January 24, 2019 at 6:03 am #21555
January 24, 2019 at 6:59 am #21566Johnny_LimParticipant
“An even in this kappa, the Gōtama Buddha Sāsana would last only 5000 years, a negligible time in terms of a kappa. This is why we should not waste this rare opportunity.”
I think this is the most important message of this post.
Many thanks to Lal for giving us an introduction to this intriguing sutta.
January 24, 2019 at 7:29 am #21567Dr. J ChakmaParticipant
This question is to Lal and actually I thought about it prior to this too.
Out of 4 antakkappas a living being spend 3 anatakkappas (i.e. 75% time of a mahakappa) in Brahma realm (Abhassara) and enjoy jhanic pleasure. However, Buddha told this sansara is full of suffering (dukha and dukkha). So, a being even if it spent rest of the mahakappa in apayas, the being still spends 75% of time in Good realm (abhassara realm). So, theoretically a being enjoys more than it suffers.
I am not writing this out of ignorance or asaddha (opposite of saddha), but asking this, because if someone points out this point, how do we answer or counter his/her point/question.
I know suffering in apaya (especially niraya for even a short duration is beyond comprehension, beyond explanation in words) is too much to endure even for short duration of time.
I hope I could put my question properly. I do not want to discourage anybody (because you can enjoy 75% of time), but trying to make picture clear.
Metta to all and may all beings attain a magga phala.
January 24, 2019 at 8:11 am #21573
Dr. J Chakma wrote: “Out of 4 antakkappas a living being spend 3 anatakkappas (i.e. 75% time of a mahakappa) in Brahma realm (Abhassara) and enjoy jhanic pleasure. However, Buddha told this sansara is full of suffering (dukha and dukkha). So, a being even if it spent rest of the mahakappa in apayas, the being still spends 75% of time in Good realm (abhassara realm). So, theoretically a being enjoys more than it suffers.”
That is correct.
But as you said after that, the suffering, while it lasts, is unbearable.
To get a perspective consider the following scenario: If one is given the opportunity to enjoy all the comforts in the world for 9 months on the condition that one would then be subjected to various forms of torture (burned alive, cut into pieces only to reassembled instantaneously and to go through the whole process again, etc) incessantly for the next 3 months, would that be acceptable?
I don’t think one would even agree to one day of such suffering even for 9 months of luxurious living.
P.S. I just wanted to mention a book that I read recently, which gives a good idea of what it is like in the hell (similar to the descriptions of some suttas): “A Guided Tour of Hell – A Graphic Memoir” by Samuel Bercholz (2016). He first describes an “out-of-body experience” that is similar to many given by others (seeing his body from above), but the second experience is a “trip to the hell”.
January 24, 2019 at 8:57 am #21574
It is often stated that a human birth is very precious,primarily, but not solely,because the balance between pleasure and suffering is optimum to enable one to see into dukkha, its causes, and, with greater difficulty, into its results as also those of sukkha.
However,living as a human during a Buddha sasana is rare. The human bhavas one lives through outside of a Buddha sasana, without ‘the Dhamma in circulation’, or without any possibility of access to it, even during a Buddha sasana, does away with the value of a human bhava. That will be the case with most, even now. One is left to one’s own devices, as high as those may be, contemplating for instance, the implications of eternity, infinity, even perhaps to getting the fleeting idea from the material world all around as analogy,that all phenomena, even mental ones ,must have causes as well as results. But there is no way one could discover by oneself all that a Buddha reveals out of his once-in-a (or so many)- kappas Purity of Mind: the 31 realms, the 4 Noble truths, Tilakkhana,PS ,the intricate details in Abhidhamma and so on.
Therefore,on the practical side a human bhava acquires all the more value when one happens to be living through it during a Buddha sasana
This is to emphasize once more, if there were any need for it, the supreme importance of striving when the conditions happen to be just right.
Metta to all
January 24, 2019 at 11:16 am #21592firewnsParticipant
Hi my friend y not! It is good to see your post again!
You wrote: The human bhavas one lives through outside of a Buddha sasana, without ‘the Dhamma in circulation’, or without any possibility of access to it, even during a Buddha sasana, does away with the value of a human bhava. That will be the case with most, even now. One is left to one’s own devices, as high as those may be, contemplating for instance, the implications of eternity, infinity, even perhaps to getting the fleeting idea from the material world all around as analogy,that all phenomena, even mental ones ,must have causes as well as results. But there is no way one could discover by oneself all that a Buddha reveals out of his once-in-a (or so many)- kappas Purity of Mind: the 31 realms, the 4 Noble truths, Tilakkhana,PS ,the intricate details in Abhidhamma and so on.
The human bhava/realm is a pivotal realm, in which beings have the most power to change their destinies, especially during a Buddha Sasana. However, even outside of a Buddha Sasana, it is true too, though to a lesser extent.
I state the above, having read that beings in the apayas have very little power to effect changes in their destinies, and think that deva and brahma beings also have little opportunities to do meritorious deeds or to develop compassion, as they encounter very little suffering in their realms.
Outside of a Buddha Sasana, in the human realm, there could be righteous people who could be from other religions, or who live moral lives, as a result of having developed good gati. They have the opportunity to develop their paramitas, waiting for a future Buddha to come along.
Then there are other moral individuals who can continue to develop the fertile ground to fulfill their aspirations made during any prior Buddha Sasanas. They, too, await a future Buddha.
