Decline of the Dhamma

I’ve been reading SN16.13, SN20.7, and AN5.79, and it’s starting to make me worry that we are in an age where the Dhamma is starting to morph out of recognition, and that maybe it’s been that way for a while now. My biggest concern is that the detailed and true instruction to how you actually uproot greed, hatred, and delusion, how you actually eliminate the illusion of self, has been lost. I’d be interested to know everyone’s thoughts on this. Also, just to add, I do think that most of the pali canon, or more specifically the EBT as I’ve come to see it called here, is quite accurate. It is the exposition of those texts that I worry may have been lost, or at the very least, is seriously slipping away.

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Are you saying that teaching in Pali canon is inaccurate?
Sorry if I misunderstood you.

This maybe true, but in a strange way, we have access and are closer to the original EBTs like we never were after the Buddha’s death- see how easy it is to access 45 years of his teachings at the click of button. With the world more connected it isn’t possible to seriously depart from EBTs, without being found out. However this wasn’t always the case and geographical isolation meant local idiosyncrasies could become dogmas with major schools being formed out of it.

In many ways, with the printing press and the internet we are seeing a revival. The bigggest hurdle IMO is converting the EBTs into practical instruction.

However I am confident this will be possible as well.

with metta

ps- in one sutta the Buddha says monks in the future will only wear a yellow string around their neck. I learnt that in the FWBO this practice exists.


I definitely agree, it’s amazing the access we now have to the EBTs. My concern is more the way those texts are being interpreted and put into practice. I just get the sense that something is falling away. Especially in a lot of the sanghas I see. The way it always seemed to me, was that monkhood was essentially an intensive retreat for the rest of your life or until arhatship. You have Dhamma talks and taught in exchange for donations, but basically you’re just training non-stop, even only talking about the Dhamma, and often taking secluded retreats every year. I just don’t seem to see that anymore. It’s like the dedication truly necessary, combined with accurate interpretation of the texts on how to train, is starting to slip in a lot of places. Am I just not looking in the right places?

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This is no difference to watching a foot ball game.
Each person see a different game even though they watching the same game.

The Buddha did say the Dhamma would disappear (but then be taught again by a new Buddha after the Dhamma disappears from the earth). Unfortunately we have no timeline for what he meant as far as when this would happen. Just because the teachings are available now, and accessible to many, doesn’t mean most people in a general sense will see it and know how valuable it is. It may still be those with little dust in their eyes. In the west, people seem more interested on the whole of making their own version of Buddhism rather than following what the Buddha actually taught. Maybe that’s because of the paucity of translations of the Canon in years past, but it also might be more likely that westerners want to romanticize and reframe Buddhism to fit their own perceptions and self-interest. Hopefully in other parts of the world good Dhamma practice will flourish if that does end up being true.

The reasons for the above sad situation is in my view are many. One is the fact that ordinary people, though they call themselves Buddhists, have no idea what they talk about. They have been influenced by other religions to pray for something so they go to the temple to offer flowers or whatever but they want something in return. They go to a retreat also for getting something like 1st Jhana. The majority of monks is not different. They too do the same thing like preaching a discourse in return for money or whatever.

But fortunately, the good Dhamma is still available and technology has made it possible for many to access it for free. What lacks in my view is the dedication to search and understand various interpretations in the proper context without getting bogged down. What happens to most people, I think is, they quickly start aligning themselves with one teacher saying “he is the best”. From then on, everything becomes a very personal affair.

The Buddha predicted this in SN 20.7, SN 16.13 and AN 5.79.
With Metta


If you read the vinaya rules, you will see there were problems right from the very start! You are reading the arahanth’ dhamma in the EBTs. It is a gradual path so many practitioners won’t be able to live up to that - there’s a lot of grey in between. Becoming ordained people still have to follow the same path. It will feel like a let down but it is a bit like noticing one’s parents faults for the first time, as a young person. Adulation (manifestation of the sukkha delusion) is replaced by a realistic estimate (unsatisfactory, dukkha, but correct).

We should not wait for the Metteyya Buddha. I heard that it is said he would only see followers who were already practicing (probably because he has many more followers than the Gotama Buddha). It’s best to strike out practicing a path of our own despite the state of others’ practice or lack thereof.

With metta


Mat is spot on here.

Reading the origin stories of the vinaya rules (found here) gave me not only certainty that we are nowadays “as doomed” as have always been, but as well gives us an idea of the immense compassion, equanimity and patience the Blessed One had towards us un-awakened things! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I agree and the trouble is we don’t know where to go to get the practical advise we need from someone who has walked the path. i.e. an ariya person, lay or monastic.
I made this point before: at the time of the Buddha one could go to x, y or z knowing that he/she has crossed one or several of the four stages of awakening so knew how to practically get rid of a particular fetter.
Today because of a stupid minor Vinaya rule we are left to guess where a person is at. Unfortunately 10, 20, 30 or 40 years as a monastic does not imply one is an Ariya, and the consequences are that he/she may be teaching the wrong dhamma and/or give you the wrong advise.


100% agree with you. The dhamma tells us what to achieve, what to avoid doing, what tools could be used, but not how to do the work. We have to rediscover it for ourselves. The removal of the DADs (unnecessary Desires, Aversions (and fears), and Delusions) is not decribed in the suttas.

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Don’t be disappointed.
You find tons of Sri Lankan monks who are labeled as Arahants.

Hi brother , sorry to say , what we regards as stupid minor rule , some people may find it useful ! we are unable to determine the state of normal people , much less the ariya ! Whether it is through vinaya or the knowledge of the dhamma of someone !

Guessing is still a guessing !

FYI , what if I says , the actual dhamma taught by the Buddha was only having 2 stages instead of 4 stages as we believed ?!
There is only the state of the
" dhamma eye " and the state of
" Arahatship " !
There is no " in between stages "!
The gradual Abandoning of the defilements does not include the
second and third stages !
It was invented by the Buddha disciples after parinibbana of the Buddha and an addition in an later time .
We all may be wrong from beginning since after the parinibbana Of the Buddha !

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Never heard of this.
Please provide the source.
Is this your own imagination?

Hi @SarathW1
Not my imagination , I follows a class by a Theravada monk ( Taiwan chinese ) whom himself done a comparison between Chinese Agama and samyukta Nikaya and the Abhidhamma plus the history of buddhism including his own realisation .
He came to a conclusion , he did wrote a book on it in Chinese , hopefully it will be translated into English in future . Then anyone can read about it .

Thanks .

This is hearsay evidence.
This will not be accepted in a court.

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After you read it , then you are probably right ! I wouldn’t come to a hasty conclusion yet !

He did point out where the suttas to support his views !

Thanks .

I have never seen this in Tipitaka (including Abhidhamma)

I meant he made a comparison using abhidhamma also , of course you have never seen it before !
If you have , you are the first few to get to some of the points .
The book is too large , let’s wait and see if the Buddhists reactions to it later !

But if someone declares “I am an Arahant, come ask me anything!” how would you know that they were being honest, or had not made a mistake in assessing themselves? In fact you can find such people - claiming all kinds of things, but then they might teach some sort of strange Dhamma…I’m not sure how helpful that would really be.

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