Universe – Sun and the moon

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  • This topic has 22 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 4 months ago by Lal.
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    • #48016

      Hi Lal

      It says in the Tripitaka, one universe (Sakwala) is a place where one sun and a moon eliminate. Ven Waharaka thero also describes it as it is.  However, we know Jupiter also has many moons. Also, Waharaka Thero says the Sun and the moon we see differ from what we see. Also, Ven Thero noted that you cannot see the Sun and the Moon more than 40-50 Km from the Earth. However, many pictures have been taken from the ISS of the Moon and the Sun, traveling over 400 KM from the Earth.

      Do you have any comments or explanations regarding this?


    • #48017

      No. I don’t spend time analyzing such things. There is no benefit.

    • #48036

      I wanted to clarify why I declined to answer this question. Sometimes, having a general idea about the external world is good. In a few suttas, the Buddha gave an overview of the universe. He said our solar system is one of an uncountable number of planetary systems (cakkavala.

      • He also taught that in a “loka vinasaya” (destruction of our solar system), a cluster of 1000 planetary systems like ours gets destroyed. That matches modern science, saying that when a star gets old and blows up in a supernova, many nearby stars (planetary systems) are also destroyed.
      • I mentioned that in the introduction to Agganna Sutta: “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)

      However, it does not make sense to examine the finer details of the universe. Doing so will consume all our energy. We must mainly focus on understanding how pancupadanakkhadha (i.e., suffering) arises and working to stop that process. 

      • The following is a picture of our Milky Way galaxy. We can see (with the naked eye) only a couple of thousand stars, but there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy. Furthermore, there are about an equal number of GALAXIES in our universe. Thus, there is a whole galaxy for each star in our galaxy. It is truly mind-boggling.
      • Will we ever be able to investigate even a fraction in our lifetime?

      • #48037

        Thanks Lal,

        Actually , after your first answer, I already understood  its a waste of time investigating this universe stuff.  Its never ending, and with our current knowledge, its impossible to “prove” lots of finding about the universe anyways.

        Thanks again for your time and effort.


    • #48096
      Tobias G

      Lal, you say “In a few suttas, the Buddha gave an overview of the universe. He said our solar system is one of an uncountable number of planetary systems (cakkavala).”


      Can you please say where the Buddha states that there are uncountable numbers of cakkavalas? 

    • #48098

      I am not sure whether there is a single sutta that says so.

      • But the inference can be made by studying various relevant suttas. I will provide a few below. Perhaps others can add to this collection, and I can write a post. These issues keep coming up, so it would be good to have one post that summarizes what is in the suttas.

      Cūḷanikā Sutta (AN 3.80)“, “Rohitassa Sutta (SN 2.26)“, “Acinteyya Sutta (AN 4.77).”

      • In the first one, the Buddha tells Ven. Ananda about the “mahāsahassī lokadhātu” (a region of space) with a billion stars with planetary systems like ours. As I understand, that is the “maximum range” of a single Buddha. But there can be many Buddhas even now, in other such “mahāsahassī lokadhātu” in the universe. Our Milky Way galaxy has 100 billion stars. Thus, even within our Milky Way galaxy, there could be living Buddhas right now. The English translation used the word “galaxy” for a collection of only 1000 planetary systems, which is wrong. 
      • There is also a sutta, which describes Ven. Moggalana took off to “look for the end of the world.” He got lost on the way, and the Buddha had to rescue him. I don’t remember the name of that sutta.

      That is why, in the last sutta quoted above, the Buddha says figuring out the universe’s structure is “not achievable” for humans. Anyone who tries to do that “will go mad or get frustrated” (see the starting verse of that sutta).

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    • #48100

       Sir Lal: “There is also a sutta, which describes Ven. Moggalana took off to “look for the end of the world.” He got lost on the way, and the Buddha had to rescue him. I don’t remember the name of that sutta.”

      He was trying to travel through an absorption into an arupa One of infinite space. These are the sources I found, sir. The first source comes from forum that I found. I don’t know if the translations are good.

      • This story occurs in chapter 40 (kindred sayings about Ven. Moggallana) of the Salayatana-vagga, which is the fourth book of the Samyutta-nikaya (book of kindred sayings).

      The relevant passage (section 5, entitled ‘Space’) can be summed up as follows:

      (Then I thought, friends) : “They say, ‘The realm of infinite space, the realm of infinite space.’ Now, what is the realm of infinite space?’

      Then, friends, this occurred to me: Herein a brother, passing utterly beyond the perception of objects, by the coming to an end of the perception of resistance, by not attending to the perception of diversity, with the idea of “infinite is space,” enters on and abides in the realm of infinite space. This is called “ the realm of infinite space.”

      So I, friends, passing utterly beyond the perception of objects . . . entered on and abode in the realm of infinite space.

      But when I had thus abode (and had emerged from trance), perception and work of mind, connected with the perception of objects, still continued.