Hence it is important to cultivate good knowledge of Buddhadhamma, develop good gati as well as to make aspirations during a Buddha Sasana to attain Nibbana , with or without corresponding conditions attached. For example, when Sariputta and Maha Moggallana many aeons ago, at the time of the Buddha Anomadassi, were born as the brahman youth Sarada and landowner Sirivaddhaka, they made the aspiration for Chief Discipleship, and eventually became the Chief Disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Then there are the Paccekabuddhas, who realize Nibbana solely through their own efforts, but are unable teach the Dhamma. They realize their ultimate goal outside of a Buddha Sasana.
So, even outside of a Buddha Sasana, the human bhava has its own value too, though it is of course still anatta.
January 24, 2019 at 11:43 am #21593firewnsParticipant
By the way, y not, I left out that I fully agree with you that we need to strive diligently when the conditions happen to be just right. (Since I started typing the previous post more than an hour ago, I thought better of editing it, and just added another post.)
January 24, 2019 at 2:31 pm #21596
May I reciprocate that friendly greeting of yours with ‘Hello, friend-in-the-Dhamma firewrns’
I had said:”…does away with the value of a human bhava.”
You go on: “..even outside of a Buddha Sasana, the human bhava has its own value too, though it is of course still anatta.”
Quite true. One can still ‘prepare the groundwork’,as it were, for when a Buddha IS around in the future through moral and virtuous living. I saw only the ‘cosmic aspect’ of it as I wrote. Thank you for reminding me, and others, of this.
This brings up another point I have been wanting to mention: why should it be that out of 10,000 stellar systems a Buddha appears only on this planet, or more precisely, on re-evolutions of it? What is so special about planet Earth? I am not comfortable with this special status of planet Earth and, all the more,that out of all those humanities, WE happen to be on it; it is true that is of no adverse consequence to the devas and brahmas on those other inhabited planets, but why should those in a human bhava here be so privileged compared to the ones on those other planets?
Whatever the answer to that, if there is one, as we never tire of reminding ourselves and one another: let not too much importance be attached to it-just a glance to the side. The goal lies straight ahead.
January 25, 2019 at 4:24 am #21602Tobias GParticipant
There are 4 kappa: destruction, void, formation, existence. Why does it take a kappa for the destruction? A supernovae would destroy the solar system within a short time (e.g. a few days depending on the distance sun <-> earth). If the star in another solar system would first need to expand before the final supernovae blast we would not be affected during that time. But 10 billion years for the destruction phase is much. Do I missunderstand something?
January 25, 2019 at 4:29 am #21603Tobias GParticipant
Lal, please see #17:
“…There have been 30 mahā kappa without a single Buddha prior to the current mahā kappa. That is 120 billion years!…”
A complete cycle takes 40 billion years, thus 30×40 billion = 1200 billion, right?
January 25, 2019 at 5:32 am #21604
“But 10 billion years for the destruction phase is much”
I had not thought of that. But now that you are mentioning it…what comes to mind is that it resembles decomposition of a physical body in a way: after physical death, that body will take time to be reduced to the most basic organisms. With stars and planets, the process goes further to atomic particles; followed by re-absorption into ‘nature’ (a long process, admittedly) then the void, no processes of nature taking place. When they start taking pace, formation….etc
There may be an analogy in the way stars convert hydrogen into helium. The hydrogen is there ‘all at once’ but the entire process takes billions of years. The ‘destruction’ is a process. I am not sure whether this analogy is an apt one.
January 25, 2019 at 5:53 am #21606
Tobias wrote: “But 10 billion years for the destruction phase is much. Do I missunderstand something?”
I do not want to speculate on those things. But that time starts when the Sun (or another star in the 10,000 systems) starts getting hot. If you Google you can see that it is a gradual process. Of course, the last phase of the actual supernova is very short.
Here we are talking in terms of what is currently known to science. That picture keeps changing.
On the other point, you are right. It should be 1200 billion years or 1.2 trillion years. I just corrected it. Thanks!
January 27, 2019 at 8:19 pm #21640AniduanParticipant
Is the Pali version of Aggañña Sutta at Sutta Central an original reliable source?(link).
When I search of some words like “Cakkavāla”, “antakkappa” I couldn’t find them or maybe I am not searching them properly. So I am just curious what source you use as a reference for the original Pali versions of suttas.
January 28, 2019 at 6:11 am #21641
Yes. Aggañña Sutta does not discuss “Cakkavāla” and “antakkappa” (“world systems” and “the four phases of a kappa”).
As I mentioned in that post, some information come from other suttas. There is no single sutta that covers all that material.
Aggañña Sutta mainly discusses the “reverse evolution process” starting with humans with fine bodies who “descended” from brahma realms.
– Basically, by the time their lifetime in those higher realms are exhausted, they gradually come down to lower realms, as their “hidden gati” (“anusaya”) come back.
– With time, humans also “descend” to lower realms (such as animal realm), when the Earth also changes and vegetation suitable for animal life appear gradually. It takes multi-millions of years.
– It is interesting to note that scientists have now traced back the appearance of bacteria to about 4 billion years ago (the age of Earth is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years).
P.S. After bacteria came vegetation and small animals to be followed by more complex animals. So, that phase of the evolution of animals is similar to what is proposed by Darwin.
– The main difference is that humans first appeared with fine bodies (without sex organs); their bodies got more “dense” with time; sex organs appeared next, etc.
– Of course, the initial births of humans were “opapatika” (without coming out of a womb).
– The complex part is that “reverse progression” of humans.
April 25, 2019 at 8:45 am #22629AnonymousInactive
Just discovered your website. I’m enjoying it very much. Much merit to you!
Can you please give your references for chakkavala being the solar system and not the Milkyway Galaxy? Someone gave the latter translation a few months ago and I would like some clarity.
April 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm #22649
Welcome to the forum, Vindhya!
You asked: “Can you please give your references for chakkavala being the solar system and not the Milkyway Galaxy?”.
