Gods Distressed at Dharma's Decline
The gods, from the Six Desire Heavens on up to the Heaven of Universal Purity, observed all of the Arhats opting for extinction, and each of them thought to himself, "Since the Buddha sun has set, the light of those disciples possessing all manner dhyana absorptions, liberations, and wisdom has gone out as well. All of these beings have all kinds of diseases of desire, enmity and ignorance. Now that this generation of Dharma physicians has swiftly crossed into extinction, who shall treat them? Now those lotus blossom disciples, grown up within the great sea of immeasurable wisdom, have withered and dried up. The tree of Dharma has been smashed and split apart. The cloud of Dharma has scattered and vanished. Since the great and wise king of the elephants has passed on, the offspring of the elephant have gone away as well. The merchant of Dharma has moved on, from whom shall we seek jewels of Dharma?"
As a verse says:
The Buddha's become eternally extinct; he's entered [now] Nirvana.
That company which has destroyed all bonds has also passed away.
With this the world's grown empty and devoid [now] of wisdom.
The dark of ignorance has increased; the wisdom lamp's gone out.
At that point the gods made obeisance at the feet of Mahakasyapa and uttered a verse:
This elder's already gotten rid of passion, anger and arrogance.
His figure [stands and shines] like it was a purple golden pillar.
Above, below, erect and decorous, wondrous without peer.
The brightness of his eyes is pure and like unto the lotus.
After having praised him in this manner they addressed Mahakasyapa, saying, "Venerable Mahakasyapa, is the Humane One aware or is he not, that the ship of Dharma is about to break up, the city wall of Dharma is about to collapse, the sea of Dharma is about to dry up, the banner of Dharma is about to fall, the lamp of Dharma is about to die down, the proclaimers of Dharma are about to depart, the practitioners of Dharma are becoming fewer, and the power of the depraved is now waxing full? One ought to bring forth the great kindheartedness and establish the Dharma of the Buddha."
At that time, the mind of Mahakasyapa was like a great sea, limpid, silent, and tranquil. After a goodly while he responded, "You have spoken well. Truly, it is as you describe. Before long, the world shall be devoid of wisdom, blind, and plunged in darkness." With this, Mahakasyapa silently acceded to the plea (of the gods). At that point the gods made obeisance at the feet of Mahakasyapa and suddenly disappeared, each returning whence he had come.
English translation © 1996 Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Kalavinka (http://www.teleport.com/~dh-mitra/)