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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Extraterrestrial Sangha.

The question if often asked, "If rebirth is true then why does the population of the Earth increase?"

In the Pali canon it is said that there has been 28 Buddhas other than Siddhartha Gautama who is the Buddha for this age on Earth. This means that there must be other worlds out there and other beings that benefit from a Buddha (I can't and won't speak for others but this is my belief). These worlds help explain where all the beings that continue to increase the population on Earth come from. Another answer to the population increase is that some animals and insects are being reborn here as human beings. It has been estimated by science that insects outnumber humans by 200 billion!!

The Buddha Gautama once held up a glass of water and said that there were thousands upon thousands of life forms within, which was proven with the invention of the microscope. So if microscopic organisms can exist in a small drop of water then is it so difficult to imagine other worlds populated with other sentient beings? In other words, our world is but one of those tiny organisms in that glass of water (universe). So I was meditating and thinking about this all today and I am reconsidering my belief that the six realms are purely states of being in this world and that bodhisattvas are not real.

I still don't know but I'm not absolutely denying the possibility as I had before. I guess right now I'm agnostic about it all. As of right now though I still find it more beneficial to see the effects of the six realms in the present moment and to live in a way that best avoids those effects. Now, like I said I've come to a place where I'm not denying that they are also places but seeing it that way right now isn't as helpful for me as seeing it the other way. Perhaps that will change though as my practice deepens over the years but it may not either. I guess I'm just saying here that I'm not ruling anything out.

However, I still feel that it is more important to take care of the present moment right here and now than spend hours upon hours trying to understand the metaphysical. Though meditating upon the metaphysical can have its benefits. My concern is upon the present moment and making sure that my actions/thoughts, etc comport with the Eight-Fold Path. I find it more helpful to be skillful and to do my best to follow the Eight-Fold Path out of understanding of how my actions/thoughts, etc. effect others (and myself) than out of fear.

I have found personally that doing something out of fear doesn't stand the test of time. I begin to resent things when I do them out of fear but not so if I understand why an action/thought, etc. is less skillful and harmful to others. Avoiding certain actions out of compassion creates better results for me than from doing it out of fear or doing it because everyone says so. I have discovered that doing something to "fit in" or because everyone says so doesn't work either because I feel like I'm just faking it and going through the motions. When this is my motivation I eventually get tired of playing the game and give up.

~Peace to all beings~

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C. L. DeMedeiros said...


G said...

Another common explanation is that the increase in the human population is related to the decrease in animal population, as with endangered species. This indicates that all the animals being wiped out by the human race are being reborn as...humans!
Also, of course, Buddhism traditionally teaches the existence of impermanent heavens & hells, from which beings can be reborn as people.

All this considered, your attitude that what's really important is to focus on the reality of this moment now is excellent, James. May we all live aware of this moment and of each other as we are right now.True wisdom can grow out of being present in the present, can't it, James?

G at 'Buddha Space'.

Dhamma81 said...

This is fantastic James. I think you are correct in not trying to delve too far into metaphysical speculation but not to totally dismiss it either. Ajahn Jayasaro gave a talk where he said that a lot of monks who he has taught started out with a similar agnostic leaning viewpoint but over the years started to see for themselves that rebirth is either a total truth or at least a very reasonable explanation of things.

I have heard that other realms are sort of like radio frequencies that you need to tune into with kamma bringing you into that frequency. Again, this is just something I heard but it seems like it could be something worthy of consideration.

I find it interesting that the Buddha was aware of microorganisms long before science confirmed it. I also have heard that he fairly correctly described different types of galaxies and stuff so that is interesting as well. For me personally, the more I practice and contemplate the Buddha and his Dhamma the more I feel that the whole breadth and scope of his teachings are all important and worthy of consideration. I enjoyed your reflection and wish you well in your practice.

Kyle said...

I have to admit James, I am a sucker for the MetaPhysical, and I think this is a very intriuging post. Its hard to tell, honeslty, and I guess it depends a lot on if you see sentient being as a finite number.

Perhaps the old Bodivisatta oath is correct? Sentient Beings are innumerable...I vow to save them all.

Nice post!

They call him James Ure said...

C.L.: Thanks, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I had fun writing it up.


Yeah I don't have enough energy nor sanity to worry too much about anything other than the present moment.


Thank-you brother. I think like with many things in Buddhism and life it comes down to balance and open-mindedness. I like your radio frequencies analogy. I'm still getting a lot of static but I think with time that my dial will be better able to tune into those frequencies.

I love the micro-organism observation, which confirms even more for me that Buddha realized perfect knowledge amongst so many other things.


Nothing wrong with metaphysical stuff at all. I enjoy contemplating it all too. I have just found in the past that I can get into it too much and lose focus on the bigger picture.

I'm glad that you like the post. It's fun to think about sometimes isn't it? :)

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I think we do have to be open and loving to all the possibilities, even those enless possibilities unapproachable because we cannot even begin to imagine them, but I think you are right about our "business" being with the here and now, the present moment, and what we are doing in it. I am just at the very beginning of being able to try to do that!

simmie said...

Let me share with you my own (probably unusual) theory. Why do I have to have a singular next life? Why not more than one? Let me put it this way: in Buddhism, there is no soul that is reincarnated, but there is still some links of continuity between each successive life. Why must these successive links form a linear chain? Why not more of a branching structure? The equivalent idea in terms of non-Buddhist theories of soul-based reincarnation, would be souls dividing or splitting. I think, in terms of anicca/anatta, a branching account of ourselves is in some sense more non-permanent/non-self than a linear account.

I know this is hard for our minds to grasp -- well, I'm (relatively) comfortable with it. I was first exposed to the idea through some rather science fictional thought experiments in philosophical works on personal identity (e.g. the malfunctioning Mars teleporter in Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons).

They call him James Ure said...


I was intrigued by your theory. I am fascinated with cosmology and such.

viagra online said...

Interesting theories, I love to read things that are related to the UFO, or to the beings who built the pyramids and some other ancient ruins. Great article.

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