The Sutra Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma

(Taisho Tripitaka 0396)



Thus I have heard. Once, the Buddha was in the state of Kushinagara; he was to attain Parinirvana in three months. Together with all the monks and all the bodhisattvas, an innumerable crowd came to visit the place where the Buddha was, and bowed themselves to the earth. The World-Honored One was still, silent and preaching nothing; his radiant brilliance was not manifested.

The sage Ananda did obeisance, and said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, whenever you have preached the Dharma, your majestic brilliance has been uniquely illustrious. But now, a great multitude has come together, and your radiance is not manifested in the slightest. What is the reason for this? A reason there certainly must be, and we wish to be taught its significance.”

The Buddha was silent, and made no response. After Ananda had repeated the question three times, the Buddha told him, “After my nirvana, when the Dharma is about to extinct, the Five Mortal Sins will foul the world, and the demonic-way will flourish exceedingly. The demons will become monks, to spoil and wreck my Way. They will wear lay dress [rejoicing in cassocks] and multicolored clothing. They will drink wine and eat meat, killing living things in their desire for fine flavors. They will not have compassionate minds, and will hate and envy each other.”

“At times, there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyeka-buddhas, and Arhats, who cultivate merits diligently and treat all beings with reverence; being the objects of the people’s devotion, they will impartially preach and convert. They will pity the poor and keep the old in their thoughts, and take care of those in poverty and difficulty. They will constantly persuade the people to worship and serve Sutras and images, doing all good acts that bring merit; their wills and natures will be kind and good. They will not harass or injure people, but sacrifice themselves to save others. They will not spare themselves, but will put up with insult, being benevolent and harmonious.”

Should there be such a being, the gang of demonic monks will unite in hating him, slandering him and blazoning forth his errors. He will be expelled and banished; they will not let him remain at that place. From then onwards, they will all fail to cultivate merit according to the Way. Temples will be empty and desolate, and will no longer be repaired, but will be allowed to fall into ruin. The monks will covet nothing but material goods, accumulating them without distribution, not doing good deeds. They will deal in male and female slaves, plow the fields and plant them, burning off the mountain forests and harming all living things; they will not have compassionate minds. Male slaves will become monks, female slaves will become nuns; they will have none of the merit that comes from practicing the Way, but rather will be filthy and depraved, foul and turbulent; men and women will not be kept separate. The reason the Way will become shallow and weak, is all because of that type of person.”

“Some will evade the constables by taking refuge in my Way, seeking to become monks, but not practicing the precepts and ordinances. At the middle and end of the lunar month, although in name they should chant the precepts, they will be tired of it and resentful; lazy and careless, they will not wish to listen. They will select and abbreviate here and there, unwilling to speak everything. The Sutras will not be recited, and should there be readers, they will not know the characters and phrases; they will force interpretations and allege their accuracy, not bothering to ask people who know. In their haughtiness they will pursue fame, making a vain display of elegant manners with which to glorify themselves, and hope for people’s offerings.”

“This gang of demonic monks will be doomed to fall spirit and soul into Avici Hell after the end of their fated lives. In their punishment for the Five Mortal Sins, there is nothing they will not suffer as hungry ghosts and animals, for as many kalpa as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. Their sin atoned for, only then will they come forth, but they will be born in a frontier state, where there will be no place that has the Three Treasures.”

“When the Dharma is on the verge of being destroyed, it is women who will concentrate on advancement, and have the habit of performing good deeds. Men will be lazy and indolent; they will have no use for the words of the Dharma. They will consider monks to be like befouled earth; they will not have believing minds.”

“The Dharma is about to be wiped out, and when the time for that comes, all the gods will weep tears. Rainy and dry seasons will be untimely, the Five Grains will not ripen, pestilential vapors will be prevalent; there will be many dead. The common people will toil in hardship, the public officials will be calculating and harsh; not compliant with the principles of the Way, all will have their hearts set on pleasure or disorder. Wicked men will steadily increase in number, to become like the sands of the sea; the good will be very scarce, no more than one or two.”

“Because the kalpa is nearly at its end, the days and months will become shorter and shorter, and men’s lives will pass more and more hastily; their heads will be white at forty. Men will indulge in sexual conducts so that their vital energy will exhaust quickly and their lives will be shortened, or they may live at most to the age of sixty. The lives of men will become shorter, but the lives of women will become longer, to seventy or eighty or ninety; some will reach a hundred years.”

