Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Buddhism: Life on Other Planets (II)

Wisdom Quarterly (UPDATED from original Sept. 9, 2011 posting); Mr. Terran (Neothailand)
Diagram in Thai script showing extrasolar planets and our sun (alien-ufos.com).

In the Tipitaka, "The Buddha's Teachings in Three Divisions" (Vol. 11, p. 61 and Vol. 23, sutanta pidok 25 of the Thai edition), the Buddha talks about life on other planets.
He refers to life on three planets in particular: (1) Amornrakoyan, (2) Buppaviteha, and (3) Auttrarakuru.

1. The first has a continent (dipa, literally "island" or light/lamp) and an ocean (apparently a "sea" of space). The dominant life form there is human-like. But the beings there have faces that look like the moon. They are [on average] 10 feet (300 cm) tall, and their lifespan is 500 years. [But 500 may simply mean "many."]

2. The second has a continent [major planet] and about 400 smaller continents or isles [or habitable satellites or asteroids]. The beings there are human-like, but their faces look like cups. They are 15 feet (450 cm) tall and their lifespan is 700 years.

3. The third are flatlands with human-like life forms with faces that look more cubical. They are 21 feet (650 cm) tall, and their lifespan is 1,000 years.
Wisdom Quarterly
This information comes from Mr. Terran. He is a Buddhist studying the Tipitaka, the generic name for the Buddha's Teachings divided into: conventional discourses (sutras), disciplinary codes (vinaya), and "higher teachings" (Abhidharma).
Modern readers may not be able to believe this ancient cosmography and cosmology. Who can say what is real without meditating and developing the faculties to see for oneself?
Science as Modern Religion
Empirical science is falsely comforting; it is still based on faith. We don't see or understand the studies. Instead, white lab coat clad "priests" and "priestesses" do their inscrutable rituals and mind boggling calculations (little better than casting horoscopes) then pretend that they are certain about what is real and what is not. 
They argue based on authority, referring again and again to a semi-human divinity known as "Einstein." Or the new Quantum sect speaks in awe of ineffable "quanta," coming closer to fulfilling their ideal of quantifying everything. They sometimes fight with the Strings. Others laugh and endlessly debate a false dichotomy between waves and particles as if the two concepts and categories were diametrically opposed and irreconcilable.
Who can say whether or not the Buddha really said this much about three distant planets or that much about extraterrestrial life forms? It may simply have been attributed to him. What is certain is that he constantly spoke of otherworldly beings -- unseen beings from space and Earth, subterranean and associated with the seas, waterways, trees, and other abodes.
They are called devas (light beings) of various kinds, space faring (akasha) as well as earthbound (bhumi). There are titanic, dwarfed, mammalian, avian, reptilian, ghostly, superior, and angelic beings all forming what many now simply regard as an inherited Indian pantheon of mythological creatures: asuras, kumbandhas, yakkhas, garudas, nagas, petas, brahmas, and gandhabbas.
One can ask Buddhist monastics, scholars, and practitioners about what is recorded in the ancient texts. The oldest existing Buddhist tradition is based largely in Southeast Asia. It is the Theravada ("Teaching of the Elders," the "elders" being the enlightened disciples of the Buddha's time) school.
The dominant school in China, Japan, Korea, Central Asia, and Tibet is called Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") -- which, not coincidentally, is very Christian and somewhat messianic. It is the Buddhism that melded with Vedic Brahmanism. These later developments make it a lot like post-Brahminical Hinduism prevalent in India today. But the "gods" (devas and brahmas) are now bodhisattvas and buddhas.

Oceanrider likes this [Mr. Terran's original post] and would like to know more. What I know about Buddhism is Buddhists like to use metaphors to explain things. When I went to a Buddhist temple, the teacher was very confidently explaining spirituality using the metaphor of computer equipment accessing a network. Briefly, the Tipitaka contains three divisions: ethics (vinaya), conventional teachings (sutras or "discourses"), and higher teachings (knowledge books).
  • Moon: a reflection of self (ethics).
  • Cup: the self as a vessel of knowledge (discourses).
  • Cube: a physical record or knowledge (knowledge books).
That is how my crazy head works anyway. If it is not straight out fact, although I think it might well be, it may also be explaining metaphysical realms not unlike the Bardos. Thanks for the post, Mr. Terran. I will be checking that one out and reading about it.

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