“The five degenerations are rampant
But change them to the path to enlightenment.”
(That is, practise patience, aspiration, tasting [emptiness], compassion, friendliness, and rejoicing.)
If you follow it [the advice], you will be able to convert unfavourable circumstances into the path to enlightenment, despite the fact that the five degenerations – the degeneration of lifespan and so forth – are commonplace.
The Five degenerations increasing in the degenerate time (kaliyuga) are:
1. degeneration of time - time of wars, peace does not last long; time of sicknesses with new diseases coming; the decline of quality of things, less nutritious food, famine; people are overwhelmed by spirit harms.
2. degeneration of sentient beings - refers to the decline in physical form, intellect, good health; beings are thick-skulled and difficult to subdue; the majority hold ideas that are morally wrong, many are intolerant to the point of hatred.
3. degeneration of lifespan - refers to the fact that the lifespan of beings declines from one hundred years all the way down to ten years.
4. degeneration of actions/views - means that all sentient beings engage in the ten non-virtuous actions, people very easily believe in wrong philosophies and find it difficult to believe the right view.
5. degeneration of afflictions - indicates that the afflictions of ignorance, desire, anger, jealousy, pride and other delusions are becoming so strong that it is very difficult to abandon them."
Sentient beings of that time have small merit, yet, it is said that those capable of training the mind are not vulnerable to the proliferation of the five degenerations and remain contented.
If we look at what is happening in the world, it is clear that we are living in degenerate times. But looking at the brighter side of things, it is also said that we are living in a fortunate aeon during which one thousand Buddhas will appear.
So if we have the merits to encounter a good spiritual guide, receive the Dharma and train the mind, there is hope after all. The important thing is not to waste the opportunity to train the mind.
Be ever diligent follow the advices and never give up. Every effort on the path is a precious one.