      Thereupon, friends, the Exalted One by magic power came to me and said: “Moggallana, Moggallana, be not remiss in the realm of infinite space, brahmin ! **Make steadfast the mind, make the mind one-pointed, compose the mind in the realm of infinite space.”

      So after that, friends, passing utterly beyond objects . . . I entered on and abode in the realm of infinite space.

      Now, friends, if any would rightly say: “Helped by the Master the disciple won great super-knowledge,” of me would he rightly say: “Helped by the Master did the disciple win great super-knowledge.”’

    • #48103

      Thanks, Gad.

      • However, both those refer to Ven. Moggallana cultivating the first arupāvacara samāpatti, “ākāsānañcāyatana samāpatti.”
      • That does not refer to the account of Ven. Moggallana “getting lost in space.” That happened after he developed all the abhinna powers. 

      The Moggallana Samyutta in the Samyutta Nikāya has nine suttās that describe step-by-step how Ven. Moggallana attained Ariya jhānās and samāpattis in sequence, starting with the first Ariya jhāna. The Sutta Central reference you gave at the end is one of those suttas.


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      • #48105

        Okay sir, those were the closest sources I found but I will try to find that story.

    • #48107
      Tobi-Wan Kenobi

      The Drake Equation

      An estimate published in the Astrophysical Journal concludes that there may currently be dozens of radio-capable civilizations in the Milky Way, with 36 being the most likely number. The researchers consider this estimate, created using the so-called Drake equation, to be conservative.
      The Drake Equation (first proposed in 1961) is our best and only tool for answering this age-old question, even if it relies on things that are still very speculative.
      Our yellow sun, for example, is relatively unusual in a galaxy where red dwarf stars are the norm.
      Our location in a spiral arm is also something very special, far enough away from the center of our galaxy. So that suns can be formed that are active long enough and the density of matter is high enough, as well as the stellar mass distribution and the main sequence lifetime of stars. Without the direct influence of a black hole and much more.
      It is estimated that our galaxy reached its peak (in terms of star production) about ten billion years ago.
      I think 1000 for Cakkavala works very well as an average in our galaxy. Cakkavala, with a mountain Sineru. However, this does not mean that the 36 civilizations that exist there are not capable of cultivating other planets. That means around 1000 worlds with a Mount Sineru and perhaps 10,000 newly conquered terraformed planets.

      1000 billion stars sounds like a lot. But 7 billion people and no known Arahant or even 1000, also.

      In summary, the same conditions must be present to achieve the same results, and the conditions are very specific to our Earth. Maybe a 1000 in 100 to 400 billion chances. That would be an asymmetrical ratio of 1 to 100 to 400 million. That’s okay.

      But as I said, there is no point in studying the finer details of the universe. We want to end the creation of suffering.

    • #48108

      Tobi wrote: “An estimate published in the Astrophysical Journal concludes that there may currently be dozens of radio-capable civilizations in the Milky Way, with 36 being the most likely number.”

      • I am not sure how they can calculate the number of civilizations, let alone those “capable of using radio.” Can you provide the reference? Of course, it is not a critical issue, but I am just curious.
      • Astrology primarily uses spectroscopy (light emitted by stars) to come to conclusions about stars and planets. Of course, planets do not emit light, so they need to use indirect methods to find planets, and that is why it was only in 1992 that scientists found the first planet outside the solar system.
      • The closest star with planets is more than four light-years away. A light-year is a distance traveled by light in a year. That is an astounding distance! I don’t think humans will be able to travel to even the closest planetary system (outside our solar system) within the next 100 years or may be ever. See “Could humanity send astronauts to Alpha Centauri

      P.S. Tobi emailed me the following paper: “The Astrobiological Copernican Weak and Strong Limits for Intelligent Life.” Thanks, Tobi.

      • Of course, it is an indirect estimate. To quote the paper: “Most famously, Drake (1965) developed an equation which in principle can be used to calculate how many Communicating Extra-Terrestrial Intelligent (CETI: pronounced “chetee”)
        civilizations there may be in the Galaxy..”
      • The Drake equation seems to provide a vastly underestimated number. According to the Buddha, life exists on most planetary systems, each with 31 realms like ours. Think about the following: As I mentioned above, science did not find evidence for a single planet outside our solar system until 1992. With time, more evidence in support of the Buddha Dhamma will come from science.
    • #48132
      Sammasambodhi Gami

      Mr. Tobias Sir asked “Can you please say where the Buddha states that there are uncountable numbers of cakkavalas?

      In the Buddhavamsa (Khuddaka Nikaya), it is mentioned that:

      “There are these 4 incalculables (immeasurables) of which the extent can not be known:

      (1) The aggregation of sentient beings (number of sentient beings)

      (2) The extent of space

      (3) The infinite world systems (cakkavalas)

      (4) The knowledge of a Samma Sambuddha

      It is impossible to ascertain these four incalculables.”


