In this text SN 56.46 Andhakara Sutta: Darkness, the Buddha seems to say, in my opinion, that life is much more stressful than black holes.

And I think life is an anomaly in this universe just like black holes, stars, time, quantum entanglement and such.

But are there any other things he has mentioned that are outlandish and we are unable to comprehend by using juxtapositions as always? Or did he just ignore them completely as they were not important?

Sorry if my question is not clear. I always have a hard time interpreting what's in my head to words.

  • 2
    I didn't really understand the question. It seems to be asking "This sutta says that life is more stressful than black holes. I don't understand black holes etc. (astrophysics and quantum mechanics). Are there any other things he mentioned which are as difficult to understand as that?" The only way I could begin to answer this question would be by trying to explain what I think the sutta is talking about (which I would think is most probably not about astrophysics).
    – ChrisW
    Dec 17, 2018 at 13:35
  • @ChrisW I agree with you sir, In many suttas lord Buddha compared ignorance to the darkness and wisdom to the light. In Andhakara sutta, I suppose lord Buddha was preaching about ignorance comparing it to darkness which hides the four noble truth. In the sutta it has mentioned that, "which darkness, lord, is greater & more frightening than that?" Any brahmans or contemplatives who do not know, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress' ... , 'This is the origination of stress'... 'This is the cessation of stress'... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress'
    – Damith
    Dec 21, 2018 at 5:44

4 Answers 4


Going off of what Dhammadhatu posted, the word used in the sutta, lokantarika, is not so much "life" but "this world and the other world". So black holes, quantum entanglement, every objectively measurable phenomenon (and many subjective phenomena as well) is included in that.

I'm not sure the term outlandish is appropriate, but I think I understand you to mean examples of metaphors involving vast numbers, powers, amount and the like. There are suttas where the Buddha says that all the salt-water in all the oceans is less than the tears we have cried throughout our wandering in Samsara as a way of illustrating the vast timescales. A similar sutta describes (I think) all the rivers in the world as holding less than the amount of blood spilled from our beheadings. And of course the turtle, living at the bottom of a great ocean, surfacing once a century, and a hoop floating on the top of that ocean being carried about by currents. It was said that the chances of encountering a Buddha and their dhamma was less than the chance of that turtle putting its head through the ring. So we are then fortunate to live in a time where we can hear that dhamma!

As for your last question, there were some questions that the Buddha strictly refused to answer based on their being irrelevant to the task of understanding and eliminating suffering. Those were: is the universe/world system eternal or not? Infinite or not? Does a Buddha exist after death? Not exist? Both? Neither? When asked these, the Buddha refused to answer as they were not relevant. Hope this helps!

  • Welcome to the site! Great answer. The Sutta you referred to is the Assu Sutta: Tears.
    – user17652
    Feb 1, 2021 at 19:36

I think you have misunderstood it. It's not saying that life is stressful.

You may think SN 56.46 is talking about suffering or dukkha. Please see this answer for a detailed definition of dukkha.

But it's not talking about suffering. It's talking about ignorance or avijja. Ignorance is about not knowing and not fully understanding the four noble truths, the three marks of existence and dependent origination.

Ignorance or avijja is darker and scarier than the darkest voids and black holes in interstellar space. That's the message.


"lokantarika" (cosmologist), a school of thought, called this at the Buddha's time, is good to understand as Science, Cosmology, Secularism or Materialism nowadays. This might then give light in the darkness related to the arisen question.

  • I think 'lokantarika' is a Mahayana term meaning something like the void that separates two worlds. I'm certain it doesn't fit into secularism, materialism or science but would fit suitably in Buddhist Cosmology.
    – user17652
    Feb 1, 2021 at 17:49
  • Scientifically view of NeuroMax, or? The Buddhas "cosmology" are the 4 Noble Truth, and the leading out of darkness, it. Void, pointless, subject to decay, dark, all other tries. Just if one faces the large Darkness within, one seeks for this escape, good householder. Does he see aging, sickness and death or busy with "soft dark" and how it might work? Lokayatika Sutta
    – user20481
    Feb 2, 2021 at 2:48
  • Buddhism is concerned with how our minds are restricted in its views. During this venture, one may find a large darkness within, but it's just a preliminary event; it's the space in-between this and that.
    – user17652
    Feb 2, 2021 at 10:20

SN 56.46 says:

Mendicants, the boundless desolation of lokantarikā is so utterly dark that even the light of the moon and the sun, so mighty and powerful, makes no impression.”

Atthi, bhikkhave, lokantarikā aghā asaṃvutā andhakārā andhakāratimisā, yatthamimesaṃ candimasūriyānaṃ evaṃmahiddhikānaṃ evaṃ mahānubhāvānaṃ ābhāya nānubhontī .

Concise Pali English Dictionary

lokantarika adjective situated between the worlds

The Pali suttas have the stock phrase: "This world & the other world". This seems to have different meanings (such as in MN 26, where the other world appears to refer to lower worlds). But, generally, in the Buddha's society, it meant the ordinary human world and the heavenly world of the Brahmins. Thus, in Buddhism, the 'other world' can be 'heaven' or meditation jhanas; where MN 79 refers to the meditation jhanas as "a world of exclusively pleasant feelings" (ekantasukhassa lokassa).

In other words, lokantarikā in SN 56.46 appears to refer to the 'world' between the world of ordinary worldly sensual life and the world of meditation happiness; what Christians mystics called "the dark night of the soul", which is a period of spiritual desolation suffered by a mystic in which all sense of consolation is removed.

For example, when a person suffers from sever psychological depression, the light of the moon and the sun makes no impression. Similarly, as occurred to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, nothing, not even ideas of Jesus or God, could help her in her spiritual desolation.

Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me--The silence and the emptiness is so great--that I look and do not see,--Listen and do not hear.

Mother Teresa

In SN 56.46, the term 'lokantarikā' possibly refers to 'spiritual desolution' or what Christian meditators attempting to overcome the five hindrances called 'the dark night of the soul'.

If you have doubts about my answer, similar to a certain monk in DN 11 Kevatta Sutta, you can ask about the meaning of the term 'lokantarikā' at Sutta Central.

  • Please stay on the topic for this site and don't venture too far into discussing other religions. Thank you.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Dec 17, 2018 at 19:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .