Nothing in the world has perplexed man more than the great mysteries above, and the Supremely Enlightened Being’s pronouncement on them presented here in reverse order to retain their thematic sequence provides the ultimate statement on the issue. They also afford a profound topic of insight meditation on impermanence,first of the three immutable characteristics of existence, an unfailing path to liberation.
At Vesali Buddha said, ‘Bhikkhus, all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, unstable, non-pleasurable. This alone is sufficient to be detached from them, to be liberated from them. Bhikkhus, there comes a time when no rain will fall for many a year, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, many hundred thousand years. When there is no rain, varieties of seeds and plants, medicinal herbs, grassesand giant trees of the forest will wither, completely wither and cease to exist. Bhikkhus, all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, unstable, non-pleasurable.
The great enigma of life’s origin was unraveled at the apex of wisdom through Brahmajala and Aggangya Suttas, two long-length discourses of the Blessed One.
This alone is sufficient to ….
Bhikkhus, someday after an extraordinarily long period of time there will appear a second sun. When it appears the minor rivers and lakes will run dry, totally dry.
This is sufficient to….
Bhikkus, after a further long period of time, a third sun will appear. With the appearance of the third sun the great rivers Ganges, Yamuna, Achiravathi, Sarabhu and Mahi will run dry, totally dry.
This alone is sufficient to….
Bhikkhus, a long time thereafter a fourth sun will dawn and the great lakes Anothaththa, Seehapaththa, Rathakara, Kannamunda, Chaddantha and Mandakani from which the great rivers arise will become dry, totally dry.
This alone is sufficient to.....
Bhikkhus, there will come a time some day after a long lapse when a fifth sun appears. With its appearance the waters of the great ocean will recede by a hundred yojuns, two.... three.... seven hundred yojuns. The level will come down to a height of seven palm three.... six..... five..... a single palm tree . To seven fathoms..... six.....five...... a single fathom. To a height of a man, to his waist..... to his knees and hisankles. As when in autumn large drops of rain fall they fill hoof prints of cattle here and there, so will there be water in the ocean here and there. It will not have water to reach the joints of one’s fingers.
This is sufficient.....
Bhikkhus, there comes a time after a long period when the sixth sun will appear. When it happens the great earth and Sineru the king of mountains will smoke and smoulder, thoroughly and properly smoke and smoulder.
This alone is sufficient to....
Bhikkhus then a long time thereafter, there will come a day when a seventh sun appears. The great earth and Sineru the king of mountains will ignite and burst into flames, become one great mass of fire. Flames ejected by the earth and the great mountain stoked by wind will reach the Brahma world. The peaks of the great mountains Sineru, one, two..... five hundred yojuns high consumed by the blazing, destructive inferno will crumble and collapse. Neither ash nor soot of the burnt earth and the king of mountains will be seen, just as the ash and soot of burnt ghee cannot be seen. Bhikkhus this alone is sufficient to be detached from all conditioned phenomena, to be liberated from them.
Bhikkhus, who other than a Sothapanna would believe that the great earth and the king of mountains will burn out, be destroyed in this manner and cease to exist?”
Dighanikayattakatha gives a fascinating account of the abodes of rebirth of earth’s inhabitants according to their karmic destinies when the great earth becomes an arid plane prior to its destruction. The scripture notes, at the end of the sermon Sattasuriyagamana Sutta five hundred Bhikkhus practicing meditation of impermanence attained Arahanthood in the places they were seated. Could a mundane earthling be faulted if he questions what he is experiencing in his world today are perhaps the remotest, very earliest symptoms of Buddha’s pronouncement made over twenty five centuries ago? Interestingly only recently were astrophysicists able to discover the formation of a new sun in the distant galaxy. How many could be the undiscovered ones out there and those yet to come?
Secondly, the great enigma of life’s origin was unraveled at the apex of wisdom through Brahmajala and Aggangya Suttas, two long-length discourses of the Blessed One. Long, long after the flames that burn the earth die down, the world is engulfed in absolute, total darkness where sun, moon and the stars are invisible, where day and night, weeks, months and seasonal changes are indistinguishable. Buddha explained, after an extraordinarily long period of evolution, rich earth is established on water in the manner of skim forming on the surface of heated milk. It is lucid, fragrant and flavoursome like a bees’ hive free of larvae. Attracted by it a being from ‘Ahassara’ Brahma world with happiness as his only food, resplendent in body, descends upon it to make it his habitation. Many others from the Brahma world follow suit. In inquisitiveness, a greedy one amongst them is driven to taste a speck of the earth which he finds satisfying, and avarice overcomes him. All his companions do the same, whereupon their natural radiance disappears. Then there appears the sun, moon and the stars. The world is thus born. A long time after they continue to consume the earth they become coarse in body, the complexions turn ugly in some. The fairer ones begin ridiculing those dark in colour. Pride, excessive pride overcome them, resulting in the disappearance of the tasty earth, followed by the appearance of spontaneous mushrooms on its surface. Having to survive on mushrooms their complexions become markedly different form one another than before. As derisive speech among them proliferates, mushrooms too disappear giving rise to different types of plants all spontaneously arising. Feeding on them they grow even more rough and coarse, eventually female and male organs show on them which lead to their gazing at each other for long periods of time.
Lust arises, followed by cohabitation and quarrels and abusive language become a common feature. In order to conceal their frequent cohabitative practice they start to build dwellings. They engage in hoarding food for future use, thereafter setting limits and demarcations on land become a necessity. One leads to another and thievery, falsehood and assault become commonplace.
In that scenario a consensus forms among them that they ought to have a leader, a ruler to impose punishment on wrongdoers who will be designated the king. As time passes, in progression they become capable of distinguishing good from bad, right from wrong, piety from impiety.
Likewise the four groups Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra come to be established in society. Developing the mind some attain absorptions ( jhana ) and reach the heavens, others are born in woeful states according to their karmic destinies. The Blessed One concluded the sermon that in this world and beyond it is Dhamma that always holds sway. Scientists have been probing interplanetary penspermia for decades now, but only a Samma Sambuddha with ‘sarvagnatha gnana’ delivers the conclusive statement on it.