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rockyysdt

Was the Buddhas scope of Samsara very limited?

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In Buddhism we speak of Samsara, the mundane, in which there is suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of re birth, a state of impermanence & conditioning.

 

We also speak of Nibbana, escape from Samsara, a breaking of the cycle of re birth, and quenching of dukkha.

Nibbana, the deathless state, that which was never born, a state which is permanent and unconditioned.

 

 

Re Birth is taught to occur in a number of realms (Heavenly, Demi God, Human, Animal, Ghost, & Hell).

 

Given our current knowledge of Astronomy, does this limited view/range of realms (Buddhist teaching) begin to unravel?

 

With countless galaxies out there studded with planets capable of sustaining extra terrestrial life, where does the Buddhist view that only those in the Human realm (Planet Earth) are capable of experiencing Nibbana, stand?

 

Surely Re Birth should be possible anywhere in the known universe.

 

Why is it that only Humans have been blessed with the ascendance of a Buddha?

 

And why are terrestrial life not mentioned when reviewing past lives?

 

 

 

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Hi Rocky,
During the times of the Buddha, 2,500 years ago, the knowledge we now have from modern science was obviously not available. Why would Gautama speculate on such matters as the possible enlightenment of aliens from outer space? He didn't speculate on the existence of a Creator God because he understood such matters were unknowable, and they still are, despite the advances in modern science. Likewise, Gautama did not speculate on matters such as the origin and the eventual end of the universe.

 

The Buddha's scope was definitely limited because telescopes had not yet been invented in those times. :smile:

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41 minutes ago, VincentRJ said:

Hi Rocky,
During the times of the Buddha, 2,500 years ago, the knowledge we now have from modern science was obviously not available. Why would Gautama speculate on such matters as the possible enlightenment of aliens from outer space? He didn't speculate on the existence of a Creator God because he understood such matters were unknowable, and they still are, despite the advances in modern science. Likewise, Gautama did not speculate on matters such as the origin and the eventual end of the universe.

 

The Buddha's scope was definitely limited because telescopes had not yet been invented in those times. :smile:

Hi Vincent.

 

Good to read your input.

 

It seems we are the only ones around these corridors.  :)

 

In terms of not knowing Aliens from Outer Space, I am referring to the Buddhas Enlightened state (Nibanna: permanent & unconditioned), not Guatama when he was bound in Samsara.

 

In the Buddhist texts, there were 28 Buddhas, including Guatama.

Upon Awakening, Guatama and others recounted awareness of past lives.

This awareness, apparently, is an automatic  part of Awakening.

 

In all the documented re counts there is no reference to lives as Aliens.

They all revolve around Humans, Animals, Hungry Ghosts, Demons, Gods, & Demi Gods.

 

To me very limited and earth/heaven/hell bound, in a similar way to Christianity and other religions.

This tells me that these states appear to be limited by the imagination, rather than to anything real.

 

If Nibanna reveals past lives, why are these limited to the Earth?

After all, mathematically speaking, aren't there countless worlds out there?

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6 hours ago, rockyysdt said:

It seems we are the only ones around these corridors.  :)

 

I guess the subject is too profound for most people. :smile:

 

In the Buddhist texts, there were 28 Buddhas, including Guatama. 


Upon Awakening, Guatama and others recounted awareness of past lives. 
This awareness, apparently, is an automatic  part of Awakening.

 

I find this aspect is the source of much confusion. The distinction between the ancient Vedic concept of Reincarnation and the more modern concept of Buddhist Re-birth, is that Reincarnation involves a soul and identity which is reborn, whereas Re-birth involves only tendencies and characteristics which are reborn.

 

Yet there is the story of Gautama, during the night under the Bodhi tree, recalling thousands of past lives in all their detail, including his name and position in society.
As you've mentioned before on this forum, this would appear to be an example of Vedic (or Hindu) contamination of Buddhism. Tendencies and characteristics do not include specific details such as names, actions, and positions in society.
  

