After Ananda asked this question for the third time, the Buddha told Ananda, "After my parinirvana, as the Dharma will be coming to an end, the way of the maras will thrive in this world of the five turbidities. Maras will appear as sramanas so as to undermine and destroy my Way. They will wear lay clothing and delight in the monk's robe dyed with a mixture of five colors. To gratify ravenous appetites, they will drink alcoholic beverage, eat flesh, and kill sentient beings. Devoid of any lovingkindness, they will hate and envy others.
"At that time, there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats, who energetically cultivate virtues and treat all with respect. Esteemed by all, they will teach and convert others impartially. They will pity the poor and old and help the needy and unfortunate. They will teach others to revere and uphold the sutras and the holy images. Kind and benevolent in nature, they will perform virtuous deeds. They will not harm others but will even sacrifice themselves to be of help to all. Kind and friendly, they will endure abuse, not protecting themselves.
"Though there will be such good people, the mara bhiksus will all be jealous of them. They will slander, malign, and banish them. Then, individually and as a group, the mara bhiksus will not cultivate virtue. Temples will be deserted, falling into disrepair and then into ruins. Greedy for material wealth, they will accumulate things, not using them for creating merit. They will trade male and female slaves, having them do planting in the fields. Devoid of lovingkindness, they will burn mountain forests, harming sentient beings. Male slaves will become bhiksus, and female slaves will become bhiksunis. Devoid of morality, they will engage in sexual debauchery and perversion whether with men or women. These are the ones who will cause the Way to fade away. Some of them will seek sanctuary in my Order to escape prosecution by the law. They will become sramanas but will not observe the precepts and regulations. Although they will, in appearance, recite the precepts on the new-moon and full-moon days, they will be reluctant and indolent, not wanting to hear the recitation. They will omit some precepts, not wanting to recite all of them. They will not recite or study the sutras. If there are readers who do not know the words [in the sutras], they will allege that they know them. They will not consult the knowledgeable ones, but will rather seek fame for self-elevation. They will glorify themselves with sham elegant ways, expecting offerings from others. After their death, the spirits of these mara bhiksus will fall to the hells of uninterrupted sufferings. For committing the five rebellious acts, none of them can avoid being reborn as animals and hungry ghosts for as many kalpas as the sands of the Ganges. After their sins have been purged, they will be reborn [in human forms] in a fringe country where the Triple Jewel will not be accessible.
"When the Dharma is ending, women will diligently perform virtuous deeds while men will be indolent and arrogant. Men, having no faith, will not use the words in the Dharma, and they will regard srama?as as feces and dirt. When the Dharma is ending, gods will shed tears. Flood and drought will ravage, and five kinds of grain will not ripen. Epidemics will be prevalent and many will die. People will endure a hard life, and government officials will exploit them. People will not follow the good principles, thinking only of pleasures and strife. The evil ones will multiply as profusely as the sands in the sea. The good ones will decrease to one or two. As a kalpa is ending, the sun and the moon will be unstable and the human life span will shorten. At the age of 40, one's hair will turn white. Men indulging in sexual acts may die prematurely from depletion of their semen, or may live only to 60. While men will live short lives, women will live long, to 70, 80, 90, or even 100 years of age. Faithless people will say that the situation can be permanent.
"However, a massive flood will suddenly rise, lasting endlessly. Various species of sentient beings, noble or lowly, will drown or drift in the waters, and they will be eaten by fish and other sea creatures. At that time Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats, who will be driven away by the maras, will not convene. [These holy beings of] the Three Vehicles will enter the meritorious grounds in the mountains. There they will live a long life, tranquilly biding their time. They will meet with one another when the god-kings escort Moonlight Bodhisattva to appear in the world. Together they will revitalize my Dharma for 52 years.
Then, the Surangama Sutra and the Pratyutpanna Buddha Sammukhavasthita Samadhi Sutra will be destroyed first, to be followed by all other sutras in the twelve categories. Their words will not be seen again. The monk's robe will naturally turn white. When my Dharma perishes, it will be like [the flame of] an oil lamp. When it is dying, the light becomes brighter for a while and then dies out. When my Dharma perishes, it will be like the extinction of a lamp. What will happen afterward is hard to describe. Eventually, after thousands of tens of thousands of years, Maitreya Bodhisattva will descend to this world to become a Buddha. All toxic gases will then be eliminated, and the world will be safe and peaceful. The rains will be harmonious and the five grains will thrive. The trees will be tall, and human beings will each be 80 feet in height, with a life span of 84,000 years. Sentient beings that will be delivered will be countless."
The venerable Ananda made obeisance to the Buddha and asked Him, "What should be the name of this Sutra? How should we uphold it?"
The Buddha replied, "Ananda, this Sutra is called the Total Annihilation of the Dharma. Pronounce it to all and let them know its significance. Your virtues will be immeasurable, beyond reckoning."
The four groups of disciples, having heard this Sutra, were distressed and downcast, but they all activated their resolve for the unsurpassed holy Way. Then they all made obeisance to the Buddha and departed.