Showing posts with label BUDDHIST COSMOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BUDDHIST COSMOLOGY. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2017

On the powerful pretas (hungry spirits) who wish to dominate other beings through religion


“Those who take refuge truly and wholeheartedly, freeing themselves from all delusional attachments and all concern with the propitious or unpropitious, must never take refuge in spirits or non-Buddhist teachings.”[1]

Unenlightened beings are the karmic cause for the existence of unenlightened samsaric realms. Their individual and collective karma actually manifested the realms, worlds and universes in which they live. Contrary to this, Enlightened beings or Buddhas, naturaly and karmically manifest Pure Lands or Enlightened realms. If a so called "supreme being" created a world like ours that means he is not enlightened, because if he was enlightened this world would have been perfect and inhabitted by perfectly enlightened beings. Amida Buddha (and any Buddha!) does not pretend to be the creator of this samsaric world, but only of His enlightened Pure Land, where He vowed to bring all samsaric beings for their final liberation (attainment of Buddhahood/Nirvana).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Some elements of Buddhist cosmology


the wheel of samsara with various realms
of existence
Recent discussions with various readers convinced me that it would be very useful to have a single paper in which to gather my most important articles on Buddhist cosmology. So, I made this pdf format for free distribution -  Some Elements of Buddhist Cosmology.

Most of the articles in this presentation are from the first part of my book, The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, but some, like number 5 and 6 were published only on this website. 

The presentation contains the following chapters:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A question and answer on samsaric realms and the Pure Land


Question:
If the Pure Land actually exists as real place, that means that the hellish realms and other samsaric places exist literally as well - as a result of our collective karma, as you said in your book. So I would like to know your thoughts about this: if the Pure Land is not symbolic and exists in a specific place (like to the west), does that mean that places such as hells also exist literally in specific places outside of our minds? 

Answer:
Yes, the hells exist specifically as places outside of our minds, too, but they exist because of the minds of those who have a hellish karma. The realm we are living in now exists outside of our minds too, because, as we see, we have these bodies, we have mountains, oceans, forests, etc, I can look to you and you can look to me (there is nothing mythological or symbolic or fictional in this), but in the same time, it exists because of our minds and our karma. My mind, your mind, plus all the other minds of human beings and their karma are the causes for such a human place to exist. The mind streams of beings need their vehicles, and so the worlds and bodies come into existence due to the individual and collective karma of various mind-streams.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

THE SIX REALMS OF SAMSARIC EXISTENCE


           

Some of my Dharma friends asked me to present to them a more detailed description of the six realms of samsaric existence. So, I tried my best to do this in the six articles listed below.

But before reading them, I strongly advise you to carefully study my article, Some Buddhist Explanations on the Origin and Existence of the Universe as well as the articles, There is no Creator God in the Buddha Dharma and Two Questions on Buddha-nature and Samsara.

There is also another very important reason for which I wrote these explanations of the six planes of existence. It is the same reason why Master Genshin or Bodhisattva Vasubandhu took great pains to describe them - to help true disciples to become aware of the painful reality of the samsaric existence and to make them wish to escape from it:

"Leaving the Unclean World means to abhor and to depart from this impure world. It means to depart not only from this human world but also from the entire Six Realms. These all taken together constitute what is called the Three Worlds.
There is no peace in the Three Realms. The Buddha explained them by comparing them with a burning house and by saying that it is like living in a house which is on fire.. It is a thing above all others from which to separate oneself with a feeling of disgust".

Friday, March 13, 2015

Two questions on Buddha nature and Samsara


I received a few questions from my readers in relation to my last articles, “Some Buddhist explanations on the origin and existence of the universe” and “There is no supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma”. Here are two of them (reformulated) and my short answer:


Question 1: “Where the Buddha nature within us originally came from?”
Question 2: “When the process of self-delusion or suffering started in the first place and why?”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Some Buddhist explanations on the origin and existence of the universe


Regard this phantom world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud
A flickering lamp — a phantom — and a dream.
Shakyamuni Buddha

( read my previous article in the same category,  “There is no supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma”)

If Buddhism denies the idea of a creator-god, then how it explains the existence of the various worlds and universes?

