Dharma-ending age

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Dharma-ending age

Postby LauraJ » Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:26 pm

According to Theravada, are we in the dharma-ending age?
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:44 pm

Hi Laura,

According to the Commentaries this is the Dhamma ending age where it is declining. At this stage, the highest one can reach is that of non-returner (anagami). But that would not be bad at all, life in a deva realm for a few million years and then Nibbana.

But from the Suttas themselves, there is no set period of time. For those that take the Suttas as the final authority and take the Commentaries with at least a grain of salt, this is not the Dhamma ending age at all and enlightenment is still possible. Ven. Dhammika writes:

"Here the Buddha was referring to his words as they were remembered by his immediate disciples, later committed to writing and as we have them today in the Tipiṭaka. In this sense, the Dhamma is in no danger of disappearing. In fact, with printing, books and electronic media it has never before been more secure, more easily available and more widely read."


http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=109
Last edited by David N. Snyder on Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: updated link to the new website
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby LauraJ » Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:00 pm

Thanks David :anjali:
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby BlackBird » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:33 pm

Hi David

I was wondering, would it be possible to point to a source in the commentaries where this is said that the highest stage one can attain these days is anagami?
This seems to be a bit of a confusing point for me. As in most of the commentarial 'abhidhamma' traditions I have encountered it is made quite clear (i thought) that the attainment of arahantship is still quite possible.

metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby pink_trike » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:37 pm

Buddha wrote:When the letters are wrongly pronounced and there is wrong interpretation of their meaning. For when the pronunciation is wrong, the interpretation will also be wrong’ (A.I,59).


" In this sense, the Dhamma is in no danger of disappearing. In fact, with printing, books and electronic media it has never before been more secure, more easily available and more widely read."


The bold quote above from the linked page David posted completely ignores what is said in the quote attributed to the Buddha. The phrase ‘the obscuration and disappearance of the good Dhamma’ isn't addressing the availability of "the letters". The Buddha is talking about the precise meaning/translation of words (that depend on inflection) and concepts (that are rooted in culture). Wide availability of books and electronic media have nothing to do with correct inflection/translation and comprehension of meanings rooted in a particular time/place. The Buddha is saying that over time correct translations/meanings will inevitably be lost by those committed to preserving them, and as a result the Dhamma which they attempted to preserve with "the letters" will become buried under their own egoic and cultural centricity, confusion, and babble. The author of the linked page is talking around the two points that the Buddha made, neither of which had anything to do with availability of the words but rather about the clear comprehension of the words as they were originally spoken and intended to be comprehended.

In a time when even the most basic of Dharma concepts and words, let alone the goal, result in endless volumes of debate regarding their meaning both within and between individual traditions of Buddhism, and when secular scholars are deconstructing traditional translations/meanings to reveal countless inconsistencies and mistranslations, and are finding countless syncretic reductions and merges - the idea of a true, intact "word of the Buddha" that precisely and accurately reflects the Dharma is sublimely ridiculous and crudely myopic, and requires facile and sloppy reassurances like the author of the linked page gave us.

In this time, the essence (recognized through practice) is a more dependable window to the Dharma than "the letter".
Last edited by pink_trike on Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 14, 2009 10:44 pm

pink_trike wrote:In a time when even the most basic of Dharma concepts and words, let alone the goal, result in endless volumes of debate regarding their meaning both within and between individual traditions of Buddhism, and when secular scholars are deconstructing traditional translations/meanings to reveal countless inconsistencies and mistranslations, and are finding countless syncretic reductions and merges - the idea of a true, intact "word of the Buddha" that precisely and accurately reflects the Dharma is sublimely ridiculous and crudely myopic, and requires facile and sloppy reassurances like the author of the linked page gave us.
In this time, the essence (recognized through practice) is a more dependable window to the Dharma than "the letter".


Hi PT,

Good points. As time goes further from the Buddha or any "original" teaching it does seem to get modified, altered, or reinterpreted, or just plain-old stuff added to it too. The increase in information and access could just be a fuel for the decline, seen in this other way.

