Bubbabuddhist wrote:I'll toss a few thoughts into this. We can't judge apples by the rules of oranges. if we're going to judge the physics of Buddha's time. we have to use Vedic reasoning, not Newtonian physics. In engineering, we call this homogeneity of units (you don't multiply feet by inches, for example). For example, if Mount Meru is where the devas live, it's made quite clear in Vedic literature devas do not live on the material/physical plane as we do. So we're not talking about geology at all. Mount Meru doesn't exist as say, Mount Everest does. It's invisible to the human eye for a reason; but not to the supramundane eye.
I think I may have heard an explanation of it as invisible somewhere. However if the mountain is an invisible, supramundane mountain then presumably it would not block sunlight and hence this idea is inconsistent with the following passage:
40,000 yojanas is also the height at which the Sun and Moon circle Sumeru in a clockwise direction. This rotation explains the alteration of day and night; when the Sun is north of Sumeru, the shadow of the mountain is cast over the continent of Jambudvīpa, and it is night there; at the same time it is noon in the opposing northern continent of Uttarakuru, dawn in the eastern continent of Pūrvavideha, and dusk in the western continent of Aparagodānīya. Half a day later, when the Sun has moved to the south, it is noon in Jambudvīpa, dusk in Pūrvavideha, dawn in Aparagodānīya, and midnight in Uttarakuru.
Perhaps it is best to see Meru as a myth rather than as something that exists literally.
As for the Earth resting upon liquid upon air, once again, look at this from vedic Elements or Dhatus. Look at a cross-section of the Earth. The solid land masses do indeed rest upon liquid, which rest upon air. Quite impressive description, actually.
All you have to do is see these descriptions from the correct perspective and they make perfect sense.
Not really. The liquid mantle of the earth does not rest on air at all. It rests on a solid core. Behind that is some more mantle. You have to go through both of those and a crust before you find a thin layer of air. And the mantle certainly doesn't rest on it. As I pointed out on another thread
, it's a far more efficient explanation to suggest that this describes the Ancient Indian worldview of that time with earth resting on water, resting on wind, resting on space.
Ananda, there are eight causes of, or conditions leading to, great earthquakes. What are the eight (causes)?
Ananda, this great earth is supported by water, the water by air, the air by space. At times great winds blow strongly. When great winds blow strongly, the water is shaken. When the water is shaken, the earth is shaken. This is the first cause of, the first condition leading to, the occurrence of great earthquakes. (1)
All of the structures of the earth, Sumeru and the rest, extend downward to a depth of 80,000 yojanas below sea level – the same as the height of Sumeru above sea level. Below this is a layer of "golden earth", a substance compact and firm enough to support the weight of Sumeru. It is 320,000 yojanas in depth and so extends to 400,000 yojanas below sea level. The layer of golden earth in turn rests upon a layer of water, which is 8,000,000 yojanas in depth, going down to 8,400,000 yojanas below sea level. Below the layer of water is a "circle of wind", which is 16,000,000 yojanas in depth and also much broader in extent, supporting 1,000 different worlds upon it.
I really think that trying to use the suttas as an infallible, omniscience source of knowledge about the physical world is a misguided and hopeless task which leads to self-deception and confusion. The value of the suttas is a guideline for our own spiritual practice.