[In the] Dharma-Ending [Age, which is NOW,
when] koṭis* [of] koṭis [of] humans cultivate [Dharma] practice,
[it is] rare [that] one attains [the] path;
only relying [upon] mindfulness of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó],
[is] deliverance [from the cycle of] birth [and] death attainable.
– Śākyamuni Buddha
(Mahāsannipāta [i.e. Great Collection] Sūtra)
(*1 koṭi=10 million;
koṭis of koṭis=10 million x 10 million=100 trillion)
As an ordinary human reborn here, you will definitely forget all of the Buddha’s teachings (Buddhadharma; the Dharma) learnt in this entire life. This you should know for sure. For just as you cannot now recall even the single word of your so frequently used surname in your past life, how can you remember your present surname in your next life, what more more complex matters, such as the Dharma that requires wisdom, that has many technical terms and concepts? You cannot even recall what you did last month, what more what you have learnt in your last life!
In fact, you will not remember a single word learnt at all, needing to relearn how to even call your Ma and Pa. What makes you think you can pick up where you left then, to easily continue learning and practising the Dharma? What worsens matters is that even if you are reborn into this human realm, this world will be entering deeper into the Dharma-Ending Age. This is when somewhat ‘familiar’ yet wrong representations of the Dharma will be more widespread to increasingly confuse. The already declining spiritual capacity of most practitioners will thus further decline.
The true Dharma will be further out of reach, while more false paths will more easily reach out to confuse you with their devious marketing. It will be harder to steer clear of false teachings, and to keep close to the true teachings. False teachings will seem more accessible and ‘cool’, with the true teachings seemingly more distant and untrendy. It is after all the deepening of the Dharma-Ending Age. These very signs are already happening as we speak. Even before the Dharma-Ending Age, there were already some past practitioners who ‘lost their religion’ in their future lives, to become destroyers instead of protectors of the Dharma, which can lead to loss of their human rebirths.
Even if you do your best to practise the Dharma well now, being reborn to still be trapped here in this era means you are not the sharpest in spiritual capacity, thus unable to reverse the Dharma-Ending Age by yourself. You might not be experiencing the terror of the Dharma-Ending Age in its full force yet, but the ill ‘signs of the times’ will come to engulf and defile eventually. Even if not losing your bearings fully, it will be very easy to lose heart, thus backsliding spiritually. Again, all learnt will be forgotten in your next life, making it likely to backslide even more then.
Since everything that Śākyamuni Buddha taught was out of perfect compassion and wisdom for us, he surely did not teach us about the Dharma-Ending Age, only to discourage us from Dharma learning and practice. Thus, he did so to urge us to have a strong sense of urgency, to do our best to prevent victimising ourselves with the above problems. The most ready solution he offered is the path of practice to reach Amitā[bha] Buddha’s (Āmítuófó) by the end of this life.
This is clear as he taught the following in the Immeasurable Life Sūtra (无量寿经) – ‘[In the] world of [the] future, [when the] paths [of the] sūtras [to liberation are] destroyed [and] ended [in this Dharma-Ending Age], I, with loving-kindness, compassion [and] empathy, [will] specially retain this sūtra [on Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land teachings, to] dwell [for one] hundred years [longer. If] there are such beings, who encounter this sūtra, [they can], as [they] wish, according [to their] aspirations, all attain deliverance.’ (当来之世，经道灭尽，我以慈悲哀愍，特留此经 ，止住百岁。其有众生，值斯经者，随意所愿，皆可得度。)
The Pure Land teachings are thus now extra relevant, and will become the ONLY relevant ones left! Despite all Buddhist teachings being preserved for as long as possible, the Pure Land teachings have the special feature of being relevant for practitioners of all capacities – low, medium and high, for the longest time possible, beginning from the Buddha’s era and the Right Dharma Age, all the way to a century beyond the end of this Dharma-Ending Age. It is not too late to embrace them now, before even the Pure Land Dharma ends its existence in this world.
Once Pure Land is reached, it is the reversal of our terrible conditions – leaping from this Dharma-Ending Age to the best Dharma school in the universe, as recommended by all Buddhas in teaching and great Bodhisattvas in practice. There, it is always the Right Dharma Age, where all will be empowered to recollect that learnt in all past lives, including the long forgotten, and the teachings in this very article! We will have direct access to all Buddhas and their pure Dharma and Saṃgha assemblies through Āmítuófó for refuge, to most swiftly become one with the Triple Gem!
NOW [is the] Dharma-Ending [Age],
[and] NOW is [the] evil period [of the] five defilements
[of kalpa, views, afflictions, sentient beings and lifespans],
only with [the] one [Dharma] door [of] Pure Land,
[is it] possible [to] reach [and] enter [the] way [to liberation].
– Great Master Dàochuò
(Collection [On] Peace [And] Bliss)
Why You Should Master The Pure Land Teachings Now
Are You ‘Recycling’ Yourself Every Three Lifetimes?
Do Pure Land Aspirants Forsake Other Beings?
Why Is It Easier To Reach Pure Land Than To Be Reborn Human?
What Are The Most Relevant & Lasting Buddhist Teachings?
How To Most Swiftly Attain Buddhahood
How To Transform The Five Defilements To Five Purities
Will Those Back From Pure Land Remember Their Past Lives?
Is Seeking Birth In Pure Land Cowardly? 愿生净土是懦弱吗？