Thursday, April 28, 2016

Buddhist Paradiseology or Buddhist Edenology

This is just for pure fun. Every language, culture, or religion may have its own words and concept of paradise or heaven. Buddhism is no exception. In course of time, it has developed various notions of paradise or heaven. By the way, nivāṇa is not a paradise or heaven. There are, in general, concepts of higher realms” and “lower realms,” “good or happy existences” and “bad or miserable existences,” “worldly spheres” and “Buddhaic spheres,” “pure realms” and “impure realms,” and so forth. Impure realms are usually said to be karmically produced, whereas pure realms may be produced through the previous resolutions of certain Buddhas and which serve as kinds of temporary stations of relief that would enable one to pursue one’s onward journey towards becoming a buddha. Not all higher realms are heavenly realms. Human realm, for example, is a higher realm but not a heavenly or celestial realm. Not all lower realms are hellish realms (be they hyperthermic or hypothermic hells). Animalic realm is a lower realm but not a hellish realm. Paradisical realm of the Buddha Amitābha is called Sukhāvatī (“[Realm] Endowed with Bliss].” Based on East-Asian tradition and sources, it came to be known as the “Pure Land of Amitābha,” and the Buddhist tradition that is associated with it is known as “Pure-Land Buddhism,” although one is tempted to call it “Land-of-Bliss Buddhism” instead. In the Tibetan tradition, there is no such a thing “Sukhāvatī Buddhism” although followers of each school might believe that birth in the Sukhāvatī is a possible (albeit only temporary) option. Paradisical realm of a Buddha is not limited to that of Buddha Amitābha alone. Akṣobhya and the like, too, have their own paradisical realms. Tārā, too, has her own paradisical realm. Padmasambhava’s paradisical realm is very popular among his followers. In the end, we also encounter the idea that heaven or hell is one’s own projection or construction, and thus one should rather aspire to cleans one’s own intellectual emotional defilements and other obscurations. Such a paradisical realm in Buddhism may be called a “Buddhist Elysian Field” or “Buddhist Elysium” or “Buddhist Edenic Abode.” The theory or study of paradise-like realms or spheres in Buddhism may be called “Buddhist Paradiseology” or “Buddhist Edenology.” Just a random thought!

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