That freedom can be used to cultivate deep states of renunciation or to cultivate deep states of sensuality. Technology can make one's decisions more potent, which amplifies the ethical consequences whether positive or negative. Without hardships it is much less likely that sufficient motivation to escape suffering and samsara will arise to establish a course upon the path. Similarly, without hardships it is much more easy to delude oneself into believing more progress has been made simply because the conditions may not arise that demonstrate various unskillful mental activities clearly. Without the arising of sufficient stress, the conviction in following the path does not arise (SN 12.23
Sati1 wrote:5-with better medical care, including painkillers, people who would previously not be able to practice due to illness and intense pain can now practice
Illness and intense pain can be motivating factors and teachers, not purely hindrances along the path. Entirely healthy and pain free living can encourage the "typical healthy person's intoxication with health" (AN 5.57
Sati1 wrote:I understand that there are some obstacles that this time also presents, such as more distractions and the spread of materialism, Christianity and oppressive regimes in some parts of the world. Still it seems to me that for anybody who has that initial interest to find out more about "what life is all about" there could not be a better time in human history than now.
The time when the Buddha was alive may have been a better time in human history for a life of practicing the path, at least for those who were fortunate enough to take him as their teacher. However, as long as we have the teachings and the community he established it is wise to make the most of this rare human birth. (SN 56.48