accounts of end times. A.E.T.
As subscribed by some Buddhist schools, derives from purported Gautama Buddha’s prediction that his teachings would disappear after 5,000 years. According to the Sutta Pitaka, the “ten moral courses of conduct” will disappear and people will follow the ten amoral concepts of theft, violence, murder, lying, evil speaking, adultery, abusive and idle talk, covetousness and ill will, wanton greed, and perverted lust resulting in skyrocketing poverty and the end of the worldly laws of true dharma.
During the Middle Ages, the span of time was expanded to 5,000 years. Commentators like Buddhaghosa predicted a step-by-step disappearance of the Buddha’s teachings. During the first stage, arahants would no longer appear in the world. Later, the content of the Buddha’s true teachings would vanish, and only their form would be preserved. Finally, even the form of the Dharma would be forgotten. During the final stage, the memory of the Buddha himself would be forgotten, and the last of his relics would be gathered together in Bodh Gaya and cremated. Some time following this development a new Buddha named Maitreya will arise to renew the teachings of Buddhism and rediscover the path to Nirvana. Maitreya is believed to currently reside in the Tuṣita heaven, where he is awaiting his final rebirth in the world.
The decline of Buddhism in the world, and its eventual re-establishment by Maitreya, are in keeping with the general shape of Buddhist cosmology. Like Hindus, Buddhists generally believe in a cycle of creation and destruction, of which the current epoch represents only the latest step. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni is only the latest in a series of Buddhas that stretches back into the past.
The belief in the decline and disappearance of Buddhism in the world has exerted significant influence in the development of Buddhism since the time of the Buddha. In Vajrayana Buddhism and various other forms of esoteric Buddhism, the use of tantra is justified by the degenerate state of the present world. The East Asian belief in the decline of the Dharma (called mappo in Japanese) was instrumental in the emergence of Pure Land Buddhism. Within the Theravada tradition, debate over whether Nirvana was still attainable in the present age helped prompt the creation of the Dhammayutt Order in Thailand.
In China, Buddhist eschatology was strengthened by the Daoist influence: the messianic features of Maitreya are widely emphasized. The figure of Prince Moonlight 月光童子 obtains prominence unknown in the Sanskrit sources. Thus, one of the Tang dynasty apocrypha predicts his rebirth in the female form, thus creating religious legitimacy for the Wu Zetian Empress’s usurpation. Furthering the Daoist associations, the “Sutra of Samantabhadra” portrays Prince Moonlight dwelling on the Penglai Island in a cave.
Buddhism believes in cycles in which life span of human beings changes according to human nature. In Cakkavati sutta the Buddha explained the relationship between life span of human being and behaviour. As per this sutta, In the past unskillful behavior was unknown among the human race. As a result, people lived for an immensely long time — 80,000 years — endowed with great beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength. Over the course of time, though, they began behaving in various unskillful ways. This caused the human life span gradually to shorten, to the point where it now stands at 100 years, with human beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength decreasing proportionately. In the future, as morality continues to degenerate, human life will continue to shorten to the point were the normal life span is 10 years, with people reaching sexual maturity at five.
Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a “sword-interval,” in which swords appear in the hands of all human beings, and they hunt one another like game. A few people, however, will take shelter in the wilderness to escape the carnage, and when the slaughter is over, they will come out of hiding and resolve to take up a life of skillful and virtuous action again. With the recovery of virtue, the human life span will gradually increase again until it reaches 80,000 years, with people attaining sexual maturity at 500.
According to Tibetan Buddhist literature, the first Buddha lived 1,000,000 years and was 100 cubits tall while the 28th Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563BC–483BC) lived 80 years and his height was 20 cubits. This is on par with the Hindu eschatology which says this age to be the 28th Kaliyuga.
Three Ages of Buddhism2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism#Three_Ages_of_Buddhism
The Three Ages of Buddhism, also known as the Three Ages of the Dharma, (simplified Chinese: 三时; traditional Chinese: 三時; pinyin: Sān Shí) are three divisions of time following Buddha’s passing. The Latter Day of the Law is the third and last of the Three Ages of Buddhism. Mappō or Mofa (Chinese: 末法; pinyin: Mò Fǎ, Japanese: Mappō), which is also translated as the Age of Dharma Decline, is the “degenerate” Third Age of Buddhism.
