The "World Cycle"

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The "World Cycle"

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:51 pm

Greetings Everyone,
I also posted this on E-Sangha.

While reading up on some information concerning the coming Buddha Ariya Metteya, I came across the idea of the "world cycle". Of course, I've heard of this before in Buddhist cosmological teachings, but I never really pondered it until now.

It is said there will be a total of five Buddhas in the current world cycle, Metteya being the last. Thus, beings must practice rightly and aspire to meet Metteya Buddha during his sasana before the current world cycle is complete. Beings not attaining Enlightenment (or, in Theravada practice, the first stage of Awakening) before this world cycle expires will find it incredibly difficult to do so afterward.

What do you all think of this? Where can the idea of the "world cycle" be found in the suttas? Do beings trapped in samsara wander from one world cycle to the next, or does something different happen to them when this world cycle ends? How long does a world cycle actually last?

I look forward to everyone's responses.

:namaste:
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:07 pm

A world cycle in Buddhist cosmology is said to be a Kappa long. A kappa long is said to be an Aeon long. An aoen long is said to be "forever" or "for eternity". According to the commentary on the Itivutakka "A Kappa, an aeon or world - cycle, is in Buddhist cosmology a vast period of time during which the universe evolves and declines , expands and contracts. These periodic cycles continue without beginning or end."

This commentary is in reference to the following verse in the Itivutakka the chapter of the ones 14-13:

One who divides the Sangha
Abides in a state of misery, in hell.
For the aeon's full duration.
Delighting in dissent, unrighteous,
He is deprived of security of bondage;
By dividing a unified Sangha
He suffers in hell for an aeon.

:namaste:
Last edited by bodom on Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:11 pm

Do these terms come from the buddha or are they concepts developed later?

Myself ive seen world cycle to mean the mind and cycle of i making.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby piotr » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:06 pm

Hi Dhammakid,

I think that by "world cycle" you mean one aeon (kappa).

There is disscusion about fully awakened buddhas of the past (in this aeon, and in previous ones) in the Mahāpadāna-sutta (DN 14). As for wandering-on through aeons have a look at Anamatagga-saṃyutta in the Saṃyutta-nikāya, which provides some interesting similies.
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:16 pm

Dhammakid wrote:Greetings Everyone,
I also posted this on E-Sangha.

While reading up on some information concerning the coming Buddha Ariya Metteya, I came across the idea of the "world cycle". Of course, I've heard of this before in Buddhist cosmological teachings, but I never really pondered it until now.

It is said there will be a total of five Buddhas in the current world cycle, Metteya being the last. Thus, beings must practice rightly and aspire to meet Metteya Buddha during his sasana before the current world cycle is complete. Beings not attaining Enlightenment (or, in Theravada practice, the first stage of Awakening) before this world cycle expires will find it incredibly difficult to do so afterward.

What do you all think of this? Where can the idea of the "world cycle" be found in the suttas? Do beings trapped in samsara wander from one world cycle to the next, or does something different happen to them when this world cycle ends? How long does a world cycle actually last?

I look forward to everyone's responses.

:namaste:
Dhammakid

This might just be speculation on my part (I'd be curious to hear what the suttas say on it), but for a while now, I've related the idea of the "kalpa" to the big bang and the theoretical "big crunch" that might eventually ensue. The kalpa, as I see it, is an account of the life of a given universe, which is simply one among many. :)
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:23 pm

In Buddhism there are four different lengths of kalpas. A regular kalpa is approximately 16 million years long, and a small kalpa is 1000 regular kalpas, or 16 billion years. Further, a medium kalpa is 320 billion years, the equivalent of 20 small kalpas. A great kalpa is 4 medium kalpas, or 1.28 trillion years.

The Buddha had not spoken about the exact length of the kalpa in number of years. However, he had given several astounding analogies to understand it.

1. Imagine a huge empty cube at the beginning of a kalpa, approximately 16 miles in each side. Once every 100 years, you insert a tiny mustard seed into the cube. According to the Buddha, the huge cube will be filled even before the kalpa ends.

2. Imagine a gigantic rocky mountain at the beginning of kalpa, approximately 16 x 16 x 16 miles (dwarfs the Everest!). You take a small piece of cloth and wipe the mountain once every 100 years. According to the Buddha, the mountain will be completely depleted even before the kalpa ends.

In one situation, some monks wanted to know how many kalpas had passed away so far. The buddha gave the analogy:

1. If you count the total number of sand particles at the depths of the Ganges river, from where it begins to where it ends at the sea, even that number will be less than the number of passed kalpas.


:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:28 pm

Thank you Bodom Bad Boy and Piotr for the wonderful information. The Mahapadana Sutta in the Digha Nikaya is pretty long, but I got through enough of it to get the jist of what it's talking about. Whether one takes it literally or not, it seems to be making a point about how rare and indeed extraordinary an event it is to live during the dispensation of a Buddha, and one should take care to practice rightly and diligently to take full advantage of the great opportunity.

So I guess a "world cycle" is just another way of saying "aeon", and all else remains the same: beings wander in samsara for countless aeons until attaining liberation.

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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:42 pm

Individual wrote:This might just be speculation on my part (I'd be curious to hear what the suttas say on it), but for a while now, I've related the idea of the "kalpa" to the big bang and the theoretical "big crunch" that might eventually ensue. The kalpa, as I see it, is an account of the life of a given universe, which is simply one among many. :)


Hello Individual,
Yes, when I first heard of the idea of a kalpa or "world cycle", I too related it to the birth and death of the universe. The idea is the same in many other religions and their cosmologies (I think I remember a very similar idea in Hinduism and Jainism).

Scientists currently believe the universe to be between 13.6 and 13.8 billion years old. So, according to Bodom Bad Boy's information on the lengths of various kalpas, we are currently residing in a kalpa of at least small length. Scientists also estimate the Sun will die in around 4-5 billion years, so human beings in their current form won't be around to see whether or not our kalpa is longer than the small length. But of course we'll just be reborn somewhere else in the universe I guess.

Kinda fun stuff to read up on :popcorn:

:namaste:
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Re: The "World Cycle"

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:55 pm

There is a passage in the SN - 51:10 "If he so wished, the tathagata could live on for the aeon or for the remainder of the aeon" notes by bhikkhu bodhi suggest that this kalpa indicates human life span so it can be seen to be used to refer to smaller amounts of time again.
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