ET Buddhas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

ET Buddhas

Postby Stephen K » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:08 pm

Can there be more than one Buddha in the Universe at the same time? I think I've read there can be only one Buddha at a time, but not sure if it refers just to Earth or all of the Universe.
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:24 pm

In Theravada there is only one Buddha in the universe at a time, never more than one at the same time



In Mahayana though they claim there are other Buddhas right now in different realms and i guess you could say other planets as well


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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Rhino » Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:13 pm

It is impossible that two rightfully Enlightened Ones should be born in the same world element at one and same time. It is possible that a single rightfully Enlightened One should be born in the world element at one time. (M115)

http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-115.htm
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Stephen K » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:45 pm

Rhino wrote:
It is impossible that two rightfully Enlightened Ones should be born in the same world element at one and same time. It is possible that a single rightfully Enlightened One should be born in the world element at one time. (M115)

http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-115.htm

So does 'world element' mean the 'Universe' or 'planet Earth'?
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:54 pm

I think it means universe, the general point is one buddha at a time, from what i understand
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:41 pm

clw_uk wrote:I think it means universe, the general point is one buddha at a time, from what i understand

Do Theravadins consider Buddhist cosmology to be a literal representation of our universe? According to Wikipedia, they don't.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_c ... troduction
The picture of the world presented in Buddhist cosmological descriptions cannot be taken as a literal description of the shape of the universe. It is inconsistent, and cannot be made consistent, with astronomical data that were already known in ancient India. However, it is not intended to be a description of how ordinary humans perceive their world; rather, it is the universe as seen through the divyacakṣus (Pāli: dibbacakkhu), the "divine eye" by which a Buddha or an arhat who has cultivated this faculty can perceive all of the other worlds and the beings arising (being born) and passing away (dying) within them, and can tell from what state they have been reborn and into what state they will be reborn. The cosmology has also been interpreted in a symbolical or allegorical sense (see Ten spiritual realms).

Because of this, passages about the limitations of how many Buddhas can arise in a single realm have no relevance... unless you can explain how the mystical cosmology which only Buddhas can see relates to the real, tangible world we live in.
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:51 pm

Stefan wrote:
Rhino wrote:
It is impossible that two rightfully Enlightened Ones should be born in the same world element at one and same time. It is possible that a single rightfully Enlightened One should be born in the world element at one time. (M115)

http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-115.htm

So does 'world element' mean the 'Universe' or 'planet Earth'?


I think it is open to interpretation. The Suttas also refer to the 10,000 world systems, meaning the innumerable solar systems. Thus, one samma-sam-buddha per solar system is most likely the case. There are numerous, uncountable solar systems, but most likely just one planet per solar system with life on it, since we are in the 'perfect' range from the sun, not too close, not too far away. Interpreting a world system as a solar system would fit with science and this teaching.
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:03 pm

The is probably more than 10,000 planets with some kind of sentient life on it in the universe, given the vase number of galaxies that we can see, not to even begin to include the ones we cannot see



Do Theravadins consider Buddhist cosmology to be a literal representation of our universe? According to Wikipedia, they don't.


Some do, some dont. For me personally the question of other Buddhas isnt really important. However classical Theravada , from what i remember, teaches that there is only one at a time
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Thanavuddho » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:23 pm

TheDhamma wrote:I think it is open to interpretation. The Suttas also refer to the 10,000 world systems, meaning the innumerable solar systems. Thus, one samma-sam-buddha per solar system is most likely the case. There are numerous, uncountable solar systems, but most likely just one planet per solar system with life on it, since we are in the 'perfect' range from the sun, not too close, not too far away. Interpreting a world system as a solar system would fit with science and this teaching.