There are something like 250 billion stars (i.e. cakkavala) in the Milky Way galaxy according to the scientists. So, it is yet unclear how to make a direct comparison.
June 13, 2019 at 1:21 pm #23591AnonymousInactive
Most people read aganna sutta and see differences between the current evolution theory and the Buddhist teachings. Lal even called this a reverse evolution theory but somehow I have managed to see some similarities that I would like to mention here.
1. Agganna sutta mentions living beings coming from Brahma realms with very fine bodies and tells the story on how the bodies became denser to become the current version. To me, it sounds like a different way of explaining how humans evolved from a single celled organism into living beings with denser bodies consisting of tissues, organs and complex Systems etc.
2. The sutta explains how at the beginning all their needs were met without having to work hard. in my mind it equals to single celled organisms having all their needs such as food met buy the nature itself.
3. Apart from the use of the word human everything seems to add up for me. The fact that the sutta uses the phrase humans with less dense bodies sounds like the buddha was referring to humans in a different sense than what we usually call humans. In my head it is a pre evolutionary stage of Being a human.
4. Sometimes I Wonder If buddha used the word humans at all or was it a mistake in Translation? since I don’t know Pali it’s difficult for me to determine.
5. Evolution says that humans appeared around million years ago. In science human is defined according to the physical aspects of Being Human. In Buddhism they may be referring to the mental aspects of being born in the human realm. Is it possible that in the age of Dinosaurs there was a certain version of living beings with similar capabilities to humans? May be not with two legs, two hands and two eyes but similar mental emotional functions and intelligence.
Does these claims make sense to you? I would really like to know your opinion.
June 13, 2019 at 8:09 pm #23592
Regarding Rishi’s comments: I may have left out some important facts about those “first humans” on this Earth. This sutta requires many posts to discuss various aspects.
1. Those “first humans” are called “brahma kayika” because their bodies were very fine. But they had the ability travel through air, see long distances, hear things far away, etc (basically like brahmas).
2. So, it is not possible to compare them to single-cell organisms. They had more capabilities than present-day humans.
3. Things started going “downhill” when old “bad gati” started to come back in those early humans. With them came more and more hardships.
4. After long times (probably hundreds of millions of years), they lost “free food” and had to grow food, for example.
5. Furthermore, their desire for sexual relationships also cam back, and that is when the bodies got denser and sex organs started to appear. That probably took a few billions of years, but that is just a guess. No precise times are given in the sutta. Always says, “after long times”.
6. Also, those with “very bad gati” started being born as animals gradually, again “after long times”. Same for beings in the other lower realms. They were all humans at the beginning.
7. Therefore, any animal, peta, asura, hell being today was a human in the beginning. Thus any single cell organism living today has gone through a “downward path”.
8. But of course, it is very likely that we had been in those lower realms too before moving up to born human again. Scientists estimate the age of the Earth to be about 4.5 billion years. That is a very long time! We are likely to have had births in most of the 31 realms many times over, especially in the lowest four realms.
These are things to think about carefully.
June 14, 2019 at 1:15 am #23593AnonymousInactive
I can see why you called it a reverse evolution now. Thanks.
August 14, 2019 at 12:24 pm #24283
This is just fascinating material! I’ve read the post a few times, plus the links it points to; all of this does increase my faith in Buddha Dhamma, but at the same time, I can’t help being curious about a couple of things:
1) I wonder why nature works out in such a way that the odds are so high against humans having access to Buddha Dhamma: being born in the human bhava (rare), AND in a Buddha Sasana (rare), AND in the right cakkavāla (out of 10,000).
Lal has explained how low the chance of being born to the human realm is (How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm). One would like to think that after such a rare event, the odds of coming in contact with Buddha Dhamma would be relatively high. Yet, after “making it” as a human, one may go for 30 kappas without a Buddha, or one may be in the “wrong” cakkavāla.
This can make one feel quite scared about NOT making the sotapanna stage in this life. Furthermore, it makes one feel scared for his/her loved ones who are paying no attention to Buddha Dhamma and are actively engaged in sansara.
In this context, it seems better to be born a deva or brahma, since if they are born in a Buddha Sasana but in the “wrong” cakkavāla they can still “travel” to hear Dhamma.
Lal said: “Even after the end of the Kassapa Buddha Sāsana, his teachings were transmitted as Vedic teachings, of course without the deeper meanings.”
It seems like the Hindus were better at “record keeping” than the Buddhists. When a Buddha Sasana ends, do all traces of Dhamma disappear? For example, the Tipitaka from the time of Kassapa Buddha was just gone?
Thank you so much for these wonderful posts!
August 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm #24285
… just one follow-up thought from the above: Can a human gandhabba travel from one cakkavāla to another?
August 14, 2019 at 2:27 pm #24286
Very good questions, Cubibobi.
1: ‘Nature’ or Existence or Reality works within the framework of eternity. To the human mind, 30 mahakappas are a very long time. But the Buddha said that all the tears we have shed, or the blood we have shed having been slain as animals FROM BEGININGLESS TIME is more than the waters of all the oceans; and that is difficult to come across ANYBODY in life who had not been your mother or father or brother or sister etc. And those are only analogies, to give some idea, a very vague one ,to His listeners. In reality anything that has no beginning will admit of no fitting analogy, only one that is beginingless as well.
So however long it takes to be born a human in a Buddha sasana on this planet (among the many inhabited ones in this cakkavala) is still a VERY SHORT TIME when one knows that once Nibbana is attained ,that state will then last FOREVER.
2: The Budddha himself said that with time the Dhamma would disappear, gradually. And where there is no Dhamma there can be no Sangha to spread that Dhamma. Now how the vestiges of the Dhamma in Kassapa.s sasana came into the hands of the Hindus in the next (Gotama’s) sasana, I do not know.
