Illustration of cosmological objects (with help of AN 3.80)

Let me illustrate the Theravada cosmological object fitting current scientific knowledge. & and also consistent across the various suttas.


  • Buddha power range for the voice: Milky way (Galaxy)
  • Disciple power range for the voice: 1000x solar system

Taking in cosideration

  • Not every star have earth like habitable planet
  • Milky Way contains between 100 and 400 billion stars
  • There could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs within the Milky Way.
  • Cosmological distances of heavenly realms


AN 3.80 Ab­hibhū

Translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Then the Ven­er­able Ān­anda approached the Blessed One … … and said to him:

“Bhante, in the pres­ence of the Blessed One I heard this; in his pres­ence I learned this: ‘Ab­hibhū, a dis­ciple of the Blessed One Sikhī, while staying in the brahmā world, con­veyed his voice throug­hout a thousand­fold world system.’
How far, Bhante, can the Blessed One, the Ara­hant, the Per­fectly En­lightened One con­vey his voice?”

“He was a dis­ciple, Ān­anda. The Tathāgatas are im­meas­ur­able.”

A se­cond time the …
A third time …

“Have you heard, Ān­anda, about a thousand­fold minor world system?”

“It is the time for this, Blessed One. It is the time for this, For­tu­nate One. The Blessed One should speak. Having heard this from the Blessed One, the bhikkhus will re­tain it in mind.”

“Well then, Ān­anda, listen and at­tend closely. I will speak.”

“Yes, Bhante,” the Ven­er­able Ān­anda replied. The Blessed One said this:

(1) “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.

(2) “A world that is a thousand times a thousand­fold minor world system is called a thousand-to-the-se­cond-power mid­dling world system.

(3) A world that is a thousand times a thousand-to-the-se­cond-power mid­dling world system is called a thousand-to-the-third-power great world system. Ān­anda, the Tathāgata can con­vey his voice as far as he wants in a thousand-to-the-third-power great world system.”

“But in what way, Bhante, can the Tathāgata con­vey his voice as far as he wants in a thousand-to-the-third-power great world system?”

“Here, Ān­anda, the Tathāgata suf­fuses with his ra­di­ance a thousand-to-the-third-power great world system. When those be­ings per­ceive that light, then the Tathāgata projects his voice and makes them hear its sound. It is in such a way, Ān­anda, that the Tathāgata can con­vey his voice as far as he wants in a thousand-to-the-third-power great world system.”

When this was said, the Ven­er­able Ān­anda said to the Blessed One: “It is my good for­tune! I am very for­tu­nate that my Teacher is so power­ful and mighty.”…


Perception of past lives beyond the Big Bang…

DN1:1.32.3: That is: one eon of the cosmos contracting and expanding; two, three, four, five, or ten eons of the cosmos contracting and expanding. They remember: ‘There, I was named this, my clan was that, I looked like this, and that was my food. This was how I felt pleasure and pain, and that was how my life ended. When I passed away from that place I was reborn somewhere else. There, too, I was named this, my clan was that, I looked like this, and that was my food. This was how I felt pleasure and pain, and that was how my life ended. When I passed away from that place I was reborn here.’ And so they recollect their many kinds of past lives, with features and details.

ME: Has anybody seen my phone?


Current View of Science on the Universe

Dark matter is a form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about a quarter of its total energy density. Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects that cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think that dark matter is abundant in the universe and that it has had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and so it is undetectable by existing astronomical instruments.[1]
Dark matter - Wikipedia

What Is Dark Energy?
More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe.
Dark Energy, Dark Matter | Science Mission Directorate

Laniakea: Our home supercluster

this explanation and illustration about Hindu cosmology is also very interesting…



To put this in path context, it constitutes recollection of the Buddha, serving to inspire a mind lacking energy. “World” means the conditioned world or cosmos:

[1] “There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: ‘Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.’ At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.”—AN 11.13

Even when recollecting the Buddha, the aim is to gain a sense of the dhamma. This is in preparation for stream-entry where the dhamma eye is opened. So the main aim of practitioners should be to gain a sense of the dhamma as a foil or parallel to conventional reality.

“unexcelled as a trainer”
The pedagogical skill of the Buddha largely goes unrecognized. Many of the illustrations of distances, or of time (for example immediate awakening) are given not literally, but to drive home points in the lesson at hand.

