Buddhist cosmology

Buddhist Cosmology

Buddhist cosmology

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Description:
Buddhist cosmology is the description of the shape and evolution of the Universe according to the canonical Buddhist scriptures and commentaries.

Introduction

The self-consistent Buddhist cosmology which is presented in commentaries and works of Abhidharma in both Theravāda and Mahāyāna traditions, is the end-product of an analysis and reconciliation of cosmological comments found in the Buddhist sūtra and vinaya traditions. No single sūtra sets out the entire structure of the universe. However, in several sūtras the Buddha describes other worlds and states of being, and other sūtras describe the origin and destruction of the universe. The synthesis of these data into a single comprehensive system must have taken place early in the history of Buddhism, as the system described in the Pāli Vibhajyavāda tradition (represented by today's Theravādins) agrees, despite some trivial inconsistencies of nomenclature, with the Sarvāstivāda tradition which is preserved by Mahāyāna Buddhists.

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 (Pāli: dibbacakkhu), the "divine eye" by which a Buddha or an arhat who...
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