major world system dust particle kalpas ［三千塵点劫］ ( sanzen-jintengō or sanzen-jindengō): An immensely long period of time described in the “Parable of the Phantom City” (seventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra to indicate how much time has passed since Shakyamuni preached the sutra to his voice-hearer disciples as the sixteenth son of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence. A “major world system” is that of ancient Indian cosmology (see previous entry). The “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter explains the duration called major world system dust particle kalpas as follows: If a person should use his strength to smash a major world system, should completely crush its earth particles and reduce them all to powdered ink, and if when he passed through a thousand lands he should drop one speck of ink, and if he continued in this manner until he had exhausted all the specks of ink, and if one then took all the lands he had passed through, both those he dropped a speck in and those he did not, and once more ground their earth into dust, and then took one grain of dust to represent one kalpa (approximately sixteen million years)—the number of tiny grains of dust would be less than the number of kalpas in the past when that Buddha lived.
In this explanation, “that Buddha” refers to Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha, and an immeasurable number of kalpas that elapsed since his extinction is commonly described by the term major world system dust particle kalpas. In the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter, Shakyamuni declares that, major world system dust particle kalpas in the past, he was born as the last of the sixteen sons of Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha, who was formerly a king. This Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra, and his sons, blessed by the chance to hear their father’s teaching, transmitted it to a great number of people. Those who were taught by the Buddha’s sixteenth son were later reborn in India together with Shakyamuni, the son’s reincarnation, to complete their Buddhist practice for attaining enlightenment.