1 Like

I would like to have your opinion on these “historical-cosmological” (or mythical) suttas :thinking: :

How do you understand them in your attempt to reconcile Buddhist cosmology with modern science?



This is higlhy misleading [quote=“paul1, post:4, topic:17393”]
The pedagogical skill of the Buddha largely goes unrecognized. Many of the illustrations of distances, or of time (for example immediate awakening) are given not literally, but to drive home points in the lesson at hand.

All smilies using number by the Buddha are literal or at least best approximation of reality. As Tathāgata cannot lie, if he say it is such and such it is such and such. Otherwise he need to use proper word saying that it is approximate, or similar as to imply it is not literal.


Any specific question? I mean those suttas are quite self explanatory.

It’s important to understand that these realms exist as dimensions of consciousness and not as physical planes. By characterizing the celestial realms as being progressively “higher” and more refined levels of existence, and the ghostly realms as being correspondingly “lower”, the purely spiritual nature of consciousness is erroneously given a material standard. The terms “going up” and “going down” are conventional figures of speech, referring to the movement of physical bodies. These terms have very little in common with the flow of consciousness, whose subtle motion is beyond temporal comparisons. Physically moving up and down requires a deliberate exertion of effort. But when the mind gravitates to higher or lower realms of consciousness, direction is merely a metaphor and involves no effort.

When saying that the heavens and the brahma worlds are arranged vertically in a series of realms, this should not be understood in the literal sense — such as, a house with many stories. These realms exist as dimensions of consciousness, and ascent is accomplished spiritually, by attuning the mind’s conscious flow to a subtler vibration of consciousness. They are ascended in the figurative sense, by a spiritual means: that is, by the heart which has developed this sort of capability through the practices of generosity, moral virtue and meditation. By saying that hell is “down below”, one does not mean going down, physically, into an abyss. Rather, it refers to descent by spiritual means to a spiritual destination. And those who are able to observe the heavens and the realms of hell do so by virtue of their own internal spiritual faculties.

For those skilled in the mysteries of the samādhi, psychic communication is as normal as any other aspect of human experience. Arising from the flow of consciousness, the essential message is transmitted in the language of the heart as fully-formed ideas, which the inquiring individual understands as clearly as if they were words in conventional language. Each thought current emanates directly from the heart, and so conveys the mind’s true feelings, and precise meaning, eliminating the need for further clarification. Verbal conversation is also a medium of the heart; but its nature is such that spoken words often fail to reflect the heart’s true feelings, so mistakes are easily made in communicating its precise intent. This incongruity is eliminated by using direct heart-to-heart communication.


1 Like

If you can list the similarities and differences. I will be really glad to see that. I research that topic extensively. And I can drawn this conclusion:

“Don’t mix it with Hinduism cosmology, as there are some similarities - there are many differences and wrong information. This is not bringing any merit to help us to understand Theravada cosmology - it will just it make the common reader more confused.”

The point of the sutta is drawn pictures of the word system…and groups of world system, not to focus on individual celestial realms… there are better Suttas out there which go extensively in this topic. This is not the point of this post.

Maybe later I can post complete cosmological map including celestial realms, rupa / arupa Brahma realms. But I’m not satisfied with my research. Samadhi will be definitely a big advantage with this kind research. :sweat_smile: :zipper_mouth_face:

1 Like

I thought this topic was to make an illustration about Buddhist cosmology, using a galaxy as a comparison … and the opinion of current science.

AN 3.80 Abhibhū is talking about celestial kingdoms.

In the Suttas we have many details of this cosmology and many of these details are similar to Hindu cosmology.


Please see my reaction to your post, in the post above: Illustration of cosmological objects (with help of AN 3.80)

I don’t know why it gives there, and not bellow.

1 Like

Reading your post more carefully, I realized that there is a lot of logic using the details of the Suttas. I think your reasoning is correct.

I was the one who rushed and immediately imagined many galaxies.


1 Like

The reason the Buddha hesitates to answer Ananda’s question, is because it deals with a subject within conditioned experience and therefore of secondary importance:

“I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.”—AN 4.45

I see you are confused with concepts.

The post is about world system and systems witch are 3 x exponent of such word system …not about cosmos or entire universe… or as you are referring to whole Samsara.
I mean I put many pictures there…with hope that it will 100% clear :smiley:

The post is only explaining small slice of Cosmos.

And I see no hesitation there, it is standard in Canon to repeat question 3 times.

That’s sooo mind blowing, thank you :anjal: