SuttaCentral

Buddha, Sun Red Giant, Metteyya


#1

Buddha -> Vedāna -> Nibbāna.

[ Seven Suns Sermon, “Buddha seeing this world and all worlds”, Buddha’s omniscience, Digha Nikaya 26 & Madhyama Āgama 66, Simsapa Leaves Sermon]

Modern science says our sun will become a Red Giant and may consume our planet during this process. Buddha saw this 2500 years ago as told in his seven suns sermon. Buddha being able to see this far would easily have been able to see another Buddha arising in this worlds future. The reason for there being only 2 references among EBT’s to Metteyya(future Buddha) may be the Simsapa Leaves Sermon. My interpretation of Digha Nikaya 26 & Madhyama Āgama 66 is this: Buddha reveals to a disciple he will attain to Buddhahood in our worlds future, the DN26 is a metaphor to Buddha being the Wheel Turning Monarch and the next Wheel Turning Monarch being Maitreya, DN26 also serves as a metaphor to the monks suggesting what happens if they follow their own ideas and neglect Buddha’s dhamma. The whole 80,000 year lifespan is only used for this metaphorical purpose and is not literal. DN26 also mentions that at this time of Metteyya, Jambudipa(earth) will be very full of people and cities, which is where humanity seems to be going.

I would like feedback from you guys about this.

mettā.


#2

What exactly do you want feedback on? :slight_smile:


#3

Hi Erik, If it is possible to know what Buddha knew and spoke (if he did) about another Buddha in this world. If he could see out into the Red Giant phases of our sun, I’m sure he would be able to see another Buddha appearing before that.

Much mettā friend.


#4

This is foolish unsubstantiated speculation, but I’ve always suspected the Sermon of the Seven Suns being some sort of distantly remembered memory of a minor meteor strike in India, preserved in oral memory among the śramaṇāḥ for an extraordinary number of years and becoming the story of how worlds end, then the Buddha having inherited this story from learning and then teaching in his śramaṇa milieu, or at the very least the oral memory of some ancient celestial catastrophe which people would then imagine future catastrophes would look like.

A minor meteor that approached the earth would look initially like a star, and be briefly bright enough to be seen during the day, like a small sun. Sometimes meteors even break up in the atmosphere, into say seven or so bright parts bringing fire and dryness. Perhaps even something as minor as seven or so Tunguska-like events, but preserved as a very ancient memory prone to exaggeration over time, like the shared mythic archetype of the ancient global flood preserved in Near Eastern cultures. I imagine it would produce a great (burning) wind as well, which also often features in Buddhist apocalypses in general.

But that is just my own pure speculation.

These kinds of apocalypse stories, though not necessarily with the framing device of seven suns and often featuring activities of gods in one way or another, also feature in Hindu cosmologies in as much as they occur between aeons, kalpa/khappa, and generally feature narratives of gradual declines from a peak, be it the decline of the dharma or the degeneration of world and society in the kaliyugakalpa.


#5

Also, there are five planets visible in the sky to the unaided sky. Together with the sun and the moon, that makes seven bodies that wander against the background of the fixed stars, and whose brightness noticeably increases and decreases across time. It would have been natural for people to speculate that all of these bodies are suns, and that a time would come when they were all very close to the earth.


#6

Much metta back to you.

Firstly, I think we cannot be sure that the seven suns sutta is meant to convey the same idea as in modern astronomy.

But let’s say it does, then I still don’t think the Buddha needs to be able to see into the future to make such a prediction. Just like in science, the fate of the sun is inferred from our knowledge about natural phenomena. The Buddha could also have inferred the end of the sun from his knowledge about the natural world or knowledge of previous lives, perhaps.

In any case, the point of the seven suns sutta seems to be that the planet earth itself is impermanent; it will one day dry up, not support life, and eventually burn away.

And modern science does support this fact of impermanence, whether it be through climate change, meteor strikes, gamma ray bursts, galactic collision or the sun turning into a red giant :sun_with_face:

Edit: … mega volcanic eruptions, nuclear war, bio-engineered viruses, chemical weapons, AI takeover?? :robot:


#7

I guess we see the moon and planets in the sky because they reflect the light from the sun.

It seems the sun will get brighter as it ages (in the end so bright the oceans will boil away).

However, would the planets become brighter and more sun-like as the sun grows brighter, because more sunlight is reflected? Will they eventually look like seven suns across the night sky?

That would be an interesting interpretation of the seven suns sutta at least :slight_smile:


#8

I love the Sermon of the Seven Suns. It’s such a powerful message of the truth of impermanence and the importance of right view. Buddhist cosmology is underrated imho.