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Thread: Is the Universe Magic and a Miracle?

  1. #1

    Is the Universe Magic and a Miracle?


    Many Buddhist writings describe some pretty magical scenes, such as this from the Vimalakirti Sutra:

    Vimalakirti, having focused himself in concentration, performed a miraculous feat such that the Buddha Merupradiparaja, in the universe Merudhvaja, sent to this universe thirty-two hundred thousand thrones. These thrones were so tall, spacious, and beautiful that the bodhisattvas, great disciples, Sakras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, and other gods had never before seen the like. The thrones descended from the sky and came to rest in the house of Vimalakirti in the city of Vaisali. The thirty-two hundred thousand thrones arranged themselves without crowding and the house seemed to enlarge itself accordingly. The great city of Vaisali did not become obscured ... nor the world of four continents. Everything else appeared just as it was before. ... Then, those bodhisattvas who had attained the superknowledges transformed their bodies to a height of
    forty-two hundred thousand leagues and sat upon the thrones. ...
    Wow!

    But honestly, I am a rather skeptical guy and I don't take such tales literally. I am also the kind of fellow who does not believe in horoscopes, the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot (absent evidence beyond blurry photos), U.F.O.s (those recent videos are secret air force hypersonic missiles, I am sure) or space aliens (there is certainly life on other planets, but I rather doubt that they have secretly come here), pyramid power, crystals. E.S.P., Q-Anon or injecting bleach to cure Covid!

    I also do not believe or strongly doubt many traditional Buddhist beliefs, including that the earth is flat and consists of those "four continents" centered on a giant mountain (LINK), overly literal and specific models of rebirth (for example, that during intercourse, a female 'Rebirth Sphere' leaves the father’s left nostril and enters the mother’s left nostril, while a male uses the right nostril: LINK ), many claims about "ki" energy, ghosts, exorcisms (LINK), the hocus-pocus power of reciting "Dharani" (LINK) or Vimalakirti's incredible expanding living room!

    Oh, I can take many such teachings symbolically, or as allegories, or as ways of poetically expressing hard to fathom concepts (e.g., we Zazen folks do have a sense that all the universe is found in each grain of sand, and that time and space are more fluid that most of us realize ... and we also think that every inch of the world is sacred in its way ... so thousands of thrones, each millions of kilometres in size, leaping across universes maybe conveys such insight. After all, Hollywood movies like "Interstellar" "Lord of the Rings" "2001, A Space Odyssey" or "Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn" also use fantastic "special effects" to convey some important wisdom and truths. Vimalakirti is just the ancestor of George Lucas!)

    What is more, many of the old Buddhist images, envisioned thousands of years ago, are proving true or ... in fact ... "reality" is proving even stranger. Einstein said the time is relative, and even stops on the edge of black holes. This universe is perhaps vaster than the old Buddhists envisioned, and may be just one of a panoply of universes (LINK). Elon Musk talks about mind reading (LINK), physicists can turn lead to gold (LINK), short-cuts across space might be possible (LINKS) and who knows what else. No, I still don't believe in nostril rebirth or literal "Lokapalas" (heavenly guardians), but I do believe that the heavens are, well, heavenly. Then again, the galaxies are so vast, there are certainly creatures even more fantastic than any Lokapala (if not actual Lokapalas) in some corner of the stars, let alone creatures that have sex with their noses. If the universe is a simulation, as Elon Musk also posits, then that could include simulated Lokapala nose birthing (LINK).

    We wish we lived in a world of magic, and we do ... and it is REAL magic: We just need to see that our modern "wizards" bending space and time are physicists, our "conjurers" are computer engineers, our "alchemists" are called "chemists," astronautics and airplanes let us fly through the sky, and medical doctors are our "witch doctors" (with the important difference that the modern doctor has a much better chance of actually curing you! ) Our modern miracle workers are not perfect or always ethical, mind you, but even Dumbledoor did not get every spell right and had a sometime dark side!

    This world ... this life ... is magic and a miracle just by being this world and life. No, it is not perfect, downright ugly in places (see my prior talk: Is the Universe Beautiful and Good?) ... but it is a miracle that it exists at all, and even more of a miracle that we exist in it to breathe the air, see the flowers, love who we love, and to be having this conversation right now, pondering how strange it is! No matter what the cause of all this having come about ... whether providence or pure happenstance, blind physics or a cosmic joke ... it is still a miracle that we can be here to laugh at the joke, cruel and bittersweet as the humor sometimes is.

    In fact, our Zen practice let's us experience that we (you and me) ARE the joke and its telling!

    So, yes, I do demand reliable, tested, peer-reviewed evidence upheld by a wide consensus of noted experts in their field so that I can tell the probable "real" magic (e.g., "spooky action at a distance" - LINK) from the quack cures, bunk and nonsense (no, the planet is not being run by a cabal of lizard people: LINK). However, within those parameters ... beyond any doubt ...

    ... the universe is magic, this is a miracle.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-24-2022 at 11:53 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    The fact that we are here at all is pretty magical.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon (Kirk)

    sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryumon View Post
    The fact that we are here at all is pretty magical.
    I agree with that.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  4. #4
    Evidence that the world is not flat. For if it were, the cats would have pushed everything off.

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    Evidence that the world is not flat. For if it were, the cats would have pushed everything off.

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    Case closed! Thank you Shokai

    Gassho

    Sent from my Pixel 6a using Tapatalk
    Let everything happen to you: Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. - Rainer Maria Rilke

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    Evidence that the world is not flat. For if it were, the cats would have pushed everything off.

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    Not necessarily true. We are on continents of land surround by oceans. Cats do not like water, therefore avoid the edge. Case still open.


    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Not necessarily true. We are on continents of land surround by oceans. Cats do not like water, therefore avoid the edge. Case still open.


    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Ten cats noted for their love of water.

    Turkish Vans, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cat, Sphynx Cat, Turkish Angora Cat, Japanese Bobtail, Manx, Abyssinian, American Shorthair, Bengal

    Gassho

    Michael W

    sat.

  8. #8
    Just following up on this - without flat earth and cats - last night, I was listening to some music (Purcell's fantasies for viols) and I had a sudden flash of insight, of how magical it is that music as sublime as this exists.

    We need to feel the wonder of the universe from time to time to remind us how lucky we all are to have been reborn as slugs (at least this time around) (just joking).

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon (Kirk)

    sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

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