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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Theravadin Cosmology

Theravadin Cosmology

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sher » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:39 pm

Hello Everyone:
Is there any foundation in Theravadin Cosmology for Pure Lands (something like Pure Lands--I use the term just to give an example)? I understand there are thirty-one realms of existence that one can be reborn into according to the Pali sources. And it is possible to be reborn in a heavenly realm where god and devas exist, but are there any realms identified in Theravadin tradition where Buddha (s) exist? I ask, because I am reading Khantipalo's _Banner of the Arahants_, and this book traces the history of the early Sangha and the many early students who quickly became arahants by just hearing Buddha's discourses; it is evident to me that just by being in the presence of a Buddha one has a much better opportunity to become enlightened.

In Theravadin tradition do Buddhas exist in any other realm, and are they available to help beyond this earthly existence? Or do all Buddhas "go beyond" and are unavailable according to the Theravadin tradition? Sher
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:51 pm

Arahants are gone beyond. But with 31 planes of existence, I imagine some might be somewhat similar to the Pure Land the Mahyana describes (without buddhas, though).

Metteyya is in the Tusita heaven and I imagine being reborn there to hear him talk and teach would be of great benefit.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sher » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:04 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Arahants are gone beyond. But with 31 planes of existence, I imagine some might be somewhat similar to the Pure Land the Mahyana describes (without buddhas, though).

Metteyya is in the Tusita heaven and I imagine being reborn there to hear him talk and teach would be of great benefit.


Is it true that "our" Buddha visited Tusita heaven? I believe I recall sutta reference for this...? But this was done before the "going beyond." But he visited Tusita heaven and Metteyya was also there...?




Also, a related question --why, do you think, was it that just being in the presence and listening to the Buddha speak "allowed" people to reach arahantship so quickly--I mean amazingly quickly. How would you explain this? Sher
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:19 pm

Sher wrote:Is it true that "our" Buddha visited Tusita heaven? I believe I recall sutta reference for this...? But this was done before the "going beyond." But he visited Tusita heaven and Metteyya was also there...?
Isn't that where our Buddha took his last rebirth and died before taking rebirth as Gotama?

Sher wrote:Also, a related question --why, do you think, was it that just being in the presence and listening to the Buddha speak "allowed" people to reach arahantship so quickly--I mean amazingly quickly. How would you explain this? Sher
This is a great question, one I also have had, and my understanding is that it's all explained by kamma. These people had the amazing kamma to be born into a society where they would encounter the Buddha, and they actually encountered him and listened to him and understood him. That's amazing kamma. So there was some foundation for this to occur.

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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:19 pm

Jechbi wrote:This is a great question, one I also have had, and my understanding is that it's all explained by kamma. These people had the amazing kamma to be born into a society where they would encounter the Buddha, and they actually encountered him and listened to him and understood him. That's amazing kamma. So there was some foundation for this to occur.


Yes, exactly, those who had the 'luck' to meet the Buddha and hear him teach actually earned it over many lifetimes of good kamma. Some even made a resolve to meet a future Buddha face-to-face and then earned it with wholesome, meritorious actions.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:20 pm

Sher wrote:is it true that "our" Buddha visited Tusita heaven? I believe I recall sutta reference for this...? But this was done before the "going beyond." But he visited Tusita heaven and Metteyya was also there...?

Yes, according to the Abhidhamma, the Buddha visited his mother in Tusita and taught her and the assembly of devas the Abhidhamma before returning to his earthly existence and relaying the same teaching to Sariputta. There are also examples in the suttas of the Buddha's chief disciples appearing in the Brahma lokas to teach Brahma and his assembly the Dhamma.


Also, a related question --why, do you think, was it that just being in the presence and listening to the Buddha speak "allowed" people to reach arahantship so quickly--I mean amazingly quickly. How would you explain this? Sher

Nyanaponika Thera explains in Great Disciples of the Buddha that this was due to the vast accumulation of paramis that the Buddha's early disciples had that allowed them to be there. What Nyanaponika Thera goes on to say is that what is not mentioned with regard to those remarkable individuals who became arahants in the space of one discourse, was tha many millions of lifetimes where they continued to fulfil their paramitas, in effect the preparatory work to their 'sudden' enlightenment at the foot of Gautama.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sher » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:16 am

Ben wrote:
Sher wrote:is it true that "our" Buddha visited Tusita heaven? I believe I recall sutta reference for this...? But this was done before the "going beyond." But he visited Tusita heaven and Metteyya was also there...?

Yes, according to the Abhidhamma, the Buddha visited his mother in Tusita and taught her and the assembly of devas the Abhidhamma before returning to his earthly existence and relaying the same teaching to Sariputta. Thank you Ben--this is what I recalled but without the specifics you added. There are also examples in the suttas of the Buddha's chief disciples appearing in the Brahma lokas to teach Brahma and his assembly the Dhamma.


