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


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.

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