In all the documented re counts there is no reference to lives as Aliens. 


They all revolve around Humans, Animals, Hungry Ghosts, Demons, Gods, & Demi Gods. 
 To me very limited and earth/heaven/hell bound, in a similar way to Christianity and other religions. 
This tells me that these states appear to be limited by the imagination, rather than to anything real.

 

Aren't we all limited by our imagination on all subjects? Even Albert Einstein was limited by his imagination. He couldn't grasp the theories of Quantum Mechanics which appeared later in his life. He thought they were nonsense, yet they have proved to be, over the years, very consistent and true. In the near future we will probably have Quantum computers, which will be a huge leap forward.
  

If Nibanna reveals past lives, why are these limited to the Earth? 


After all, mathematically speaking, aren't there countless worlds out there?

 

Yes, of course there are. But not necessarily countless worlds with life similar to life on Earth. One of the main objections that some scientists have about the origins of life, according to the Theory of Evolution, is that the chances of a very complex, self-reproducing  molecule forming in a soupy sea of chemicals, a few billion years ago, are so remote that there must have been some sort of Intelligent Creator.

 

However, if we make the reasonable assumption that there are probably millions of planets in the universe that are very similar to the Earth, then the chances that at least one of them will develop life ( a very complex, self-reproducing molecule) are significantly increased.
It is only recently, due to our increased telescopic ability, that we have observed other planets outside of our solar system.

 

We shouldn't criticize the Buddha for not addressing such issues.

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6 hours ago, rockyysdt said:

If Nibanna reveals past lives, why are these limited to the Earth?

After all, mathematically speaking, aren't there countless worlds out there?

 

Is Karma/Reincarnation not tied to previous deeds?  A simplistic example might be a glutinous person being reborn as a pig.

 

I'm trying to think of an example of a past deed on earth that might cause your next life to be on another planet?

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3 minutes ago, VincentRJ said:

I guess the subject is too profound for most people. :smile:

 

 

 

 

I find this aspect is the source of much confusion. The distinction between the ancient Vedic concept of Reincarnation and the more modern concept of Buddhist Re-birth, is that Reincarnation involves a soul and identity which is reborn, whereas Re-birth involves only tendencies and characteristics which are reborn.

 

Yet there is the story of Gautama, during the night under the Bodhi tree, recalling thousands of past lives in all their detail, including his name and position in society.
As you've mentioned before on this forum, this would appear to be an example of Vedic (or Hindu) contamination of Buddhism. Tendencies and characteristics do not include specific details such as names, actions, and positions in society.
  

 

 

Aren't we all limited by our imagination on all subjects? Even Albert Einstein was limited by his imagination. He couldn't grasp the theories of Quantum Mechanics which appeared later in his life. He thought they were nonsense, yet they have proved to be, over the years, very consistent and true. In the near future we will probably have Quantum computers, which will be a huge leap forward.
  

 

 

Yes, of course there are. But not necessarily countless worlds with life similar to life on Earth. One of the main objections that some scientists have about the origins of life, according to the Theory of Evolution, is that the chances of a very complex, self-reproducing  molecule forming in a soupy sea of chemicals, a few billion years ago, are so remote that there must have been some sort of Intelligent Creator.

 

However, if we make the reasonable assumption that there are probably millions of planets in the universe that are very similar to the Earth, then the chances that at least one of them will develop life ( a very complex, self-reproducing molecule) are significantly increased.
It is only recently, due to our increased telescopic ability, that we have observed other planets outside of our solar system.

 

We shouldn't criticize the Buddha for not addressing such issues.

I think you die you die. 

I was never an alien or a panda for sure. 

When I see my pet bird die.. its dead.  Gone.  Its not gone to be reborn into a mouse (if it lived a good life) or a worm (if is was bad).  What would be the point of past lives if we can never remember or learn from them?  And why is being human at the top? 

I think we have the worst lives with suffering, worry, stress.  I would rather be a jellyfish with nothing to worry about.

