According to Buddhist belief, after the death of a Buddha, his teachings pass through
three periods of phases of development. In the first, known as the period of the
Correct Law, Buddhism is a living religion and those who practice it attain
enlightenment through its teachings. The period of the Correct Law following the
death of Shakyamuni Buddha is usually said to be a thousand years in length, though
some sources describe it as five hundred years long.
Second period following the death of a Buddha. During this perid, Buddhism becomes
increasingly formalized, people's connection with it weakens, and progressively fewer
of them are able to gain enlightenment through its teachings. Some sources describe
the period of the Counterfeit Law following Shakyamuni's death as a thousand years in
length, others as five hundred years.
Latter Day of the Law:
Third of the three periods which the teachings of a Buddha pass through after his
death. In this third and last period, the teachings of the buddha lose their power
to lead people to enlightenment. It is said to last for ten thousand years or more.
Reading these got me thinking... if we're in the Latter Day of the Law, what is our real objective as Buddhists? Something tells me that Burton Watson may have been taking some liberties with these explanations in the glossary, or that maybe there is not a clear consensus on these concepts and their effective time frames... in any event, I thought this would be the right place to ask for thoughts on the matter. So... does anyone have any ideas that might clarify this?
Thanks in advance.