The fortunate aeon

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
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The fortunate aeon

Postby dave » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:45 pm


The Fortunate Aeon, the first English translation of the Bhadrakalpika Sutra, recounts the stories of the thousand Buddhas who will reach enlightenment in this fortunate era (Bhadrakalpa). Tibetan text on facing pages, with 1,174 blockprint Buddha images in gold.
(source: amazon webpage)

At the end of the previous kalpa, when the world was engulfed by flood, one thousand golden lotuses arose from the great ocean. Beings residing in the heavens, seeing this auspicious sign, understood it as a harbringer of the thousand Buddhas who would brighten the coming aeon. This kalpa would be known as the Fortunate Aeon, a time when thousands of generations would have the opportunity to free themselves from all forms of suffering.

The Bhadrakalpa is our present aeon, and Shakyamuni, the Buddha of our present age, is the fourth of the one thousand Buddhas. Appearing in India twenty-five centuries ago, the Buddha taught the Dharma for nearly five decades.
Through his teachings on stupas and images he presented the body of the Buddha; through the Sutras he communicated the sound of enlightened knowledge, the Buddhas speech.; through his own awakended awareness he transmitted the receptacle of the inner light of Bodhicitta, the mind established in the enlightened view. Thus he revealed the path that purifies and transforms body, speech and mind.

Among the teachings given by Sakyamuni Buddha is the Bhadrakalpika Sutra, a celebration of the great procession of the Buddhas who will appear in the world. In its teachings it reveals the inner heart of liberation and the path followed by all who aspires to become Buddhas.
Focusing on the nature of the fully enlightened Buddha, the Bhadrakalpika Sutra sets forth teachings on the ten strenghths, and the perfections that are the gateway to this samadhi.

Reading, reciting, and listening to the Bhadrakalpika Sutra invokes the blessings of all the Buddhas whose coming it heralds; thus the Bhadrakalpika Sutra has always been counted among the the most auspicious of texts. So important has this work been considered in Tibet, that the original compilers of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon placed the Bhadrakalpika Sutra first in the general Sutra section, immediately preceding the Lalitavistara Sutra, the detailed account of the life and teachings of the Buddha Sakyamuni.

In light of the special place occupied by the Bhadrakalpika Sutra in the Tibetan Buddhist Canon and the power and blessings of its teahings, we felt it would be auspicious to offer a translation of this work for Western readers. This is one of the first of the publications to come forth from Yeshe De Buddhist Research and Translation Project, established in 1983. The program has already attracted a number of Buddhist scholars, and their translations of the Buddhist Sutras and sastras will appear in future volumes of this series.

(source: flap of the book)

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Re: The fortunate aeon

Postby dave » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:32 pm


Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:02 pm

Re: The fortunate aeon

Postby dave » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:22 pm

The future Buddha Maitreya as predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni in the Kalpa Badra Sutra: One of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings is called the ‘Kalpa Badra Sutra’, the Sutra of the Good Aeon. The “good aeon” refers to our time and it is in this sutra that the Buddha gave the reason for this: He explained that one thousand historical Buddhas are going to appear during this aeon. He predicted their names, their activities, their lifespans, the number of their students, and described how long the teachings of these historical Buddhas are going to remain in this world. One of these historical Buddhas will be Maitreya. We will now have a look at the future Buddha Maitreya as predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni in the Kalpa Badra Sutra.

