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Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta – Counterfeit Dhamma
Samyutta Nikaya 16.13
The Buddha was at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Venerable Maha Kassapa went to the Buddha. He bowed down to him and sat to one side. After a short time, Kassapa inquired of the Buddha: “In the past, there were less training rules yet more disciples established within themselves arahantship. (Awakening)
“Now, there are more rules of training yet fewer disciples establish arahantship within themselves.”
“Kassapa, when human beings degenerate a counterfeit Dhamma arises and the authentic Dhamma is diminished and begins to disappear. When the authentic Dhamma is diminished and begins to disappear, there must be more training rules even though fewer disciples will be able to establish arahantship within themselves.
“The authentic Dhamma will not be diminished or begin to disappear when there is no counterfeit Dhamma arisen in the world.
“However, Kassapa, when counterfeit dhammas arise in the world there is diminishing and disappearance of the authentic Dhamma.
“I will give you a metaphor:
“There is no diminishing in the value, or even the disappearance of gold as long as a counterfeit of gold has not arisen in the world. But there is the diminishing and ultimately the disappearance of gold when a counterfeit of gold has arisen in the world.
“In this same manner, there is diminishing and ultimately the disappearance of the authentic Dhamma when a counterfeit of the authentic Dhamma has arisen in the world.
“It’s not the earth element that makes the authentic Dhamma disappear. It’s not the water element or the fire element or the wind element that makes the authentic Dhamma disappear.
The Buddha is stating that it is not something inherent and unavoidable in the world that causes the disappearance of the authentic Dhamma. Rather, it is continued ignorance that supports the strategies used to continue to ignore this initial ignorance.
“It is foolish people who arise within the Sangha who cause the authentic Dhamma to disappear. The authentic Dhamma doesn’t disappear the way a boat sinks all at once.
“There are five unskillful qualities that increase confusion and lead to the disappearance of my authentic Dhamma:
- Disrespect and Indifference for the Teacher.
- Disrespect and Indifference for the Dhamma.
- Disrespect and Indifference for the Sangha
- Disrespect and Indifference for the Training.
- Disrespect and Indifference for Concentration.
“Friends, thee these five qualities to develop and maintain stability, clarity, and continued establishment of my authentic Dhamma:
- Respect and deference for the Teacher.
- Respect and deference for the Dhamma
- Respect and deference for the Sangha.
- Respect and deference for the Training.
- Respect and deference to concentration.
“Friends, these are five qualities to develop and maintain stability, clarity, and continued establishment of my authentic Dhamma:
End Of Sutta
Using gold as the subject of the metaphor is quite appropriate. While gold has always been in the world, as substitutes for gold became discovered and employed, the value of gold is diminished. Even today it takes constant manipulation of economies to maintain gold’s value. It is also appropriate as metaphor as the difficulty in finding and acquiring goal has led to less valuable but easier to acquire metals has gained widespread use and acceptance of these other (inferior) materials.
Substituting counterfeit dhammas has always proven to diminish the authentic Dhamma. This was as prevalent during the Buddha’s time as it is today. His teaching to the Kalamas is one example of the Buddha teaching an authentic Dhamma to a group confused and distracted by the many false Dhammas It should be noted that the Kalama Sutta is a sutta where the Buddha teaches how to know an authentic Dhamma: by the direct individual development of the Dhamma.
Ironically, but understandably, The Kalama Sutta  is one of the suttas commonly misquoted and misapplied to claim that the Buddha taught to eagerly substitute any teaching if his Dhamma did not fit an ignorant viewer.
This sutta also points out another subtle but pervasive strategy used to continue ignorance of Four Noble Truths. A common refrain goes something like this: “The truth will always prevail.” A variant is “The truth needs no defense.” Bot of these beliefs are well-espoused today and the mantras of many who engage in counterfeit dharmas. Of Course, these foolish beliefs contradict the Buddha’s Dhamma and serve only to allow for an “all-inclusive” modern dharma that has little or no Heartwood left. The “Thicket of Views”  prevalent in modern Buddhism attest to this both in the scope of these wrong views and the compulsive response that “all Dharmas lead to the same goal.”
An awakened human being showed the foolishness and the ignorance of these beliefs and how successfully they will be employed by those hoping to avoid an authentic Dhamma.
The Buddha’s Dhamma is an authentic refuge, a true precious jewel that to continue and preserve requires the refined mindfulness only developed through the Eightfold Path.
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.
Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.
I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.
Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.