First of all, when it refers to worlds and universes, the Buddha Dharma explaines them as places of rebirth, or Samsaric realms. Thus, they are inhabited by unenlightened beings in various stages of spiritual evolution or involution. As far as I know, most of the monotheists give the following argument  in the support of their belief in a supreme creator-god: “if you see a house in a field you ask yourself who built it. In the same way, this complex world is the creation of our god. Anything that exists has a creator”. This is the basis of their belief system, but for Buddhists the matter is wrongly addressed here. Yes, indeed, everything has a creator, but not in the way the monotheists think. I would rather say, every dream has a creator – the dreamer. And who is the dreamer? It is us – the unenlightened beings with our specific individual karma, but also with the collective karma or the karmic connections we create among us.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

There is no supreme creator-god in the Buddha Dharma


           
Buddha (right) preaching the Truth to Baka Brahma (left)
who had the illusion that he is supreme in the world
I am very much worried that nowadays, many people from inside or outside the Sangha spread the idea that Shakyamuni Buddha did not deny nor affirmed the existence of God. Thus, they somehow imply that the World Honored One left the door open for interpretation and that it is ok for a Buddhist disciple to believe in a Creator or supreme God.

Well, this is a great delusion and a falsification of Shakyamuni’s teaching. In fact, the Buddha clearly denied the existence of a supreme being who created the world, rules the world and will one day judge the world. In this short article and others that will soon follow, I do not have the intention to enter into any debate or polemics with followers of other religions on the existence or non-existence of such a supreme being, but just to prove that Shakyamuni Buddha clearly denied this view and considered it a false and dangerous illusion. For me the most important thing is not what monotheistic religions say, or if some chose to believe in a creator god (its their choice), but what the Buddha actually said and preached. So, if we consider ourselves to be His diciples, we ought to know His position on this topic and follow it faithfully.  

It is well known that among the many religious and philosophical traditions that were contemporary with the Buddha, the idea of a supreme being who created and sustains the world was well known and shared by many. This is exactly why, He did not kept silence, but preached against it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

REALMS OF THE GODS


           
Six heavens of the world of desire from
the Wheel of Life
The gods (devas) experience the most pleasure, health and comfort among all the beings of samsara. Also, the higher their plane of existence, the longer is their lifespan and the happiness they enjoy.

In the World of Desire (Kamadhatu), there are six classes of gods with their specific realms[1].

The first realm is the Heaven of the Four Kings (Cāturmahārāja), which are located on four cardinal points of the Mount Sumeru: 1) East: Dhrtarāstra, 2) South: Virūdhaka, 3) West: Virūpāksa, 4) North: Vaiśravana. Each of these divine rulers has their own following of  Caturmaharajakayika gods.
As Master Genshin explained, “one day and night in the realm of the Four Kings is as long as fifty years of human life, and life in the realm of the Four Kings lasts five hundred years”.

The second realm is the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods (Trāyastrimśa) which is placed on the summit of Mount Sumeru. The most important god of this realm is  Sakra (or Indra in some texts).
As Master Genshin explained, “a hundred years of human life are equal in length to one day and night in the Heaven of the Thirty-three, and in this heaven life lasts a thousand years”.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

REALM OF ASURAS (FIGHTING SPIRITS OR DEMIGODS)

           
Asura realm from the Wheel of Life
As Master Genshin explained, the realm of Asuras is divided into two parts: 1. “the creatures of this realm which are fundamentally superior live at the bottom of the great sea north of Mount Sumeru”, and 2. “the inferior creatures of this realm dwell among the rocks of the high mountains which lie between the four great continents”.      

Although they experience various pleasures and abundance which are far superior to those of humans, and even rival those of the gods, they are constantly tormented by anger, jealousy, quarreling and fighting. Beings in the human realm who are more spiritually advanced than others, but who strongly manifest these characteristics will be born among the Asuras.
In their own realm, Asuras divide themselves in various groups and territories and fight never ending wars, while also, because they envy the pleasures of the lower realms of the gods, start useless conflicts with them, which they eventually lose.