Anyway, people get too stressed and confused thinking about these unimportant things, when the real important thing is actually right here and now and in actually living... this is something I can agree with Buddhism about.  Keep things as simple as we can we will be a lot happier and content.  

 

 

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15 minutes ago, jak2002003 said:

I think you die you die. 

I was never an alien or a panda for sure. 

When I see my pet bird die.. its dead.  Gone.  Its not gone to be reborn into a mouse (if it lived a good life) or a worm (if is was bad).  What would be the point of past lives if we can never remember or learn from them?  And why is being human at the top? 

I think we have the worst lives with suffering, worry, stress.  I would rather be a jellyfish with nothing to worry about.

Anyway, people get too stressed and confused thinking about these unimportant things, when the real important thing is actually right here and now and in actually living... this is something I can agree with Buddhism about.  Keep things as simple as we can we will be a lot happier and content.  

 

 

You are making assumptions about matters you cannot possibly know, unless you are some scientific genius.
The total knowledge of the entire human race, including the sum of all the scientific knowledge in all scientific disciplines, is just a small fraction of what remains to be known.

 

The more we know, the more we become aware of how little we know. Our current state of scientific knowledge hypothesizes that our entire apparatus of sophisticated  instruments of technology is potentially capable of detecting and observing just 5% of the energy and matter that surrounds us. The other 95% we call Dark Matter and Dark Energy, because it's invisible and undetectable.

 

However, you are right about keeping things simple and living in the present. This is an important Buddhist message.

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I think you've interpreted this teaching a bit literally, as I understand the teaching you refer to doesn't state that humans are the only state capable of awakening it's that the human state is the optimum.  This is because we have the optimum balance of self awareness and freedom of thought and suffering partly due to physical form.

 

If you want to speculate about aliens in other worlds then I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that there may be other species with a similar balance.

 

I think when you look at the suttas where the Buddha goes into this cosmology in depth you'll find that he is talking to Brahmins.  My view is that he is using their cosmology to teach them a principle which is probably don't wait until you get to one of your heavenly realms to practice to attain awakening, the best time to do it is now. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Brucenkhamen said:

I think you've interpreted this teaching a bit literally, as I understand the teaching you refer to doesn't state that humans are the only state capable of awakening it's that the human state is the optimum.  This is because we have the optimum balance of self awareness and freedom of thought and suffering partly due to physical form.

 

If you want to speculate about aliens in other worlds then I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that there may be other species with a similar balance.

 

I think when you look at the suttas where the Buddha goes into this cosmology in depth you'll find that he is talking to Brahmins.  My view is that he is using their cosmology to teach them a principle which is probably don't wait until you get to one of your heavenly realms to practice to attain awakening, the best time to do it is now. 

 

 

Does that leave the door open for Alien re births?

 

I mean, whether one is reborn in Europe or perhaps the Planet Zeton in a far flung Galaxy, as Nibanna is infinite, so is the length and breadth of Samsara.

 

If you read one of the Ven Maha Boowa's books, he indicates that the bodies of his rebirths would fill Thailand several times over.

Very limiting indeed, not only in the number of rebirths, but the size of the bodies involved and the geography in which they occurred.

 

Had he slipped in comments of being reborn in far flung worlds it would be a revelation, something not possible without the ability to travel at well beyond the speed of light for us to confirm.

 

It would also align his and the Buddhas recollections of past lives with modern scientific knowledge.

 

Even if the Buddha was teaching in the God realm, Brahman was in a state of Samsara along with us all.

Brahman should also have had access to alien worlds given his rebirths must have approached infinity. 

 

Limiting re births to the Earth is like painting pre Galileo view of the World (Earth being the World and the sky and clouds being the Heavens).

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From the Rigveda, 10:129-6, dated between 2000 and 1400 BC:

 

Darkness there was at first, by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water;
That which, becoming, by the void was covered;
That One by force of heat came into being;

 

Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
Gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

 

Whether God's will created it, or whether He was mute;
Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.