“Great floods will suddenly occur; they will strike by surprise, unlooked-for. The people of the world will have no faith, and hence they will take the world to be permanent. Living creatures of every variety, with no distinction between gentry and the base, will be drowned and float away, dashed about, to be eaten by fish or turtles.”

“At that time, there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyeka-Buddhas, and Arhats; the gang of demons will drive them away, and they will not participate in the religious community. These three types of disciples will enter into the mountains, to a land of merit. Tranquil and self-controlled, they will rest content in this. Their lives will grow longer, the various gods will protect and watch over them, and Moon-Light [Bodhisattva] will appear in the world. They will be able to meet him, and together they will make my Way flourish.”

“In fifty-two years after that, the Shurangama Sutra and the Pratyutpanna-Samadhi Sutra will vanish first, and shortly afterwards the twelve divisions of the Mahayana canon will also be destroyed in their entirety, and will not appear again. The robes of the monks will spontaneously turn white.”

“When my Dharma is destroyed, the process will be comparable to an oil lamp, which, drawing close to the time it will go out, will shed an even greater radiance and brilliance, and then be extinguished. When my Dharma is destroyed, it will surely be like a lamp going out.”

“What will happen then is not possible to describe in detail. But several thousand myriad years after this happens, Maitreya will descend to be Buddha in the world. All-under-Heaven will enjoy peace, prosperity, and equality; the pestilential vapors will be dispersed and expelled. The rain will be suitable to growth and no more, and the Five Grains will grow and flourish. Trees will grow large, and men will be eight Tzerng tall. All of them will live eighty-four thousand years. It is impossible to count how many living things will be able to be saved.”

The wise and worthy Ananda made obeisance and said to the Buddha, “What shall we name this Sutra? How is it to be venerated and practiced?”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “The name of this Sutra is The Total Extinction of the Dharma. Propagate it to all; you should cause all to have a clear, complete understanding of it. The merits of its accomplishments are limitless, and cannot be counted up.”

The four groups of disciple heard the Sutra; grief-stricken and rueful, all aroused their minds to attain the Way of the Unsurpassed Holy Truth. All did obeisance to the Buddha, and departed.

Zazen “Haiku”

