The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

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The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby rob h » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:16 pm

Was just wondering what some of you think of this. How do you think this found its way into the Cakkavatti Sutra, and what do you think was meant by it?

In the past, unskillful behavior was unknown among the human race. As a result, people lived for an immensely long time — 80,000 years — endowed with great beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength. Over the course of time, though, they began behaving in various unskillful ways. This caused the human life span gradually to shorten, to the point where it now stands at 100 years, with human beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength decreasing proportionately. In the future, as morality continues to degenerate, human life will continue to shorten to the point were the normal life span is 10 years, with people reaching sexual maturity at five.



There's a few things that bug me in some sutras, this is obviously one of them. The others include various things in the Lotus Sutra, and there's probably many others that I've not read that will contain things that seem so strange that you wonder how they ever got into the texts. So what do you think the meaning of having this added to the Cakkavatti Sutra is? If it's metaphor, why word it like this?
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:26 pm

rob h wrote:There's a few things that bug me in some sutras, this is obviously one of them. The others include various things in the Lotus Sutra, and there's probably many others that I've not read that will contain things that seem so strange that you wonder how they ever got into the texts. So what do you think the meaning of having this added to the Cakkavatti Sutra is? If it's metaphor, why word it like this?
In order to make it extraordinarily clear how serious the effects of moral degradation/degeneration are. Ever been to the theater? Theatrical actors tend to be overly expressive in their depictions of emotions etc... so that it is obvious to the audience what they are trying to portray.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby rob h » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:59 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:In order to make it extraordinarily clear how serious the effects of moral degradation/degeneration are. Ever been to the theater? Theatrical actors tend to be overly expressive in their depictions of emotions etc... so that it is obvious to the audience what they are trying to portray.


Thanks, and yeah have been to theater as a kid, but have stayed well clear since, not into that type of thing really. Have just thought this was strange for quite a while so thought I'd ask about it. So if it is so stretched and Maitreya really is due to return, maybe the time length was also stretched too and that could happen a lot sooner?

Maybe that Buddha Boy really is him. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:14 pm

rob h wrote:Maybe that Buddha Boy really is him. :mrgreen:
Unlikely since it is highly improbable that the dispensation of Gautama Buddha is going to vanish completely within the next 50 odd years.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:38 pm

This is a great sutta.I think what Greg K. says is pretty accurate,
plus, in Buddhist teachings there is often some inner meaning in the words.
As with poetry, something is being expressed beyond the literal meaning.

So, "80,000" is often a number which represents the idea of infinity. Sometimes "84,000",
as in "there are 84,000 gates to the Dharma".
So, we can look at this as referring to mind's infinite nature,
infinite meaning not limited by attachment and so on.
It is a style of expression.
Buddhist suttas/sutras can be very repetitive
and to the modern reader, perhaps rather monotonous.
This story is talking about everything falling into a grand state of degeneration,
as the saying goes, "society flushed down the toilet".
And, how to behave (as a monk) so you don't get flushed down yourself,
And that the plumber, Buddha Maitreya (Metteyya) is on the way to fix the pipes.

It might be good, for those who are not familiar, to read the story that the quote refers to:
http://www.basicbuddhism.org/index.cfm?GPID=29
scroll down to .14
and then back up a little, to see the context.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:10 am

Thanks for the help! I used to get really wound up with stuff like this, (probably my karma.) but now I just get confused from time to time why people wrote like this when so much of the sutras are clearer, it just seems kind of pointless sometimes, but different people learn in different ways, etc. Thanks again.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:47 am

Another way to interpet the text is to take it to say that the average life span will be 10 years (ie that the majority of people will die as children or infants). You can also interpret the statement "people reaching sexual maturity at five" to mean that sexually capable individuals will be engaing in "sexual" activity with children. I think you will agree that paedophilia is the example par excellence of moral degradation/degeneration?

Does it make more sense to you when you view it in this manner?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:10 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Another way to interpet the text is to take it to say that the average life span will be 10 years (ie that the majority of people will die as children or infants). You can also interpret the statement "people reaching sexual maturity at five" to mean that sexually capable individuals will be engaing in "sexual" activity with children. I think you will agree that paedophilia is the example par excellence of moral degradation/degeneration?

Does it make more sense to you when you view it in this manner?


Definitely! One other thing you reminded me of there is that I also thought about people dying as children or infants but had forgotten it. That people have a mentality more like children or infants now when compared to what it could actually be. Many people are kind of like kids mentally because they're so conditioned and so far from the truth.

So yeah, I think this makes way more sense now, thanks again for the help.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby muni » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:30 pm

Sure it depends of course what is meant with being like children.

We 'great adults' can learn from their simplicity, which we lost in our collection of egoistical habitual delusions.

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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby kirtu » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:51 pm

muni wrote:Sure it depends of course what is meant with being like children.

We 'great adults' can learn from their simplicity, which we lost in our collection of egoistical habitual delusions.


Having recently begun teaching children, I have been shocked at how ego driven they are by 6 yrs of age.

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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby kirtu » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:57 pm

Some things in the suttas/sutras cannot be interpreted literally (and shouldn't be anyway). However this can, esp. wrt the future.

In the far future humanity has accelerated it's growth genetically. For some reason the human lifespan has been vastly reduced to an average of 10 years (probably due to warfare, but possibly also due to humans being bred for slavery like insects). With a shortened lifespan, human sexual maturity has been similarly re-engineered.

So we essentially become like Well's Morlocks.

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Last edited by kirtu on Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby muni » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:59 pm

kirtu wrote:
muni wrote:Sure it depends of course what is meant with being like children.

We 'great adults' can learn from their simplicity, which we lost in our collection of egoistical habitual delusions.


Having recently begun teaching children, I have been shocked at how ego driven they are by 6 yrs of age.