3. No, apparently not. Only devas and Brahmas can. For if it were otherwise, those gandhabbas from other inhabited planets in this cakkkavala, or some of them at least, would have come to listen to the Buddha as well, but the Tipitaka makes no mention of them.
August 14, 2019 at 4:05 pm #24287
Good questions. Here is more relevant information.
1. The appearance of a Buddha is a natural process and no one has control over it. The present maha kappa just happens to have five Buddhas. Normally many maha kappas go by without a single Buddha.
Several suttas state how rare it is for a Buddha to be born, and for a human to be able to comprehend Dhamma. A good example is AN 5.143, a decent translation at: “At Sārandada“.
It describes five rare occurrences:
– The appearance of a fully awakened Buddha.
– A person who explains the teaching and training proclaimed by a Buddha.
– A person who understands the teaching and training proclaimed by a Buddha.
– A person who practices in line with the teaching.
– A person who is grateful to those who help him/her.
2. Vedic brahmins were indeed “good recordkeepers”. They were really good at memorizing bits and pieces of Buddha Kassapa’s teachings and passing them down through generations.
– This is why there are so many “overlaps” with vedic teachings. However, they did not use Pali words in many cases and adopted Sanskrit names: karma for kamma, nirvana for Nibbana, atma for atta, etc.
3. It is rare for any living being to “transfer” from one cakkavāla to another.
– But those with well-established miccha ditthi could be born in other cakkavāla.
– Even when Bahamas and Devas from closeby cakkavāla come to listen to desanas here (especially those by a Buddha), they go back to their own cakkavāla.
The new series of posts on “Origin of Life” will get into some of these details. I have transferred other relevant posts to that subsection so that most of the relevant information will be there.
August 15, 2019 at 2:43 am #24290
I must make a correction.
I used the term ‘cakkavala’ to mean the (our, in this case) ‘10,000 star-system’. Readers will have realized that is incorrect and that the word means our or any other single star-system.
I will get back to question Lal’s first point in #3.
August 29, 2019 at 9:39 am #24563
– “3. It is rare for any living being to “transfer” from one cakkavāla to another.
– But those with well-established miccha ditthi could be born in other cakkavāla.” – August 14, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Q: Why only any living beings with well-established miccha ditthi ? And not those with well-established samma ditthi as well?
As you state it, Lal, it suggests to me that those with well-established miccha ditthi would find a ‘more fitting’ place to work out their kamma vipaka in the conditions of another planet. Conversely (if this ‘inter-planetary migration’ applies also for those with well-established samma ditthi) this would afford them a better place to progress, one ‘more in line with their gathi’ and with the conditions there (in the ‘new’ planet’s realms).
So it is that we all have relatives in other cakkavalas, (and those relatives of ours do not necessarily have to be in human bodies there right now.) The ‘transfer’ from one cakkavala to another can be done in a deva or brahma ‘body’, even if it rarely occurs, but I do not see how it can apply to human gandhabbas.
P.S. I am aware that you did not say that human gandhabbas transfer. Just to remove any doubt that may arise.
August 29, 2019 at 10:59 am #24567
Y not wrote:
Q: Why only any living beings with well-established miccha ditthi ? And not those with well-established samma ditthi as well?
Our cakkavāla is the “best” because Buddhas are born here. No Buddhas are born in the 10,000 cakkavāla around ours.
– There are many more “clusters of 10,000 cakkavāla” out there. Each such cluster has one “special cakkavāla” like ours where Buddhas can be born.
– Our “world’ is unimaginably complex.
You wrote: “The ‘transfer’ from one cakkavala to another can be done in a deva or brahma ‘body’..”
You must be referring to the visits by devas and brahmas to our cakkavāla to listen to the desanas of the Buddha or ask questions from him. They go back to their own cakkavāla after those visits.
– It is not that common for ANY living being to be born in a different cakkavāla. We are indeed fortunate to be born in this cakkavāla.
September 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm #24877
Space oddity? Space FACTS from a Buddha!
From: “How far to heaven?”
The king said: ‘How far is it, Nāgasena, from here to the Brahma world ?’
‘Very far is it, O king. If a rock, the size of an upper chamber, were to fall from there, it would take four months to reach the earth, though it came down eight-and-forty thousand leagues each day and night.’
(Rājā āha—“bhante nāgasena, kīvadūro ito brahmaloko”ti? “Dūro kho, mahārāja, ito brahmaloko kūṭāgāramattā silā tamhā patitā ahorattena aṭṭhacattālīsayojanasahassāni bhassamānā catūhi māsehi pathaviyaṃ patiṭṭhaheyyā”ti.)
Taking a league to be 7 miles, we have a distance of : 84,000 leagues x 7 mls x 120 days = : 70,560,000 mls, that is, about half -way the average distance between Earth and Mars. The deva realms would then be closer still. The sutta does not specify which brahma realm is meant, but I figure that the higher brahma realms above the Abhassara are not subject to the gravitational pull of the Earth (or the Sun, for that matter , or of any other planet) for all these are destroyed eventually, but those brahma realms remain intact, independent of the existence or otherwise of any celestial body.
It would APPEAR amazing that an estimate of such a distance could be made by someone 2,500 years ago, and that the speed of ‘Milinda’s upper chamber’is given as 24,500 m.p.h (when it is known today that meteorites travel at a speed of between 25,000 and 150,000 m.p.h !!)BUT NOT WHEN WE KNOW THAT IT WAS KNOWLEDGE COMING FROM A BUDDHA. This is one other instance where Buddhadhamma was, is and ever will be far ahead of science.
Even though true, cosmic and other ‘scientific’facts such as these found in Buddhadhamma should not deviate us from the main, the ONE objective of making an end of suffering. If anything, they only go on to prove, if there were any need for it, that the knowledge of a Buddha, Sattha devamanussanam, is indeed supreme.
May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha be with us all.
September 20, 2019 at 5:23 pm #24878
Thank you for the information, y not!
I was not aware of this information.
Some relevant information: This account is from “Milinda Panha“, which is a later addition to the Tipitaka.
– It is an account of a series of questions by a Greek King Milinda who ruled parts of India a few hundred years after the Buddha. The answers were provided by an Arahant named Nagasena.
– King Milinda was a Buddhist and had regular question and answer sessions with Ven. Nagasena.
– “Panha” means “questions”, so “Milinda Panha” means “Questions by Milinda”.
– The link provided by y not has English translations of those questions and answers.
September 20, 2019 at 5:59 pm #24880
“This account is from ‘Milinda Panha’, which is A LATER EDITION TO THE TIpitaka.”
I did not know that Lal, thank you.
I knew that King Milinda was somewhat later than the Buddha, but not how much later exactly. I figured out that Nagasena must have been an Arahant, judging by the clarity and the certitude of his answers- his words reflecting the knowledge of the Buddha.
March 26, 2020 at 1:54 pm #27615
The following comment is from Tobias. He ran into a problem submitting it.
Please see #11: “When the Earth is re-formed about 30 billion years after its destruction, those BrahmÄ will start coming down to those newly-formed lower realms….”
After destruction, it will take about 20 billion years until a new earth is formed: 10 billion void + 10 billion reformation.
Please see #2: “…(iv). Such 10,000 clusters of world-systems blow up from time to time in the universe. Again, scientists observe such supernovae every year….”
It should be “Such a cluster with 10,000 solar systems blows up from time to time…”
March 26, 2020 at 2:04 pm #27617
Thank you, Tobias.
I just made the corrections.
May 3, 2020 at 9:18 pm #29407
I might be wrong but I think that a mistake was made while explaining the transition of beings from the lower realms to the Brahma realms on the destruction of the planet.
I would like to remember that the universe is something like infinite (or very big at least). There are innumerable clusters of 10.000 systems in which each and every system is passing through their own cycle. Considering this, beings that belong to any real, with the exception of those with subtle/non material bodies, will be reborn in another cluster in correspondence with their kamma at the time of the destruction of their planet.
This beings will only be “forcibly” reborn in the Brahmas realms with the Contraction of the entire universe, when there is no other place where their accumulated kamma can express its effects.
May 4, 2020 at 6:16 am #29408
Lucas wrote: “I might be wrong but I think that a mistake was made while explaining the transition of beings from the lower realms to the Brahma realms on the destruction of the planet..I would like to remember that the universe is something like infinite (or very big at least). ”
Buddha’s model does not say that the whole universe will be destroyed when the Earth (and the other planets in the Solar system) is destroyed. Only 10,000 more “star systems” (like our Solar system) will be destroyed. The rest of the universe remains the same.
– Of course, more 10,000 such “star systems” will be destroyed from time-to-time.
– In other words, a given system of 10,000 “star systems” will be destroyed periodically, just like ours. Then they “re-form” over many billions of years. Of course, the higher-lying Brahma realms are never destroyed, since there is very little “tangible matter” in those realms.
– This feature of the Buddha’s model has been PROVEN by science. The destruction of a whole cluster of stars (together with their planetary systems) does happen in the universe. Such an event is a supernova. There are a few such supernovae in our Milky Way galaxy each year.
– The “re-formation” of star systems has been also confirmed.
The current model of modern science says that the WHOLE UNIVERSE (with ALL star systems) came to existence with the Big Bang.
– There are some theories that say the whole universe will CONTRACT to a “point’ and then will undergo another Big Bang. (and that process may repeat.)
– But all those are theories and even the Big Bang model is not proven. Of course, most scientists believe in that model.
You may want to re-read the post with the above information in mind.
– Please feel free to ask questions if not clear.
May 4, 2020 at 8:36 am #29412
One thing seems not accounted for in the Buddha’s (i.e.the real) model.
Stars not massive enough to go supernova, like the Sun, will expand into red giants, engulfing and destroying the nearer planets including Earth (in the case of the Solar system) before shrinking back to white dwarfs. If an inhabited planet lies within that radius, the destruction will happen before the explosion of a supernova in the vicinity. The star’s time ‘is up’ before that of the supernova.
I have for long pondered in how literal a sense the term ‘10,000’ world-system’ should be taken. Some say it may even refer to a Galaxy. I do not see that as a possibility, as 10,000 is a far cry from 200 billion (I would say the number is closer to 1000 billion, i.e. one trillion), and the Buddha would surely have used a different number, even if in a figurative sense. (The Buddha’s similes about how long an aeon is and the chances of being born human, for instance – the turtle and the yoke, the sand grains on His fingernail – are very factual: taking the trouble to do some calculation will confirm it). And globular clusters do not fit the bill on other considerations.
Now it is estimated that a supernova’s ‘kill zone’ lies in the space within 26 light years of the outburst. I have made some calculations: given the density of stars in our vicinity of the Galaxy, within that space (about 73,600 cubic light years) there would be only about 330 stars. But those are stars in the 4% universe! If the remaining mass of 96% were taken into account, the number would rise to 8,250 !! Of course, those ‘unseen’ stars, and, by extension, planets, would be fine-material (better than the scientific because poetic ‘dark’).
I am not saying that is how matter stands in actual fact, to be sure. I am only trying correlate the term ‘10,000 world-system’ with the latest scientific ‘facts’. I would very much appreciate the input of others.