Buddha Shakyamuni gave the following introduction to his explanations about the “Good Aeon” to a large gathering of monks or bikshus: Once, long time back, when this universe manifested, there was a period of time where there was what first the Mandala of water, enormous amounts of water which was the base from which the universe evolved slowly. On the water surface there were one thousand lotus flowers. The gods noticed that. They saw these beautiful lotus flowers and they were wondering what that meant. The king of gods explained that the lotus flowers were an indication for that the Kalpa that is going to evolve now will be a good Kalpa and that one thousand Buddhas are going to appear in that aeon. The Buddha recounted that and said that this was hence the beginning of our Good Kalpa during which one thousand Buddhas appear.
After this introduction, now to the future Buddha Maitreya’s history: Buddha Shakyamuni explained that during the period of time called Dzingpa, there lived a Chakravatin, i.e. an universal ruler with power over all four continents. He in turn had a minister who was a Brahmin called Gyatso Dül. Gyatso Dül had a son who was marvellous and who attained Buddha, the enlightened state. His name as a Buddha was Rinchen Nyingpo (Ratnagarbha). The Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo started to teach the Dharma and the thousand sons of the king, the universal monarch, who at the time were being taught by the Brahmin minister Gyatso Dül, received instructions from the Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo. Generally, these one thousand sons were beings educated in the Vedas, but at that point, the Brahmin minister Gyatso Dül and the king, their father requested all of them to develop Bodhicitta, the enlightened attitude. So in the presence of the Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo they received his teachings and developed Bodhicitta. One day the Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo instructed them to make wishing prayers to attain enlightenment and to manifests themselves as historical Buddhas in the future in order to guide sentient beings. So the sons of the king made corresponding wishing prayers. However there were certain periods in the future where none of them actually was making wishing prayers to be then reborn as a historical Buddha in order to teach sentient beings. One of these future times was the period we are living in. It’s the era where is average human lifespan goes up to one hundred years, no more. Furthermore it is the period of time where kleshas, obscuring states of mind are very intense. Where there are lots of troubles, many conflicts. Where people are so mean that even if they have received great kindness from their parents they would just give something ugly in return. So none of the princes who were making wishing prayers for their future activity could imagine manifesting themselves during such a period of time because in their eyes it would virtually be impossible to guide these beings. Therefore, the Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo asked „isn’t there anyone among you who will promise and make this commitment to manifest during this period of time to guide sentient beings“ After a while it was the Brahmin Gyatso Dül, the Chakravatin`s minister who said I will in the future manifest during this period of time and manifest the activity of a historical Buddha. He is the one who then became Buddha Shakyamuni. There was yet another period of time that was in that sense still vacant as no one had made wishing prayer to be reborn at that point and guide beings; it was the period where the lifespan of human beings goes till approximately 80 000 years and the reason why no one volunteered for that one was that this is a period of time where humans live in great luxury, in a state of very pleasing well-being. So it is a period of time where no one would even think about something like the Dharma. People wouldn’t have the urge to practice the Dharma and therefore none of the students at that time could imagine to manifest in such a time because in their view it won’t be very beneficial. However, the fifth among the thousand sons of the Chakravatin who at that time was called Trime/ the Immaculate One volunteered „I promise to manifest as a historical Buddha in that time“. This is going to be the Buddha Maitreya, the fifth historical Buddha of the Good Kalpa.

Buddha Shakyamuni prior to his manifestation in our world as our historical Buddha empowered in the realm Tushita Maitreya as the next Buddha the fifth to come. He empowered him as his regent in Tushita and he offered him his crown signifying this authorisation that he predicted Maitreya to become the next Buddha in our aeon.

Buddha Shakyamuni also explained in which way the Buddha Maitreya would then manifest himself in the future. In order to understand that we first have to look back to era of Buddha Shakyamuni himself which Buddha Shakyamuni has predicted too. The Buddha says that after his Paranirvana, after he will leave this world, his teachings will remain in this world for another 5000 years. First there will be a period of 1500 years during which the majority of practitioners in fact will achieve the result of the practice, liberation from Samsara. This will be followed by a second period of yet another 1500 years where the focus of Buddhism will be on practising the Dharma. However, results won’t be attained as in the early period. The third phase which will last for another 1500 years will be a period where Buddhism is applied rather on a theoretical level so that explanations are been given, but people are no longer be able to practice Buddhism as it was originally taught and this will be followed by another 500 years through which Buddhism rather remains as a theoretical system or some kind of culture; one will merely know about Buddhism because of outer signs like robes or architectures etc. but it will not be practised. After these 5000 years have elapsed, times will become worse and worse. Bad kinds of diseases will spread, people will starve, there will be an enormous suffering caused by wars, weapons, hunger, thirst etc and the lifespan of people will become shorter and shorter until the average lifespan will be 10 years only. At that time in the future an emanation of Buddha Maitreya will show himself in this world. He will live among the people but he will look very different from them. He will have a brilliant body, a strong healthy body and live long so that the people will just by meeting him start to think: “but how is it that he so different from us? How can one have such a brilliant appearance?” They will discover that this person in that case the emanation of Maitreya is training himself in patience. That he has a very positive attitude, never feels resentment or something negative about others. Maitreya will introduce them to this kind of basic ethical principles. Consequently, people will follow these principles and slowly as time passes by, their merit increases and therefore their lifespan will become longer. This will go on for a long period of time until they live with an average lifespan of 80 000 years. This will then be the time during which the Buddha Maitreya as a historical Buddha manifests in this world.