      Many people try to compare “Science” with Lord Buddha’s Dhamma. However, Science or Scientists CAN NEVER EVER come even close to the knowledge of a Samma Sambuddha, no matter how advance “Science” gets. Science has its limitations because the very foundation of science is based on matter.  Many people believe that a Lord Buddha is just another religion’s founder or a great philosopher, or a great Scientist etc. But they have NO IDEA of who a Samma Sambuddha really is. They have NO IDEA about the  paramithas (perfections) and the infinite qualities of a Samma Sambuddha.


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    • #48151
      Tobias G

      Thank you Sammasambodhi Gami! Can you please provide a link to this sutta?

    • #48153

      I think it would be Bv 1.

      “Cattāro te asaṅkheyyā,

      koṭi yesaṁ na nāyati;

      (1) Sattakāyo ca (2) ākāso,

      (3) cakkavāḷā canantakā;

      (4) Buddhañāṇaṁ appameyyaṁ,

      na sakkā ete vijānituṁ.

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    • #48154
      Sammasambodhi Gami

      Yes, that’s correct. Thanks for sharing the link!

      Theruwan Saranayai.

    • #48156

      Thank you, Sammasambodhi Gami and Dosakkhayo, for the reference.

      • Some of the minor suttas may have been lost. The following background could be helpful to remember.

      1. As summarized in “Incorrect Theravada Interpretations – Historical Timeline“:

      • 161-137 BCE: For the first time in history, King Dutugemunu united all of Sri Lanka under one kingdom.
      • I did not mention this there, but he built a seven-story library in the Mahāvihāra monastery in Anuradhapura. His mistake was to collect all the Tipitaka copies spread out in temples around the country and deposit them in that library. 
      • That library was burned: King Mahāsena (277-304 CE) as I stated in the above post. 
      • Of course, there must have been other “partial copies” in other temples. But it is possible that some suttas were lost at that time.

      2. Another factor is the following. Before the British took over Sri Lanka in the 1800s, the island had been under partial control of the Dutch and Portuguese, who discouraged the practice of Buddhism. The temples were decaying, and the bhikkhu population decreased; see #5 of “Elephant in the Room” – Direct Translation of the Tipiṭaka.”

      • If it were not for the British civil servants, more Tipitaka suttas could have been lost. They collected copies of Tipitaka texts spread throughout the country and sent them to the museum in London to be preserved; see #6 in that post.
      • The point is that the whole Tipiṭaka was written on specially prepared ōla (palm) leaves. They typically deteriorate over 100 years or so and need to be rewritten. See “Preservation of the Buddha Dhamma.” Some suttas may not have been rewritten and thus be lost. 

      3. The above information, while not critical, helps to provide an understanding of the obstacles and “lucky breaks” involved in preserving the Tipitaka.

      • We may not have all the original texts, but we probably have enough essential and critical texts.
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    • #48160
      Tobias G

      This is similar to the 4 acinteyya, here called asaṅkheyyā. 

    • #48164

      There is a difference between  acinteyya and asaṅkheyyā. 

      •  Acinteyya means a concept is “not amenable/graspable to average humans.” Such things can be discovered/explored only by a Buddha.
      • Asaṅkheyyā specifically refers to the inability to express the magnitude of an entity with numbers. The Buddha states that the length of a maha kappa cannot be expressed in numbers. That could be because the number system at that time was not big enough to express that number, and/or the length of a maha kappa could change somewhat each time.
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      • #48166

        Sir Lal, I have often heard the term asaṅkhyeyya more than Maha Kappa. When it is said that the bodhisatta developed the 10 paramis for four asaṅkheyya and 100,000 kappa. So that means for 4 immeasurable durations of time and 100,000 kappa?

    • #48168

      There is a difference between “kappa,” “asaṅkheyya kappa,” and “maha kappa.” 

      • As I remember, four “asaṅkheyya kappa” are in a “maha kappa.”
      • It is possible that 100,000 kappa are in an “asaṅkheyya kappa.
      • It is a matter of dividing a “maha kappa” into sub-categories.

      P.S. According to “Bhikkhu_Bodhi-Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi, the description is as follows (on p.198 of the pdf):

      • Four “asaṅkheyya kappa” are in a “maha kappa.”
      • Twenty “antara kappa” in an “asaṅkheyya kappa.
      • One “antara kappa” is the time required for the human lifespan to rise from ten years to a maximum of thousands of years (as I remember 80,000 years at least). So, the human life span goes up and down 20 times within an “asaṅkheyya kappa.” It starts at the maximum and gradually decreases to ten, then gradually increases to a maximum, and so on, twenty times!

      If anyone else has more or different information, please comment.

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      • #48169

        Okay, sir thank you for the explanation.🙏🏿

    • #48180
      Tobias G

      What do you think, is the life span currently raising or falling? 

    • #48182

      It is hard to say, but it will be up to thousands of years before the next Buddha, Buddha Maitreya, appears.

      • The “Mahāpadāna Sutta (DN 14)” discusses human lifetimes during various Buddhas.
      • Huan lifetime during the Buddha Sasana of Buddha Gotama is one of the shortest.
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