Where is Mount Sumeru?

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:44 am

Unfortunately I lost a long reply I wrote to your post Aemilius. I will just summarise briefly as I am short on time.

Jambudvipa is not the world, the world is lokadhatu, Jambudvipa is a continent or "Island of the Rose Apple Tree."

Devas are luminous, the word come from div which means to shine. But they are still form if they are in the rupadhatu.

Berzin is right - check his article, it is very good:
Meru in Abhidharma cosmology = square
Meru in Kalacakra cosmology = round

There could be suns in the hells because the sun in Buddhist cosmology is not the one of science. They exist for many eons, and then burn the earth to a crisp and disappear. Then there is an eon of no sun. Then a sun arises again, and so on for seven suns, after which the world will be completely burned away.

If the hells also are impermenent, they must have a way to burn away. So they may need suns to burn them away also.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:04 am

Thanks!
I can't remember whether Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye also says that Mount Sumeru in Kalachakra geography is round, I read the Myriad Worlds in 1990's. I recall that in his description of Kalachakra World Mandala there hang a series of curtains from the edge of Mount Sumeru. I have understood this to mean the layers clouds in the atmosphere, and the layers of troposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere.

I have read the sutras (and suttas) only in english (or in an other european language), so I can't say what word there is in the original texts. From the context in the sutras it seems that the word Jambudvipa sometimes denotes the whole four continent world, and not just the continent Jambudvipa. And sometimes you get the idea that the other continents are really far away, which has lead, in the past, to the interpretation that they are other planets (!), which is not generally accepted anymore. In the Catusparisad sutra, which belongs to the canon of the Sarvastivada, Buddha visits after his enlightenment the three other continents, and brings from each some fruit or cereals. He visits the other continents by taking one step.

I have read the prophecy of the seven suns, however I don't recall that the present world first disappears before this event of the seven suns takes place. Are You sure about it?

A sun has symbolic and spiritual meaning to it. In scriptures there are miracles where beings in hell suddenly see light, for a short time, because of the merit and spiritual influence of some powerfull person or being. In Amitayur Dhyana Sutra there is a visualisation of six suns appearing under the ground of Sukhavati. When you do this visualisation you feel that the hell producing karma is cleared away completely. Material light and material darkness are not entirely different from symbolic light and symbolic darkness.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:49 pm

Alex Berzin says that 1000 four continent worlds (in the Abdhidharma model) equals a galaxy, 1000 000 of them equals a cluster of galaxies, and 1000 000 000 equals a supercluster of galaxies.
As there are in the Milky Way galaxy from 100 000 000 000 000 to 400 000 000 000 000 suns, it doesn't seem appropriate to say that 1000 four continent worlds equals a galaxy. In the Abhidharma model there is a sun in each four continent world. Milky Way galaxy can contain much more abhidharmic four continent worlds than merely one thousand.
Some galaxies are larger and some are smaller, but they all contain much more suns than is admitted in Berzin's theory. Naturally we can't know, as yet, whether they all have planets around them. In the cosmos there are much larger suns than the sun of our solar system. There could be solar systems with plenty of more planets than is known in our solar system, imagine a solar system with 1000... up to 100 000 planets!
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:41 pm

I guess what I could say is, if it helps you to think of them as the world of science, then go ahead.

There are certainly more than one way to approach Buddhist cosmology.

Personally, I prefer not to think of them like that. But I suppose that's just my preference.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby TaTa » Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:31 am

I dont know if this has been posted but here is the dalai lama talking about mount meru in the first couple of minutes:
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby oldbob » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:58 am

HHDL is a hard act to follow. :bow: :bow: :bow:

Many excellent posts.

But my 2 cents is that it is just symbolic and just used effectively as part of a mental construct in mandala offering, etc.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:39 am

Human language is full of metaphorical expressions, as an example: the head of a needle. It doesn't mean that a needle has a head, like humans and other creatures have heads, and yet it is called the head of a needle. Sometimes the metaphors are misunderstood, they are taken to be literal. The perceived world is interpreted through concepts, that are often metaphors, like the concepts of Mount Sumeru, vault of the sky, daybreak, etc...
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:28 pm

i heard from my friend, i dont know where he read it that the mount meru extends up to the polar star and because it is made of lapis lazuli is the reason why the ocean is blue. :alien:
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:54 am

Interesting, in Dharma though it is said that the daytime sky reflects the colour of one side of mount Sumeru, which is blue, and only one of its four sides is blue.
In fact, the ocean reflects like a mirror the colour of the sky, and it is blue when the sky is blue. On a dark and cloudy day the ocean is grey or dark grey. When it is sunny and the ocean waters are still, you can see the white clouds reflected on it.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:05 am

