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.”
Continuing from before…
Corruption of afflictions
This refers to mental afflictions whereby our minds are in a constant flux of unsatisfactions, pains, chaos, worries, etc. According to Master Hsuan Hua, the 5 factors that are driving all these afflictions in our mind are greed, hatred, stupidity, pride and doubt.
If we examine the world now and before, we will discover that there aren’t many differences. This is because mankind continues to be afflicted by the above. We like to compete and triumph over others and our societies still celebrate that desire to be number one. From the sports arena to the corporate rat race, everything is about being first. Then during those competitions, some people will be hurt and hatred arises. The winner wants to win at all costs and did not realize that when they are winning material gains, they are losing out on important things in life. For example, a peaceful mind, close family ties, time with their children, personal health, etc. That’s stupidity.
There was one commentary in Singapore that resounded deeply with me in the past. We took a huge bank loan to buy private luxurious condominiums, then both husband and wife worked long hours to repay that loan. They hire a domestic helper to care for their house or apartment. When you walk past these beautiful housings, you notice that the house is being occupied by a complete stranger (their domestic helper). The children became closer to their domestic helper instead of their mother. Both husband and wife are absent from home and return after 7pm just to spend their time sleeping there. How big is the size of a bed? Do we really need such a big house at the cost of family time?
Besides greed, aversion, and ignorance, we also experience pride and doubt that cloud our judgment. All the above creates constant turmoil and chaos in our minds. Thus we experience anxieties, guilts, jealousy, aversions, etc.
If we contemplate our life carefully, we will discover the afflictions in our minds. Every one of us is the same and since we form the societies, the world is experiencing the above too. Except it comes as a collective state and thus has more catastrophic consequences.
Due to these afflictions, very few people can successfully tune into Buddha Dharma. Even when they find their way to a Buddhist monastery or Buddhist centre, their affliction will still create havoc. Instead of practicing Dharma, they want to be the most recognised or appreciated member. Or the most respected elder, or the closest disciple of Lama, Shifu, Bhante, Acharn, etc…..
Corruption of sentient beings
This refers to our inherent tendency to grasp onto states of being. That grasping creates endless rounds of rebirth. After we are born, we solidify our identity. To have an I, we created others. In this manner, we identify with our species, family, friends, schools, race, culture, ethnicity, language, skin colors, hairstyles, religions, political views, gender, sexual orientations, etc. Not knowing that such grasping contributes to our illusion of SELF and OTHERS.
Such grasping only generates fear, discrimination, pride, aversion, etc.
In that manner, we oppose others from becoming a Buddhist or vehemently deny our own opportunity towards Buddhism, We oppose our children’s marriage. We oppose our neighboring country from being on good terms with another country, etc.
In this manner, it is difficult to become enlightened. Simply because we are deluded by man-made “Truths”. Thus, we can never see the real Truth.
Therefore, I interpret this corruption as a state of “becoming” or positioning of our minds that lead to the creation of sentient beings (aka. unenlightened beings). Furthermore, each sentient being has its own karma; which promotes further corruption or turbidities.
Corruption of life span
This refers to the fragility of life. Due to our short life span, it becomes extremely challenging for us to meet or develop good opportunities and conditions for enlightenment. Even when we are practicing, death can come anytime and interfere with our efforts. Whereas those who have never encountered Dharma, they may not have that chance to do so in this short lifespan of 80 to 100 years.
If we group the above 5 corruptions together, it becomes apparent how difficult it is to teach enlightenment to sentient beings. (1) Their environment and situations in life may not be conducive to enlightenment (2) They may possess wrong views and be averse to Buddha Dharma (3) Their minds may be too troubled to give Dharma a chance (4) They may be too fixated with their identity to change (5) Their life may not be long enough for that day when they would finally embrace the Dharma.
Therefore, when we consider all the aforesaid challenges and corruption, it becomes apparent how difficult it is for Buddha to teach Dharma to us.
Remember, this verse refers to the praises of Shakyamuni Buddha by the other Buddhas.
Samyaksam Buddha refers to a fully enlightened Buddha who gained enlightenment through his own effort because Buddha Dharma had long ceased to exist when he was born.
If we examine the biography of Shakyamuni Buddha, we realised that he also encountered the same turbidities like us. His challenges are more pronounced because He didn’t have any Buddhist teachers to learn from. Neither were there any Buddhist Books to read. He had to re-invent the wheel.
If we reflect deeply on the life circumstances of Shakyamuni Buddha, we will develop a sense of deep respect for him.
May all be well and happy.