Saṃyutta Nikāya 16

Connected Discourses with Kassapa

13. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. Then the Venerable Mahakassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?”

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world. But when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.

“Just as, Kassapa, gold does not disappear so long as counterfeit gold has not arisen in the world, but when counterfeit gold arises then true gold disappears, so the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.

“It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.

“The true Dhamma does not disappear all at once in the way a ship sinks. There are, Kassapa, five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell without reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

“There are five things, Kassapa, that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell with reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell with reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five things that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance.”