As far as I know, in Buddhism and Hinduism, the universe has birth and death, like the time of life. However, in Buddhism, as well as other Eastern religions, there are a lot of schools and movements.

Is there such a school (in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism), which would teach that the Universe exists forever, is never born and never dies? Some names, links, concepts would be fine...

5 Answers 5


Is there such a school (in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism), which would teach that the Universe exists forever, is never born and never dies? Some names, links, concepts would be fine...

Actually that's just a different way of saying about the same thing. It's exactly because the universe's subjected to endless cycles of birth and death, like all conditioned phenomena, that it's also equally valid to say that it's never really "born" and never really "dies".

  • and most interesting here is that Buddhists, Christians and modern scientists are very-very anthropocentric. All of them can not imagine something which was not: 1) created 2) born 3) will not die 4) exists always. They try to see in Universe or God itself: it looks like we, it dies, born-death is a pulse or a breath. Which is feature of anthropocentrism. But I know that there are Buddhism schools which say even: all is real, Maya is lie. So, my question goal is to get list of names or links (I read early that such one exists, but dont remember its names)
    – RandomB
    Oct 28, 2018 at 5:43
  • @Paul-AG - This is an odd view I've not encountered before. Of all the things a Buddhist might be called 'anthropcentric' is the last thing I'd expect. Nagarjuna is famous for his logical argument against your view.
    – user14119
    Oct 28, 2018 at 11:52
  • @PeterJ: we are accustomed to this point of view. However, we see an emphasis on consciousness, whereas today there is no understanding whether consciousness exists at all or is it a mechanical integration of neural clusters in which there is no more consciousness than in a computer. Hence, in the calculator there is a grain of consciousness, and therefore karma and dhammas, etc. This "love" of Buddhism to "mind" is anthropocentrism too. To transfer the concept of death and birth (the qualities of living beings) to the Universe is unconditionally anthropocentrism too.
    – RandomB
    Oct 29, 2018 at 8:04
  • Every things which we are see on the Earth have begin and end. But this does not mean automatically that Universe has them too.
    – RandomB
    Oct 29, 2018 at 8:12
  • @Paul-AG - I see it as just 'what is the case'. Buddhist don't make stuff up. Birth and death are not 'assigned to the Universe'. They are disposed of entirely along with human beings. Perhaps you could dig a little deeper into the teachings.
    – user14119
    Oct 29, 2018 at 11:55

Universe is a concept. Concepts are permanent but they have no footing in reality. They exist only in the imagination. If by universe you mean the 'All', this is what the Buddha said about the 'All':

Sabba Sutta: The All (SN 35.23)

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

  • To thing that Universe = ALL (sum of anything) is a simplistic view, typical of the middle ages. Synergetics and Chemistry teach us that complex substance are not mechanical sum of all, so Universe is not ALL. Like: me is not a sum of organs: organs can be found on slaughterhouse only. So, this quote of Buddha is not applicable to the Universe - it's not ALL, anything, bag of all things
    – RandomB
    Oct 29, 2018 at 8:13
  • It's not a sum of organs. 'All' is the senses and sense objects. Read the Sutta carefully. Oct 29, 2018 at 9:46
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    @Paul-AG I'm not sure it's wrong: the sabba sutta talks about objects of the six senses, i.e. of the fives sense (sight, sound, etc.) plus ideas: and maybe what you call "the universe" then is an idea, an object of the intellect; (see also Ayatana).
    – ChrisW
    Oct 29, 2018 at 9:49
  • yes, totally agreed. Kant calls it phenomenas: Universe is "placeholder" here, actually we know it as set of phenomenas.
    – RandomB
    Oct 29, 2018 at 10:42

See for instance this sutta (DN 27) somewhere in the middle

There comes a time when, Vāseṭṭha, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos contracts. As the cosmos contracts, sentient beings are mostly headed for the realm of streaming radiance. There they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

There comes a time when, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos expands. As the cosmos expands, sentient beings mostly pass away from that group of radiant deities and come back to this realm. Here they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

So for me this means this is repeating with no discernable beginning nor discernable end. The discurse becomes then more to the details:

  1. Solid Nectar Appears

But the single mass of water at that time was utterly dark. The moon and sun were not found, nor were stars and constellations, day and night, months and fortnights, years and seasons, or male and female. Beings were simply known as ‘beings’. After a very long period had passed, solid nectar curdled in the water. It appeared just like the curd on top of hot milk as it cools. It was beautiful, fragrant, and delicious, like ghee or butter. And it was as sweet as pure manuka honey. Now, one of those beings was reckless. Thinking, ‘Oh my, what might this be?’ they tasted the solid nectar with their finger. They enjoyed it, and craving was born in them. And other beings, following that being’s example, tasted solid nectar with their fingers. They too enjoyed it, and craving was born in them.

and so on, comparable to old egytian, sumerian and what you want legends. Just read the full sutta, I find it very interesting.

