Rediscovering the Buddha: Legends of the Buddha and Their Interpretation

By Hans H. Penner | Go to book overview

1
Cosmology and the Great
Declaration

Why is there something rather than nothing? Because nothing at all is impossible. There is no beginning. There is no end. The universe is a pulsating evolution and devolution, an everlasting expansion and contraction in which countless galactic systems are created and destroyed throughout vast cosmic aeons in which countless Buddhas have appeared and will appear in the future. Some say that an aeons is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years long; others say that although it is not infinite, it is not calculable.

Once at Savatthi in the Jeta Grove a monk asked the Buddha, “How long, lord, is an aeon?” The Buddha told him, “It is not possible to count how long using years, centuries, or even many thousands of centuries.” The monk then asked whether a parable could be used to illustrate, and the Buddha said: “Suppose there was a great rock mountain about five miles wide, five miles long, and five miles high without any cracks but one solid mass. Suppose also at the end of every one hundred years a man were to stroke it just once with an expensive piece of cloth from Kashi (Varanasi). Well, that mountain in this way would sooner be done away with and ended than would an aeons. So long, monk, is an aeon, it is incalculable.”

The architecture of cosmic space in this pulsating universe consists of three spheres. The highest sphere is without form or sensation. The middle sphere is form only, without sensation. The lowest sphere consists of both form and sensation; it includes our world,

-5-

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