If we take that Indian subcontinent is Jambudvipa, and in the visual representations its narrow end is toward Mount Meru, then this means that Mount Meru is the South Pole or Antarctica.
Vasubandhu gives in Abhidharmakosa the width of Jambudvipa's narrow end as two yojanas.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:41 am

Aemilius wrote:If we take that Indian subcontinent is Jambudvipa, and in the visual representations its narrow end is toward Mount Meru, then this means that Mount Meru is the South Pole or Antarctica.
Vasubandhu gives in Abhidharmakosa the width of Jambudvipa's narrow end as two yojanas.

Jamudvipa is nowhere textually equated with the Indian subcontinent. Nor is the Indian subcontinent an island.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:34 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
Aemilius wrote:If we take that Indian subcontinent is Jambudvipa, and in the visual representations its narrow end is toward Mount Meru, then this means that Mount Meru is the South Pole or Antarctica.
Vasubandhu gives in Abhidharmakosa the width of Jambudvipa's narrow end as two yojanas.

Jamudvipa is nowhere textually equated with the Indian subcontinent. Nor is the Indian subcontinent an island.


That is an interesting and valid point. This question leads to: How did the view of a four continent world arise? Is it a product of meditative visions, that are connected with the experiental knowledge of indian people?
The Indian subcontinent is nevertheless a subcontinent. Maybe the indians wished to ignore the lands that were north of Indian continent, or they held them to be less important & "uninhibited" border lands, not worth putting on their maps. The whole Four Continent world is open to interpretation. In the Abhidharma literature you can find knowledge about how it was seen in the ancient buddhist countries. For example, they knew that when sun shines on one continent it is nighttime on the opposite side, and dusk and daybreak on the other continents.

Reading the Abhidharmakosha one certainly gets the impression that Vasubandhu is describing the Indian subcontinent, when he writes about Jambudvipa. Some other writers seem to interpret Jambudvipa to mean the whole of our world, i.e. the planet Earth, but then the other three continents become impossble in nature.
Because Jambudvipa is seen in buddhist sutras as the central and most important place to be, the buddhists outside of Indian quite naturally began to see Jambudvipa as including their countries as well. But I think this has not been originally so.

As late as in 1800's and early 1900's people in Tibet, and in other buddhist countries, intrepreted the existing world in terms of the Four Continent world. You can find an example of this in Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye's Encyclopedia; in the book Myriad Worlds, where Lodro Thaye says that there are numerous secondary and tertiary islands scattered around the Four Continents. He must have had some knowledge of the world view that existed in India at that time.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:58 am

Before drawing that conclusion, my suggestion is to apply the theory to the other continents, and read the descriptions of the other continents to see if they match anything we know about the planet.

I believe I live in Jambudvipa and I also believe in the four continents, but that doesn't mean it has to be physically and scientifically true. I think there's a beauty in the Abhidharmic picture of the world which can be captured beyond the confines of the modern mindset.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:46 am

I know very well that the descriptions of the other three continents sound rather fantastic to the modern mind. But for example the knowledge in ancient Chinese encyclopedias about people of distant countries is equally fantastic. And if we consider for example the Tales of Odysseus about his journeys to distant lands, there are some quite fantastic episodes included, though his intention must have been to be as accurate as possible. Similarly in other cultures, when their heroes traveled to distant countries, and then return to tell what they had seen and witnessed. This is a general feature in ancient histories about foreign and distant countries.

Maybe the world has changed, because the people and their minds have changed, and therefore we don't anymore see gigantic one eyed cyclops, or other similar things and beings.

All in all, Jambudvipa is the world that Vasubandhu and the buddhist scholars before him knew personally. It has also been said that the Four Continent map is very old, atleast 10 000 years or even 100 000 years old. Modern european scholars do not accept this kind of view of history, but it still exists. The implication is that the the modern european history is wrong and deluded, it is based on modern day delusions. In the future it may also be discarded as outdated and ignorant rubbish. Who knows?
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:15 pm

So you really don't believe there is any possibility that ancient writers may have had a feeling for metaphor or being artistic and creative? They could only have thought they were accurate and be mistaken or confused in some way?
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:38 am

I don't se any possibility of the kind You imagine. You can try to go back in time to find out and to re-experience how Your present perception of the world has arisen. First relax and then go one year at the time back to your age in primary school and so on... gradually as far back as you can. In this way you should be able to experience how your present view of the outer world has arisen, how it has developed and changed. Try to remember how you were taught to perceive and to imagine the world as such and such. How did You see the world before you were told it is such and such?