In the Kalpa Badra Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni explained also how Buddha Maitreya is going to come on this earth. He said in this period of time where the average lifespan of people will be approximately 80 000 years there will live a king in the town Kushinagar that is to say the place where Buddha Shakyamuni has left this world, has manifested his Paranirvana. In this town there will then live a king who is very mighty. He will rule all over India. He will have a minister called Tsongwa who belongs to the Brahmin type, and Buddha Maitreya is going to be the minister’s son. The birth of Maitreya, Buddha Shakyamuni predicted, will be very similar to his own: He will leave his mother’s body through the right side and the moment he will leave his mother’s body, he will make a prediction, saying „this is going to be my last birth as a Bodhisattva. I am going to manifest complete and ultimate enlightenment in this life. The first 20 000 years of his life he will live a normal life as a layperson and he will receive a very comprehensive education. He will study the entire field of knowledge of the Brahmins. He will study shastras and vedas. He will go through the entire training of the intellectual knowledge that is going to be studied at this time. For a period of 20 000 years he is going to do this and he will become very learned. The sons of the king also will become his students then. The father of these sons, the mighty king will be very pleased about the learnedness of Maitreya, their teacher, and being so pleased he will then offer the teacher a stupa made of all kinds of precious stones.
The teacher in turn will give this gift to his father, the minister. He will then offer this gift to the students and the students will cut the stupa with the precious stones into pieces and for the teacher who is observing this it is an impulse, which makes him understand that „all phenomena are in fact impermanent”.
He furthermore realizes that it is worthless and pointless to continue a regular life as a layperson, a householder. It is at this point that he is going to renounce the ordinary world and enter his spiritual path. He will take ordination and finally manifest his complete and perfect enlightenment and will then be the historical Buddha Maitreya who teaches the Dharma. He will teach the Dharma in three Dharma cycles. During the first cycle of his teaching from among his students 9,6 billions will attain the level of an Arhat. During the second cycle of his teachings 9,4 billions among his students will attain the level of an Arhat and during the third cycle of his teachings 9,2 billion students will attain the level of an Arhat.
After the Buddha Maitreya will have attained complete and perfect enlightenment he will live for another 74 000 years and will die at the age of 84 000 years. After he will have left this world his teachings will remain in the world for another 80 000 years.

Someone who during the period of time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni takes for example the Upasaka vows (laymen’s vows), who then studies the Dharma and reflects upon his meaning based on the works of Maitreya and who in the process of his Dharma practice is not able to actualise the result, that is to say the liberation from Samsara, will in the future - when Buddha Maitreya is going to teach his first cycle of teachings - being among his first students. This is what the Buddha Shakyamuni himself predicted in a further Sutra, the Sutra Predicting Maitreya. In the Sutra the Kalpa Badra Sutra the Sutra that explains about the good Kalpa here Buddha Shakyamuni said that someone who in our period of time studies, contemplates on and practices the five great treatises of Maitreya will without any doubt whatsoever definitively become one among the disciples that are going to be guided by the Buddha Maitreya once he will be the historical Buddha in the first cycle of his teachings.
source: my transcribed KIBI study, India

Ngawang Drolma
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Re: The fortunate aeon

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:14 pm

Thanks very much, Dave :namaste:

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Re: The fortunate aeon

Postby aE3 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:18 pm

Thank you Dave, it is very interesting.
I'd like to be able to afford to buy this book.
I there an online version available anywhere ?
all life has equal value

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