Yes, practice is best.
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:31 pm

Greetings,

An excellent post of relevance, made by venerable Dhammanando at Dhamma Study Group.

Original source link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... age/101337

Regarding your other question (the one you e-mailed to me) about the decline of
the Buddha's dispensation, I hope you don't mind if I reply here as I seem to
have mislaid the e-mail.

Briefly:

1. The Pali atthakathaas and sub-commentaries are unanimous in their view that
realization (pa.tivedha) in Gotama's dispensation will last for 5,000 years and
then cease. This point is not contested by anyone.


2. However, there is no unanimity in the Atthakathaas concerning the manner of
decline during these 5,000 years. Rather, there are four quite discrepant
predictions of both the order of decline and the timescale for how long each
kind of ariyan attainment will last.

3. Buddhaghosa himself only reports the discrepant predictions without offering
any personal comment. He doesn't draw attention to the discrepancies in the
predictions, or attempt to reconcile them or advocate that one of them should be
preferred over the others.

4. In the sub-commentaries to the Tipi.taka, together with various minor Vinaya
treatise of the 12th-13th centuries, the discrepancies in the predictions are
noted and
explained as being due to their very origin: they are merely the
opinions that arose among different groups of text-reciters (bhaa.naka) and
which Buddhaghosa encountered here and there and wished to record for posterity.

5. If the sub-commentaries are right, then it follows that the status of the
predictions is not that of authoritative commentary (i.e., they are not sourced
in the atthakathaas brought to Ceylon by Mahinda.

6. It further follows that such claims as "non-returnership is the highest
ariyan attainment possible in the present age" or "attainment in the present age
is possible only by dry-visioned practice, not by jhaana" have only the
flimsiest textual support.


To Sarah, Jon, Nina, Rob, etc.

I realize the point of view I have expressed above is rather different to the
one usually voiced in DSG on this subject. However, inasmuch as this judgment of
the .Tiikaa authors has not to my knowledge been challenged by any Theravaadin
scholar of note for the last eight centuries, I believe it has a much stronger
claim to being the orthodox Theravadin view than that expressed in the Thai
article translated by Nina ("The Disappearance of Ariyans") to which readers of
DSG are often directed. The conclusion in that article is:

"It can be concluded that at the present time, which is the third period of
thousand years in the dispensation of the Buddha Gotama, nobody has the
excellent qualities of the degree of the arahat, and the highest attainment will
only be that of the anaagaamii."

The problem with this conclusion is that it is based upon seriously inadequate
research that doesn't take into account all of the relevant textual sources. In
particular:

1. The article's authors base their conclusion on the prediction of decline in
the Vinaya Atthakathaa, and a parallel passage in the Anguttara Atthakathaa, but
ignore a discrepant prediction also contained in the Anguttara Atthakathaa
(commentary to a nameless sutta in the Pamaadaadi Vagga of the Ekanipaata).

2. They ignore the discrepant prediction in the Samyutta Atthakathaa (commentary
to the Saddhammapa.tiruupaka Sutta).

3. They misunderstand the Digha Atthakathaa's commentary to the Sampasaadaniiya
Sutta as being relevant only to the decline of the past dispensation of Kassapa
Buddha. But the very reason for the commentary describing the decline of
pa.tivedha in Kassapa's dispensation is that the Diigha-bhaa.nakas held that
pa.tivedha in Gotama's dispensation would decline in an identical pattern (as
attested in the Anguttara and Vinaya sub-commentaries).

4. They neglect all of the sub-commentarial and Vinaya treatises in which these
discrepancies are addressed. These are chiefly the Saaratthadiipanii.tiikaa to
the Vinaya Pi.taka, the .tiikaa to the Anguttara Nikaaya, and two other Vinaya
treatises: the Siimavisodhanii and Vimativinodanii.