In a similar way you can imaginatively go back in time to the previous cultures and experience their mode existence.
This kind of going back in time meditation exists in Buddhism, though it sounds very much New Agey, it is found in the Theravada classic Path of Purity, and also in the Mahayana of the tibetan variety.
You can go imaginatively into the future too, to experience what will Your world be like in future? Be courageous, go and see Your own future and the future world!

Also, You experience a very different outer world every night in your dream state, which you take to be an independent & true outer world.
It is quite certain that different & earlier cultures held, and they still hold, that their perception of the world is factually true, like the mongolian shamanistic world view, and others like that.
Our world view has not ceased to develop, it has not ceased to change, -or rather the plurality of world views that exist on Planet Earth continue to develop.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:21 pm

hi, what are the suggestion of you, the people being active and somewhat knowledgable on mount meru.

i have a question.

i have a prayer in my sadhana that says

may the realms of U, Tsang, Kham , Ngari , Jambudvipa
and all the other three continents and all of theyre subcontinents
( be led along the path by Avalokitesvara
and receive the blessing of taking rebirth in the pure land of sukhavati)

how should i visualize these realms, i only know that Kham is a region in tibet, are also U , Tsang and Ngari.
and what is your opinion, what is jambudvipa. is it meant that its india. and the rest of the continents and theyre subcontinents are part of this earth?

or is it bigger than that, other planets also ? :thinking:

your thoughts are appreciated. thank you :smile:
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Lindama » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:22 pm

it's in your fingers
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:36 pm

KonchokZoepa wrote:hi, what are the suggestion of you, the people being active and somewhat knowledgable on mount meru.

i have a question.

i have a prayer in my sadhana that says

may the realms of U, Tsang, Kham , Ngari , Jambudvipa
and all the other three continents and all of theyre subcontinents
( be led along the path by Avalokitesvara
and receive the blessing of taking rebirth in the pure land of sukhavati)

how should i visualize these realms, i only know that Kham is a region in tibet, are also U , Tsang and Ngari.
and what is your opinion, what is jambudvipa. is it meant that its india. and the rest of the continents and theyre subcontinents are part of this earth?

or is it bigger than that, other planets also ? :thinking:

your thoughts are appreciated. thank you :smile:

In this case you should probably ask your Lama how you should visualise it. Otherwise you could look at diagrams, none of which make it look like Jambudvipa is India.

Let me just clarify what Jambudvipa means. Dvīpa is a compound of dvi+ap. Dvi means two, and ap means waters. This means the waters are separated by the land in question, so it could be an island, a continent, or a peninsula - but the commentaries on Abhidharma always explain that it is an island. Jambu refers to a Jambu Tree, or Syzygium cumini, which the commentaries explain is a giant tree at the centre of the island which is 100 yojanas tall, i.e. 800 miles tall. So the word means the Island of the Jambu Tree.

The island is 48,000 miles (6,000 yojanas, assuming a yojana is 8 miles) in perimeter according to the Sarvastivada tradition (which is accepted in the Tibetan tradition) - which is not by any stretch of the imagination India, which is only, in a liberal estimate, about 5,000 miles in perimeter. On the other hand, if you trace a perimeter around all of the continents on earth, you get around 40,000 miles. A yojana is given as about 5-8 miles variously, so 40,000 is right in the ball park. It is thus obvious that by Jambudvipa we are not referring to India, but to all of this world. The planet taken as a whole, and squashed into a flat triangle and placed in an ocean, would fit the description of Jambudvipa perfectly. After all, the other continents in the Abhidharmic worldview cannot be the same as our "other continents" because they now have the Buddhadharma - which only exists in Jambudvipa according to Buddhist cosmology. This only lends further credence to the fact that our world taken as a whole is Jambudvipa.

Once again, visualise how your lama recommends, but I like to visualise it like a cartoon image description of precisely how the commentaries describe it, complete with the mythical beings and immense trees.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:07 pm

Zhen Li wrote:This only lends further credence to the fact that our world taken as a whole is Jambudvipa.
.


The main thing which upsets this theory is that Ptolemy knew and mentions the Uttarakurus in his geography.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uttarakuru

It is pretty clear Jambudvipa refers to India, before the Sarvastivadins got out of hand. They were competing with Jains and Hindus in the cosmology game.
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