May 4, 2020 at 9:27 am #29416
y not wrote: “Stars not massive enough to go supernova, like the Sun, will expand into red giants, engulfing and destroying the nearer planets including Earth (in the case of the Solar system) before shrinking back to white dwarfs. If an inhabited planet lies within that radius, the destruction will happen before the explosion of a supernova in the vicinity. The star’s time ‘is up’ before that of the supernova.”
It is possible that the Sun could be in a “red giant” state for millions of years before another star in the “10,00 world systems’ blows up and destroys the whole system. Furthermore, another star can become a supernova and blow-up the whole system BEFORE the Earth becomes a red giant.
– These are minor details. The “big picture” does not change.
Furthermore, we cannot take everything scientists to say at the moment to be the “ultimate truth”. As I pointed out, their “world view” keeps changing with more data. It has changed drastically over even the past couple of hundred years.
May 4, 2020 at 10:39 am #29419
“The big picture” is that these supernovae take place in galaxies with regular frequency, that is clear.. AND also that certain stars can expand into red giants and destroy the inner planets, before a supernova explodes ‘nearby’
Of immediate concern to us is this one particular star, the Sun. When the Sun reaches the red giant phase, the Earth will be destroyed THEREBY alone not by the supernova (if the supernova explosion had not taken place by then.) This is what I meant.
Destruction will take place one way or another,that is the ‘big picture’
May 4, 2020 at 11:28 am #29423
The following comment is from lucas.combon. Even though his first post above did not have a problem, he could not get the following post published. So, the intermittent problem remains. Please keep a copy of any post, and email me ([email protected]) if it does not appear.
Lal, there are other translations that are not the ones that you show in your site that talk about aeons of Cosmic expansion and contraction
“With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes). He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion,“
Not only this but even if we consider that the universe does not expand and contract and that the cluster is the only thing that is destroyed, there is still an incongruence in saying that beings will “forcibly” go to the Brahma realms when there are other clusters in the universe in which their kamma can rest and express itself. We know by the literature, and many of us by personal experience, that mind has no spacial limits.
With all my respects, the logic that shows your post is against the law of kamma or the law of cause and effect. If there is any place in the whole universe in which beings have any possibilities to continue with their tendencies they will go there. Only if those places (realms) are not available, only then they will go up and up because of the dissolution of the lower realms.
May 4, 2020 at 2:59 pm #29425
Lucas: Your quote from the sutta is: “With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes). He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion,“
The original Pali version: “So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte anaṅgaṇe vigatūpakkilese mudubhūte kammaniye ṭhite āneñjappatte pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇāya cittaṃ abhinīharati abhininnāmeti. So anekavihitaṃ pubbenivāsaṃ anussarati, seyyathidaṃ—ekampi jātiṃ dvepi jātiyo tissopi jātiyo catassopi jātiyo pañcapi jātiyo dasapi jātiyo vīsampi jātiyo tiṃsampi jātiyo cattālīsampi jātiyo paññāsampi jātiyo jātisatampi jātisahassampi jātisatasahassampi anekepi saṃvaṭṭakappe anekepi vivaṭṭakappe anekepi saṃvaṭṭavivaṭṭakappe,”
Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation: “When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward recollection of past lives. They recollect many kinds of past lives, that is, one, two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand rebirths; many eons of the world contracting, many eons of the world expanding, many eons of the world contracting and expanding..”
The original version and Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation at: “Samaññaphala Sutta (DN 2)”
Now, let us look at the key Pali words individually:
“Aneka” (in anekepi) means “numerous” or “many”.
A saṃvaṭṭa kappa (in saṃvaṭṭakappe) is the time taken to re-form the Earth. That means to re-form the whole 10,000 world systems.
– “Samvatta” (“san” + “vatta”) indicates the formation. As we know the word “san” means “adding up” or “aggregation.”
A vivaṭṭa kappa (in vivaṭṭakappe) is the time taken to break-up the Earth. That means to break-up the whole 10,000 world systems.
– “Vivatta” (“vi” + “vatta”) indicates “breaking up.”
We need to keep in mind that in that sutta, the focus was on the Earth. But when the Earth is destroyed (via the blowing up of a star,) the whole world system with 10,000 stars is destroyed.
– That is confirmed by modern science, of course, we do not know how many stars are destroyed. A supernova destroys the “whole neighborhood.”
Therefore, that passage in the sutta says that a person who gains the ability to recollect past lives may be able to recollect many past lives depending on the level of iddhi powers developed.
In the Agganna Sutta, the Buddha has described the destruction and “re-formation” of the Earth (together with the 10,000 world systems) over a (kappa.) That is the “kappa” in saṃvaṭṭa kappa or vivaṭṭa kappa in the verse quoted from the Samaññaphala Sutta.
Those who have cultivated to the extreme levels can recall past lives going back to many such kappa.
Therefore, the confusion is with the translation of a “kappa” as the age of the universe in terms of an eon meaning the time since the ‘Big Bang.” In modern science, ALL star systems that CAN BE SEEN TODAY are supposed to have arisen in the Big Bang. All stars mean an UNCOUNTABLE number of stars!
– Let me emphasize. In modern science, ALL stars (or more precisely ALL MATTER for the existing stars) were created in a single “Big Bang.” P.S. I added the statement within brackets per comment below by y not.
– In the Buddha’s version, only a TINE FRACTION of the stars undergo destruction at a given time. That destruction takes a kappa, which is a saṃvaṭṭa kappa. Then, the “re-formation” process also takes a kappa. That is a vivaṭṭa kappa
– Those are two very different models. Problems arise when the terminologies are mixed up.
