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decline of Dhamma


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#1 RobertK

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Posted 27 May 2007 - 01:49 AM

Nina van gorkom
http://groups.yahoo....p/message/11275

Gradual Sayings (Book of the Twos, Ch II, § 10) that the Buddha said:
 

QUOTE
 
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):
 

QUOTE
 
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:
 

QUOTE
 
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:

 

QUOTE
 
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:
 

QUOTE
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:
 

QUOTE
³The teachings are almost dying, let us develop right understanding². We do not have to feel depressed when thinking of the disappearance of the teachings. On the contrary, we should have courage and cheerfulness to begin again and again developing right understanding.


#2 RobertK

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Posted 27 May 2007 - 01:50 AM

I think we read often in the tetxs how all things are impermanent and that eventually the teachings of the Buddha and his disciples will be lost until another sasana begins in the distant future.

The Buddha said that because of creating the Bhikkhuni Sangha this sasana would last only five hundred years. But because of the eight rules the commentaries say it would last 5000 years. Other commentaries say that the rehearsal of the texts at the first council made it possible to last 5000 years. I find the commentaries reliable, others doubt them but if the commentaries are wrong then according to the Tipitaka the true Dhamma of the Buddha is now already lost.

At the first council, led by Mahakassapa they recorded the Tipitaka and also the ancient commentaries: In the Atthasalini: from the introductory discourse it notes that the commentary to the Abhidhamma was recited at this time:

QUOTE
"The ancient commentary therof was sang By the First council, Mahakassapa Their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."


The "Dispeller of Delusion" (431):

QUOTE
For there are three kinds of disappearance: disappearance of theoretical understanding (pariyatti), disappearance of penetration (pativedha) and disappearance of practice (patipatti). Herein, pariyatti is the three parts of the Tipitaka; the penetration is the penetration of the Truths; the practice is the way....


It says of the Scriptures first the Book of the Patthana (Conditional Relations) of the Abhidhamma disappears, and then successively the other Books of the Abhidamma. After that the Books of the Suttant will successively disappear.

QUOTE
"But when the two Pitakas [2] have disappeared, while the Vinaya Pitaka endures, the teachings (sasana) endure. "


But sooner or later the Vinaya too disapears.

It doesn't specifically say when the commentaries will go but I assumed that if the Tipitaka is declining then the commentaries to these works must also be disappearing:

In the Gradual Sayings (Book of the Twos, Ch II, 10) the Buddha said:

QUOTE
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.... "


The commentaries (attha -meaning) are specifically recorded so as to make plain the meaning of the texts. If they are not studied it becomes easier for people to interpret the suttas according to their own opinions and so the wrong interpretation of the Tipitaka may occur.

Thus knowing this we become encouraged not to neglect the development of insight, we are fortunate to be in a time when the Dhamma is still available. The teachings show us there is no self in any dhamma but if there is not application of effort to see this now then when?

Robert