Author Topic: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment  (Read 557 times)

Offline paracelsus

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The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« on: November 20, 2018, 08:43:29 pm »
The end of the era of enlightenment was predicted to come to pass about two and a half thousand years after the historical Buddha's death.

It was said it would be recognisable by a number of signs including:

The random breaking of vows by Buddhist monks and teachers:
Buddhist monks taking part in worldly affairs such as politics.
Monks fighting and shedding blood.
Monks engaging in sexual (mis)conduct.
Monks indulging in intoxicants.
The last of the direct lineage from the Buddha of  truly "realised" teachers.

I've seen it suggested that in America (sorry America, possibly also elsewhere) recognition of attainments is all too easily got, and therefore the standards are slipping and more, probably unqualified, teachers are in the market. Note the surge in interest in "mindfulness" which is now so watered down and confused that it is losing currency as an important practice. I heard a comment: "I'm mindful most of the time 'cause I know when I'm brushing my teeth or when I'm  driving the car." or words to that effect.

I think if we look around the above sort of degradation is all happening quite visibly and seemingly more often, although I couldn't say what "it" was like in the past.

If we add to this the general acceptance of dishonesty and vicious nastiness in the media, the market place and in politics and the relentless input of dangerous violent rubbish flowing into the minds of the young I dread to think what the outcomes will be. Of course "they" might all wake up wiser, but I fear for the world that the future will lack wise guidance when the moral disciplines are lost.

I should like to add a disclaimer that: I'm not a recognised teacher or attainer of anything and you should treat my words with a healthy scepticism, especially if I sound too sure of myself. 

If anyone knows where the signs are written or what they are, I'd like to know. I think they were predicted by the Buddha but can't be sure where.

Metta

Offline paracelsus

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2018, 03:15:30 pm »
I thought I had posted "The End of the Era of Enlightenment" as a reply to the Danger Zone item titled "Trouble in Shambhala" where it has some context, but somehow it ended up as a new topic here.

I have now posted it to "Trouble in Shambhala" to make the subject a bit more relevant.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 03:19:43 pm by paracelsus »

Offline Chaz

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2018, 07:06:32 pm »
You did post it there.

I felt it didn't fit in the topic.  Off topic, so I put it here.   It makes interesting points and deserves discussion, just not in a thread about the developments surrounding recent events at Shambhala.

I'm going to delete your repost.  Please don't try to repost it again.  If people want to respond to this post, they will.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 07:10:37 pm by Chaz »

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2018, 04:39:53 am »
The end of the era of enlightenment was predicted to come to pass about two and a half thousand years after the historical Buddha's death.

Metta

I think it's the opposite, that it's just the start of a new era now that all of this information, which was often secret and concealed within the monastic tradition, is now available for us here in the West. We'll make new standards and explore new ways of following the path. Agree with you about the danger of 'watering down' things like mindfulness though.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline philboyd

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2018, 04:58:15 am »
The sun sets last in my homeland
Born under forty eight and thirteen stripes
Now fifty
Stars
The suit is to big, the hat to small
Holes in the pockets
Small change falls
On worn out shoes
No one here notices the fields we've crossed
Burnt bridges, pain to sharp for memory
Play things linger in infamy
Who cares
Unheard voices, blank stares
Peace

Offline Chaz

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2018, 11:07:26 am »
The end of the era of enlightenment was predicted to come to pass about two and a half thousand years after the historical Buddha's death.

Metta

I think it's the opposite, that it's just the start of a new era now that all of this information, which was often secret and concealed within the monastic tradition, is now available for us here in the West. We'll make new standards and explore new ways of following the path. Agree with you about the danger of 'watering down' things like mindfulness though.

I couldn't agree more.

Since Buddhist teachers such as the Dalai Lama, Trungpa Rinpoche and so many others in so many traditions, we've been exposed to teachings and practices once reserved for monastics.  That's pretty cool.  It represents a major shift in the tradititonal Buddhist paradigm.  As Trunpa was fond of saying, the rug has been pulled out.

And things are changing, as they should and will, and that's pretty cool too.  Never before has so many different Buddhist influences been pulling at a society.  Dozens of them - all vying to leave a mark on what will eventually come to be called Western Buddhism.


AS far as watering it it down, sure, it can happen, but who's to say it wasn't watered down already?  I think a conservative view that some undefined "old way" isn't necessarily a good way.  Trungpa was successful because he figured out a way to make old school monastic Buddhism from Tibet apealling to young Americans  Took a little Tibetan, took a little Zen, threw in a couple horses, 60's sensibilities and didn't left the rug under his students long enough for them to get too comfortable.

I agree about the "midfullness" thing.  People take things and run with them.  Blow it all out of proportion.  Like the Kalama Sutra  :lmfao:.  But mindfullness this, mindfullness that.  Taking a mindfull dive at a rolling donut.  I'm pretty much done with it, myself.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2018, 03:25:17 pm »
You did post it there.

I felt it didn't fit in the topic.  Off topic, so I put it here.   It makes interesting points and deserves discussion, just not in a thread about the developments surrounding recent events at Shambhala.

I'm going to delete your repost.  Please don't try to repost it again.  If people want to respond to this post, they will.
I understand how paracelsus might see that "the End of the Era of Enlightenment" could apply to "Trouble in Shambhala," although the actual thread is quite different.

What I wonder is why discussion of the Shambhala scandal is relegated to the “Danger Zone” for members only. I think it’s important for folks new to Buddhism to be aware (warned) of such issues, not only with Shambhala, but with zen and other groups as well.

I’ve had some pretty contentious discussions with zen teachers on misconduct issues and I’ve come away with the feeling that, with the exception of the SF Zen Center, there's a desire to keep such scandals from the public and to move on as quickly as possible – especially when the issue is with their own teacher in whom they’re heavily invested.


« Last Edit: November 22, 2018, 03:29:51 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline paracelsus

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2018, 08:32:25 pm »
Having thrown the half remembered “prediction” in for discussion I thought I’d do some research..:  …… !

I’ve looked around, not too thoroughly, and there seem to be quite a lot of predictions regarding the ageing of, and the end of the age of enlightenment.

The Vinaya Pitaka, 500 years, Buddhaghosa, 5000 years, Wherever I had heard it, 2500 years …

Quite a lot of storms and stone giants rising, along with tsunami, fire in the sky, drought and starvation. Should be quite a ride!

In one schema, we are in the third millenium of the Buddhist era which is the age of Learning which will last another 600 years. This stage or age will be characterised by corrupt government, secularism, climate change, environmental degradation, the decline of the sangha, and the gradual disappearance of dharma from the world.

In another, we are in the age of degenerate Dharma which will last 10,000 years ….

The conditions described for the various stages or ages seem to be present now and probably always have been, (except maybe the stone giants) so perhaps like so much of this stuff it is a distraction and not of great relevance. In the end it is the quality of our practice and understanding which is important.

So if we do as I’ve seen advised more than once on this site: “Do your meditation.” or more fully; Study, contemplate, meditate, this will be the best way of maintaining the Dharma, and the Dharma will then last at least as long as we do.

Metta

Offline philboyd

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2018, 06:08:57 am »
With sincerity I ask, what is an era of enlightenment? Is that meant to mean a time when the preponderance of humanity is engaged in earnest spiritual awareness or growth?
Can the idea of enlightenment be applied to politics, or science, economics? Can these distinctive dynamics of human endeavor scale at different levels in an era of enlightenment?
Peace

Offline Chaz

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2018, 07:06:47 am »
With sincerity I ask, what is an era of enlightenment? Is that meant to mean a time when the preponderance of humanity is engaged in earnest spiritual awareness or growth?
Can the idea of enlightenment be applied to politics, or science, economics? Can these distinctive dynamics of human endeavor scale at different levels in an era of enlightenment?

Y'know, that's a really good question.  When I split this topic from the Trouble In Shambhala thread, I had to name it something.  I chose the title as it was the first few words of paracelsus' OP.  And it sounded good.  I wasn't because I understand what paracelsus means.  So lets ask paracelsus. 

paracelsus, what is an/the Era of Enlightenment?  Please explain.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2018, 11:07:13 am »
The “era of enlightenment” would be the first 500 years after the historical Buddha, when complete enlightenment was supposed to be much easier to attain through meditation, but after that it's said it would become increasingly difficult in every succeeding 500 year period. The Pure Land Sect claims that it has now become impossible to become enlightened through one’s own efforts, but thanks to Amitabha Buddha that's not a problem – just say his name over and over and you’ll be enlightened through “other power.”
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline paracelsus

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2018, 08:35:15 pm »
With sincerity I ask, what is an era of enlightenment? Is that meant to mean a time when the preponderance of humanity is engaged in earnest spiritual awareness or growth?
Can the idea of enlightenment be applied to politics, or science, economics? Can these distinctive dynamics of human endeavor scale at different levels in an era of enlightenment?

