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How are the elements of Buddhist Cosmology (31 planes of existence, hungry ghosts/shades, angry deities, etc.) confirmed?

Are there writings of recent gurus in the past 50 years or so, confirming, questioning or analyzing the elements of this cosmology in the light of modern science and their own experience?

Other than faith in the ancient texts, is there any other basis for modern Buddhists to believe in Buddhist Cosmology? If so, what is that basis?

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    Nothing can be proven or confirmed to the world about Buddhist experience because it is experience. The ideal mind in Buddhism is a wise and compassionate mind not an intellectual mind, not that an intellectual mind isn't of value sometimes. – Lowbrow Sep 12 '15 at 19:27
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    Many of these can be answered with references back to metaphorical interpretations, by both traditional lineages and by the modern secular Buddhism movement. If I were you I would ask questions about the meaning behind the metaphorical language and how it can be applied to solve the problems of life and death. By 1) insisting on literal interpretation and then 2) going against it -- you get yourself into a dead end AND you hurt the feelings of people who take the teaching as is AND you make it very hard for people like me who don't take the teaching literally to help you. Why do this then? – Andrei Volkov Sep 13 '15 at 15:23
  • @Andrei Volkov - Do I hear you saying that the cosmology is full of metaphorical imagery, not to be taken literally? Please clarify. If that is indeed your position, then I would like to ask you questions about the meaning behind the metaphorical language, and how it can be applied to solve the problems of life and death. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 13 '15 at 15:53
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    Yes, that is what I'm saying. Go ahead with your questions. By the power of all merits accumulated through the three times, may all beings benefit. – Andrei Volkov Sep 13 '15 at 16:01
  • @AndreiVolkov Thanks! But instead of continuing our conversation here, I will post these queries about the metaphorical meanings as separate questions. I look forward to your insightful answers. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 13 '15 at 16:11
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Buddha's response to such questions has been that whether or not other worlds exist, his teaching is still beneficial if applied in practice.

So, for example, if it is said that acting on an extreme negativity-rooted-in-confusion leads to hell, whether the hell is taken literally as a place you go to or metaphorically as a highly disagreeable state of subjective experience, in either case it is something a sane person would definitely prefer to avoid, and so refraining from acting out one's negativity rooted in confusion should be beneficial in either case.

While I personally lean towards a more "secular" view, I feel that by shifting my focus from the metaphysics ("how things are") and towards soteriological methodology ("how to act towards Bodhi") I can avoid hurtful and non-productive arguments in the public space.

  • I have posed some questions about metaphorical meanings, and am eagerly awaiting your answers. I owe you an explanation for my general line of questioning - not only on this forum, but generally in life, I believe that very real harm is done to mankind as a whole (and the common man in particular) when superstition & dogma flourish under cover of religion, commerce, healing, etc. And I firmly hold that by lancing superstitions and by promoting rational thought, one renders a very real service to society. By doing this, one defends the common man who cannot defend himself. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 13 '15 at 16:45
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    @KrishnarajRao I think it is worth considering both halves of the topic: superstitions could certainly be viewed as causing real harm to mankind, but it is also possible to argue that it has caused real benefit to mankind as well. It all depends on how you choose to define your metric for benefit and harm. It can be remarkably difficult to get everyone to agree on the same metric! What we can say for sure is that superstitions and dogma have a large effect on the world, in one way or the other. I, of course, hold this as a belief, so it is not unreasonable that your position... – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '15 at 20:38
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    ... does not fully agree with mine. It's all a question of our own experiences. I, for one, took a road similar to the one you describe, lancing superstitions and promoting rational though, particularly through science and mathematics. As it turns out, there are some remarkably subtle traps, such as the difference between the phrases "evolution is true," and "evolution fits the data the best of all of our models," which can lead individuals to suffering. I found superstition can, in some cases, defend the common man who cannot defend himself, by allowing him or her to hold their own... – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '15 at 20:41
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    ... against an intelligent "adversary" who can think just a mere one step ahead of them, and craft a rational argument which appears right, but for which the common man simply cannot find the flaw in the rational argument provided to them. Rational thought is powerful, but I find subtle issues with it: such as the endless challenge of defining rational thought in the first place, without relying on concepts that are not necessarily rational. In fact, it would not surprise me if we differ in our definitions just enough to provide such disagreement. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '15 at 20:45
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    ... of until we got there. I am always reminded of a great phrase attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." At the very least, my experience is that expressed rational thought is on the road towards what F.Scott Fitzgerald points towards. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Sep 18 '15 at 18:03
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 How are the elements of Buddhist Cosmology (31 planes of existence, hungry
 ghosts/shades, angry deities, etc.) confirmed? 

There are those that are born natural Mediums. Their ability to detect outside the normal human frequency, like many animals, is heightened. Their E.S.P., or extra sensory perception, extends beyond the normal physical senses. They simply are able to tune into a frequency band greater than most. Some can see ghosts; some can only hear them, while other Mediums are shown visions and guidance in their mind's eye, or "third eye" from the beyond. These are the John Edwards of the world, or the crime solving specialists.....

Are there writings of recent gurus in the past 50 years or so, confirming,
questioning or analyzing the elements of this cosmology in the light of modern
science and their own experience?

Refer Edgar Cayce. http://www.edgarcayce.org/search.aspx?searchtext=cosmology

    Other than faith in the ancient texts, is there any other basis for modern
Buddhists to believe in Buddhist Cosmology? If so, what is that basis?

parallel universes.

The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes (including the Universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. The various universes within the multiverse are also called "parallel universes" or "alternate universes".

The structure of the multiverse, the nature of each universe within it and the relationships among the various constituent universes, depend on the specific multiverse hypothesis considered. Multiple universes have been hypothesized in cosmology, physics, astronomy, religion, philosophy, transpersonal psychology, and fiction, particularly in science fiction and fantasy. In these contexts, parallel universes are also called "alternate universes", "quantum universes", "interpenetrating dimensions", "parallel dimensions", "parallel worlds", "alternate realities", "alternate timelines", and "dimensional planes", among other names.

  • So you are saying that the various theories propounded by quantum physics theorists may be taken as evidence for the existence of Buddha's cosmology? – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 15 '15 at 4:37
  • If you can coop with them, But what he tote is applicable to extinction from 'Multiverse' to 'Tropes' – Shrawaka Sep 17 '15 at 14:54
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    parallel universes. I like this. I see them right here. – Andrei Volkov Sep 17 '15 at 20:11
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There is a mention in the biography of Dipa Ma. A student was comparing the beautiful Massachussets sky to a heavenly realm, when Dipa Ma retorted it was ordinary in comparison.

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