Kaliyuga

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Kaliyuga

Postby Indrajala » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:49 pm

Are we in a degenerate age?

In Vedic literature and theory they say we are in the Kaliyuga which is described as one of degeneracy, immorality, decay and increasing chaos.

Take for example the following:
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.2.1

śrī-śuka uvāca

tataś cānu-dinaḿ dharmaḥ

satyaḿ śaucaḿ kṣamā dayā

kālena balinā rājan

nańkṣyaty āyur balaḿ smṛtiḥ



Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.


One need not point out this is NOT a Buddhist text. However, that need not negate the value of such predictions. You don't have to be a Buddhist yogi to develop foreknowledge and wisdom. In the Buddhist model such individuals may perhaps not achieve liberation from samsara, but they still can possess a divine eye.

In Buddhism of course one also finds the Buddha by his own admission describing the eventual decay of his dharma in the world. There has been endless discussion over the centuries when precisely this degenerate age will begin. Nevertheless it is certain that degeneration was foretold.

As I read more of traditional Indian (not necessarily "Hindu" because such a concept only began in the 19th century) ideas on the kaliyuga I find myself thinking how it describes our present day. The quote above accurately describes what is happening to our world. The idea of kaliyuga actually helps in explaining a lot of things in the world and in human history. However, unfortunately it also leads me to wonder what can be done.

In such times the Bodhisattva presumably finds their calling and duty to lead from the front, but then looking at it realistically rather than idealistically there is only so much one can do given the circumstances.

I often see quick rejection of such an idea as the common view now amongst many Buddhists I dialogue with is that that Buddhadharma is spreading across the planet, science is purportedly fixing so many of our problems, some historians insist the standard of living is going up and "democracy" allows for much more freedoms and liberties than in past ages. However, such assertions are debatable when you take a good realistic look at the world. I would argue things are getting worse and worse both on religious and social levels.

I mean look at the life expectancy assumption. We think we live longer than before but that's misleading. The life expectancy from birth fails to take into account all humans. The statistic should be recalculated as life expectancy from conception and then factor in abortion numbers. If you factor in the probability of an individual being aborted within the first eight to nine months of their existence from conception, the average human life expectancy I imagine would decrease dramatically. In our present day where abortion is common and even enforced by law in some countries, the people of old probably statistically lived longer on average.

Incidentally, this is where religious teachings would increase life expectancy. Reduce abortions and average human life expectancy from conception would increase.

However, by present day definition you're only a human individual from birth.

This all has great implications on how one might plan life and make decisions. Whether you agree or not, there is plenty of good evidence to support the claim that we're in the kali yuga and all the signs of it are present and increasing.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:42 pm

We could be, but it is not pre-destined. :)

See here:
...if, Subhadda, the bhikkhus live righteously, the world will not be destitute of arahats.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:19 am

Individual wrote:We could be, but it is not pre-destined. :)

See here:
...if, Subhadda, the bhikkhus live righteously, the world will not be destitute of arahats.


That doesn't mean there won't be decay of society -- only that if the monks live properly they will still produce Arhats.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Huifeng » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:48 am

Huseng wrote:Are we in a degenerate age?

In Vedic literature and theory they say we are in the Kaliyuga which is described as one of degeneracy, immorality, decay and increasing chaos.

Take for example the following:
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.2.1

...


One need not point out this is NOT a Buddhist text.
...
.


Don't worry! The Srimad Bhagavatam is post Buddhist, which also makes it definitely post Veda and so technically Vedanta. And where does it get these ideas from? Bronkhorst points out that (2007: 70-71):

A cyclic notion of time, in which kalpas, yugas and other time
units playa role, is a common feature of classical Hinduism from a
certain date onward. It is not known to the Vedic texts. Among the
earliest texts in this tradition that show familiarity with the concept
we must count the Mahabharata.
...
If, therefore, Gonzalez-Reimann's hypothesis is correct-and he argues
his case convincingly-we may have to see in the cyclic vision of
time an element that entered into the Brahmanical tradition from
the culture of Greater Magadha at a time when the core of the
Mahabharata (its first written version) was already in existence.


In other words, these Vedantic texts got the idea from the Jainas, Ajivikas and Buddhists in the first place! Though of course, the term "Kali-yuga" itself, based on the goddess Kali, comes quite a bit later than these traditions.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:17 am

In any case the cited text coupled with the ideas found in Buddhism and elsewhere indicate that it is foreseen, or at least predicted, that the world and society will continually degrade both socially and spiritually as time goes on.

