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Read the first installment of The Cosmology of Buddhism.
Now available for download
from the EverLife Library.
Welcome to the EverLife Skylight.

Look through it at the sky above and imagine the universe unfolding its secrets before you. Let your mind’s eye fly faster than light, beyond the dimensions of time, through the vast emptiness of space, passing through the essence of the atom, leaving the ephemeral confines of relativity. You are here although you are omnipresent. You are in the now yet you are everlasting. Seated beneath a jewel-bearing tree on the throne of the absolute you are Life’s singularity watching your infinitely diverse facets dance across the profound cosmology of Buddhism. You are the Enlightened One seeing boundless wisdom and joy unfold.

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#1: The Buddha’s Dharma

An Overall Perspective of Existence — The Buddha envisioned a single integrated cosmic super-system encompassing everything — including humans and other beings, material and non-material phenomena, spirits and gods who served functionary roles — that appeared in and receded from an eternity of transmigrating universes.
Cosmology, Reality, Truth and Law — Sakyamuni equated the way the universe really was with the "Truth of the Reality of All Existence." He taught a 50-year course that described the scope of this cosmology, the realities underlying it, the truths embodied in it and the universal laws that governed its dynamic.


#2: The Four Cosmologies of Buddhism [More to come]

The Golden Mountain World System
— The Six-Worlds of the Classic Indic Cosmos
— The Buddha’s Reworking of the Indic System
The Threefold Universe
— Three Basic Realities: Form, Formlessness & Desire
— The Great Three-Thousandfold Universe
— Nirvana: The Place of Absolute Peace and Joy
The Cosmos of Infinite Wisdom
— The Celestial Bodhisattvas of the Selfless Dimension
— Buddhas in Every Direction of the Universe
— Within and Beyond Space-Time: The Void [of Relativity]
The Eternal Lotus Vision
— The Treasure Tower of Perfect Enlightenment
— The Everlasting Lotus in the Sky
— The Fountainhead of Eternal Resurrection
— Nirvana In the Here and Now


#3: The Cosmology of Living Beings [More to come]

The Law of Cause and Effect — One law governs everything that happens in the universe, as well as the circumstances of an individual’s existence.
The Great Three-Thousandfold Self — A mirror image of the large-scale universe is seen reflected in the cosmology of human experience.
The One Direct Vehicle of Perfect Enlightenment — Tapping directly into the cosmic fountainhead of Everlasting Life.


An Overall Perspective of Existence

In the first millennium B.C.E. in India a sage born of the Sakya clan (Skt Sakyamuni) succeeded in achieving a clear, unobstructed view of all existence. The Enlightened One (i.e., Buddha), a title chosen in honor of his supreme wisdom, introduced a new vision quite different from the traditional doctrine of dual dimensions and dual-natured beings. He proposed that fundamentally all states of existence were facets of one indivisible cosmology. According to the Buddha’s world-system, a single identity encompassed everything — including space, time, mortal beings, spirits, gods, everything in the universe and beyond. He saw all existence as one interactive Reality. The purpose of his teachings was to define the scope and essence of this singularity. According to the Buddha, the universal Reality was of boundless scope, everlasting and absolute, although from a mortal perspective it appeared to be finite, temporal and ever-changing. The Buddha explained that the infinitely multifaceted scope and essential singularity of the cosmos transcended relativist thinking and comprehension. Yet, by virtue of its dynamic mortal nature the cosmos was itself a living entity that in turn contained infinite numbers of living entities. Accordingly, one common essence defined both the universe as a whole and every phenomena appearing with it. This fundamental and unifying Reality was Life itself — a profoundly ironic entity that defied description. Although Life could not be defined as a substance, without it substance could not exist. Although it had no form of its own, it could not be described as nothingness. Moreover, Life could not be proved to exist at all if it were not for the mortal forms that constituted everything in the universe.

Sakyamuni compared the boundless entirety of Life in the universe to an ocean and likened individual mortal manifestations of Life to the drops that coomposed the great body of water. Through this metaphor the Buddha illustrated that no actual distinction could exist between individual life and the universal life-singularity. Just as no distinction can exist between the ocean and its component drops, he proposed further that there can be no distinction between existence and death, spirit and form, person and environment, mortality and immortality.


Cosmology, Reality, Truth, and Law

The Buddha’s teaching of the boundless singularity of Life defined the foundation of his Dharma — an ancient Sanskrit word that simultaneously meant Cosmology, Reality, Truth and Law. Sakyamuni taught a 50-year course primarily aimed at illustrating the scope, nature and essence of the Dharma he was able to see from his enlightened (i.e., unobstructed) perspective. Hence, the entirety of Buddhism can be regarded as a single, integrated Theory of Everything imparted in a manner that suggests the blossoming of a flower — a description that reveals more as it opens wider.

Sakyamuni envisioned a universal singularity that defined the basis for a boundless Cosmology (note: capital ‘C’ denotes the Buddha’s Cosmology). It defined the realm of the "triple world" (re: past, present and future) as the place where the phenomenal and spiritual were indivisible facets of one cosmos — in contrast to the Dharma of dual dimensions (distinguishing a separate spirit world [a formless realm above earth and beyond death] and mortal worlds [realms of form where various kind of beings existed]) as defined by the religious class of his day and still widely held today. The Buddha’s singularity constituted a Cosmology wherein space-time and even death were only relative notions.

The assignation of Dharma as Reality equated it with the way the universe really was — a Reality (note: capital ‘R’ denotes absolute Reality) encompassing "All Existence." From the Buddha’s farsighted vantage ultimate Reality included the scope, nature and essence of all existence. It at once encompassed all observable or substantial phenomena, which he defined as the surface reality of existence, as well as all undetectable or hidden realities, which he observed to be realities underlying the phenomenal elements of existence. Accordingly, a congress of both mortal (illusory and temporary) and transcending (mysterious and absolute) realities formed one whole, indivisible and absolute Reality.

The term Dharma also referred to Truth (note: capital ‘T’ denotes absolute Truth) defined as an overarching and absolute Truth regarding the way things really are — in contrast to the way they are perceived. The Buddha proposed that the "Truth of All Existence" included both tangible, as well as intangible truths.

In addition, the Dharma meant Law — as in the universal Laws that governed all natural functions affecting matter, energy, space, time, as well as the laws of life and death, and social/moral laws. Therefore, the Buddha’s Law encompassed all the laws of existence, including natural, metaphysical and social laws. Hence, the word Dharma interchangeably conveyed the Buddha’s views regarding the configuration of the universe, its natural laws and forces, and the role of mortals in the cosmology of existence. Moreover, as Sakyamuni’s teachings provided the vehicle for unveiling his Dharma, the word Dharma also came to be synonymous with his sutra sermons. In that context, the Buddha’s Dharma referred to his revelatory teachings regarding the purpose and function of life. Over the length of his discourse Sakyamuni’s sutras depicted four increasingly expansive cosmologies that eventually composed the enormous scope of his vision.


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