Author Topic: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet  (Read 9236 times)

sonamdhargey

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Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« on: November 01, 2012, 03:11:55 PM »
The following story is about the Venerable Mah?-maudgaly?yana,[2] an enlightened disciple of the historical Buddha ??kyamuni. Mah?-maudgaly?yana travels to a distant solar system, to a planet which is inhabited by giant people, and on which there is also a Buddha with disciples practicing under his guidance. The story, which brings to mind Swift’s Gulliver in the land of the giants, is remarkable in many respects. The Buddha and Mah?-maudgaly?yana both probably lived during the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. In the European West, until the time of Galileo (1564-1642), most educated people thought the whole cosmos rotated around the earth and consisted of the sun and seven planets. They did not realize that the stars were other suns. This story here related shows that 2,500 years ago, Buddhists were aware of a vast cosmos filled with suns and planets and sentient life. Contemporary, scientifically oriented people often have a tendency to dismiss non-Western cosmologies as limited, primitive, and distorted myths, in the negative sense of that word. In this story we are presented with a cosmology that seems much closer than the Western pre-Galilean view to the contemporary scientific view of the physical universe. Of course the assertions about the spiritual powers of the Buddha and Mah?-maudgaly?yana and the size of the people on the distant planet do not merge so easily with contemporary scientific, materialist mindsets.

Read more here: http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/Buddhism/maudgalyayana.htm

vajrastorm

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 07:29:00 AM »
This story of Maudgalyayana, a senior disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni, travelling to a distant solar system and planet where there were beings who were giant in size, shows that over 2500 years ago, through the power of Lord Buddha, Buddhists were already aware of  a vast cosmos filled with suns and planets and sentient life; and each planet had its own Buddha, like in the case of the planet that Maudgalyayana visited.Yet up until now, Science or Western Science, has not confirmed life as existing in any of the planets in our universe, other than Earth. Of course, Western Science will likely dismiss this 'discovery' of a distant planet with life in it, by Maudgalyayana, as lacking in empirical and scientific evidence. But then the yardstick of Science must soon change, as the power of the mind beyond conceptual thought is currently being investigated and studied.

On another level, this story is a powerful illustration of the need for humility of even highly attained beings like Maudgalyayana . Maudgalyayana had wanted to test how far Lord Buddha's voice could reach, as He promulgated the Dharma of the Pure Voice. So he travelled over"buddha worlds as numerous as sands in ninety-nine rivers" to this Buddha world of giant people where the Buddha, King of Light, was teaching. This Buddha reprimanded Maudgalyayana for his arrogance. In the end, Maudgalyayana only managed to travel back through the power of the Compassionate Buddha Shakyamuni, as he took Refuge in Him. Then the Buddha, King of Light, delivered a teaching to Maudgalyayana and to us all, that the Buddha's voice has no limit; it transcends all limits and boundaries. Such is the power of the omniscient mind.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 11:15:38 AM »
The are 2 points that I can discern from this story. First there is the scientific view and second the profound view.
Scientifically, even though human on this earth has not been able to find lives of any sort in another planet, modern science also agrees that what we have not found does not mean it is not there. In the vast space of this Universe itself there are billions of galaxies, each having billions of stars. A typical star like the Sun, is not rare. In order for human of the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen make up to exist, a planet needs to be at a distance suitable for liquid water to exist. That means a temperature of between 0 to 100 Celsius. Even though modern telescope can not see a planet outside of our solar system, it is calculated that there are billions and billions of potential "Earth" in this Universe alone, not counting parallel universes (but that is for another discussion). Hence, life is most likely to exist. There are many other factors that needs to be exists for intelligent form of life to exist at the same time as us humans like the time scale of the universe vs the planet, the time needed for evolution and even the tilt of the planet. My personal view is that humans definitely exist outside of the earth. Then there is the question of why humans, giants of whatever stature and not some intelligent green skinned lizard? Well this again is for another time.

