Dhamma Articles
The Buddhist Concept of World

As Buddhist cosmology teaches us, there are 31 realms in the world which can be condensed to the three world systems or three existences:

In the Greater discourse on the Lion's Roar (MahaSihanadasutta (M.N.12), the Buddha explained ten powers of the Tathagata (Buddha) which are unique to the Buddha himself. Of these ten powers of the Buddha, the 4th one is the power that he has to see the manifold and different elements and the systems of the world. Addressing Ven. Sāriputta, the Buddha said, "Sariputta, tathagatoanekadhatunanadhatulokamyathabhutampajanati". Meaning, Sāriputta, the Tathâgata understands, as it actually is t he world with its manifold and different elements.

However, the Buddha has contemplated upon this through his intuitive wisdom and realized the real world system. He has perceived the whole universe through his clairvoyance. There is an epithet to the Buddha "Lokavidu" means knower of the world. The Buddha has defined the world clearly. He knew the world systems and went beyond the this world system. He went from the sate of worldly to the state of unworldly.

What are the Internal and External Worlds? According to the Buddha, there are two worlds, the internal world and external world. Most of the time the Buddha has talked about the internal world. If one can understand the internal world one can understand the external world too. How can you understand the external world when you understand the internal world? Because, what we find in the internal world is the same with what we come across in the external world. In the discourse of the Exposition of Elements (M.N. 140) and the Discourse of the Three Tenets (A.N.3), the Buddha clearly said, that this man is nothing but six kinds of elements

It is said, "The Blessed One with his clairvoyant paranormal vision can see one world-system, two, three world-systems, or the Thousand-fold Minor World-System, the Twice-a-Thousand Middling World-System and the Thrice-a-Thousand Major World System. He could see as far out into space as he likes. So clear is the clairvoyant vision of the Blessed One." While the Middling World-Systems consisted of a hundred or even thousand galaxies, the next unit is the whole cluster of Middling World-Systems. For it is said that thousands of Middling World Systems (i. e. clusters of galaxies) go to form the vast universe or the Major World-System (mahalokadhatu), which some texts on astronomy refer to as the meta-galaxy.

The Buddha once explaining the world system said,"Monks, as far as sun and moon revolve and illuminate all directions by their radiance, so far does the thousand-fold world system extend. And in that thousand-fold world system, there are thousand moons, a thousand suns, inhabited planets.... This thousand-fold world system is calledculanikā-loka-dhatu or Minor World-System, which is the smallest unit in the universe (But all these change takes place, transformation takes place. When seeing this the instructed noble disciple is disenchanted, dispassion..)

Once the Buddha told a story to Ananda of the Buddha Sikhi who lived 31 eons ago. By this time the life span of humans was 70.000 years. According to this story, once the Buddha Sikhi together with one of his chief disciples Ven. Abhibhu went to the Brahma world where he was asked to give a talk. But the Brahmas were not satisfied with it as the disciple gave the talk while the teacher was in their presence. Then the Buddha asked him to give a talk performing some miracles. So he did so and eventually Abhibhu asked whether he could fulfil one of his promise made in front of the monks. That was to make a voice to be heard for 1000 world system. So he did and when they came back to earth, the monks said that they heard of it. This is the voice made by Ven. Abhibhu from the Brahma world:

Arouse your energy, strive on!

Exert yourself in the Buddha's teaching

Sweep away the army of death

As an elephant does a hut of reads (S.N.6.14.4)

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