The Sword of Wisdom 173

Day 11 The Flexibility of Ch'an Practitioners

Oh, in this evil world in the Dharma-ending age,
Sentient beings have little fortune and are hard to discipline.
Far away from the time of the sages, perverted views run deep.
When demons are strong and Dharma is weak,
fears and dangers abound.
When they hear the teaching of sudden enlightenment of the Tathagata,
They cannot but want to destroy it, to smash the tiles.

In these lines of verse, Yung-chia describes the behavior and attitudes of the people around him during the T'ang dynasty. Buddhist tradition divides the time after the Buddha into three eras. The first era, which lasted for five hundred years after the Buddha passed into Nirvana, is called the Period of True Dharma. The second era, which lasted five hundred years after the first, is called the Period of Counterfeit Dharma. The third era, beginning one thousand years after the Buddha entered Nirvana, is called the Dharma Ending Age.