Can there be more than one Buddha in the cosmos at one time?

Hello Friends and Venerables

I was rereading Ven. Bodhi’s translation of the Pāsarāsisutta and when I got to the stanzas from the Buddhas conversation with Ājīvaka Upaka it created a question for me.

I have no teacher, and one like me
Exists nowhere in all the world
With all its gods, because I have
No person for my counterpart.

I am the Accomplished One in the world,
I am the Teacher Supreme.
I alone am a Fully Enlightened One
Whose fires are quenched and extinguished.

So before there were Arahants from the dispensation of the dhamma I’m assuming the only person who could compare to the Buddha is another Buddha. Meaning there couldn’t be other Buddhas in the cosmos teaching the dhamma?

Maybe there was a time the Adi-Buddha chose to become Enlightened, before, holding a Provisional Buddhahood, becoming the First Adi-Buddha.

But then through Infinite Space, More Came!

If he means he’s the only Buddha in this world system then it leaves out other world systems.

Yes but it may have been a matter of Time as He Enlightened Others. He doesn’t mention being the Only Buddha forever. For example in Tibetan Buddhism there is a reference for Buddhas to access certain Other Buddhas’ minds, as if it were a Single Buddha Vehicle (Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Theravada seen as One Buddha Vehicle, the Ekayana.)

No. MN 115 says:

They understand: ‘It’s impossible for two perfected ones, fully awakened Buddhas to arise in the same solar system at the same time.

‘Aṭṭhānametaṁ anavakāso yaṁ ekissā lokadhātuyā dve arahanto sammāsambuddhā apubbaṁ acarimaṁ uppajjeyyuṁ, netaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti;

But it is possible for just one perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha, to arise in one solar system.’

‘ṭhānañca kho etaṁ vijjati yaṁ ekissā lokadhātuyā eko arahaṁ sammāsambuddho uppajjeyya, ṭhānametaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti.

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Well, “arise” certainly doesn’t disqualify “Coexist”.

Hi. To me, “arise” refers to one Buddha. “Coexist” refers to fully enlightened disciples of the one Buddha. For example, if a person believes Jesus or the Dalai Lama is a “Buddha”, they are in reality merely disciples of the one original Buddha. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Well keep Meditating on the Dhamma and holding Suttas Dear. If you truly want to attain the Perfection of an Arhat, let no one stop you!


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In the EBTs is there any notion of other world systems?


Good question. Im not really sure. But whatever the case multiple world systems became the standard view in Indian Buddhism shortly after as far as I know.

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When the EBTs refer to past Buddhas, eons in the past, is Northern India the only geographical location for these past Buddhas? :saluting_face:

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AN3.80 has some info on world systems.


Yes, I’m familiar with the sutta, but it’s not clear to me whether the smaller-sized lokadhātus were conceived as (1) entirely distinct from each other, or (2) component worlds contained within the largest-sized “thousand-to-the-third-power great world system”.

If #2, then the question of whether a world-system of the latter sort was originally conceived as singular or plural remains open.


It is generally agreed in buddhist tradition that two Buddha can not arise in the same lokadhatu (world system) at the same time.

Lokadhatu has many interpretation, the traditional description equate it with 10^9 sun - moon - earth.

The commentary that I read, but now I forget the name, explain the reason why:

  • The world cant support the might of two Buddha
  • If two Buddha arise at the same time, people might compare them
  • One will trust one Buddha and disrespect the other one.

On the other hand, the criteria of the same world system create an exception: There may be more Buddha outside this world system. This is the argument that create the basis of many other Buddha in later Buddhism.

The treatise Maha Prajna Paramita Sastra commented:

Thus, a sūtra has said that “two Buddhas cannot appear together in the same world”, but by ‘the same world’ the sūtra does not mean to designate all the universes of the ten directions. The sūtra also says that “two cakravartin kings are not found in the world together”; it does not mean to say that two cakravartin kings cannot coexist in the same trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu; it says only that two cakravartin kings cannot coexist in the same cāturdvīpaka (universe of four continents). It is necessary to aquire very pure merit (punyaviśuddhi) in order to reign over the entire world without encountering a rival [as is the case for the cakravartins]. If there were two kings [in the same world]. that would mean that their merit was not pure. Similarly, although the Buddhas have no feeling of jealousy (īrṣyā) one against the other, over lifetimes they have accomplished such pure actions that they cannot both appear in the same world (lokadhātu), namely, in the same trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu consisting of a a million Mount Sumerus, a million suns and moons