This is the interpretation that some of the mahayanists use to prove that some other sammasambuddhas are existing in the cosmos right now. I think this question is irrelevant for the practice of sila, samadhi and panna but I have struggled with it many times in the past. My feeling is that there can be only one Fully Enlightened Buddha in the whole of the universe at the same time. This is the only possibility that makes sense to me. When you look at it like this, you see how rare it is to meet the teaching. We are lucky beyond our wildest dreams.
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby cooran » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:28 pm

Hello santeri,

I agree. The Buddha often emphasised how rare the appearance of a Sammasambuddha was.
One of the greatest blindnesses humans have, is to the concept of beginningless Samsara ... the immense periods of time. Apart from the pernicious idea that all rebirths (or even any) are as humans.
The Buddha spoke of aeons without a Sammasambudda appearing in the world.
He spoke of how precious and difficult it is to even gain a human rebirth.
When describing an aeon, it is taken to be the time from the first formation of the ingredients to create new planets, through their formation, population with life, and eventual slow disintegration, one can see how very precious this human life is, how wonderful to live when the Teachings are extant.
Don't waste the merit which gained such a birth.

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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:45 pm

Chris wrote:The Buddha spoke of aeons without a Sammasambudda appearing in the world.
He spoke of how precious and difficult it is to even gain a human rebirth.
When describing an aeon, it is taken to be the time from the first formation of the ingredients to create new planets, through their formation, population with life, and eventual slow disintegration, one can see how very precious this human life is, how wonderful to live when the Teachings are extant.

(my emphasis above on world.)

Hi Chris, Santeri,

I agree with the above, there can only be one sammasambuddha in the world at a time. But Santeri is referring to only one sammasambuddha in the universe at a time. That is another thing altogether. If there is only one in all universe(s) at a time, that might imply a finite universe, which the Buddha did not teach. Unless there is the consideration of other universes?

Another sammasambuddha would not be like the Mahayana concept, since the Mahayana holds that these Buddhas are 'alive' and cosmic, ruling over various realms, etc. In Theravada there is the Buddha, alive, with remainder and the Buddha that has attained parinibbana, without remainder.

The interpretation would depend upon what the Buddha meant when referring to the world and world system, perhaps just this world, perhaps this solar system, or perhaps the universe.
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Thanavuddho » Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:02 am

Greetings TheDhamma,

TheDhamma wrote:The interpretation would depend upon what the Buddha meant when referring to the world and world system, perhaps just this world, perhaps this solar system, or perhaps the universe.



The Visuddhimagga explanation about world-cycles and the Buddhas-domain is not very clear. The translation is clumsy. But still, I think there is something to it that might shed light on this question:

"As respects, however, many destructions of a world-cycle etc., when a world-cycle is on the wane, that is known as the destruction of a world-cycle; when it is on the increase, that is known as the renovation of a world-cycle. Here destruction includes the continuance of destruction, from being its beginning, and renovation includes the continuance of renovation. Accordingly the four immensities of the following quotation are all included: "There are four immensities, O bhikkhus, to a world-cycle. And what are the four? The destruction, continuance of destruction, renovation, and continuance of renovation."

Now there are three destructions: the destruction by water, the destruction by fire, the destruction by wind. And there are three boundaries: the Heaven of the Radiant Brahmas, the Heaven of the Completely Lustrous Brahmas, the Heaven of the Richly Rewarded Brahmas. When a world-cycle is destroyed by fire, it is consumed by fire from the Heaven of the Radiant Brahmas down. When it is destroyed by water, it is engulfed by water from the Heaven of the Completely Lustrous Brahmas down. When it is destroyed by wind, it is demolished by wind from the Heaven of the Richly Rewarded Brahmas down. In lateral expansion it always perishes to the extent of a Buddha's domain.

Now a Buddha's domain is threefold: birth-domain, authority-domain, knowledge-domain. Birth-domain comprises ten thousand worlds; all these quake at various periods in the life of a Tathâgata, as, for instance, when he is conceived. Authority-domain comprises one hundred thousand times ten million worlds; over all of these extends the protective power of the Ratana-Sutta, of the Khandha-Paritta, of the Dhajagga-Paritta, of the Âtânâtiya-Paritta, and of the Mora-Paritta. Knowledge-domain is endless and boundless, and the passage which says, "Or as far as he may wish," means that the knowledge of a Tathâgata extends to any place or to any subject he may wish. Of these three Buddha-domains, it is the authority-domain which perishes; but when that perishes, the birth-domain perishes likewise, They perish coincidently, and they exist coincidently."
world-cycles - Visuddhimagga (chap. xiii.)