Y'know, that's a really good question.  When I split this topic from the Trouble In Shambhala thread, I had to name it something.  I chose the title as it was the first few words of paracelsus' OP.  And it sounded good.  I wasn't because I understand what paracelsus means.  So lets ask paracelsus. 

paracelsus, what is an/the Era of Enlightenment?  Please explain.


What is meant by “The age/era of enlightenment”? Would I know?

But I glean from the words of others that the phrase or term is used in regard to the evolution and devolution of buddhist teaching, practice and understanding since the Buddha’s enlightenment.

The Buddha was reputed to have attained an unexcelled level of accomplishment in sitting very still and not getting upset about things.

The beginning of the “era” was when he passed on the technique or practices on how.

The stages of the “era” are marked by the degree to which those who follow his practices can do it. For instance:

Stage one: Buddha is alive and transmission of ideas is direct and personal. Those who are high achievers can check with the master that they are on the right track. They can then pass on the knowledge.

Stage two:  The Buddha dies but a succession of accredited teachers continues and the Dharma remains “alive”. The teaching spreads and evolves to become culturally applicable around the globe. Practices evolve and become more complex, bringing about disunity of message. Various sects disagree on interpretation of the original scriptures

Stage three: There are many varieties of teachings and the standards regarding qualification to teach become lax. Although technology brings about a flood availability of Dharma teachings there are also words from all directions and all and sundry (This post a case in point) which become a confusion and an impediment to practice.
Actual accomplishment decreases although intellectual “understanding” might bloom.
This is the age of “Learning”, The current era.

Stage four: The lack of substantial accomplishment and therefore the end of actually accomplished teachers brings about a disheartening and lack of energy and the Dharma subsides and sinks from view.

Stage five (or stage zero): Would then be the dark age before a Buddha appears. There is a long period of exploration and building of understanding of the mind across generations of seekers until someone puts it all together again and Bingo!

I mean, that’s all made up, but it is to give an idea of how it might work.

Metta

Offline paracelsus

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2018, 09:13:10 pm »
With sincerity I ask, what is an era of enlightenment? Is that meant to mean a time when the preponderance of humanity is engaged in earnest spiritual awareness or growth?
Can the idea of enlightenment be applied to politics, or science, economics? Can these distinctive dynamics of human endeavor scale at different levels in an era of enlightenment?

I don't think it needs to mean the "preponderance of humanity is engaged" so much as that the teaching is alive and available to those who can see the worth of it. The era would end when the teaching is no longer available and practiced. At some point there would be the "last buddhist" when, whatever it may be, makes practice impossible . An "era" is no big deal, not a thing, just a description of a beginning and an end point.

The idea of Enlightenment seems to be something often defined and much argued, so what is it?

That would be discovered in "enlightenment" itself, to find out, keep up the practice. That's what I intend to do. I'm interested to find out.
 
I don't think the Buddha's enlightenment relates to politics or technology or economics as such but is more related to wisdom and "personal development". The Buddha's enlightenment was perhaps as far as can be gone (beyond), with no more to be done. Science doesn't have an end to achieve. I heard an eminent scientist say recently that "science can prove nothing." Economics and politics evolve and mutate, but I doubt there can be a "perfect form", although some enlightened compassion might help ameliorate their effects on society.

Just thoughts off the top of my head

Metta

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The End Of The Era Of Enlightenment
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2018, 02:49:22 pm »
There appears to be some correlation between periods of tumult, uncertainty and social upheaval and people seriously turning to spiritual pursuits for answers to the deeper questions. The "golden age" of Zen Buddhism was during a long period of wars and discord in the Chinese empire. The historical Buddha is also said to have lived during such a time.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

 


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