Nina van gorkom
Gradual Sayings (Book of the Twos, Ch II, § 10) that the Buddha said:
Monks, these two things conduce to the confusion and disappearance of true Dhamma. What two? The wrong expression of the letter (of the text) and wrong interpretation of the meaning of it. For if the letter be wrongly expressed, the interpretation of the meaning is also wrong..... Monks, these two things conduce to the establishment, the non-confusion, to the non-disappearance of true Dhamma. What two? The right expression of the letter and right interpretation of the meaning. For if the letter be rightly expressed, the interpretation of the meaning is also right
In the course of time the Buddha¹s teachings will be corrupted and then disappear. The last holy site we visited was Bodhgaya. Here one of our group read a text about the disappearance of the teachings. The ³Dispeller of Delusion² (the commentary to the Book of Analysis, commentary to Ch 16, Classification of Knowledge) is one of the texts explaining about the disappearance of the teachings 1 . We read (431):
For there are three kinds of disappearance: disappearance of theoretical understanding (pariyatti), disappearance of penetration (paìivedha) and disappearance of practice (paìipatti). Herein, pariyatti is the three parts of the Tipiìaka; the penetration is the penetration of the Truths; the practice is the way....
Further on we read that of the Scriptures first the Book of the Patthåna (Conditional Relations) of the Abhidhamma disappears, and then successively the other Books of the Abhidamma. After that the Books of the Suttanta will successively disappear. We read:
But when the two Piìakas 2 have disappeared, while the Vinaya Pitaka endures, the teachings (såsana) endure.
Also the Vinaya will disappear. Further on the text states that there are three kinds of complete extinction:
Complete extinction of defilements, complete extinction of the aggregates (khandhas) 3 and complete extinction of the relics. Herein, complet extinction of the defilements took place on the Wisdom Seat, the complete extinction of the aggregates at Kusinåra 4 and the complete extinction of the relics will take place in the future.
It is then explained that all the relics will gather together and will go to the ³Great Wisdom Seat² in Bodhgaya. We read:
Heaped up on the Great Wisdom Seat, they will become one solid mass like a pile of gold and will emit six-coloured rays...
We read that they will be burnt by the fire element and that then the teachings have come to an end.
The Buddha¹s attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree was the beginning of the teachings. He taught satipatthåna, the development of right understanding, from then on until his passing away. When the relics disappear on the Great Wisdom Seat the teachings have come to an end. Therefore, it was very meaningful that the text of the disappearance of the teachings was read near the Bodhi-tree. It reminds us not to neglect the study of the Dhamma the Buddha had penetrated at the time of his enlightenment, and above all, to develop right understanding in daily life, so that the meaning of the teachings can be realized. After the reading of this text we all asked the Triple Gem for forgiveness of our faults and shortcomings through action, speech or thought. This is done each time we visit the holy sites, at the very end of our visit, and in this case it was near the Bodhi-tree.
The Buddha explained the eightfold Path so that people could develop it and realize the four noble Truths, the Truth of dukkha, unsatisfactoriness of all conditioned realities that arise and fall away; the Truth of the origination of dukkha that is clinging; the truth of the cessation of dukkha that is nibbåna; the Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of dukkha, that is the eightfold path. When there isn¹t anybody who can clearly explain the right practice, the development of the eightfold Path, people cannot develop it and they cannot realize the four noble Truths. When nobody in this world can penetrate the four noble Truths anymore, the world will be dark. The Dhamma will gradually disappear. At the last day of our pilgrimage, when we were in Patna, Acharn Sujin said: