Why does the world(s) exist?


Reading various texts, suttas and meditations, I understand they lead to nibbana and end to rebirth cycle.
One question always remains on my mind is why the world exists, and various worlds exist? and Why we had a first birth to start with in this rebirth cycle?


Unfortunately Buddhism will not give you answers to those questions:

When a noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are, it’s impossible for them to turn back to the past, thinking:
‘Did I exist in the past?
Did I not exist in the past?
What was I in the past?
How was I in the past?
After being what, what did I become in the past?’
Or to turn forward to the future, thinking:
‘Will I exist in the future?
Will I not exist in the future?
What will I be in the future?
How will I be in the future?
After being what, what will I become in the future?’
Or to be undecided about the present, thinking:
‘Am I? Am I not?
What am I?
How am I?
This sentient being—where did it come from?
And where will it go?’
Why is that?
Because that noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are.”
Source: SN12.20

“Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning.
No first point is found of sentient beings roaming and transmigrating, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.


We may need to understand what having cyclical birth and death means. It exists because of ignorance- and how much practice is required to end rebirth.


The Buddha offers no answer. Whether the world had a beginning, or has existed eternally, is a unanswered question, although he does say “no beginning can be discerned.” It seems to me the Buddha regarded the patterns of the samsaric world as a brute and unexplained fact, and focused all his attention on liberation from from that world.


There is an option that it does not have beginning nor end.

Although I can’t imagine it:-)


When put on the spot and asked if the universe served any greater purpose, the Buddha said no. That might be one of the starker differences with Abrahamic religions.


Agreed, Buddha to me was one of the greatest scientists who explained cause and effect relevant to liberation, may be this topic wasn’t relevant for liberation, all those enlightened beings can see all their past lives eons before so such a question is suitable for scientist to explain, and there is always mention of you do good karma and get birth in higher realms of world and otherwise lower.
Who defines those laws and the future and the laws of nature?


Buddha was never interested in knowing and finding “Who defines those laws and the future and the laws of nature?” . Buddha’s teaching’s are humanistic . He teaches only about present moment, at this very moment we are all suffering ,urgency is getting out of this mess created by our own actions. :grinning:


Probably the same no one who defines things like the laws or patterns related to gravity, space and time as described by general theory of relativity. :sweat_smile:

These are just patterns and regularities expected and observed when dependently originated beings interact with each other … suffering just bubbles up from the soup of causes and conditions rooted in lack/absence of vision and fulfillment of the four noble truths and the respect four noble tasks those relate to…


And what, mendicants, is the origin of the world? Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. Feeling is a condition for craving. Craving is a condition for grasping. Grasping is a condition for continued existence. Continued existence is a condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a condition that gives rise to old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. This is the origin of the world. -so on- (Lokasamudaya Sutta SN 35.107)

Different worlds exist because of dependant origination SN12.20 as mentioned by Gabriel untill the cessation of the world.

Reverend, I say it’s not possible to know or see or reach the end of the world by traveling to a place where there’s no being born, growing old, dying, passing away, or being reborn. But I also say there’s no making an end of suffering without reaching the end of the world. For it is in this fathom-long carcass with its perception and mind that I describe the world, its origin, its cessation, and the practice that leads to its cessation. Rohitassa Sutta AN 4.45


These questions are unbeneficial from the perspective of a man who were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison.

Worrying about the unbeneficial is harmful as it leads to fixed views (clinging).

In general, in our daily life, assuming a beginning and/or a purpose to phenomena is built into our language and the way we think. Without awareness, this can cause suffering to humans. For instance, assuming a beginning is integral to the idea of birth which has its social utility. What human beings describe as “birthday” is an assumed beginning when the baby human departs the mother’s body, so he can be perceived by another (born into the reality of conventions) and then we go on and give each other birth certificates, and this reference point becomes a cause for celebration (happy birthday!) :heart_eyes:

Also a beginning is essential to prove ownership (self view). Look at the Arab-Israeli conflict and how much time, energy and killing is happening over who the land belongs to based on who were there first (who is more original). The idea of eternal regress serves to reveal the selectivity (or clinging to subjectivity) among humans. When a theist and an atheist (both are two sides of the same coin) waste their time arguing about whether a god exist or does not exist, the atheist might ask: who created god? using infinite regress to debunk his opponent, he himself cannot help but to assume a beginning when trying to construct a different theory (such as the big bang).

An assumed beginning is necessary for an end, which is necessary for a cause, which is necessary for a purpose. When there is purpose at the level of what is perceived as individual task, then there must be a purpose at a more macro level (the universe, or life) and when this purpose is sought after and never found (why are we here), then humans experience what come to be known as an existential crisis. The lucky ones encounter the Buddha’s teachings and find refuge in it from all this nonsense.


Do you have the specific reference for that? It sounds reasonable, but it would be good to see the sutta.



Isn’t the short answer that the world exists because of avijja, which is the first element in dependent origination (which has been mentioned above)? As long as there’s avijja there are human minds that have not attained nibbana and so there is a world which is the object of those consciousnesses.
Of course one could ask why avijja exists; my understanding is that it exists as long as the hindrances are there (but at the same time avijja appears to cause craving and thus the hindrances, so it’s kind of a circular pattern).


where do I find avijja, in here SN 12.1 SuttaCentral


Hi sumants,

If you go to Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation and turn on line-by-line Pali, and Pali-English lookup you can see:

“And what is dependent origination?
“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamuppādo?

Ignorance is a condition for choices.
Avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā;


Hover over the Pali to see the dictionary entries for the words.