In the Tsa a han king (Saṃyuktāgamasūtra),[15] it is said: “When it is pouring rain, the rain drops (bindu) are so close together that they cannot be counted. It is the same for the universes (lokadhātu). In the east (pūrvasyāṃ diś), I see innumerable beings born, subsisting and perishing. Their number is very great, defying calculation. It is the same in the ten directions. In these universes of the ten directions, innumerable beings undergo the threefold physical suffering (kāyaduḥkha), old age (jarā), sickness (vyādhi) and death (maraṇa); the threefold mental suffering, desire (rāga), hatred (dveṣa) and ignorance (moha); and the threefold suffering of rebirth (punarbhavaduḥkha), rebirth among the damned (naraka), the pretas and animals (tiryagyoni). All of these universes have three types of men, inferior (avara), middling (madhya) or [126a] superior (agra). Inferior men are attached (sakta) to present happiness, middling men to future happiness, superior men seek the Path; they are filled with loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā) and have pity for beings.” When the causes and conditions [necessary for the coming of a Buddha] are present, why would the effect, [namely, the coming of a Buddha] not be produced? The Buddha has said: “If there were no sickness, old age and death, Buddhas would not appear.”[16] That is because when one sees people tormented by old age, sickness and death, one makes the resolution (praṇidhāna) to become Buddha in order to save all beings, cure their mental illnesses and take them out of the pain of rebirths. Now, precisely these universes of the ten directions show all the causes and conditions required for the coming of a Buddha (buddhaprādurbhāva). How can you say that our universe is the only one to have a Buddha and the others do not? You merit as little credence as the person who says: “Here there is wood, but there is no fire; the ground is wet, but there is no water.” It is the same for the Buddha. These beings suffer the pains of old age, sickness and death in their bodies; their minds are subject to the sicknesses of desire (rāga), hatred (dveṣa) and ignorance (moha); the Buddha appears in the world to destroy this threefold suffering and introduce beings into the triple vehicle (yānaytraya). How could the Buddha not appear in all the universes where this suffering exists? It would be wrong to say that s single remedy (agada) is enough to cure numberless blind people (andhapuruṣa) [and consequently, a single Buddha to cure numberless beings]. Therefore the Buddhas of the ten directions must necessarily exist.

their arguments can be read fully in Act 9.2: Examination of the plurality of Buddha


This makes me wonder, what’s a good source for the cosmology of early Buddhism? The later Abhidharma cosmology is well known, but it seems the early buddhist one is not so well worked out. Is there any good scholarly source for this ?

I think DA 30 is the earliest source aside from a few isolated bits and pieces in suttas and agamas. The Chinese translated that sutra several times over the course of a few centuries, DA 30 being the second earliest of them, and all four translations are clearly of the same text. It seems to be the earliest witness to what was incorporated into the Sarvastivada’s Abhidharma. There’s not that much in DA 30 about worlds and world systems, though. It’s mostly about our world. It has the same basic definition of a billion-world system that we find in the suttas near the outset of Chapter 1:

The Buddha told the monks, “Just as one sun and moon orbit the four continents and shine their light on them, there are a thousand such worlds. In a thousand worlds, there are a thousand suns and moons, a thousand Sumeru mountain kings, four thousand continents, four thousand great continents, four thousand oceans, four thousand great oceans, four thousand nāgas, four thousand great nāgas, four thousand garuḍas, four thousand great garuḍas, four thousand unpleasant destinies, four thousand great unpleasant destinies, four thousand kings, four thousand great kings, seven thousand great trees, eight thousand great hells, ten thousand great mountains, a thousand King Yamas, a thousand four god kings, a thousand Trāyastriṃśa Heavens, a thousand Yama Heavens, a thousand Tuṣita Heavens, a thousand Nirmāṇarati Heavens, a thousand Paranirmitavaśavartin Heavens, and a thousand Brahma Heavens. This is a small thousand worlds.

“Like one small thousand worlds, a thousand of those small thousand worlds are a medium thousand worlds. Like one medium thousand worlds, a thousand of those medium thousand worlds are a triple-thousand great thousand worlds. Such worlds revolve around as they form and are destroyed. The sentient beings that inhabit them are called a single Buddha realm.”

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