 

If this is typical of the Vedic/Hindu view of cosmology and the universe, it's quite understandable that the Buddha would have been reluctant to make any definitive statements on such matters.

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16 hours ago, VincentRJ said:

From the Rigveda, 10:129-6, dated between 2000 and 1400 BC:

 

Darkness there was at first, by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water;
That which, becoming, by the void was covered;
That One by force of heat came into being;

 

Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
Gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

 

Whether God's will created it, or whether He was mute;
Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.

 

If this is typical of the Vedic/Hindu view of cosmology and the universe, it's quite understandable that the Buddha would have been reluctant to make any definitive statements on such matters.

The Rig Veda Creation Hym is one of my favorite texts.

 

Always love reading it.

 

Although the Buddha refrained from saying too much, some Awakened Ones, such as the Ven Maha Boowa weren't so reticent.

Ven Maha Boowa chastised those around him, advising them that Hell was real and the torturous existence there was beyond imagination.

 

And yet, no mention of Alien worlds.

 

If we look at the Buddhist cosmology, 28 past Buddhas, this takes us back approximately 70,000 years (assuming a Buddha every 2,500 years).

 

If we have an Earth bound view of re birth, then I can't see early Homo Sapien having the ability of studying the 16 steps of anapanasiti?

 

The Rigveda is definitely the only reply to those who are Samsara bound.

 

I was hoping an Awakened One might chime in.

 

PS:  I like this version:

 

here was neither non-existence nor existence then.
There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
What stirred?
Where?
In whose protection?
Was there water, bottomlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then.
There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.
Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning,
with no distinguishing sign, all this was water.
The life force that was covered with emptiness,
that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning,
that was the first seed of mind.
Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom
found the bond of existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across.
Was there below?
Was there above?
There were seed-placers, there were powers.
There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above.

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
– perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –
the One who looks down on it,
in the highest heaven, only He knows
or perhaps He does not know.

 

 

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On 2/15/2018 at 3:18 PM, rockyysdt said:

The Rig Veda Creation Hym is one of my favorite texts.

 

Always love reading it.

 

Although the Buddha refrained from saying too much, some Awakened Ones, such as the Ven Maha Boowa weren't so reticent.

Ven Maha Boowa chastised those around him, advising them that Hell was real and the torturous existence there was beyond imagination.

 

Hi Rocky,
I suppose the reality is, we are all conditioned in our attitudes, at least to some extent, by our environment and experiences during our upbringing.
Whilst the goal of Buddhism is to transcend and free oneself from such conditioning, I don't see how one can literally be free of all conditioning whilst simultaneously, talking, or writing, or admonishing someone for their bad behaviour.

 

Any expression in a language involves grammar, syntax and word associations which are learned and conditioned states of mind.
Checking the biography of Maha Boowa (or Bua), I found some interesting details of his early life which could explain his attitude towards the existence of a 'real' Hell.

 

From what I can gather, his parents were rice farmers and he was one of 18 sons, born in 1913. In those days in Thailand, compulsory education consisted of only 3 or 4 years of Primary education between  the ages of 7 and 14. Maha Boowa, or Luangta, does not appear to have continued his education beyond 3 stages of primary level, except later when he joined the monkhood and began to study Pali and the Dhamma.

 

One can deduce from his background that he would have been influenced by the traditional, Animistic/Buddhist attitudes of his times.
Of significant note is the story of his father wanting at least one of his sons to become a monk so that he, the father, could die peacefully without any worries. When the father told Luangta, if he didn't become a monk there would be no-one to lift him, the father, out of hell, this brought tears to the son's eyes.
http://www.luangta.eu/site/biography.php#page06

 

I guess the point I am making, whilst a person is in a state of Nirvana or enlightened bliss, there is no language or thoughts. The state of awareness is beyond any traditional, conditioned and learned concepts of language, teaching, or whatever.
 

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