May 4, 2020 at 3:46 pm #29428
I tried to post this about 3 hours ago but for some odd ‘hesitation’ with the Site, it did not go through. I am trying again now ( I kept a copy):
Hello there Lucas,
I take “many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion” as an indication of the time that has elapsed, the time it took for the bhikkhu to go through all those lives – that is, in aeon after aeon, not in just one.
As to your last para, I too see that ‘transferring’ to another planetary system should be no problem for the mind. Say one still needs experience from a human world, but he does not ‘fit in’anymore with the state of that humanity at that time. But this is not connected with the destruction of any planet in any way. It may also happen the other way around. There would be some here who are ‘not of this planet’. The Buddha SAW the inevitable transference to higher realms only following the destruction of the planet.
May 4, 2020 at 4:02 pm #29430
“In modern science, ALL star systems that CAN BE SEEN TODAY are supposed to have arisen in the Big Bang….. In modern science, ALL stars were created in a single “Big Bang.”
This is a bit out-dated, even in scientific circles. I myself had been under the impression that the view of science was that the Sun (for one star) is a second generation star. Now there are some who hold the view that it is a third-generation star; others that it could be a 1000th generation star!!
Buddha’s ‘version’ on the way to being proved correct! As will be the case over and over again with other theories even in other fields of enquiry.
May 4, 2020 at 4:34 pm #29431
A saṃvaṭṭa kappa (in saṃvaṭṭakappe) is the time taken to re-form the Earth. That means to re-form the whole 10,000 world systems.
– “Samvatta” (“san” + “vatta”) indicates the formation. As we know the word “san” means “adding up” or “aggregation.”
A vivaṭṭa kappa (in vivaṭṭakappe) is the time taken to re-form the Earth. That means to re-form the whole 10,000 world systems.
– “Vivatta” (“vi” + “vatta”) indicates “breaking up.”
In the second paragraph, don’t you mean: “A vivaṭṭa kappa (in vivaṭṭakappe) is the time taken to break up the earth?
May 4, 2020 at 5:26 pm #29433
Thank you, Frank (cubibobi)!
I just corrected it.
P.S. I also added a sentence to address the following comment by y not: “I myself had been under the impression that the view of science was that the Sun (for one star) is a second generation star. Now there are some who hold the view that it is a third-generation star; others that it could be a 1000th generation star!!”
Yes. Our Sun is a third-generation star. But there are no 1000th generation stars. It takes a few billion years to “recycle” the matter to re-form a star according to scientists. Since the “Big Bang” happened less than 15 billion years ago, probably less than 10 generations are possible. Of course, these numbers are based on the “Big Bang” model, and not with the Buddha’s.
May 4, 2020 at 11:54 pm #29436
What I meant was that without their knowing it, just considering the idea of a thousand-generation star comes closer(?) to Buddha’s model – because is ‘1000th-generation’ instead of ‘third-generation’ significantly closer to ‘infinitely-generating’?
Read ‘3-, at most 10- generation star’ and you have the model based on the Big Bang .Read infinite-generation star, and you have Buddha’s model.
I did not see that a hypothetical ‘1000th generation star’ does not fit in with science’s own Big Bang theory. Thanks Lal.
May 6, 2020 at 7:00 am #29448
It seems that I missed the second part of Lucas’s question. That second part is:
“Not only this but even if we consider that the universe does not expand and contract and that the cluster is the only thing that is destroyed, there is still an incongruence in saying that beings will “forcibly” go to the Brahma realms when there are other clusters in the universe in which their kamma can rest and express itself. We know by the literature, and many of us by personal experience, that mind has no spacial limits.
With all my respects, the logic that shows your post is against the law of kamma or the law of cause and effect. If there is any place in the whole universe in which beings have any possibilities to continue with their tendencies they will go there. Only if those places (realms) are not available, only then they will go up and up because of the dissolution of the lower realms.”
It seems to me that Lucas is saying the following:
When a cluster of 10,000 “world-systems” (in terms of modern language 10,000 star systems) get blown up, why do the living-beings in those world-systems not reborn somewhere else in the universe?
– Why do they living-beings in each inhabited planet in those world-systems end up in the higher-lying realms in their original systems?
– For example, when the Earth is destroyed, why not those living beings “stationed” in the Earth-based system not born elsewhere in the universe?
I think I need to write another post instead of addressing that part of the question here. The answer involves many related issues. But let me point out a few key things.
– The destruction is not instantaneous. Furthermore, the “re-formation” process is not instantaneous as is the case with the “Big Bang,” in the sense that not ALL MATTER (or the ingredients for all matter) come into existence in a moment in the “Big Bang.”
– The destruction process happens over billions of years. The migration of living-beings to higher realms happens over such a long time, in NATURAL PROCESS.
– P.S. Long before a 10,000 “world-system” explodes in a supernova, life in associated planets will gradually die out over many millions of years. First, humans and animals will die. The higher-lying Deva realms will survive for a long time. Lower-lying Brahma realms will survive even longer.
– The re-formation of the solid Earth also happens over billions of years.
If there are other related issues, I can try to address those too. But it will take several days, may be even a couple of weeks.
May 6, 2020 at 1:49 pm #29455
I can’t make the link between a time reference and the law of kamma. What I mean is that I absolutely agree that the destruction of anything in the universe is progressive, not from one moment to the other. But I can’t see why this will be a refutation to the possibility of any mind flow to continue its tendencies in another planet, another cluster, or whatever place is available at the moment of birth.
The entire universe is the field that contains nama and rupa, and as such nama can and will appear anywhere. Accumulated tendencies act like a strong magnet that will push the mind towards the corresponding/compatible realm of existence. The only exception is when this realm is not available. Only then the complexity of the law of kamma will push the being to another realm, lower or higher.