In some texts, the realm of Asuras is counted among the lower gods, because of the pleasures found there, or among the lower realms, together with hells, animals, and pretas, because of the pain they inflict to themselves.

In conclusion, life as an Asura is a pitiful one – filled as it is with joys and pleasures more than a human can imagine, but not being capable to enjoy it due to envy and conflicts.


Friday, February 6, 2015

THE HUMAN REALM


           
           
the human realm from the Wheel of Life
Life in human form does not contain so much suffering like in the hells, pretas and animal realms, but also has little happiness than in the asura and gods realms. Because of this, even if it has its own disadvantages, human realm is the most desirable place of birth, from the spiritual point of view. Buddhas themselves, when appearing in the world to turn the wheel of Dharma, they do so in human form.

To illustrate the extreme difficulty of rebirth in the human realm, as opposed to the lower realms, Sakyamuni Buddha compared it to the likelihood that a blind turtle, surfacing from the depths of the ocean only once every one hundred years, would encounter a tree trunk with a hole suitable for nesting:

Sooner, do I declare, would a one-eyed turtle, if he were to pop up to the surface of the sea only once at the end of every hundred years, chance to push his neck through a yoke with one hole than would a fool, who has once gone to the Downfall[1], be reborn as a man.”[2]
(Samyutta Nikaya. v. 455)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

THE ANIMAL PLANE OF EXISTENCE



the animal realm from the Wheel of Life
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu states:

“As for the animals, they have three places, the land, the water, and the air. Their principal place is the Great Ocean; the animals that are elsewhere are the surplus of the animals”[1].

Master Genshin also explains:

The realm of animals is divided into two parts. The chief place is in the great sea, and branches are interspersed in the Realms of Humans and Heavenly Beings” .

            Animals living in the Great Ocean
            In the Buddhist cosmology, the great ocean or sea is the immeasurable extant of salt water which surrounds the four continents inhabited by humans and the Mount Sumeru. In that place there are many type of animals, some of which many times bigger than those living in our human continent of Jambudvipa. Some of them are born between the continents where there is no sunlight and where they cannot see even their own bodies. Their suffering comes mainly from eating each other, the bigger ones swallowing up the little ones, while they themselves are inhabited by tiny little creatures who feed on their flesh.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

PRETAS (HUNGRY GHOSTS)


            
Preta realms from the Wheel of Life
 The realms of the pretas are to be found in two places: one is bellow Jambudvipa (our realm of human beings), which is their main place of existence and is ruled by King Yama, and the other is between the realm of humans and the realms of the gods. Master Vasubandhu explains:

“The king of the pretas is called Yama; his residence, which is the principal dwelling of the pretas, is located under Jambudvipa. The pretas that are found elsewhere are the surplus of the pretas. The pretas differ much one from another; certain of them possess supernatural powers and enjoy a glory similar to that of the gods”. 

            There are two kinds of pretas: 1. pretas who live collectively, and 2. pretas who travel through space. Among the pretas who live collectively there are three types: the pretas who suffer from external obscurations, pretas who suffer from internal obscurations and pretas who suffer from specific obscurations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

THE HELLS


  
the various hells from the Wheel of Life
There are eight hot hells and eight cold hells. According to Shakyamuni, and various Buddhist masters who explained them, these eight hells have their own adjacent or neighboring hells (utsadas[1]): 

“There are eight hells there that I have revealed, difficult to get out of, full of cruel beings, each having sixteen utsadas; they have four walls and four gates; they are as high as they are wide; they are encircled by walls of fire; their ceiling is fire; their sun is burning, sparkling fire; and they are filled with flames hundreds of yojanas  high.”[2]

Another type of hell are also the temporary hells (prādeśikanakara in Skt), which were created through the actions of one being, two beings, or many beings. As Master Vasubandhu explained, their variety is great and their place is not fixed, so they can be found in rivers, mountains, deserts, and elsewhere[3].