The brahma realms are non-physical realms. Now if the universe collapses and the brahma realms are destroyed then this means that the whole physical universe collapses as well. Like they say in the Big Bang theory. The universe goes through cycles of expansion and destruction. The Visuddhimagga says that it is the authority domain of the Buddha that is destroyed when world-cycle comes to an end. The extend of this authority domain is 100 000 * 10 000 000 = 1000000000000 worlds. I think this number here is not a exact number but an illustration of an incomprehensible large domain.

:alien:
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Macavity » Sat Aug 08, 2009 12:03 pm

Santeri wrote:The brahma realms are non-physical realms. Now if the universe collapses and the brahma realms are destroyed then this means that the whole physical universe collapses as well.


I think this is wrong on all counts.

Firstly, the Brahma realms are not non-physical, but are composed of matter that is not visible to the fleshly eye of humans but only to those who have developed the appropriate abhiñña. Secondly, as the passage you quote makes clear, not all of the Brahma realms are destroyed. Even the most violent destruction —the destruction by wind— leaves the Brahma realms intact from the Abhassara realm upwards. That's why the Aggañña Sutta's account of cosmic evolution begins with the Abhassara palace already existing. Thirdly, the Buddhist universe doesn't comprise a single world system, but rather multiple world-systems, each with its own set of thirty-one planes. If there was only one world-system, then at times of cosmic destruction where would the beings go who didn't have the kamma to be reborn in the Brahma realms?
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby Thanavuddho » Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:22 pm

Greetings Macavity,

Macavity wrote:Firstly, the Brahma realms are not non-physical, but are composed of matter that is not visible to the fleshly eye of humans but only to those who have developed the appropriate abhiñña.


It's some kind of subtle matter, more subtle than the coarse four elements that we can see, as you say. Anyway, everything is destroyed except the subtle brahma realms, so doesn't this seem imply that the coarse physical universe is destroyed?

Thirdly, the Buddhist universe doesn't comprise a single world system, but rather multiple world-systems, each with its own set of thirty-one planes.


So, what you are saying is that there are incalculable amount of world-systems that can have their own sammasambuddhas? I would like to read more about this, if you have the time to write, and do it by citing sources.

If there was only one world-system, then at times of cosmic destruction where would the beings go who didn't have the kamma to be reborn in the Brahma realms?


"There comes a time, Vasettha, when, sooner or later after a long period this world
contracts. At a time of contraction, beings are mostly born in the Abhassara Brahma
world."

The Agganna Sutta

The Visuddhimagga explains:

"...When the people and the terrestrial deities hear these words, they, for the most part, become agitated, and their minds soften towards each other, and they cultivate metta, and do other meritorious deeds, and are reborn in the world of the devas. There they have heavenly ambrosia for food, and induce the jhana by means of the air-kasina. Others, however, are born into the world of the devas by the alternation of the rewards of their good and evil deeds. For there is no being in the round of rebirth but has an alternation of the rewards of his good and evil deeds. Thus do they attain the jhanas in the world of the devas; and having there attained the jhanas, all are reborn in the Brahma-world."
Visuddhimagga - World cycles

I'm not sure about this. The Visuddhimagga seems to be saying that there comes a time when there are no hell or heaven, only the higher brahma-realms? During those periods everybody would be dwelling in the brahmalokas. Meaby it's possible. I hope so...
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Re: ET Buddhas

Postby EOD » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:29 pm

The Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one — is the one who gives rise to the path (previously) unarisen, who engenders the path (previously) unengendered, who points out the path (previously) not pointed out. (SN 22.58)


This could be one reason why not two or more Sammasambuddhas can exist in the world at the same time. Because as soon as the (previously) forgotten path is rediscovered it cannot be rediscovered a second time unless it is forgotten again. You cannot (re)invent the wheel as long as wheels still exist.

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