The Three Ages of Buddhism are three divisions of time following Buddha’s passing:
The Former Day of the Law, also known as the Age of the Right Dharma (Chinese: 正法; pinyin: Zhèng Fǎ; Jp: shōbō), the first thousand years (or 500 years) during which the Buddha’s disciples are able to uphold the Buddha’s teachings;
The Middle Day of the Law, also known as the Age of Semblance Dharma (Chinese: 像法; pinyin: Xiàng Fǎ; Jp: zōhō), the second thousand years (or 500 years), which only resembles the right Dharma;
The Latter Day of the Law (Chinese: 末法; pinyin: Mò Fǎ; mòfǎ; Jp: mappō), which is to last for 10,000 years during which the Dharma declines.
The three periods are significant to Mahayana adherents, particularly those who hold the Lotus Sutra in high regard, namely the Tiantai and Tendai and Nichiren Buddhism, who believe that different Buddhist teachings are valid (i.e., able to lead practitioners to enlightenment) in each period due to the different capacity to accept a teaching (機根 Cn: jīgēn; Jp: kikon) of the people born in each respective period.
Further, in the Mahāsaṃnipāta Sutra, the three periods are further divided into five five-hundred year periods (五五百歳 Cn: wǔ wǔ bǎi sùi; Jp: go no gohyaku sai), the fifth and last of which was prophesied to be when the Buddhism of Sakyamuni would lose all power of salvation and a new Buddha would appear to save the people. This time period would be characterized by unrest, strife, famine, and natural disasters.
Latter Day of the Law3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism#Latter_Day_of_the_Law
Traditionally, this age is supposed to begin 2000 years after Gautama Buddha’s passing and last for “10,000 years”. The first two ages are the Age of Right Dharma (正法 Cn: zhèngfǎ; Jp: shōbō), followed by the Age of Semblance Dharma (Chinese: 像法; pinyin: xiàngfǎ, Japanese: zōbō).(Hattori 2000, pp. 15, 16) During this degenerate third age, it is believed that people will be unable to attain enlightenment through the word of Sakyamuni Buddha, and society will become morally corrupt. In Buddhist thought, during the Age of Dharma Decline the teachings of the Buddha will still be correct, but people will no longer be capable of following them.
Buddhist temporal cosmology assumes a cyclical pattern of ages, and even when the current Buddha’s teachings fall into disregard, a new Buddha will at some point (usually considered to be millions of years in the future) be born to ensure the continuity of Buddhism. In the Lotus Sutra, Visistacaritra is entrusted to spread Buddhist law in this age and save mankind and the earth. He and countless other Bodhisattvas, specifically called Bodhisattvas of the Earth (of which he is the leader), vow to be reborn in a latter day to re-create Buddhist law, thus turning the degenerate age into a flourishing paradise. Shakyamuni entrusts them instead of his more commonly known major disciples with this task since the Bodhisattvas of the Earth have had a karmic connection with Shakyamuni since the beginning of time, meaning that they are aware of the Superior Practice which is the essence of Buddhism or the Dharma in its original, pure form. Ksitigarbha is also known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds, in the era between the death of Gautama and the rise of Maitreya. Teacher Savaripa would also live in the world to teach someone.
Teachings of different groups6)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism#Teachings_of_different_groups
The teaching appeared early. References to the decline of the Dharma over time can be found in such Mahayana sutras as the Diamond Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, but also to a lesser degree in some texts in the Pāli Canon such as the Cullavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka. Nanyue Huisi was an early monk who taught about it; he is considered the third Patriarch of the Tiantai.
The Sanjiejiao was an early sect that taught about Mappō. It taught to respect every sutra and all sentient life.
Late Buddhism in Central Asia taught the building of auspicious signs or miraculous Buddhist images.
Pure Land Buddhism in China and Japan believe we are now in this latter age of “degenerate Dharma”. Pure Land followers therefore attempt to attain rebirth into the pure land of Amitābha, where they can practice the Dharma more readily.
Nichiren Buddhism has taught that its teaching is the most suitable for the recent Mappō period.
Vajrayana Buddhism taught that its teaching would be popular when “iron birds are upon the sky” before its decline. The Kalacakra tantra contains a prophecy of a holy war in which a Buddhist king will win.
Theravada Buddhists taught that Buddhism would decline in five thousand years.
Some monks such as Dōgen and Hsu Yun had alternative views regarding dharma decline. Dōgen believed that there is no mappō while Hsu Yun thought mappō is not inevitable.
Some Chinese folk religions taught that the three ages were the teaching period of Dīpankara Buddha, Gautama Buddha, and the current era of Maitreya.
Original source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Buddhist_eschatology&oldid=486559334
Original Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism
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