Also, a related question --why, do you think, was it that just being in the presence and listening to the Buddha speak "allowed" people to reach arahantship so quickly--I mean amazingly quickly. How would you explain this? Sher

Nyanaponika Thera explains in Great Disciples of the Buddha that this was due to the vast accumulation of paramis that the Buddha's early disciples had that allowed them to be there. What Nyanaponika Thera goes on to say is that what is not mentioned with regard to those remarkable individuals who became arahants in the space of one discourse, was tha many millions of lifetimes where they continued to fulfil their paramitas, in effect the preparatory work to their 'sudden' enlightenment at the foot of Gautama.
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Ben and all: I'm glad I asked this question, because I was looking for the answer in the direction of the Buddha instead of understanding that it was only the Buddha's presence in part that helped the disciples attain arahantship. I had not considered the role that kamma played in the disciples being at the right place at the right time. It seems quite fortuitous that so many things came together at one time. I mean so many men and women who were ready to become arahants were there during the time and place the Buddha manifested. I guess it will also be so when the next Buddha arises in the world. Sher
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:23 am

Hi Sher
Yes, it didn't happen by 'accident' or by some kind of divine or mystical intervention.
All hard work, this path is!

BTW, I highly recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha, if you can get a hold of a copy.
Metta

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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sher » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:52 pm

BTW, I highly recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha, if you can get a hold of a copy.
Metta

Ben

Thanks Ben, I looked, and it is available through Wisdom in the UK.

It is interesting to note that the suttas allow us to learn about these people who became arahants just by listening to the Buddha speak. We don't have writings today that allow us to see other arahants experiencing nibbana through practice though, so this made it seem to me that their enlightenment was more about the Buddha being present. Yet--there are arahants here now, and they are passing on--we are not as aware of it though, because we do not read or hear about it. At least I don't. Yet, it must be happening...

Be well, Sher
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby puthujjana » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:39 pm

Ben wrote:BTW, I highly recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha, if you can get a hold of a copy.

I'm reading it at the moment and it's so beautiful and inspiring! I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby appicchato » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:24 pm

Ben wrote:I highly recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha, if you can get a hold of a copy.

Has anyone seen this online?...I've searched but no luck so far... :reading:
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby appicchato » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:29 pm

appicchato wrote:
Ben wrote:I highly recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha, if you can get a hold of a copy.

Has anyone seen this online?...I've searched but no luck so far... :reading:


http://books.google.co.th/books?id=mBrD ... t&resnum=6
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:36 pm

Hi Sher,

The following link might be useful for understanding Theravadin cosmology:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html

Hope it helps,
Metta,
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Individual » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:48 pm

Sher wrote:Hello Everyone:
Is there any foundation in Theravadin Cosmology for Pure Lands (something like Pure Lands--I use the term just to give an example)? I understand there are thirty-one realms of existence that one can be reborn into according to the Pali sources. And it is possible to be reborn in a heavenly realm where god and devas exist, but are there any realms identified in Theravadin tradition where Buddha (s) exist? I ask, because I am reading Khantipalo's _Banner of the Arahants_, and this book traces the history of the early Sangha and the many early students who quickly became arahants by just hearing Buddha's discourses; it is evident to me that just by being in the presence of a Buddha one has a much better opportunity to become enlightened.

In Theravadin tradition do Buddhas exist in any other realm, and are they available to help beyond this earthly existence? Or do all Buddhas "go beyond" and are unavailable according to the Theravadin tradition? Sher

I think it could be compared to the "Pure Abodes" in which a non-returner is born before attaining Nibbana -- I suspect this is where the Mahayana idea is derived from -- but it's not something that's gained by mere devotion, blind or otherwise, since a non-returner is already very virtuous and mentally pure. Whereas in Pure Land Buddhism, it's suggested that entrance to these realms is far more open.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sher » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:26 pm

Dhammabodhi wrote:Hi Sher,

The following link might be useful for understanding Theravadin cosmology:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html

Hope it helps,
Metta,
Dhammabodhi


Yes a helpful link--thanks for taking the time. I will read it on the plane. I am off to attend a three day singing workshop ...Sher
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:55 pm

Good luck and Bon Voyage! :alien:
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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Re: Theravadin Cosmology

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:38 pm

Hi Ben

I believe the standard account of the Buddha's dispensation of the Abhidhamma places the venue at Tavatimsa heaven. Not sure if the Abhidhamma itself states this but it's in the Commentary to the Dhammapada verse 181 (Devorohana Vatthu). By that time, His "mother" was reborn as a male deva Matu Devaputta.

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