Given such sentiments being so widespread in Indian thought and also in East Asia, it makes you wonder about the future to come. In old Chinese thought we're continually moving away from that mythic age of Yao and Shun (the former Kings 先王), so humanity is likewise perceived as in a state of disruption and chaos.

Whether you call it kaliyuga or mofa/mappo 末法 or "degenerate age" it doesn't really matter...

One thing that alarms me is that increasing proliferation of false teachers and wrong views. As time goes on the whole process of spiritual practice becomes more and more difficult.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby ground » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:56 am

Huseng wrote:In any case the cited text coupled with the ideas found in Buddhism and elsewhere indicate that it is foreseen, or at least predicted, that the world and society will continually degrade both socially and spiritually as time goes on.
...
Whether you call it kaliyuga or mofa/mappo 末法 or "degenerate age" it doesn't really matter...

"degenerate age" is a common idea in Mahayana buddhism I am familiar with. And I find it a very powerful and inspiring idea.

Huseng wrote:In such times the Bodhisattva presumably finds their calling and duty to lead from the front, but then looking at it realistically rather than idealistically there is only so much one can do given the circumstances.

Actually the activities one can engage in are countless and inconceivably vast. With the realization of the Dharma the "degenerate age" will cease.

Sentient beings who will an aeon of dissolution to become an aeon of evolution can indeed transform an aeon of dissolution into an aeon of evolution; and they experience and aeon of evolution.
Sentient beings who will an aeon of evolution to become an aeon of dissolution can indeed transform an aeon of evolution into an aeon of dissolution; and they experience and aeon of dissolution.
But really the evolution and the dissolution do not change into one another; for it is the will which changes in this way.
Similarly, sentient beings who will one aeon to become just one morning may experience one aeon in one morning. And sentient beings who will one morning to become one aeon may experience just that.
This is called the miraculous ability born of the bodhisattva's will.

Aryadharmasamgiti Sutra



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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:46 pm

In the Vishuddhi Marga it mentions how thinking you are in a degenerate age, saying that people cannot reach full attainment, is a wrong view.

People in Japan thought that way, and look, now their practices are practically worthless. :oops:
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Tatsuo » Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:22 am

So you know (and practised) all kind of different practices of Japanese Buddhism to be able to judge, that all their practices are worthless? How do you measure worthlessness of a practice?
Btw. the Tripitaka also speaks about how long the dharma will be available, so it's not only a "Mahayana thing":

"If, Ananda, women had not obtained the going forth from home into homelessness in the
dharma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, the Brahma-faring, Ananda, would
have lasted long, true dharma would have endured for a thousand years. But since,
Ananda, women have gone forth…in the dharma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-
finder, now Ananda, the Brahma-faring will not last long, true dharma will endure only
for five hundred years." (Vinayapitaka, Cullavagga (X,1,6), Translation by: Horner 1963; see also: Anguttara Nikaya, Gotamī Vagga (A.VIII.51))

Now the difference is, that the Buddha responded to that in many Mahayana Sutras, whereas in Theravada this passage is generally overlooked.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:52 am

Tatsuo, there is more than one such prediction.

And for the record, Buddha Shakyamuni intended from the very beginning to have the fourfold assemble of lay and monastic men and women, it's recorded in the suttas in a discussion between Mara and Shakyamuni, where Mara is trying to convince Shakyamuni to die, and Shakyamuni stated his intentions as to what is to be done before he will die, this was before Mahaprajapiti was ordained.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:56 am

I mentioned the Vishuddhi Marga particularly because it is a very authoritative texts, even in Sakya, a Tibetan school, if you want a Geshe degree, you are likely to learn this text like the back of your hand. You know, maybe I should find that passage again, Buddhagosa was a genius at providing references for uneducated people like me to back up what they say with.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Tatsuo » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:00 am

I wasn't referring to the ordination of women (I am absolutely for the ordination of women and I don't support the views from some conservative Buddhists, that women are "responsible" for the degeneration of the dharma). I only posted this passage, because judging from the posts in this thread it would seem, that only Mahayana has this idea of degeneration of the dharma.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:19 am

No,.. not just Mahayana,..

See here's the thing, we all know the Dharma is going to degenerate, it's unavoidable, but if we are using that as an excuse not to practice, not to gain liberation, it is a wrong view because it hinders us on the path and undermines our efforts.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:20 am

I couldn't find it, I didn't look through the whole book, just skimmed the part I thought it would be in, spent about 10 minutes, I might come back to it later or find the reference in my old writings.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Tatsuo » Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:59 pm

spiritnoname wrote:See here's the thing, we all know the Dharma is going to degenerate, it's unavoidable, but if we are using that as an excuse not to practice, not to gain liberation, it is a wrong view because it hinders us on the path and undermines our efforts.


