I pray this reaches you in good spirits.
I read somewhere that arahantship is no longer accessible today, and that we are essentially practicing to gain the good fortune of being born as a human during the dispensation of Maitreya Buddha.
Is this true? I understand it's probably harder to practice today than in the Buddha's time, but is it really impossible to gain liberation in today's world? I realize this has a lot to do with the "Dharma Ending Age" idea which has been discussed at length multiple times here, so I'll understand if you just want to post links to other threads.
I read this recently http://www.usamyanmar.net/Buddha/.../Buddha%20Sasana%20Life.pdf
. In this article it looks like we are in the 3rd 1000 years where the best for householders will be Sotapanna ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sot%C4%81panna
) at best but monks & nuns are still capable of becoming a non-returners.
However, I am confident that few of the monks my father met in the past attained arahantship in this lifetime but trying to find one now is increasingly difficult according to my father as nobody knows where or how to recognise one. Even if you find one do you know how to communicate with him? I don't think you should worry too much about attaining arahantship in this life time but rather keep up your practice as much as possible.
As far as I am concerned (my view) if one is diligent in practice one should perhaps reach a level where one should not worry too much. Assuming that Buddha's teaching will last for another 2000 years reaching/entering the 5th 1000 years where the Sangha will disappear in the era and human average life span of say 77 years, one should have another 25.9 rebirth cycle (assuming one is lucky to be born in Human Realm) to escape the "ending" of realm destruction.
I cannot remember which plans of existence one must reach to avoid the "ending" but as long as one is above that level (not arahant yet), one will just have to take rebirth again once everything has gone back to "normality". Just keep up the practice and if one does not meet the next Buddha one shall just have to wait / meet the future future Buddha or longer. There will never be a shortage of Buddhas in infinite time (time does not stop?) but it might take a very very long time to meet one. I am sure if one has cultivated the teaching of Buddha all these time one will escape rebirth.
I was also looking at the plans of existence and I am not sure how to calculate the time ...
Check this out on the calculation.http://www.basicbuddhism.org/index.cfm?GPID=52
MK = Maha Kappa, AK = Asankheyya Kappa, CY = Celestial Year
There are 3 kinds of kappas - namely, antara kappa, asankheyya kappa, and maha kappa.
The interim period when the age limit of human beings arises from ten to an indefinite time and then falls to ten again, is known as an antara kappa.
Twenty such antara kappa equal one asankheyya kappa, literally - an incalculable cycle.
Four asankheyya kappas equal one maha kappa.
Books state that 50 human years equal one celestial day.
The age-limit of gods of the realm of Four Kings is 500 celestial years,
that is, according to human cycle reckoning 9,000,000.
Or this website which is very interesting.http://www.buddhistpilgrimage.info/buddhism_course_08.htm
So there you go basically just keep up your practice and you should be fine.
p/s: just checked and the destruction or world ending cycle will reach level 14 on plans of existence where Maha Brama (Great Brama) resides.
pp/s: just double checked again and the destruction is even more ... so we should strive with our best now to avoid all and escape while we still can.