Johnny Dangerous wrote:
The tone of this is very condescending - is it neccessary to resort to that kind of tactic, questioning people's Buddhism for disagreeing with you?
I'm saying whether you believe in kaliyuga or not is up to you. If you examine history, the human condition and the scriptures of both Buddhism and Hinduism, then you may or may not agree that time runs through cycles and for better or worse we're just on the downward arc of one. The Buddha by his own admission foresaw dark times ahead in the distant future, though by no means are they permanent.
One prominent sutta in the canon is the Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor
. See the following:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Consider the summary:
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. "Among those human beings, the ten courses of action (see AN 10.176) will have entirely disappeared... The word 'skillful' will not exist, so from where will there be anyone who does what is skillful? Those who lack the honorable qualities of motherhood, fatherhood, contemplative-hood, & brahman-hood will be the ones who receive homage... Fierce hatred will arise, fierce malevolence, fierce rage, & murderous thoughts: mother for child, child for mother, father for child, child for father, brother for sister, sister for brother." Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a "sword-interval," in which swords appear in the hands of all human beings, and they hunt one another like game. A few people, however, will take shelter in the wilderness to escape the carnage, and when the slaughter is over, they will come out of hiding and resolve to take up a life of skillful and virtuous action again. With the recovery of virtue, the human life span will gradually increase again until it reaches 80,000 years, with people attaining sexual maturity at 500. Only three diseases will be known at that time: desire, lack of food, and old age. Another Buddha — Metteyya (Maitreya) — will gain Awakening, his monastic Sangha numbering in the thousands. The greatest king of the time, Sankha, will go forth into homelessness and attain arahantship under Metteyya's guidance.
Setting aside the fine details, the basic idea is one of devolution over time. This theme is common to both Buddhist and Vedic literature. One fine example of the latter is the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
in canto 12:
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SB 12.2.1: Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.
SB 12.2.2: In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man's good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one's power.
So, I am quite justified as a Buddhist, and someone sympathetic to Hinduism as well, to believe in kaliyuga, and to point out that Buddhism from the beginning had such a perspective of destined degeneration regardless if the exact term "kaliyuga" was used or not to specify it.
It's just that if I remember right if you go by any of the chronological mentionings of it, the termination - and culmination of it is like millions and millions of years after Shakyamuni Buddha..in which case, the view that we are at the terminal edge of it seems out of whack.
In terms of cosmic time, we're only starting our descent into the age. It only started a few millennia ago. In our lifetimes and for the foreseeable centuries of course we can expect things to only get worse, not better. Once the planet starts warming up considerably and the oceans swallow many cities in littoral regions the physical decay of our world will become all the more evident. We are already starting to see the beginnings of this in our lifetimes.
Are you representative of a certain school Huseng, rather than your own individual interpretation?
As I pointed out above a few times, there are canonical sources for what I am saying. I am not making this up. You have the right to reject it as a free-thinking critical individual, but I have the right to believe in orthodox sentiments that have existed for twenty-five centuries or thereabouts.
IS there some sort of strict standard for the idea of Kaliyuga across a broad swathe of Buddhist thought?
The Buddha among many other masters, Buddhist or otherwise, suggested we're in a period of degeneration. This is a very common theme in Buddhist literature all over Asia.
There are also issues like the idea of people's life spans dwindling as the Kaliyuga progresses - the opposite of this is happening now- why? Or is that just like the spans of time, they don't need to be specific but somehow just magically represent this point in time, and add weight to your opinions..despite the obvious inconsistencies?
The average life expectancy is first of all based on life expectancy from birth, not conception. Stop and consider how many abortions occur in the world on a daily basis. Consider the average lifespan of all humans, not just those privileged few in the First World. If life expectancy was gauged from conception rather than birth, it wouldn't be so high, or so I would reckon.
Even if lifespans are nominally higher, it won't last. It all depends on increased nutrition and access to quality medical care, all of which depends on finite fossil fuels (the agricultural development of the last century as well as pharmaceuticals all depend on oil).
So when the age of oil comes to an end, and all that plastic used in a single operating theater, to say nothing of all the pharmaceuticals and social complexity which depend on energy rich fossil fuels, becomes unavailable, we'll live a lot shorter lives than before even in what is now the First World. When all the poisons we've created in our industrial age come back to haunt us, we'll suffer for it.
Actually as fossil fuels decline, there will be a push for nuclear energy (this is actually already occurring as many environmentalists who once abhorred nuclear energy are becoming turncoats) and in due time when there is not the skilled people and resources to maintain them, they'll have to be abandoned. All that toxic waste will still be toxic for many many centuries from now.
That coupled with lifeless oceans and topsoil depletion means we'll not have the means to feed so many humans either. That means decreasing lifespans in due time as well, even in what is now privileged countries.
Either there is something there to point to the Edge of the Kaliyuga being nearer rather than farther,
As I have already stated, kaliyuga has already started. The qualities of the age are outlined in the aforementioned texts.