Zen Wisdom 250

Beings are born in worlds according to their karma. Beings with good karma will be born in worlds that are better. Our world was better in the past, so the beings who came into the world then had better karma. Likewise, the beings who were around Sakyamuni Buddha also had good karma. But as time goes on and the world becomes less wholesome, those beings with meritorious karma who reside here are fewer. Beings who practice and penetrate the Dharma become scarce, until there are nearly none left. These days it is very difficult to practice Buddhadharma and attain sainthood.

The idea of the Dharma Ending Age can be found in all of the ancient sutras ─ Mahayana, Hinayana and Agama. It means that people have always had a sense that Buddhadharma would not be around this world forever. They knew that as time went on after the Buddha passed away, the number of people who would be enthusiastic about the Dharma and practice wholeheartedly would diminish. It does seem that the number of people in the world attaining high levels of practice is scant these days. In the past, it was possible for large numbers of people to devote their entire lives and energies to practice, to leave society and practice in monasteries. These days it is difficult to find isolated environments to practice in, and there is a lot more temptation to cope with.

On the other hand, some might say that as long as someone practices diligently and has profound attainment, then it is the right Dharma age for that person. That is correct; it is the right Dharma period for that individual.

Of course, there are innumerable realms in the universe, and many of them do not have the presence of the Dharma and Buddhas. Even in this world during the time of Sakyamuni, only a small percentage of the world knew of him, and fewer still understood and practiced the Dharma. For such people there was no Buddha and no Dharma. The percentage of the world population today that accepts and practices the Dharma is negligible. Not everyone has a karmic connection with the Dharma.