a memory evening

forgotten in the sunset

burnishes copper kettles

holding linen gloves

performing léger de main

with destiny’s child

hidden pathways unwind

each nascent moment

ever pregnant pauses

judge and jury mind

hears not the birdsong

resenting coming dawns

a tear meanders lost

on a forsaken face

quenching desert lilies

sandcastle dreams ebb

and flow, with the

incoming tides of life

under the arch’s curve

fate shelters a while

as the earth drinks deep

raindrops softly caress

verdant carpets drawn

on canvas fields

watercolours paint margins

for the Soul to journey

a leather coracle in Dao

the profound silence of ponds

hears water boatmen

tickle trout with song

the wind plays flute

a chimney blows smoke rings

beech logs in the fire

cows chanting mantra in sheds

the prayer bell chimes

a farmer brings fresh hay

the kestrel hovers hungry

seeing beyond horizons

keen for future dreams

the woodcutter’s solitude

cuts axe blade sharp

through logs mundane

spiced wine warming

the veins of golden ore

pumped only by heart

the acrobat squirrel

crosses the swaying canyon

between century’s pylons

semaphore trees

waving long naked fingers

in winter’s winds

the point before mind

waits for the ripple of

a passing thought

stardust falls silent

for those who wait

no footprints in the snow

a match scratches a back

a hint of phosphorous

fire eases the itch of cold

moss on the trees

hiding from sunrays

growing only aeon’s beards

the wise old yews

cracking knuckles in the breeze

have watched millennia

the moorhens plink

pennies in a fountain

wishing for luck at dawn

a carrion crow plucks

a hearty breakfast

at the roadside café

omniscience counts

each Autumn leaf

the actuary of Souls

how does dharma teach

the fiery core of stars

only by feathers in the heart

what lies before now

only the present sleeping

waiting for the cockerel

what lies after now

only persistent dawns

irradiated with dew

what lies in the now

only forever born eternal

in the womb of moment

singing songs in the bath

no-one is watching

a child starts to walk

as naked as spring

a flower unfolds its flag

saying only welcome

the candle shimmers

beacons burn on the hills

eyes glisten with living love

an owl hoots in laughter

at man’s busy lives

pondering on their shadows

a spider’s web tense

sees the ants commute

yearning for love

soft down in chestnut shells

beyond fish hook barbs

cradles possibility

red holly berries

write in their font of hope

amidst the thorns

wide empty paths

leading to the cosmic causeway

where bamboo bridges flex

the Dao bends the reed

to fit the clarinet

and Gabriel’s oboe

Dao tunes pianos

in the darkness of night

a quintessence is born

a river carves Souls

whilst brooks chuckle softly

over the mossy rocks

mayflies tickle the eddies

willows bowing humble

under azure skies

scent carries fragrance

of lotus blossom

cherishing tender Sakurai

a single petal floats

wafted on pillow dreams

cotton wool soothes with a tincture

cutting carrots fine

a sliver of perfection

crisp and juicy with joy

sliced ginger pervades

more pungent than any dawn

a newborn deer forages

Dharma of the Day #25 {forest , prāna}

from time to time

go take a walk in the forest

is it a silent place?

 

find yourself a clearing

sit with your back

up against a tree

 

clear your mind

and truly listen

is it silent now?

 

listen even more deeply

can you hear the drums?

that is your blood pulsing

 

when a bird comes along

look only sideways at it

do not stare!

 

become quizzical like a bird

turn your head

from side to side, weigh time

 

put out your hands

palms upwards

now juggle an imaginary ball

 

don’t drop it!

 

juggle it carefully

much like a fresh egg

soften each impact

 

how do your hands feel now?

 

try to inhale all the forest

through only your nose

exhale slowly, through your mouth

 

that my friend

is the smell of prāna!

can you also, hear it?

 

from time to time

go take a walk in the Forest

is it a silent place?

Buddha Twirls a Flower

When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held it before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face.

Buddha said: “I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.”

    Mumon’s comment: Golden-faced Gautama thought he could cheat anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted the teaching? And again, if Maha-Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub, and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of Maha-Kashapa?

 

        At the turning of a flower

        His disguise was exposed.

        No one in heaven or earth can surpass

        Maha-Kashapa’s wrinkled face.

Dharma of the Day #11 {onions}

Try always to make a difference

And when the wall

Stands stark before you

Step back and, dissolve

 

Know that life is not a sprint

Be not like Usain

Rather like Mo

Life is not a meal to be bolted down

 

Have courage always

For trial is learning

Dressed in a countenance

Which like a scroll, unfolds

 

Say your piece

And that is all

Do not force anything

Tickle life, with your words

 

When others cannot see

That which you see

Do not worry!

Every onion has its layers

 

Peeling onions

Sometimes makes you cry

But they add flavour

And taste to a dish

 

Blow your nose

Wash your hands

And reach for the parsley

Chop it fine

 

See aren’t things looking better

Already?

dharma of the day #7

be not fixated on perceived goals

whatever they may be

be thankful for the presents

already in your hands

 

the grass in the field next

is the same as this one

why peer ever longing over fences

when you already have bounty?

 

constant measuring with scales

makes cataracts for the eyes

the milky vision of which

is blinding to the awesome now

in all its magnificence

 

live mind-full and aware

of your state of being

for this can dress reality

in unfamiliar clothes

which do not actually fit

 

seek only the mountain stream

of clear and quenching calm

as fluid as a virgin brook

into which no palms have entered

be as nascent as a five year old

and as full of wonder

 

put aside the prison of pettiness

and soar on eagle’s wings

stretch out your being

so as to encompass

all the universe

 

learn the meaning of one

for you are one

and should you choose to see

you might be at one with all

all boundaries are constructs of mind

 

learn to ebb and flow

seek out the rhythm

and tap your toes to it

drum your fingers

feel the pulse of Dao in your veins

 

drop your shoulders

relax for the yoke of apparent burden

is what weighs you down

are you an Ox tethered in life

or a magnificent adventurer?

 

from time to time seek out silence

for there will you find treasure

amidst all the hubris

and hidden under leaves

to know silence intimately, enlightens

 

silence is a candle

which flickers in the core

to touch such as this

brings hints of eternity

with which to beautify the mundane

 

embrace silence, it is a friend

and most of all, a teacher

listen to his whisper

for he has much and nothing

to tell you

 

and when you hear nothing for

the very first time

you will be amazed and in awe

it is my wish for you

that you will hear the chimes

of nothing, profoundly

 

for this is the naked canvas

upon which you might paint

the tapestry of your life

full of sound, colour and movement.

