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What happens to the world when everybody attains Buddhahood?
From Mahayana perspective? If the world/samsara is the product of beings' karma, and all beings have attained Buddhahood, does that mean that the world ceases to exist? And everybody dwells in supreme bliss/pure land?
then we work on the lower level of sentients, working on the development of every blade of grass …
Work of the wikid and goodly is never done …
What about the tigers and lions and pumas then? In order to eat their natural diet there has to be a certain amount of suffering on the part of everyone else…
According to some dude on reddit, who quotes Garab Dorje, it will all start again.
I've heard Tāntikas on DharmaWheel say similar things as the man who quotes Garab Dorje. As far as I can see, from their view, a new set of beings is "spontaneously generated."
The view that I am familiar with is that the sattvadhātu (the realm of beings) is endless and will never be emptied, just as Nirvāṇa will never be "filled up" with Buddhas. There is an old treatise concerning this called the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśaparivarta. It is more widely-read in East Asian Buddhism than in Tibetan Buddhism. I can quote from it in a bit. It's a mildly interesting text, as dense and wieldy Buddhist texts go.
I have found this translation. Looking forward your next post regarding this sutra. Also the idea of samsara restarting is like an infinite big bang of karma again and again! Then what gets freed and what remains not? Not a valid question? Ah, I eager to know!
There is another good translation from Jonathan Silk is his paper analyzing the treatise called "Buddhist Cosmic Unity."
There are two divisions in the present formn of the treatise. The Tathāgatagarbha material toward the end is later.
Why would the world cease to exist? It would continue to exist, but the wars would stop, exploitation of other people would stop, and possibly the unbridled industrial development might get dialed back, because people wouldn't be so needy of material things, I imagine. There might be more public transit, fewer private vehicles, for example.
That's IF such a thing were possible, as everyone on Earth reaching Enlightenment.
The world is said to come into being because of the karma, if I understand correctly, hence it would cease to exist. What you described sounds more like an impossible utopia.
What would the Buddha say? Probably nothing.
...Gee... I dunno... Is this a quiz?
Wait. Earthly beings didn't come into existence until after the world did. So whose karma is it, that brought the world into being?
Origin and existence of our universe
Some Buddhist explanations on the origin and existence of our universe (and other universes) in contrast to the non-buddhist beliefs of a creator god and creationism, by Josho Adrian Cirlea
Unenlightened beings are physically and mentally limited by their karma; they are born, they live, die and are reborn again in worlds determined by their karma. They cannot go further than the limitations imposed by their karma, and so they cannot see nor understand that which is beyond their karma. But the Buddhas, who are totally free from the bondage of karma, can move freely in the Samsaric worlds and universes - the collective dreams of unenlightened beings. The Buddhas are not creators of the Samsaric world, just like one person cannot create the dream of another, but teachers and saviors, or better said, Awakeners of others. Through various means, that is, various Dharma methods, they try to awake sleeping beings from the Samsaric dream.
Thus, as Buddhists, we cannot say that a creator god made the universe, because that would deny the law of karma, according to which one reaps what one sows – one is reborn in the worlds and dimensions one deserves, together with the beings one deserves to be there with (is karmically linked to). As we have seen, we cannot logically accept, in the same time, the law of karma and the existence of a creator god, as the two mutually exclude one another.
Instead of a creator god, the collective karma of a multitude number of beings is the primary cause and first impulse for the appearance of a new universe. This karma contains all the potentiality of that specific universe, including its general laws of physics. Thus, once it comes into existence from collective karmic causes, then all the laws of physics will follow. These will be responsible, for example, with what actually happens with the planets, changing of seasons, and so on.
Various universes may have different laws of physics, because their formation was due to a different karma with different potentialities, so once they are formed, they can develop into different ways than our own universe. Because of that, what we call human beings here, may look totally different in another universe, although the basic emotions and karma which generate rebirth into human dimension is the same.
Neither the law of karma, nor the various physical characteristics that appear in a specific universe, are created by a supreme god. Just like when you spit in the air, it will fall in your face, when you do an evil deed, you will automatically experience (in the same life or one of the next) the same suffering you inflicted on others. These things happen without the necessity that a supreme god giving a command, “from now on, if you spit in the air, it will fall on your face”. So, the law of karma, just like the law of gravity, has no creator, as both exist by themselves.
