Just as I am now extolling the inconceivable merits of all the Buddhas, all those Buddhas are likewise extolling my inconceivable merits, with these words: “Shakyamuni Buddha is able to carry out a most difficult and rare task. In the world “Endurance” [this world], in an evil world of the Five Corruptions -the corruption of the age, the corruption of views, the corruption of afflictions, the corruption of sentient beings, and the corruption of life — he is able to achieve complete, unexcelled enlightenment, and to expound the Truth which all beings in all worlds find hard to believe.”
One of the activities that Shakyamuni Buddha had done, was to expound this Amitabha Sutra. In my previous post, I mentioned a modernistic approach to our practices. Instead of passively thinking that enlightenment can only happen after we are reborn in Sukhavati, we should actively try to train our minds now. The crux is to chant until there are no deluded thoughts clouding our minds.
In addition to that, we can also try to live a noble life similar to those of Buddha and the past great practitioners. We can do so by also propagating this wonderful sutra and encouraging people to practice. Like Shakyamuni Buddha, we can also extol the wonders of Amitabha Buddha and Sukhavati.
But remember not to become a Buddhist zealot or fanatic. Our approach to propagating dharma is non-aggressive. Just like the Buddha, we only speak to those who are ready to be enlightened.
The above verses in the sutra also make it a point for us to remember the greatness of Shakyamuni Buddha. Thus the other Buddhas also praised Shakyamuni Buddha’s greatness. This is very important for practitioners because it tells us the importance of knowing the historical Buddha. A figure who actually walked the surface of Earth. By knowing the life and activities of Shakyamuni Buddha, we will then understand the noble way of life. Shakyamuni Buddha’s life story is the role model for all Buddhists. Although we cannot live up to his nobleness, but we can try our best to follow some. For example, non-violence, peaceful mind, loving kindness, etc.
To understand the greatness of Shakyamuni Buddha, we need to understand the conditions under which he attained enlightenment. This sutra describes our world as murky and filled with 5 types of corruption.
It doesn’t really condemn our society. Remember, the world that we live in is a result of our(human) actions. In the direst situation, the beautiful kind deeds of a person to help and embrace another person in distress make life beautiful. Whereas in a successful and beautiful society, selfish and hard-hearted actions by one person towards another can make it evil. In short, our minds, actions and words create the world that we live in.
Thus to understand the 5 corruptions in the murky world, we need to reflect unto ourselves and examine our own minds. what are the 5 corruptions?
Corruption of age is also known as Turbidities of time.
This refers to our environment or situations getting worse over a period of time. For example our environmental pollution, health pollution, etc. This leads to diseases and famine, extreme climates, etc. In order to survive, people become more selfish and evil. Thus, it is like a vicious cycle that spiral into an abyss. In short, things become worse as time goes by. All this is a result of our unenlightened mind functioning under the influence of ignorance, craving, and hatred. It is also co-related to the other 4 corruptions. To put it simply, what we think is progress over the history of mankind is actually a descent into total chaos and destruction. This is as per the cosmology found in Mahayana Buddhist text whereby our world will fall into chaos and destruction before being reborn again.
On a personal note, this is also happening to us. (especially if we do not know dharma). Our body is also declining as we age. The important thing is to know whether our mind is doing likewise. If we have wrong views or wrong beliefs, then as we age or mature, we become more fixated with our wrong views. In that manner, our misguided views end up causing suffering to our loved ones, families, and children. How we deal with or adapt to our aging process is another example. Some people become compassionate and patient, whereas some become hot-tempered and angry.
Corruption of views is also known as Turbidities of view
In short, this refers to wrong views and their effect, which cause us to spiral downwards in our rounds of rebirth. Basically, that means misunderstanding the cause of suffering and happiness. For example, in the past, we think that the plastic bag is a wonderful invention. The convenience it brought us was perceived as a cause for happiness. Now we realize that it is actually killing our Earth and harming the environment. That is a simple example of wrong views.
From a Buddhist spiritual perspective, wrong views refer to those beliefs or principles that we grasp in our mind. Those wrong views make enlightenment more difficult for us. And in our modern age, such wrong views can be spread easily via the internet. This loops back and contributes to the corruption of age / Time in the aforesaid.
For example, the view of a permanent soul is considered a wrong view in Buddhism. Yet there are people spreading such wrong views under the guise of Buddhism throughout the internet. (View of a permanent soul cause us to be trapped in Samsara). Or, the wrong view that Buddha is another incarnation of God.
ok, just realized that this is actually a heavy topic even though it is just a few words in the sutra. To be continued.
May all be well and happy.