Buddhist Cosmology Philosophy and Origins

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BUDDHIST COSMOLOGY Philosophy and Origins

by Akira Sadakata

translated by Gaynor Sekirnori

with aforeword by Hajirne Nakamura

KOSEl PUBLISHING CO.



Tolryo

Shown on the cover is a painting entitled Hasu no Hikari (Lotus Light) by Josaku Maeda. Editing by Joy S. Sobeck. Cover design and layout of photographs by NO BU. The text of this book is set in Monotype Baskerville with a computer version of Optima for display.

First English edition, 1997 Published by Kosei Publishing Co., 2-7-1 Wada, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166. Copyright © 1997 by Kosei Publishing Co.; all rights reserved. Printed in Japan. ISBN 4-333-01682-7

LCC Card No. applied for

Contents

List of Figures

9

Foreword, by Hajime Nakamura

11

Preface

13

Editorial Note

15

PART ONE: Pre-Mahayana Cosmology 1. The Structure of Matter and the Universe Basic Components of Matter 20

19

The smallest particles, 20 Greek atomism, 22

The Universe

25

Mount Sumeru, 26 The Indian subcontinent, 30 Sun and moon, 38

2. Hells, Heavens, and Other Realms Hells 41

41

Indian origins of the Buddhist concept of hell, 44 The eight hot hells, 47 The eight cold hells, 52

Realms of Animals, Hungry Spirits, and Asuras Heavens 55

54

The Realm of the Four Great Kings (Ciitur-mahiiriija-kiiyikiil,t), 56 The heaven ofthe thirty-three gods, 56

5

CONTENTS

6

The six abodes of the gods of the realm of desire, 57

The Realm of the Dhyiina Practitioner

63

3. Transmigration, Karma, and Enlightenment The Six Destinations of Rebirth 69 The Force ofKarma 71 Ajivika Ideas about Transmigration 71 Greek Ideas about Transmigration 73 Enlightenment and the Realm of Formlessness

69

75

Samiidhi, 76 Non-duality, 79 Yoga,89

4. The Cosmos and Time The Thousand-cubed Great-thousand-world Time, Seasons, and Human Life 95

93 93

Time, 95 Seasonal changes and the calendar, 97

The Cycle of Increase and Decrease of the Universe

99

The cycle of four periods, 99 Human life and appearance ofbuddhas, 105

PART TWO: Mahayana Cosmology 5. The Western Pure Land Saha and Sukhavati 113 Origins of the Western Pure Land Concept 6. Buddhist Deities Devas 125 Buddhas 127 Three Bodies Doctrine Bodhisattvas 129

113 1 18 125

128

Avalokitdvara, 13 0 Maitreya, 132 Bodhisattvas and Pure Land thought, 133 Other bodhisattvas, 133 Avatars, 134

7

CONTENTS

Female Deities 134 Mahakala 136 Demigods 13 7 Protectors of Buddhism, 13 7 138 Other demigods, 139 Rak~asas,

Gods of the Esoteric Tradition

139

Acala, 140 Raga Vidyaraja, 140 Gal).da, 140

7. The Buddha and the Cosmos The Lotus Repository World 144 Vairocana and the Multiplicity of Buddhas The Cosmic Vairocana 154

143 151

8. Changes in the Conception of Hell Varna 159 Sanzu no kawa 162 Sai-no-kawara and K~itigarbha Bodhisattva 9. The Buddhist View of the Universe Today Mythologizing an Experiential Universe What Buddhist Cosmology Teaches Us

159

166 173

173 177

Appendix: Linear Measurement Notes Index

211

Acknowledgments

224

Photographs.follow page 80

185 189

Figures

1 . Structure of a Molecule according to the Abhidharmakosa, 21 2. Structure of Atoms and Molecules according to the Vaise$ika School, 22 3. Comparison of Greek and Vaise$ika Theories of the Properties of the Elements, 23 4. Esoteric Buddhist Elements with Their Graphic Representations and Siddharp (Ancient Indian) Characters, 24 5. Bird's-Eye View of the Mount Sumeru Realm, 27 6. Mount Sumeru as a Square, 28 7. Sizes ofMount Sumeru and Surrounding Mountains and Seas, 29 8. Planet Revolution at High Latitudes, 30 9. Cross Section ofStilpa 1 at Saiici, Madhya Pradesh, India, 31 10. Plan ofStupa at Nagarjunakolf
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