Because individuals and various smaller or larger groups of beings make certain choices, and plant certain seeds, they reap various results, which bring them for rebirth in different universes and realms – which are themselves the effect of those beings collective karma. Thus, the difference among unenlightened beings and the worlds and dimensions in which they live do not have the origin in the will of a creator god, nor do they appear from chance, but are the material imprint of individual karma and collective karma.
This is a very important teaching which clearly separates Buddhism from the monotheistic religions. In short, the karma versus the will of a god are the two main explanations of the world and the beings living in it that you can choose from, and which defines you as a Buddhist disciple or an externalist (non-Buddhist).
According to the Buddhist teaching, there are an infinite number of world systems where rebirth takes place. These were classified into three categories:
one small universe, which is traditionally called “a small one thousand-worlds”. It consists of one thousand worlds. Each single world (sometimes called “a Sumeru-world”) contains the various realms/dimensions of hells, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, asuras and gods.
one middle universe, which is traditionally called “a medium one thousand-worlds”. It consists of one thousand small universes (or “a thousand small thousand-worlds”).
one large universe, which is traditionally called, “a great one thousand-worlds”. It consists of one thousand middle universes (or a thousand medium thousand-worlds).
These various worlds pass through an endless cycle of formation, existence, destruction, and annihilation after which they are again formed, come to existence, are destroyed, annihilated, and so on. The four periods of cyclic changes are called “kalpas”:
Period (kalpa) of Formation or generation (vivartakalpa)
Period (kalpa) of Duration or existence (vivarta-siddha kalpa)
Period (kalpa) of Destruction (samvarta kalpa)
Period (kalpa) of Annihilation (samvarta-diddha kalpa)
Each of these periods lasts 20 medium or intermediate kalpas (antara kalpa). Four periods of 20 medium kalpas each, is 80 medium kalpas. 80 medium kalpas is one great kalpa (mahakalpa). So, one cosmic cycle composed of the four periods above is called one great kalpa.
One Buddha may assume responsibility for the spiritual care of one large universe (“a great one thousand-world”), which then becomes that Buddha’s field of action, or “Buddha-field” (Buddhakshetra in Skt). This is also called a “Buddha-land”. The one large universe in which we ourselves live together with many kinds of visible, invisible and non-human beings, is called “Saha”. The sutras say that an infinite number of such large universes, or Buddha-lands, exist in the ten directions. As they are inhabited by beings in various stages of spiritual development, it should not be confounded with the Pure Land (Sukhavati), which is an Enlightened realm (outside of Samsara) manifested by Amitabha Buddha.
Of course, not all the worlds and universes appear or disappear at the same time. When one universe is destroyed, another one appears while myriads of other universes are in the duration period. Also, the mind-stream of beings transmigrates through these universes and planes of existence in all the four kalpas, and the period of destruction or annihilation does not destroy them. Thus, even if the bodies they receive according to their karma are destroyed, they are reborn elsewhere, in another realm of the same universe or even another universe.
It is in the nature of every composed thing, including planets, worlds and universes to appear, grow, decay and dissolve themselves. When the collective karma which brought them into existence is exhausted, they are to appear again when another collective karma manifest itself.
From the perspective of a deeper glance I was once fortunate enough to have I'd say: when all beings attain Buddhahood, you attain Buddhahood. From a clear(er) perspective, all beings are Buddhas, just as they are.
@Dakini, I guess it depends if you follow the teachings of karma and rebirth and multiple universes and so on. If you limit it only to Earth then sure it doesn't make much sense.
@Bunks, I guess I've arrived at a view that if we go by logic and rational argument, the Buddhist view of no creator God is by no means any more rational as believing in the creator God. The article you quoted has all sorts of underlying beliefs and one of them I guess would be karma and its workings.
@marcitko yes I see your point, in other words, working towards Buddhahood is itself an illusion really, and I don't see why attaining Buddhahood when all beings attain Buddhahood (or vice versa) would be different from solipsism
@SattvaPaul I see. Multiple universes. OK, so the Buddha "knew" something science still, in the 21st Century, hasn't discovered or proven or come up with a plausible theory for: that there are multiple universes. Or maybe that's predicted by Quantum Mechanics.
In any case, it's something that at this point has to be accepted on faith.
@SattvaPaul - true, it will only make sense if you believe in karma and rebirth (which I do).
Then I will gladly move to Monte Carlo or somewhere in the south of France.
