The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Buddhism Beliefs - Buddhist Cosmology
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Cycles of time are prominent in the major Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Eastern religions and their cosmologies recognize the cycling [re-cycling] of energies associated to encompassing [ divine ] powers. Essentially, Buddhists and Hindus see life on Earth as ‘empty’ of any ‘real’ substance. Life is the Sanskrit Maya, an “illusion” with pain and suffering . . . completing "exercises" of divine power. Life is Lila, the “play” of consciousness.
Buddhist Beliefs Basically Stem from their Cosmology
For a Buddhist, existence in itself, is empty; Only Buddha Consciousness [ Enlightenment ] exists. Sometimes Enlightenment [ Nirvana “Extinction”] is understood as “Clear Light” by Buddhists. For the Buddhist, energy or consciousness has no separate self, and is realized as all of Buddha Existence/Nonexistence. Life eternally turns like a “Wheel of Life,” churned by resolutions of ignorance, greed and hatred. Energies shuffle from place to place, from realm to realm, caught in jaw-like spokes of mortality [Jaws of Yama, the God of Death ] … until realizing or not realizing the axis, the center of the Self, also considered as the non-self.
For Buddhists, the Buddha is the supreme Divine power. The traditional Buddha (Gotama) is considered “God” for our Buddha-field. [Note similarities with Christianity where Jesus is considered God for the beginning and end “Alpha and Omega” of our Earth.] Proud Buddhists might calmly admit that they do not believe in God. Their Buddhist Cosmology shows a belief in God. Based on their scriptures, they mean that they do not believe in anybody else’s God, but rather an all-encompassing Buddha Consciousness… with Divine-like attributes. With a Buddhist Cosmology filled with compassion, intelligence, and spiritual practices, Buddha Consciousness exists to save all sentient beings. Although the Buddha was said to announce that cosmological speculation was not necessary for enlightenment, Buddhist Cosmology forms the framework of their beliefs in Buddhism. This essentially includes all Buddhists, Theravada and Mayahana.
Buddhists [with their Beliefs and Cosmology ] have spiritually explored and detailed numerous realms of Buddha Consciousness. Their Wheel of Life provides a cosmological foundation for understanding Buddhism. Life/consciousness first extends through 6 primary realms: the abode of Animals, Humans, Hells, Hungry Ghosts, Jealous Gods, and Gods. The Wheel of Life turns because of ignorance, greed, and hatred. Conscious, Aware individuals may exist for various periods of time in these realms. Although the realm of Gods can extend through numerous abodes and for lengthy periods of time, Buddha consciousness/non-consciousness is conceived in the axis of the Wheel of Life where Jaws of Death [ Yama ] trap the 6 abodes.
The Mount Meru Buddhist Cosmology forms a foundation for Buddhist Beliefs.
The Chart above the Buddhists Mount Meru cosmology, a single-world-system conceived as concentric rings around Mount Meru, the center of the “world disk,” the center of the universe. Mahayana Buddhists have their Pure Land and Celestial Buddhas. For example the “Cosmology of Thousands” multiplies what is unified and unifies what is multiplied. Combinations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (the “Enlightenment-Beings”) all related to a single Buddha and a single “Buddha-field” where Gods can rule over from 1000 to 1000 to the power of 100  ]. Beliefs are clearly seen within Mahayana Buddhist scripture like the “Flower Garland” sutra, also known as the “Sutra of the Garland of Buddhas.” This text is considered to be a very important, extensive compilation for Mahayana Buddhists. The Buddha is the center, a focal point that unifies all spiritual energies of the universe. The following quote from the Buddhist Sutra, uses a basic translation of Buddhist terms.
Quote- “On whirlwinds rest the Fragrant Ocean, which carries an infinite number of world-germs (lokabija); from this ocean, there issue lotuses infinite in number— very far removed, indeed, from each other. From each of these lotuses is born a universe (great chiliocosm), above which (separated by whirlwinds) there are three, then five, and so on up to the twentieth tier, where there are 39 great universes . . . ., on the same level at the same stage, in the extreme west, is the blessed universe of the Buddha of Infinite Life Light, the Pure Land where a Kalpa stage of our universe is equal to a day and night.” End of quote. (Kloetzli 1983, p. 52; from La Vallee Poussin, “Cosmogony,” pp. 137-138]
Sources and References for this Buddhist Cosmology Page
Most of this article stems from Appendix Three of my book