Now the Buddha has related the story of this great earth in some
discourses. But it is not an account of a scientific experiment, as our
modern day scientists would offer. The Buddha describes how this great
earth came up and how it gets destroyed in order to drive home into our
minds the impermanence of the very stage on which we enact our
samsāric drama, thereby inculcating an attitude of disenchantment and
dispassion, nibbidā and virāga.
These sankhāras, pertaining to our drama of existence on this gigantic
stage, the earth, get deeply imprinted in our minds. They sink deep as
latencies to perception, productive of existence. It is to eradicate them that
the Buddha has placed before us the story of this great earth in some
discourses. By far the best illustration comes in the Aggaññasutta of the Dīgha Nikāya. SuttaCentral
Billions and billions of years passed until the earth assumed its present
shape and appearance with all its gigantic mountains, rocks and buildings.
But then, in the Sattasuriyasutta of the Anguttara Nikāya,
[https://suttacentral.net/an7.66] the Buddha
describes what happens to this great earth at the end of the aeon.
As the holocaust draws near, a second orb of the sun appears, and then
a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh. The great earth in its
entirety, together with its mountains and rocks, goes ablaze, becoming just
one huge flame of fire, consuming all before it without leaving any ash or
soot, like in a spot where oil or ghee had burnt. So here we have no room
for any atomism. In conclusion the Buddha brings out the true aim and
purpose of this discourse.
“So impermanent, monks, are preparations, so unstable, monks, are
preparations, so unsatisfying, monks, are preparations. So much so,
monks, this is enough to get disenchanted with preparations, this is
enough to get dispassionate with them, this is enough to get released from