If we follow this logically and not purely and solely based on a 2300 years text (that we are not 100% sure if is authentic and not modified) + the fact that there are as many translations as traditions, the only moment in which a being will be “forcibly” reborn in a higher realm is in the contraction of the entire universe, that is when there is No More Realms in which rupa is stabilized enough to take form.
May 6, 2020 at 2:52 pm #29457
Let me ask a couple of questions, Lucas.
1. Have you read the Agganna Sutta? What I described is not a theory of mine, but the way it is described in that sutta.
2. You wrote: “If we follow this logically and not purely and solely based on a 2300 years text (that we are not 100% sure if is authentic and not modified)..”
– How confident are you about your theory?
– Also, have you found ANYTHING in the Pali Tipitaka to be inconsistent with ITSELF? If you have, please mention a couple of things so we can discuss them.
I have full confidence in the Agganna Sutta and also in the whole of the Tipitaka. Just because the Tipitaka is 2500 years old, does not mean that it has errors. The only way to contest that is to show evidence that it is not self-consistent. See, “Buddha Dhamma: Non-Perceivability and Self-Consistency.”
– I have so far not been able to find ANYTHING inconsistent with the Tipitaka.
– Furthermore, the description in the Agganna Sutta is consistent with most of the scientific findings except for a few. A major exception is the Big Bang model. It will be proven to be wrong in the future in the same way that many other scientific findings (which were inconsistent with the Tipitaka) were turned out to be incorrect or incomplete.
May 6, 2020 at 3:50 pm #29458
– I didn’t said that there is an incongruence in the Tipitaka.
– I’m saying that there is an incongruence in the translation of your post, your matching with actual scientific theories, and the law of kamma
– This is important: the tipitaka is not our bible. It’s just a text that has to be taken as such. It has to be tested by personal experience. I do not believe in the Tipitaka, I have faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
In the lineage that I practice (Goenka), the teachers (ancestors) of that lineage talk about contraction and expansion of the whole universe. This doesn’t mean that I blindly believe in what they said, but the question comes (a question that you didn’t refute yet): if there is more planets that host lifeforms, more galaxies, more “clusters”, more whatever names we wanna place for a physical realm… why should a being go up with the destruction of his cluster when there are innumerable more places around the universe in which the tendencies can take place?
Please answer this.
Furthermore, if beings go up with the destruction of the material realms, the inexistence of this last ones will have to be a requisite. The only possible instance in which this event could happen is in the absolute contraction of the whole Universe when there is no physical realm available anywhere.
May 6, 2020 at 4:44 pm #29459
Lucas wrote: “I’m saying that there is an incongruence in the translation of your post, your matching with actual scientific theories, and the law of kamma.”
What is not matching is only the Big Bang theory. My post is consistent with the laws of kamma, but may not be matching with laws of kamma as you interpret.
You wrote: ‘This is important: the tipitaka is not our bible. It’s just a text that has to be taken as such.” and “It’s just a text that has to be taken as such. It has to be tested by personal experience.”
– Tipitaka is not the bible. It is the Tipitaka and it is the Buddha’s word. Think about self-consistency. You are just repeating what many secular Buddhists say. Again, please provide evidence of inconsistencies, rather than making statements.
-The Tipitaka cannot be verified by the experience of those who have not comprehended its core teachings.
You wrote: “In the lineage that I practice (Goenka)”
– That explains a lot.
You wrote: ‘if there is more planets that host lifeforms, more galaxies, more “clusters”, more whatever names we wanna place for a physical realm… why should a being go up with the destruction of his cluster when there are innumerable more places around the universe in which the tendencies can take place? Please answer this.”
– This is a key point. It is not correct to say, “a being go(es) up”
– When the destruction starts, the “mind-pleasing things” start disappearing. So, over time that leads to the cultivation of jhana. This is similar to those who cultivate anariya jhana by willfully staying away from “mind-pleasing things.” I will explain this in detail in the upcoming post. But essentially, living-beings NATURALLY go up the realms as their realms are slowly destroyed.
You wrote: “Furthermore, if beings go up with the destruction of the material realms, the inexistence of this last ones will have to be a requisite. The only possible instance in which this event could happen is in the absolute contraction of the whole Universe when there is no physical realm available anywhere.”
The higher-lying Brahma realms are not destroyed when the solid Earth is destroyed. There is very little “matter” in those realms. All living-beings end up in those realms.
– Please note that the lifetimes of beings in the highest realms are many eons (many Maha kappa).
– However, those living-beings who “migrate up naturally” in the destruction phase, only go up to the Abhassara Brahma realm. Their lifetimes end by the time the Earth is “re-formed.”
You may want to read my post on Agganna Sutta carefully and also the links provided there. Buddha Dhamma is very deep. It is not possible to explain something in a single post or even several posts.
I do not mean to offend you or anyone with some of the statements above. But that is the truth. There is no other way to explain/make sense of things.
– Please remember that Einstein believed the universe to be stable. He tried to “fudge” his equations to force the universe to be static. See the first two paragraphs in, “Cosmological constant”
– If Einstein could not go against the Buddha’s teachings, it is doubtful that anyone else can.
May 10, 2021 at 5:32 pm #34392
The following is a recent youtube video “Time to Take the ‘Big Bang’ out of the Big Bang Theory? (May 5, 2021)” by a scientist, Paul Steinhardt, who claims that the Big Bang Theory about the origin of the universe is not correct:
He has co-authored a book on this subject too, where they argue against the proposed “Big Bang Theory”:
“Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang” by Paul J. Steinhardt, Neil Turok (2007).
As we know, the Buddha taught that only parts of the universe are destroyed and re-emerge periodically:
“Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)“
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