I totally agree with you. But why do you think, that's the case with Japanese Buddhism?
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby plwk » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:19 pm

...because judging from the posts in this thread it would seem, that only Mahayana has this idea of degeneration of the dharma.
Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta
Ani Sutta
Anagata-bhayani Sutta
Kimila Sutta

A reflection from the late Ven Master Hsuan Hua:
http://gbm-online.com/online/dharma/onproper.html
Good and Wise Advisors!
When I left the home life, someone told me this is the time of the Dharma's end.
What is the Dharma's Ending Age?
That is a time when the Dharma has left the roots and has run out to the branch tips.
It is an era when the Dharma reaches its final existence.
I heard this talk, and I made a vow.
I said, I will not permit the Dharma to reach its end.
Wherever I am I will only allow the Proper Dharma Age to survive .
Wherever I am I will reduce the disasters there, and increase the blessings and wisdom of the people there. I won't let the Dharma's end to occur; only the Proper Dharma Age will prevail.

That was my vow, and I truly overstep my own strength when I say I will always speak the Proper Dharma, practice the Proper Dharma, and let the Proper Dharma be my model and standard, I propagate the Proper Dharma.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:13 pm

plwk wrote:Wherever I am I will only allow the Proper Dharma Age to survive .
Wherever I am I will reduce the disasters there, and increase the blessings and wisdom of the people there. I won't let the Dharma's end to occur; only the Proper Dharma Age will prevail.


That sounds quite idealistic. The Buddha by his own admission said his dharma in this world would come to an end.

I think if you look at the state of Buddhism as a whole a hundred years ago and compare it to our present day that decay will be evident. The majority of the world's population used to be Buddhist, or at least engage in Buddhist activities as a part of their spirituality in life.

Consider that China in 1850 had a population of about 412,000,000 individuals while the world population was around 1,265,000,000. Together with the rest of East and South East Asia which was predominately Buddhist, as was China (or at least the average person was engaging in Buddhist activities as part of their sprituality), it is easy to see how the world's largest religion by population was Buddhist.

Today how many Buddhists are there in comparison to Catholics? Moreover, the state of many Buddhist institutions has been in decline as people fail to see the value in Buddhism.

All things being impermanent and empty, things can change for the better. However, this degenerate age was predicted by the Buddha himself and affirmed by countless other wise individuals both Buddhist and not.

The situation isn't hopeless, but we need to be realistic.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:35 pm

Tatsuo wrote:
spiritnoname wrote:See here's the thing, we all know the Dharma is going to degenerate, it's unavoidable, but if we are using that as an excuse not to practice, not to gain liberation, it is a wrong view because it hinders us on the path and undermines our efforts.


I totally agree with you. But why do you think, that's the case with Japanese Buddhism?



I read at one time that Japanese Buddhism made a decision that liberation was no longer possible for beings until Maitreya comes so the teachings were dumbed down for everyone to practice and the aim for liberation was abandoned. I'm not sure this might have been around the time that the Japanese GOV got afraid the monastics had too much power and decided to bring them down a knotch by making them marry.

I don't want to look up where I read that, I look up sutta all the time, look through commentaries, I just don't want to waste that much time on Japanese Zen.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Tatsuo » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:32 pm

Well first of all there are much larger (and arguably more important) Buddhist sects in Japan than the Zen sects, but that doesn't matter here. Japanese Buddhism is not a unitary system, so "Japanese Buddhism" cannot decide anything, because there are many different and autonomous sects. And i've never heard from any of those sects, that it was decided, that "liberation was no longer possible for beings until Maitreya comes". Even the Pureland Schools argue, that it is possible to achieve enlightenment in the next life. Shingon and Tendai have the notion of becoming enlightened in this body, Nichiren-shu argues for enlightenment through the Lotus Sutra during this lifetime and in Zen you can become enlightened through the practice of zazen and/or koan.
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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby fragrant herbs » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:12 am

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Re: Kaliyuga

Postby Luke » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:26 am

Urgyen Chodron wrote:I also heard Hindus telling me that there is a place where you can go in India and you tell them your name and age and they have a record of everything you have done in this lifetime and what you will do in the future in this lifetime. Now that I would have to see to believe.

Well, many call centers are now in India. If they record all your calls to these call centers and look up your credit card purchases, that would come pretty close!
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