 

Zazen “haiku” Collection

a memory evening

forgotten in the sunset

burnishes copper kettles

 

holding linen gloves

performing léger de main

with destiny’s child

 

hidden pathways unwind

each nascent moment

ever pregnant pauses

 

judge and jury mind

hears not the birdsong

resenting coming dawns

 

a tear meanders lost

on a forsaken face

quenching desert lilies

 

sandcastle dreams ebb

and flow, with the

incoming tides of life

 

under the arch’s curve

fate shelters a while

as the earth drinks deep

 

raindrops softly caress

verdant carpets drawn

on canvas fields

 

watercolours paint margins

for the Soul to journey

a leather coracle in Dao

 

the profound silence of ponds

hears water boatmen

tickle trout with song

 

the wind play flute

a chimney blows smoke rings

beech logs in the fire

 

cows chanting mantra in sheds

the prayer bell chimes

a farmer brings fresh hay

 

the kestrel hovers hungry

seeing beyond horizons

keen for future dreams

 

the woodcutter’s solitude

cuts axe blade sharp

through logs mundane

 

spiced wine warming

the veins of golden ore

pumped only by heart

 

the acrobat squirrel

crosses the swaying canyon

between century’s pylons

 

semaphore trees

waving long naked fingers

in winter’s winds

 

the point before mind

waits for the ripple of

a passing thought

 

stardust falls silent

for those who wait

no footprints in the snow

 

a match scratches a back

a hint of phosphorous

fire eases the itch of cold

 

moss on the trees

hiding from sunrays

growing only aeon’s beards

 

the wise old yews

cracking knuckles in the breeze

have watched millennia

 

the moorhens plink

pennies in a fountain

wishing for luck at dawn

 

a carrion crow plucks

a hearty breakfast

at the roadside café

 

omniscience counts

each Autumn leaf

the actuary of Souls

 

how does dharma teach

the fiery core of stars

only by feathers in the heart

 

what lies before now

only the present sleeping

waiting for the cockerel

 

what lies after now

only persistent dawns

irradiated with dew

 

what lies in the now

only forever born eternal

in the womb of moment

 

singing songs in the bath

no-one is watching

a child starts to walk

 

as naked as spring

a flower unfolds its flag

saying only welcome

 

the candle shimmers

beacons burn on the hills

eyes glisten with living love

 

an owl hoots in laughter

at man’s busy lives

pondering on their shadows

 

a spider’s web tense

sees the ants commute

yearning for love

 

soft down in chestnut shells

beyond fish hook barbs

cradles possibility

 

red holly berries

write in their font of hope

amidst the thorns

 

wide empty paths

leading to the cosmic causeway

where bamboo bridges flex

 

the Dao bends the reed

to fit the clarinet

and Gabriel’s oboe

 

Dao tunes pianos

in the darkness of night

a quintessence is born

 

a river carves Souls

whilst brooks chuckle softly

over the mossy rocks

 

mayflies tickle the eddies

willows bowing humble

under azure skies

 

scent carries fragrance

of lotus blossom

cherishing tender Sakurai

 

a single petal floats

wafted on pillow dreams

cotton wool soothes with a tincture

 

cutting carrots fine

a sliver of perfection

crisp and juicy with joy

 

sliced ginger pervades

more pungent than any dawn

a newborn deer forages

 

Dharma of the Day #3

do not see apparent adversity as bad

rather see it as doorway, a garland

with which to decorate the new

 

within every challenge can be found

a seed which might germinate

into new experience and knowledge

 

all seeds whilst they are rooting

need careful care and attention

and newly sprouted stems

need to be rotated else they acquire bias

 

the germination of knowledge

is an act of love

which when tended, brings bounty

it is an act of receptivity to the spirit

 

knowledge which arrives quickly

is not so profound as that which

takes longer to mature,

much like vintage wine aged in its cask

 

vintage wine has more nuance

than that fresh from the vine

it has more depth and a subtle aroma

 

when wisdom arrives

it is like an old slipper

familiar to the foot

and slightly battered around the edges

 

it is not possible to attain wisdom

in the absence of trial

for all things have a price

only this one seems to be of better value

 

in learning to tend a garden

one learns much about Dao

and rhythm and seasoning

it makes one a better cook

 

in the Zen of gardening

hurry and haste are soon found

not to have any place

complete absorption in the moment

 

in this manner one learns much

about the present

inherent in any gift of power

and all about, economy

 

better to tend a small garden well

than to take on a country estate

beauty in the small

heals the heart

 

in tending a garden

one tends one’s own heart

this teaches one

a sense of inner love

 

And what could be wrong with that?