  • Piya Tan quotes various people saying that DN 27 should be read as a myth ("Once upon a time..."), or as a parody or satire of something in the Vedas. IOW you're quite right that this sutta exists, there are people who don't take it literally. I think I see it as a story that was told to contradict the doctrine that Brahmins are the highest class.
    – ChrisW
    Oct 29, 2018 at 12:39
  • ... Anyway, the significant thought for me was solely that "contracting" and "expanding" - statement, assuming: without beginning or end here (which was also stated in the other sutra) Why I give that part of such tales a certain value is because at another place there is a (so-to-say) "skeptical" discourse on the ability of thinking of a beginning at all - which I subscribe to easily. But this is even deeper hidden in my memory - perhaps someone else here can point to that? Oct 29, 2018 at 16:00

This (i.e. whether "the cosmos is eternal") is one of the famously undeclared topics -- "undeclared" meaning that the Tathagata wouldn't answer this question; and "famously" both because the question keeps being asked, and because the "parable of the arrow" is famous -- see Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta (MN 63)


I become very nervous when answering questions in a Buddhist forum but here's my take.

In respect of the world of phenomena there are no such 'eternalist' schools of thought. The whole idea is the impermanence of phenomena. If they are not impermanent then the teachings become incoherent.

But clearly the 'Universe' or 'world-as-a-whole' must be timeless or eternal for otherwise we wouldn't seem to be here. Thus there would be at least two answers, one conventional and one ultimate, and this may be why the Buddha would not give a straight answer to this question. It is very difficult to untangle the words unless we already have a grasp of what 'conventional' and 'ultimate' mean here.

The clue would lie in Nagarjuna's proof that nothing really exists or ever really happens. If so, then our idea of an eternal universe must leave out all that exists or happens. Only what is left over would transcend time and space.

So the 'All' as defined by the Buddha in Sankha's answer above would not be eternal, but this would not include what is 'beyond range', i.e. beyond the reach of conceptual thought and sensory empiricism. Even if we know this we cannot describe the situation to someone else. Lao Tsu explains 'Tao that is eternal cannot be spoken'.

  • I become very nervous when answering questions in a Buddhist forum but here's my take. Yes, I post hoping that someone will correct me if I'm misleading! Anyway, I don't know whether this answer is good Buddhist doctrine. I think that in the Pali suttas an "eternalist" school is one which believes in an eternal soul or self (not cosmos). Also I'm not sure whether "impermanent" applies to the universe itself (if there even is such a thing), or whether it's only applicable to compound/conditioned things within the universe (like "ocean waves are impermanent but the ocean itself is less so").
    – ChrisW
    Oct 27, 2018 at 13:58
  • @ChrisW - I see Nagarjuna as putting an end to the sort of eternalism you describe but of course not all Buddhists go along with his argument. I wouldn't disagree with your comment but would question the language. An eternal soul or self would require time so 'timeless' seems a better word. Then we have Eckhart's 'Perennial Now' and the 'Divine Instant', not eternal in time but permanent. I feel it's the word 'eternal' that causes problems, and that we'd probably agree if we sorted the words out. . .
    – user14119
    Oct 28, 2018 at 11:44
  • I suppose an "eternal" soul is meant to be durable, enduring, not impermanent (nicca, the opposite of anicca). The word "timeless" (akālika) implies not only eternal but also immediate, without delay, without any time interval.
    – ChrisW
    Oct 29, 2018 at 9:03
  • I don't really disagree with this answer, except the sentence which says "clearly" isn't clear to me -- when you observe that "we seem to be here [now]" I'd think that implies that the universe is "present", but I don't see how to infer that the "universe" is or isn't "eternal". The next paragraph (about Nagarjuna) makes sense. The earlier suttas say something a bit similar, i.e. that all sankharas are impermanent (and "whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation", unclear though whether "the universe" is something subject to origination -- perhaps it is, if it's an idea).
    – ChrisW
    Oct 29, 2018 at 9:30
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    @Paul-AG To my knowledge, at its core Buddhism doesn't exactly deal with cosmology. PeterJ might disagree with me since he is more familiar with metaphysics than I am. Of course, you will find Buddhist cosmology because in any era, people are interested in the "universe" so you have different answers that are built on previous ideas, depending on culture. The same applies with science; it's just an idea. The existence of another universe with different physics doesn't discount the practical aspect of Buddhist teachings. It is after all a relative truth.
    – user29568
    Oct 29, 2018 at 18:23

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