It has nothing to do with it but since I am going to be a Buddha I would like to be one while looking at the Mediterranean.
And all the sentient beings lived happily ever after ....
Interesting question however for me it is beyond the realms of my humble understanding and from what "I" gather (no thing is certain)....
So I just practice the Dharma...to reduce/ eventually eliminate unwholesome Karmic impacts which are produced by the clinging aggregates of this psycho-physical being I call the self.... ....
In our experience, we don't find a world in constant flux and change...Rather, we find only 'flux and change', which themselves are what we call the world..."
The world only exists in our minds. The mind can only know what it knows. The earthworm lives in a different world. The Ukrainians are in a world totally different from ours. In fact everyone of us live in the world of our/others making that is only known by our minds or consciousness.
When the world ceases, it ceases only for you. All else is mere conjecture.
Good question. Thay often said the next Buddha could be a community. In my limited ideal, the real work/fun would begin. Like the Zen parables of rivers and mountains and before and after enlightenment, there would be much water to carry, so to speak. We would all realise our true nature of cooperation and work together.
Makes sense @David.
Once in an awakened state, we may experience everyone on their awake/real state. This is a known experience for those breaking the veil of ignorances matrix.
At the very least it means I could stop maintaining this website and enjoy my Buddhahood.
(And he wouldn't have a nagging Moderator.... )
buddha = nagging moderator?
I new it!
The world is still there and so is everybody.
We are sentient beings in samsara, but that is an illusion. In fact, nobody attains buddhahood as it has already been attained. Great. Except that we're still here. Removing the concepts based on duality and being one with the dance of being, how wonderful! Yet, why are we here in the first place? Buddhism doesn't really have an answer to that (yeah I know, simile of the arrow, etc). Some teaching say sentient beings and the world are product of karma, ok. When everybody attains buddhahood, "beings" are here but everything is seen as empty play of illusion. So in a way, no beings are here. It has always been like this. And so we go in circles.
I've heard it said that samsara is beginingless. I can't remember the exact phrasing the Buddha uses. Our day to day world operates under Newtonian physics, so we see something end and we know that it had a beginning. We know that the larger cosmic forces don't always operate in the same way, there's no reason to say that existence couldn't have just always been.
The Buddha became enlightened and he was still there after his awakening. There’s no reason to assume anything would be different after everybody achieved enlightenment…
More time to enjoy interbeing.
"The bees and butterflies are happy because flowers have bloomed on a withered tree."
Then it would be a Golden Land or a Jeweled Land.
Yet, if one buddha accidentally stepped on another buddha's foot, it would still hurt.
The farmers would still farm, the merchants still sell, the birds would still migrate...
Peace to all
I could see it all starting again but not repeating exactly. Shambhala comes to mind until impermanence shows how nirvana can become samsara when mindfulness practice wanes.
I actually do think it is possible. I'm not sure if everyone could be 100% aware and mindful at all times but I do think the truth of Interbeing or "oneness" could be understood by almost anybody if taught at an early age.
It isn't just beliefs or intuition anymore but scientifically understood that we are all connected. Together, we can achieve more and our true nature is a cooperative one. After all, taking away the subjective experience of distinction leaves it all working together.
I sometimes think samsara is growing pains and that even nirvana is empty.
As long as there is the world aka samsara, this world will never be having a lack of unenlightened beings. So there is no need to worry about what happens when everyone becomes a Buddha.
Well said @pegembara
Perspective may change, but the world will not cease to exist.
Unless we live in a Schrödinger’s Universe.
The world depends on perspective. Ever wonder what happens to the world when we go to sleep each night in our direct experience?
However lately I have been wondering why waking reality is more surreal and dreamlike. No wonder the Buddha assured us we do not exist even when awake.
Who creates the world without a perspective? Not the sleeping, dead or unborn? We are thinking ourself into existence?
Tsk, tsk … enough already …
This was really enlightening! Thank you for posting this.
The world itself is a construct of the various karmic perceptual agreements. Without the dualistic karmic vision, there is no world. And without such world, there is no possibility of buddha nature realizing itself (buddha-hood). In short, there would be no world and no being and no more buddhas at that point.
The same question could be asked if suddenly we were all wiped out via any number of catastrophic ordeals. The habitual momentum of the sentient beings at play would again create another perceptual realm, where in which subject and object will construct the apparent solidity of a realm and beings dwelling.