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The Three Ages Taught in Buddhism


Question:

In Buddhism, the time after Śākyamuni died is divided into three ages. Write the three ages, give simple explanations of each, and name the sūtras that teach of these ages.


Answer:

The Sūtra of the Great Assembly, and many other sūtras.

  1. Age of the Right Dharma: The 500-year period after the Buddha's death.

  2. Age of Semblance Dharma: The 1000-year period after the Age of the Right Dharma is over.

  3. Age of Dharma Decline: The 10,000-year period after the Age of Semblance Dharma is over.

  4. Age of Extinction of the Dharma: The eternal period after the Age of Dharma Decline is over.

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Explanation:

1. Age of the Right Dharma:

The 500-year period after the Buddha's death. The teachings of the Buddhism of the Sages (self-power Buddhism) are being taught. There are people doing ascetic practices, and people who attain enlightenment. 2. Age of Semblance Dharma:

The 1000-year period after the Age of the Right Dharma is over. The teachings of self-power Buddhism are being taught, and there are still people doing ascetic practices, but no-one is attaining enlightenment. 3. Age of Dharma Decline:

The 10,000-year period after the Age of Semblance Dharma is over. The teachings of self-power Buddhism exist, but there is no-one practicing them. Of course, there is also no-one attaining enlightenment through them. 4. Age of Extinction of the Dharma:

The eternal period after the Age of Dharma Decline is over. The Buddhism of the Sages is completely gone. Only the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha remains.

--------------------------------------------------- The Age of the Extinction of the Dharma is not included in the three ages. The Age of the Extinction of the Dharma will come 11,500 years after Śākyamuni’s death.

Age of the Right Dharma: Teaching, Practice, Enlightenment Age of Semblance Dharma: Teaching, Practice

Age of Dharma Decline: Teaching

Age of Extinction of the Dharma: The Buddhism of the Sages is completely gone. Only the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha remains.

Teaching: The Buddhism of the Sages Practice: Those who do ascetic practices

Enlightenment: Those who attain enlightenment

(from the doctrine book 6-48)

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