Then there is the profound side. From the story, how can Maudgalyayana travel to buddha world as numerous as the sand of 99 rivers? If we assume he really did that, then the fact that he saw another Buddha teaching a race of giant humans is not ironically profound if we do not consider the profundity of the Buddhas for the moment. The contention here is how can Maudgalyayana travel so far? Even at the speed of light which is the fastest anything physical can in theory travel; it will take 1 year to travel to the nearest star. It is definitely impossible in our limited physical capacity to do that. Hence in the last sentence, is it said ; "Such is the power of the omniscient mind". It is the power of the mind. It is the realization of the non duality of existence that open up such ability.  Hence, I imagine take Maudgalyayana did not fly to all these Buddha worlds but through the power of his realizations.


sonamdhargey

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 02:52:41 PM »
I always wonder how does this being travels such vast distance in a blink of an eye?

Light travels at a speed of over 300,000 kilometers per second. Theoretically, nothing is faster than light. According to the Buddha, however, the speed of mind is faster than the speed of light. In a split of second, the mind can travel and reach up to three thousand of galaxies of worlds. Not only that the mind is fast and far-reaching, its karmic effect are extensive and profound. Always busy is the mind which runs into the past, the present, the future, and back and forth. It grasps at anything it comes across. The mind is constantly loaded with creations made of images, odors, tastes, sounds, touch contacts and discriminating thoughts. As a result, we are trapped in a fast-moving, non-stop, elusive and karmic mental stream. It hinders us from seeing our original nature. That is why we need to control and purify our mind.

Source:http://www.buddhas.net/who.html

buddhalovely

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2012, 07:21:05 AM »
There are actually quite a lot of references in the suttas to different world systems, which sound very much like what we would think of as alien civilisations.

Like here for example in SN56.11:
"Thus at that moment, at that instant, at that second, the cry spread as far as the brahm? world, and this ten thousandfold world system shook, quaked, and trembled, and an immeasurable glorious radiance appeared in the world, surpassing the divine majesty of the devas."

But then you have to look at the Vedic origin of those worlds , the idea of which was borrowed by Buddhism, because that was the conceptual common coinage of the day.

It becomes clear that the Buddha borrowed those concepts and used them to his own ends.
The question of the ontological reality of these realms was not a question that could be asked within the prevailing world view of the time.

It would not have computed.

Furthermore the idea of the devas being outshone etc are also common in the Vedas, and in Jain and Vaisnava scriptures..so either " The Brahma realms " are remarkably vulnerable to events triggered by different and disparate teachers in this realm..or we are dealing with a stock of myths common in the Indian subcontinent and which are poetic and/or address mind states with symbolic language.

Big Uncle

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2012, 05:31:42 AM »
That's right. Some of the Yidams and Buddhas that we pray to originate from another world system. For example, Tara before she became enlightened was from another world and took refuge and became enlightened based upon the teachings of her world. Before enlightenment, she vowed to always remain in a female form to inspire her practitioners to transcend the limitations of dualistic view. Tara is very sensitive karmic affinity with our world and has aided many great Tibetan and Indian yogis, masters and so forth. Even in Tibet, Tara is the Buddha that displayed many miracles via many old statues. 

fruven

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2012, 10:24:06 AM »
Quote
...
"In the Buddhaland Banner of Light, the light is very bright. The body of the Buddha of that land is eight miles (?)[14] tall, and the bodies of all the Bodhisattvas are four miles tall. The bowls from which the Bodhisattvas eat are a fifth of a mile high.

"After Maudgaly?yana alighted atop the rim of a bowl, all the Bodhisattvas asked that World-Honored One, 'Great Sage, please tell us where this bug, who is wearing the clothes of a Buddhist monk[15]  and has alighted on the rim of this bowl, came from."'

