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  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

Multiple dimensional world view of Buddhism

Today, we are living in this world, on planet earth, more or less believing we are the only living civilized beings in this Universe. Is that really so? I have always thought that the Universe is filled with wonder and there must be much more diverse living existences we humans haven't yet encountered. Maybe we have not developed enough technology or the Consciousness levels are not the we won't vibrate at the same frequency to actually have contacts each other..

According to Buddhism, the descriptions of the Universe, multiple dimensional worlds are quite clear in many texts and paintings. "Mandalas" are nothing but the reality of the true world in 2D forms. Such things were written or painted by those who had seen the Truth by their direct insight or experiences.

The Great Buddha (DAIBUTSU (大仏)) in Todai-ji Temple in Nara represents the Vairocana Buddha, (not the historical figure, Shakyamuni Buddha who was born in India as a Prince, and became the founder of Buddhism).

Virocana, in Sanskrit, literally means "Shining Light of the Universe". Just as the sun shines on every corner of the Universe, this largest bronze Buddha statue in the world was made with strong wish that the light of the Virocana, the Buddha's love, wisdom, compassion illuminates the entire Universe and shines upon all living beings.

The Great Buddha is seated in the lotus position (closs-legged) on a lotus flower, and the lotus flower consists of 56 petals and is nearly 3 meters high.

Each petals are illustrated with an amazing intricate hairline engraving called "the Lotus Flower World", and is a representation of Shakamuni's enlightened vision of the universe, described in the Kegon sutra.

According to The Kegon-sutra:

Virocana Buddha sitting on a lotus flower of 1,000 petals.

Each petal represents one world and each world is said to have *10 billion nations.

Shakamuni Buddha, is the incarnation of the Virocana Buddha appears in each world, teaching as he sits on a lotus flower of 1,000 petals.

He also appears in the form of Bodhisattvas in order to save people.

Thus, the entire Universe is enveloped in the light of the Virocana Buddha,

as he sits above all worlds and their *10 trillion nations.

( *Here, the number “10 billion” or “10 trillion” means infinity,

representing the vastness of the universe).

I think the description of the grand cosmology in this ancient sutra is very similar to the actual state of our Universe, which consists of a Milky Way Galaxy and a solar system. In addition, according to the modern space sicentists' theory, there are as many as hundred billion galaxies in the Universe, and the Universe itself is constantly expanding.

Everything in the world interacts.

Each individual is not in an isolated existence, but is infinitely interconnected to all that surrounds it.

And, all things constitute the body of the Virocana Buddha.

This Buddhist teachings did not contradict with the widely shared Shinto cosmology by the most Japanese during Nara period, who did not know anything about Buddhism. In Shintoism, every living being has spirit in it, thus holy.

The Great Buddha, or Virocana statue of Todai-ji Temple in Nara was built to symbolically represent the grand Universe, filled with Buddha's love, wisdom and light.

So, when we stand before the Great Buddha, we are facing the Universe itself while being embraced by its light!

It was by the Emperor Shomu who wished to gather people's hearts to build a strong country blessed by both Buddhas and kami (Japanese Shinto deities) in the time of great difficulties and chaos in the 8th century.

(Reference :"Nara, A Historical Walking Guide" p80, 82 )

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