I regret that I'm not able to give precise citations right now as I'm separated
from my library and writing from memory, but I will try to rectify this omission
when I'm back in Bangkok.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby BlackBird » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:27 am

Thank you Retro
:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:54 pm

Greetings,

Those speaking the rhetoric of decline are "more interested in establishing a particular orthodoxy of “true teaching” than in voicing historical predictions of actual decline, prophetic warnings of moral failings, or existential statements about humankind’s capacity for realization. In fact, the beginnings of the Buddhist tradition of decline are best understood as a rhetoric of orthodoxy that marks the appearance of doctrinal differentiation in the Buddhist community. The elements of this argument can be found throughout the various canons, but always in the sense of an exhortation to adhere to the true teachings lest the predicted decline actually come to pass. It was also in China that we first encounter individuals convinced that the predicted demise had actually arrived, due in part to a preexisting and pervasive indigenous discourse of decline. In an interesting twist, the dominant use in China of the Buddhist polemic of orthodoxy was to legitimize new teachings, of which the Three Levels is one example. An important reason for this was that the decline came to be seen in terms of a decline in human nature, a claim about the corrupt existential condition of living beings rather than a decline of time or doctrine."

(Jamie Hubbard: Absolute delusion, perfect Buddhahood : the rise and fall of a Chinese heresy, p. 35)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby chownah » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:46 am

No need to worry.....one can always pursue paccakabuddhahood..
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby pelletboy » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:28 am

chownah wrote:No need to worry.....one can always pursue paccakabuddhahood..
chownah

Thinking about this, can the path to paccekabuddhahood be teached? HOw can one know when to practice and how to practice or know the paramis without the DHamma? Even the Dhamma isn't explicit and complete in teaching how one achieves paccekabuddhahood.
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:34 am

chownah wrote:No need to worry.....one can always pursue paccakabuddhahood..
chownah

bodhi . . . Neither in the canonical texts nor in the old commentaries is it stated that a follower of the Buddha may choose between the three kinds of enlightenment and aspire either to become a Buddha, a Pacceka-Buddha, or an Arahat-disciple. This conception of a choice between three aspirations is, however, frequently found in present-day Theravāda countries, e.g. in Sri Lanka. http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/b_f/bodhi.htm
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby santa100 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:43 pm

On a practical note, if one finds the environment he's living in is getting worse and worse, he/she should have even bigger motivation to cultivate the Path, to work harder for final enlightenment..knowing that the further the delay, the lesser the chance to reach the goal..
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby buddhis8 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:07 pm

I guess the most important question here is....is it a Dharma ending age for you?
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
chownah wrote:No need to worry.....one can always pursue paccakabuddhahood..
chownah

bodhi . . . Neither in the canonical texts nor in the old commentaries is it stated that a follower of the Buddha may choose between the three kinds of enlightenment and aspire either to become a Buddha, a Pacceka-Buddha, or an Arahat-disciple. This conception of a choice between three aspirations is, however, frequently found in present-day Theravāda countries, e.g. in Sri Lanka. http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/b_f/bodhi.htm

I have thought about this for a while.
Seems to me that just because it is not explicitly stated that a choice is possible does not mean that no choice is possible.
Seems to me if it is actually not possible to choose then this means we can not choose to aspire to become an Arahat either.
Seems to me that to "pursue" a path is not the same thing as to "choose" a path.
Do the texts cited allow that one can "choose" to be a monk or a lay person?
Do the texts cited allow that one can "choose" to follow the Buddhist path?
Do the texts cited allow that one can "choose" anything? (Does it even deal with "choices"?
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby Kusala » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:25 am

LauraJ wrote:According to Theravada, are we in the dharma-ending age?


"The Buddha foresaw that people would introduce what he called “synthetic Dhamma”—and when that happened, he said, the true Dhamma would disappear (SN 16:13). He compared the process to what happens when a wooden drum develops a crack, into which a peg is inserted, and then another crack, into which another peg is inserted, and so on until nothing is left of the original drum-body. All that remains is a mass of pegs, which cannot come near to producing the sound of the original drum (SN 20:7)."
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:55 am

I think it was sunk with the advent of the Internet. :computerproblem:

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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby cooran » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:53 am

Hello all,

This Sutta ht be of interest:
SN 16.13 Saddhamma-pa.tiruupaka.m Sutta: False Dhamma translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe

[At Saavatthii Kassapa asked the Buddha:] "What is the reason, Lord, and depending on what conditions is it that formerly there were fewer precepts, yet more monks attained enlightenment?[1] What is the reason, Lord, and depending on what conditions is it that nowadays there are more precepts, and fewer monks attain enlightenment?"

"It is like this, Kassapa. When beings are in decline,[2] and the true Dhamma is waning, then there are more precepts and fewer monks attain enlightenment.

But there is no disappearance of the true Dhamma, Kassapa, till a counterfeit Dhamma arises in the world; but when a counterfeit Dhamma arises, then there is a disappearance of the true Dhamma, just as there is no disappearing of gold so long as no counterfeit gold has arisen in the world...[3] The earth-element[4] does not make the true Dhamma disappear, the water-element... the fire-element... the air-element..., But right here[5] men of straw[6] appear, and it is they who bring about the disappearance of the true Dhamma.

A ship, Kassapa, may sink all at once, but it is not thus that the true Dhamma disappears.
There are five contributory[7] factors, Kassapa, which lead to the adulteration[8] and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

Which five? It is when monks and nuns, male and female lay-followers behave disrespectfully and rebelliously towards the Teacher,... towards the Dhamma,... towards the Sangha,... towards the training,... towards meditation.[9]

"But when monks and nuns, male and female lay followers behave respectfully and deferentially towards the Dhamma,... towards the Sangha,... towards the training,... towards meditation, then these five things conduce to the maintenance, the purity and the preservation of the true Dhamma."

Notes
1.
Aññaa: "highest knowledge, gnosis": the knowledge gained by Arahants.
2.
Sattesu haayamaanesu "with the dwindling of [numbers of] beings." Mrs Rhys Davids has "when members [sic! = numbers?] decrease," with a note: "As in the case of physical cataclysms, such as the three cosmic "involutions"... discussed in Visuddhimagga 414f. [VM XIII, 28ff.]."
3.
A Buddhist "Gresham's Law"?
4.
The "four great elements" (mahaabhuutaa) cf. Vol. III, n. 232.
5.
Here in the Sangha.
6.
Worthless, empty men.
7.
Okkamaniyaa dhammaa: "factors which enter in" (okkamati=avakamati). Mrs Rhys Davids has "lowering factors." The article on the verb okkamati in PED is thoroughly muddled and muddling.
8.
Sammosaaya: "confusing, bewildering": from the same root as musaa- in musaavaadaa "wrong speech."
9.
Samaadhi, here in the general sense of "meditation."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

with metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:24 pm

Metta-4 wrote:I think it was sunk with the advent of the Internet.


Actually, I think the internet has helped the Dhamma and that it will be a net-gain for the Dhamma.

Certainly with the Dhamma on the internet, there will be a proliferation of papanca and some adhammic ideas out there and some teachers claiming enlightenment while breaking precepts (Ingram, etc), but the gains from the internet will out-weigh any negatives.

From around 100 BCE when the Pali Canon was first written up to around the year 1700 I would imagine there may have been less than 50 non-Asian people who had access to the Pali Canon. Today it is available to billions via the internet, in Pali and several other languages.

This is the information-age, which is a good thing, imo. You just have to use caveat emptor more and be careful with the information and use it wisely and with a grain of salt.
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Re: Dharma-ending age

Postby altar » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:48 pm

akaliko, "timeless"

One may speak of a decline in dharma,
as in, now people act more or less in tune with nature, but, the dhamma is "timeless." The Tathagatha having passed away so long ago, it doesnt surprise me if the dhamma and the dispensation are ebbing and diminishing, so to speak, in terms of abundance, but when i think of modern buddhism it does... one of the 8 comparisons in the ocean sutta is that just as when it rains and the oceans increase or decrease, no rise or fall can be discerned, just so with the saints who enter upon final liberation. (though yes now we have modern measuring techniques............)
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