Did the Buddha know the Earth is round?


What Buddha preach was what he experiences with his own investigation. He was not ashamed to say that he does not know everything. The classic example is that his refusal to answer the question of the beginning of the world. He also said that he will know on a particular point only if he pays attention to it.


Imbibed does not mean a lack of freedom to speak your own mind. I agree with you, the Buddha was a profoundly gifted ‘seer’ of the Dhamma. That which pertains to liberation is a consequence of his direct and immediate knowledge and vision.

But it is also true to say he had a life story before, and after, his awakening. He may have picked up a few ideas about the world from his culture - don’t you think? For instance, slavery was practiced in the Buddha’s life and times - his views about slavery may have been informed by his cultural background?

Some of the other ideas he entertained may also have been ‘derived’ from ideas floating about in his cultural milleu? These may have included ideas about the structure of the universe?

An awakened being can have ideas that are not related to awakening and be ‘awake’ at the same time? Like, what is a good diet or, sugar is a medicine or, female monastics should not sit somewhere higher than male monastics - when in their company. I am not saying the Buddha held all these views - they are just examples of views that awakened beings may have that have nothing to do with awakening.

We can share cultural practices and information with others and also wake up to the way things are - they are not mutually exclusive?


Right speech is the hallmark of Buddha.
He did not speak hearsay.


You seem to be saying the Buddha could never make a mistake or get things wrong? That sounds like omniscience to me and the Buddha did not claim to be omniscient - its in the Suttas. I am not troubled by the thought that the Buddha may have had (opinions and views). Some Buddhists feel that this calls (everything into question). For some, this is a worrying thought!


That’s interesting that he did not answer the question about when the world began - he did give a precise age to the universe and he did say that Samsara was beginingless. This may not be a good example of things he did not claim to know? He may have had another reason for keeping silent? :slightly_smiling_face:


The Buddha said that anyone who tried to work out the origins of the cosmos would experience madness and vexation - it is one of the four imponderables, along with the range of a Buddha, the range of a person absorbed in jhana, and the precise workings of kamma.


Yes, the devil is in the detail - he did not advice that we try to figure out the intricacies of ‘kamma’ - but he did say when the universe began and he did say that sentient beings have been cycling through Samsara since the ‘beginingless beginning’. Yes, he taught that universes come and go - worlds without end. Your a bit off topic? :slightly_smiling_face:


He also clearly said that investigating questions about the duration of the cosmos is not conducive to liberation.


Trying to think of an analogy to the OP question… It’s like a student in 2nd grade, who’s the brightest of his class but is still a 2nd grader nevertheless, and due to his pride in being the brightest, start asking if the teacher nextdoor be able to perform 2 digit additions as good as he does!

Well then, Ānanda, listen and attend closely. I will speak.”
“Yes, Bhante,” the Venerable Ānanda replied. The Blessed One said this:
“A thousand times the world in which the sun and moon revolve and light up the quarters with their brightness is called a thousandfold minor world system. In that thousandfold world system there are a thousand moons, a thousand suns, a thousand Sinerus king of mountains, a thousand Jambudīpas, a thousand Aparagoyānas, a thousand Uttarakurus, a thousand Pubbavidehas, and a thousand four great oceans; a thousand four great kings, a thousand [heavens] of devas [ruled by] the four great kings, a thousand Tāvatiṃsa [heavens], a thousand Yāma [heavens], a thousand Tusita [heavens], a thousand [heavens] of devas who delight in creation, a thousand [heavens] of devas who control what is created by others, a thousand brahmā worlds." ~~ AN 3.80 ~~

And these are just a handful of leaves He showed us. Imagine the forest of leaves He didn’t! ~~ SN 56.31 ~~


I think this thousand means thousands or infinite.


No Buddha did not have views.
That is the pre-requisite to become a Sotapanna.


Actually I am not worry at all.
I am just pointing the teaching the way I understand.
You are welcome to ask question.
It is another special teaching in Buddhism.
I asked a similar question to OP in the past and I will post the link to it later.


Hi Laurence,

Just to confirm something that was raised below by the mention of the Traibhumikatha, in the Pali commentarial tradition also the worlds were conceived of as flat, or rather, as layers oriented around a plane. I don’t think there’s an explicit statement on this in the EBTs, but it might be inferred by a careful study.


Fine, I am not asking a question about the duration of the cosmos - am I? Somebody else brought that up - bless their cotton socks!

There are two things I have been busy with: 1) did the Buddha have any idea about the fact that we are on a spheroidal rock hurtling through space and, 2) is it possible that the Buddha got it wrong when he concluded that ‘Jambudvipa’ was an Island upon’ water? The latter ‘Island upon water’ theory has a long history. The Zoroastrians may also have a version of it, as they are also an ‘Aryan’ religion - as in the Aryan tribe that invaded India.

I also needed to provide an explanation of why the Buddha may have come up with the ‘Island upon water’ theory and, why it is possible for an awakened being to have opinions and pet-theories that do not pertain to awakening - that have nothing to do with the liberating Dhamma.

I am still somewhat mystified as to why any of this seems unreasonable or, untenable?

That is all I have been doing - nothing else as far as I know?


A sotapanna does not have the view that ‘rights and rituals’ can produce awakening. They don’t have personality belief etc. They may have other views and opinions like: the pineapple pizza looks nicer than the green salad or vice versa. They may have the view: this person is an Arahant and He/She is not! They may have the view and opinion: this group of people have stupid beliefs - maybe the born-agains or, the conservative party or, the Moscow women’s lawn tennis association. In contrast, they may think that that group - or individual - is making sense - seeing clearly.

Firstly, try to visualise what a view or opinion is and then decide if a ‘stream enterer’ would have any?

I am not convinced that everyone in this thread has even considered what a view or an opinion actually is? I mean, taken a close look? It would be helpful - they come in many shapes and sizes. :slightly_smiling_face:


Actually, this is a good point.
I created a post but the very poor response so far.:grinning:


@sujato Bhante could you elaborate on this?


Perhaps they did.
But what I like to know is what Buddha said about this.


I believe Ajahn Brahm is fond of the physics theory: the ‘Multiverse’ - this has a layer-cake model in it - multiple universes in a stack with hyperspace sandwiched between them. Xxoo


Unfortunately, sometimes we have to sugar coat the bitter pill.
We have to take everything in context.