Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit"Till the World Ends" by Ke$ha performed by Britney Spears (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Buddhist eschatology, as subscribed to by some Buddhist schools, derives from purported Gautama Buddha's prediction that his teachings, the "Dharma," would disappear after 5,000 years.
According to the discourse collection (Sutta Pitaka), the "ten wholesome courses of conduct" will disappear. People will follow the ten unwholesome courses of action -- bad karma that includes murder, violence, theft, sexual misconduct, false speech (perjury, divisiveness, abuse, and idle talk), greed, ill will, and delusion.
Greed manifests as perverted lust and rapacious craving for resources resulting in skyrocketing poverty and the end of compassionate behavior born out of the true Dharma.
How long would the Buddha's teaching last? Signs of corruption were evident in the Buddha's time (e.g., old Subhadda held wrong views, DN 16, 6:28) span of time was expanded to 5,000 years.
Commentators like Ven. Buddhaghosa predicted a step-by-step disappearance of the Buddha's teachings: During the first stage, enlightened beings 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.
The last of his relics would be gathered together in Bodh Gaya and cremated. Some time [one school says millions of years, another thousands] following this development a new buddha will arise.
Maitreya Buddha will arise to rediscover and reveal the timeless Dharma, namely the path to nirvana. The Buddha said that Maitreya is currently residing in Tuita heaven, where he is awaiting his final rebirth in the human world.
The decline of the Dharma (the core of Buddhism) in the world, its disappearance, and its eventual re-establishment by another buddha are in keeping with the general shape of Buddhist cosmology.
Buddhism like Vedic Hinduism teaches that there are cycles of evolution and destruction over the aeons, of which the present epoch represents only the latest step.
The historical Buddha Shakyamuni is only the latest in a series of supremely-enlightened teachers (buddhas) that stretches back into the past. (The Buddha named 29 of these buddhas).
The belief in the decline and disappearance of the true Dharma -- the teaching that successfully leads to enlightenment and nirvana -- in the human 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 Mahayana Buddhism, the use of tantra is rationalized as justifiable by the degenerate state of the present world.
The East Asian belief in the decline of the Dharma (mappo in Japanese) was instrumental in the emergence of Pure Land Buddhism. Within the oldest Theravada Buddhist tradition, debate over whether nirvana was still attainable in the present age helped prompt the creation of the Dhammayutt Monastic Order in Thailand and more importantly as various popular lay Insight-Meditation (Vipassana) movements such as Goenka.
In China, Buddhist eschatology was strengthened by the Taoist influence: The messianic features of Maitreya are widely emphasized. The figure of Prince Moonlight obtains prominence unknown in Sanskrit sources. So one of the T'ang Dynasty apocrypha predicts his rebirth in the female form, thus creating religious legitimacy for the Wu Zetian Empress's usurpation. Making more Taoist associations, the "Sutra of Samantabhadra" portrays Prince Moonlight as dwelling in a cave on Penglai Island.
Buddhist cosmology speaks of incredibly long cycles. During these, the lifespan of human beings lengthens and shortens according to collective human conduct (karma). In the Cakkavati Sutra the Buddha explains the relationship between the lifespan of human beings and behavior. According to this discourse, in the distant past unskillful behavior was unknown among the human race (Agga~n~na Sutra, DN 27).
Humans devolved from celestial, space-traveling beings (devas). As a result of their generally skillful behavior, people lived for an immensely long time -- 80,000 years -- endowed with great beauty, health, pleasure, and strength. Over time however they began behaving unskillfully. This gradually shortened average lifespan to 100 years, where it now stands. But this is cyclical. It will continue to go down along with human morality until it is 10, with girls reaching sexual maturity at the age of five.
Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a "sword-interval." Swords will be wielded by human beings, who will hunt one another. However, a few people will take shelter in the wilderness to escape the carnage. When the slaughter is over, they will come out of hiding and resolve to take up a life of skillful and virtuous conduct again. With the recovery of virtue, the lifespan will gradually increase until it again very gradually reaches 80,000 years, with girls attaining sexual maturity at the age of 500.
According to Tibetan Buddhist literature, the age of the first Buddha (28 buddhas ago) was 100,000 years, and his height was 100 cubits. But the 28th buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE) lived 80 years, and his height was 20 cubits.
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