What is the Mappo?

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Buddhists entertain a qualitative view of time that is envisaged in relation to the lifetime of Shakyamuni. In other words, the spiritual, moral and physical conditions on earth are seen to progressively deteriorate in direct proportion to the time that has elapsed since the Buddha's entry into the Great Nirvana. A number of distinct ages, since that time, are seen to reflect the successive stages in humanity's increasing darkness, turmoil and spiritual incapacity. The Pure Land tradition considers the present period as the mappo or the 'Decadent Age of the Dharma' where - to quote the Great Collection Sutra - "out of billions of sentient beings who seek to perform practices and cultivate the way..... not one will gain realization". A further quotation from this sutra will serve to clarify the matter further:

The degree of spiritual attainment prevalent at the time of Shakyamuni, is no longer considered possible in this age which is so far removed from his immediate presence and influence. Accordingly, the sutras exhort us to take refuge in Amida Buddha who compensates four our shortcomings by enabling us to reach Nirvana solely through the power of his Name, which contains all his merits and perfection.