"Then that Buddha said, 'All of you sons of good families, be careful not to be purposely disrespectful towards this worthy one. Why? This elder's name is Mah?-maudgaly?yana. Among all the great disciples of the Buddha ??kyamuni who were enlightened directly from hearing his teachings,[16] he is foremost in spiritual powers.'

"Then the Buddha King of Light said to Mah?-maudgaly?yana, 'The Bodhisattvas and all the Enlightened Hearers in my land saw that your esteemed body is small and all became disrespectful. If you have received the noble permission of the Buddha ??kyamuni, whose virtue is awe-inspiring, you, humane one, should display your spiritual powers.
...
'

The main message after reading this sutra is I need to be always aware and be respectful because by labeling things to what I see or hear without understanding more I can be very disrespectful unknowingly.

Also in the sutra it never mentioned alien, it described beings according to their physical appearance in a neutral way. Alien in this modern day as some foreign flying superior beings, something we are not familiar with, a stranger from other world, an enemy as well, which is not the truth. At the same time it is true because we always perceive our enemies as foreign, stranger, alien, therefore the need to eradicate it with force. Now we are scared of flying aliens because we are perceiving them as enemies and because our motivation towards enemies is to destroy them, we automatically think aliens will come to destroy us. Ironic?    ??? :D

Midakpa

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2012, 03:23:49 PM »
On certain occasions, the Buddha has commented on the nature and composition of the universe. According to the Buddha, there are other forms of life existing in other parts of the universe. He has also mentioned that there are thirty-one planes of existence within the universe. These are the human world, the sub-human realms, the heavenly realms, the form realms and the formless realms. 

The cosmos is very vast. It is said that the total number of universes is probably something like the total number of grains of sand on all the sea shores of the world. In such a universe, the planet Earth is very small, about one-millionth of a grain of sand.

Buddhists do not deny the existence of life forms in other world systems. Tibetan lamas have also mentioned the presence of "aliens" in our human world. It is not surprising that someone like Maudgalyayana, who had supernatural powers, could travel to a distant planet. Even beings in the bardo can travel at the speed of thought. In samsara, we are all transmigratory beings. It is said that after death, it is also possible that one can be born on another planet or world system.

It is important to understand one's own nature as well as the nature of the cosmos. In order to understand how Maudgalyayana travelled to another planet, I guess one has to conquer one's mind and destroy the illusion of self.

diablo1974

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Re: Buddha's Disciple visits another planet
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 11:05:52 AM »
In  many of Buddha sermons recorded and passed down today, He mentioned about the 10000 world system. There are immeasurable beings living in other planets other than Jumbudiva (the present earth planet). In the 1500s, Galileo uses Telescope to see thing in the vast space, and with modern astronomy proving that not only Earth and other planets revolve around the sun but also countless of other suns and solar system. Another fact to show the vastness of space (universe) we the Earth planet is just one of the many planets revolving around many other suns and solar systems and planets.

In the modern science, minimum 100 planets has been identified so far but the Buddha stated that "the infinite world spheres are incalculable". In one of Buddha sermon in the Brahmajala Sutta, Digha Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka? He said: "He recalls to mind his various temporary states in days gone by- one birth, or two or three or four or five birthds, 10 or 20 or 50 a 100 or a 100,000 births, through many cycles of cosmic contraction and cosmic expansion....Now there comes a time, when sooner or later, after the lapse of a long, long period of contraction, this world-system passes away. And when this happends beings have mostly been re-born in the World of Radiance, and there they dwell made of mind, feeding on joy, radiating light from themselves, traversing the air, dwelling in glory; and thus they remain for a long, long period of time. Now there comes also a time, friends, when sooner or later, this universe begins to re-evolve by expansion."

From the above passage, Buddha described beings in the other planet, they might be in a level of the 33 heaven in existence such as the heaven of light and sound, whereby beings radiated lights and sound within themselves...

There are ancient records of how Buddha viewed our planets and other planets...i believe its not something being madeup or fabricated by an enlightened being like him.