Kirt


Children can use an example or the simplicity is lost, locked up in egotistical habits. Just as we need genuine guidance by the Buddha's teachings.

All the best, Kirtu.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:30 pm

kirtu wrote:Some things in the suttas/sutras cannot be interpreted literally (and shouldn't be anyway). However this can, esp. wrt the future.

In the far future humanity has accelerated it's growth genetically. For some reason the human lifespan has been vastly reduced to an average of 10 years (probably due to warfare, but possibly also due to humans being bred for slavery like insects). With a shortened lifespan, human sexual maturity has been similarly re-engineered.

So we essentially become like Well's Morlocks.

Kirt



I accept that a situation like that could be possible in the future, but can't personally go that far. Interesting take on it though.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby uan » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:28 pm

The great apes (gorillas, etc.) reach sexual maturity at 7 years of age or so. Lower mammals even earlier. I think the idea be expressed is that as humans degrade we become more and more like animals, taking on more of their characteristics. So according to this sutta we've gone from being like gods and will end up at the opposite end of the spectrum.

I would say "fortunately I won't be around when that happens", but unless I attain enlightenment, I more than likely will :)
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:21 am

:smile:
Personal opinion:
Don't take Sutras litterly, they are written by humans and not a Buddha.
They are meant as allegorys to illustrate a valid point, but are not imtended to be more than that.
You are free to disagree if you wish, but that's just my opinion.
I think that is just intended to make the point that at supposedly at one point the the world was supposedly a much better place before the present "degenerate" era.
I don't personally believe there was ever such a time.... but that's just my opinion.
it's just the old myth, there was no such time.
Believe it if you want to, but "liberation" or "enlightenment" (whatever you wish to call it), is a personal thing .... and you, as a individual, make the choice.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:23 pm

I try not to form concrete opinions on parts of the Dharma that seem really out there to me, try to just let them be and later on I am able to have a bit more perspective, it's been my experience that the less time I spend asking is this really true the better off I am, division into absolute truths and untruths can go on forever.

On this though, another way to look at it is that time being mainly a perceptual thing, the more convoluted and crazy our society gets, the less time people have, and indeed, functionally life might seem shorter. Look at how busy, frenetic, and unhappy many people's lives seem today, in way that life just "flies by". Look how utterly consumed some people's time is accumulation of wealth, position, sex etc. What does it look like if we imagine a time where things are say..4 times more frenetic and busy, what about ten times? Same with the sword-interval. Think about child soldiers seen in conflicts today, if we extrapolate this concept a bit more..what is in the Sutta does not seem so outrageous.

Whether it's prophetic, or a cautionary tale, both, or neither is a harder question to answer, and i'm not convinced we can even do that.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:21 pm

rob h wrote:Was just wondering what some of you think of this. How do you think this found its way into the Cakkavatti Sutra, and what do you think was meant by it?

In the past, unskillful behavior was unknown among the human race. As a result, people lived for an immensely long time — 80,000 years — endowed with great beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength. Over the course of time, though, they began behaving in various unskillful ways. This caused the human life span gradually to shorten, to the point where it now stands at 100 years, with human beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength decreasing proportionately. In the future, as morality continues to degenerate, human life will continue to shorten to the point were the normal life span is 10 years, with people reaching sexual maturity at five.



There's a few things that bug me in some sutras, this is obviously one of them. The others include various things in the Lotus Sutra, and there's probably many others that I've not read that will contain things that seem so strange that you wonder how they ever got into the texts. So what do you think the meaning of having this added to the Cakkavatti Sutra is? If it's metaphor, why word it like this?


I beg to differ and offer a literal understanding of it. It is true that morality is what essentially distinguishes us from other animals for the most part. Some animals do show signs of great capacities for moral behavior though. But in general, animals mature sexually quicker than us, and their life span is quite short compared to ours. Some insects only live for 2 weeks for example, mosquitoes. In terms of capacities, in general we are less dense than most other animals. Overall, that means our intelligence much less wisdom will be compared to that of other animals, and so is our life span.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Aemilius » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:16 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:This is a great sutta.I think what Greg K. says is pretty accurate,
plus, in Buddhist teachings there is often some inner meaning in the words.
As with poetry, something is being expressed beyond the literal meaning.

So, "80,000" is often a number which represents the idea of infinity. Sometimes "84,000",
as in "there are 84,000 gates to the Dharma".
So, we can look at this as referring to mind's infinite nature,
infinite meaning not limited by attachment and so on.


It doesn't seem likely to me that 84 000 would mean "infinite" in Buddhism, because Buddha and his followers were capable of using and imagining much larger figures than merely 84 000! There is for example the trichiliocosm of thousand times thousand times thousand worlds, ie 1000 000 000 worlds. This can certainly be undersood literally, if you posses any kind of imagination. There are even larger figures in many sutras like the Diamond Cutter, Lotus Blossom of the True Dharama sutra, Lalitavistara sutra, and the Avatamsaka sutra. Large numbers is a topic in the Abhidharma. Therefore it seems certain that 84 000 means 84 000. Har Dayal has written about large measuments of time and cosmos in buddhist sutras in his Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature.
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Re: The Future in the Cakkavatti Sutra

Postby Aemilius » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:05 am

There are different version of the Cakkavatti sutra, and different translations, some texts also says that people were something like 84 000 leagues high, and they then gradually shrink in height and size. I used think that it means that people's mental capacities become smaller and smaller in the course of this devolution that is described in Buddhism; this a symbolic interpretation of it.
As adults we believe in Science like in a Santa Claus, which in fact is really nonexistent, but this is very difficult to find out. Just doubting the existence of the Santa Claus of Science will have serious consequences.
So this buddhist version of history can actually be true, though it sounds impossible, see this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caupzOEen2c
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