Author Topic: Buddhism and evolution  (Read 2093 times)

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Offline ~ Cerberus ~

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Buddhism and evolution
« on: September 24, 2007, 11:55:23 PM »
Since Buddhists do not believe in the existence of a supreme god or creator of the universe, a common question asked of Buddhism is How does the universe come to be, if not by the will of god?

what are your thoughts ?
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Offline Sudeera

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Re: Buddhism and evolution
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2007, 09:37:09 PM »
THanx cerberus for starting this topic, cause it made me read alot.
In Aggagngna suttra, buddha explains about evolution ,buddhism is more oriented towards philosophy , I found thisarticle in wikipedia and I found it very interesting , (googled it !)

" The Buddha typically retained a pointed silence in regard to these sorts of questions, so much so that at one point he was directly asked how the universe and life came to be and simply refused to answer. This refusal to answer should not be interpreted to imply ignorance-- there were competing theories at the time which the Buddha had undoubtedly heard of. Rather, this non-response is usually understood to mean that the question is irrelevant to Buddhist theory. One does not need to know the origin of life, nor agree with Buddha's position on scientific topics, in order to become awakened.

However, there is one scripture in which the Buddha does appear to give a highly detailed answer to this issue. This is the Agga˝˝a Sutta, found in the Pali Canon, in which the Buddha, speaking to the monk Vasettha, a former Brahmin, states the following:

    "There comes a time, Vasettha, when, after the lapse of a long, long period, this world died. And when this happens, beings have mostly been reborn into the Realm of Radiance [as devas]; and there they dwell, made of mind, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, traversing the air, continuing in glory; and thus they remain for a long, long period of time. There comes also a time, Vasettha, when sooner or later this world begins to re-evolve. When this happens, beings who had deceased from the World of Radiance usually come to life as at that time, all had become one world of water, dark, and of darkness that maketh blind. No moon nor sun appeared, no stars were seen, nor constellations, neither was night manifest nor day, neither months nor half-months, neither years nor seasons, neither female nor male. Beings were reckoned just as beings only. And to those beings, Vasettha, sooner or later after a long time, earth with its savours was spread out in the waters, even as a scum forms on the surface of boiled milky rice that is cooling, so did the earth appear."

Because the Buddha seems to present a model of cosmology wherein the universe expands and contracts over extremely long periods of time, this description has been found by some to be consistent with the expanding universe model and Big Bang. The Buddha seems to be saying here that the universe expands outward, reaches a stabilising point, and then reverts its motion back toward a central point resulting in its destruction, this process again to be repeated infinitely. Throughout this expanding and contracting process, the objects found within the universe undergo periods of development and change over a long stretch of time, according to the environment in which they find themselves. Following this passage above, the Buddha goes on to say that the "beings" he described in this paragraph become attached to an earthlike planet, get reborn there, and remain there for the duration of the life. As a consequence of this, physical characteristics change and evolutionary changes takes place. This is often interpreted as a very rough theory of evolution. Furthermore, the Agga˝˝a Sutta presents water as pre-existent to earthlike planets, with the planet forming with water and the life moving from the water onto the earth. Buddha does not talk about a specific earth, but about earthlike planets in general.

The Agga˝˝a Sutta is often regarded with great reverence for an apparent theory about cosmology which predated similar theories in western science by well over two thousand years.

"The Buddha argued that there is no apparent rational necessity for the existence of a creator god because everything ultimately is created by mind. There is no direct experience involved and no rational necessity. Belief in a creator is not essential to a religion based on phenomenology. Since belief in a creator is not necessary, a particular theory about life and the cause of the universe is also not necessary. Some of Buddhas famous last words were "Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All conditioned things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Try to accomplish your own liberation with diligence". By this the Buddha meant that no one should believe a single word of what he had told them. They should go out into the world and experience it."


I dont believe in a supreme power, simply because there is no evidence I can witness by my self, I cant see , feel or hear this power which is explained in many ways in many religions
from our childhood we've been taught that we should not believe something just because some one taught us , preached or bcoz our elders believd in it but one should always witness it by himself through observation and research. 
An I believe I my self should bare all responsibilities for the consequences of my actions.  Most of all we have freedom to think for our selves to have complete autonomy on what we want to learn, what we should believe.
We dont use the religion as an excuse, if some one does something bad , its bad, we can not be excused for our sins.
Best way to attract others is to keep your self Cool when others are hot at u !

Offline ~ Cerberus ~

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Re: Buddhism and evolution
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2007, 11:45:49 PM »
Excellent reference Sigiri,

Darwin showed how life began as a unicellular organism in the oceans and evolved by gradual stages and provided scientific evidence in support of his thesis. This established that all animals had a common origin and evolved from one species to another due to biological changes.

Buddha's teaching agree with Darwin's theory of Evolution and Natural Selection to a certain extent. Buddha teaches that all beings, by their instinctual will to survive, continuously evolve either into higher (and more intelligent) life forms or "de-evolve" into lower life forms (through the force of Karma - in a single life or through rebirth). This carries on indefinitely till one attains the highest state of evolution, becoming a Buddha - having fully evolved both mentally and physically.

The Buddha's account of how life arose and developed in out world is also similar to parts of the Darwin theory. As Sigiri mentioned, In the Aganna Sutta, the Buddha relates the becoming and re-becoming of the Universe over a period of countless millions of years in relation to the evolution of Human Beings, the arising of good and evil in society, and how such a society progressed. The Buddha also taught on how the first life formed on the surface of the water of the Earth, and again, over countless millions of years, evolved from simple to complex organisms. All these processes are without beginning or end, and are set in motion by natural causes.

Buddha's teachings on how the previous Universe ended and stabilized, re-evolved and re-stabilized with the appearance of the beings of the different planes of existence is recorded in the Brahmajala Sutta.

Here are the English Translations

The Agganna Sutta
The Brahmajala Sutta

Also here's a pretty good article from Budusarana on the same topic
« Last Edit: September 26, 2007, 11:48:01 PM by ~ Cerberus ~ »
"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the world together."

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Re: Buddhism and evolution
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2007, 12:42:13 AM »
thank you guys for the links... esp the english translations are usefull to me cos I understand it better than in sinhala :D