Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lord Buddha's Explanation of the Universe

“Grandfather, I have heard it said by you and I have heard it said by the Masters of the Way, that the universe and all of its paraphernalia is nothing—is an illusion.”

“That is what is said my dear. “A thousand times I have looked and a thousand times I have ascertained that the universe and all its affairs are truly nothing into nothing.” – Hafez

“And is it not also true, that you and the Masters have said that all this illusion is a projection of the unenlightened mind—that I create my universe and my reality?”

“Yes, my dear, that is true. Your mind projects your universe and its reality.”

“And so do you project your universe and its reality?”

“Of course.”

“As well as everyone else is creating his or her own universe and reality?”

“Not only everyone else, everything else as well.”

“Like animals and birds?”

“Yes my dear, and stones and bugs.”

“Then let me ask you this dear grandfather—do you see that olive tree over there in the garden?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And it is an olive tree?”

“Yes it is.”

“And grandfather, if you were to accurately count all the olives on that tree and write down the number, and then I did the same, would we both agree on the same number of olives?”

“Yes, if we both counted accurately.”

“And yet grandfather, you say that the olive tree I see is an illusion that I create in my mind.”


“And that the olive tree you see is an illusion of your mind.”


Well, grandfather, that is my question. How is it that we both agree on the olive tree being in the garden and, were we both to count the olives, we would both come up with the same number of olives? Why is your illusion and my illusion the same?”

“Yes my dear, it is a good question and, it so happens, someone will be visiting us this afternoon who is an expert on such questions.”

“An expert—who is coming?”

“My dear, do you remember our friend Lama Nayaka?”

“The Lama with the beautiful voice—I remember him well.”

“So let us hold your question for him, I am sure he will be able to answer it for you better than I can.”

The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Buddha

“Grandfather, why does Lama Nayaka know so much about the universe—and the mind?”

“Lama Nayaka is an advanced soul whose path for so many incarnations has followed the Way established by the Buddha thousands of years ago—and the Buddha was a great scientist of the mind. His time was many thousands of years ago and, therefore, both facts and myths are woven into the story of His life and teachings.  But, as we know it today, we are told that the Buddha was born into a very wealthy and accomplished family and that his parents did not want their son to see anything of the suffering and pain and death of ordinary life and so his life was guarded from seeing anything of the suffering, death, and unhappiness of life.

“But the Buddha was an incarnation of God—He was the Messiah—and therefore His destiny could not be thwarted—His time of unveiling—His advent.  And so it happened that one day the Buddha saw the body of a dead person and it  shocked him profoundly, for not only had he never seen death, he had never even heard of the idea of death.

“Grandfather, I see Lama Nayaka at the gate.”

“Let us go to greet him, and then, please go and prepare tea for our guest and then we will all sit and talk in the garden.”

“Granddaughter, please repeat your question to Lama Nayaka.”

“Lama Nayaka, I asked grandfather, if the truth is that grandfather and I create our own universe, and that universe is an illusion of our minds, then why is it that we both agree that there is an olive tree in the garden, and were we to each accurately count all the olives on the tree, we would agree on the number?”

“My dear, think about a vast ocean. Is the ocean one?”


“Are there drops in the ocean?”

“There are drops of the ocean.”

“You are very clever. Yes, the ocean is undifferentiated in its wholeness, but in its separation from itself it becomes drops. Now consider, mind is the ocean and that ocean is infinite, so how can any part of the ocean be separated from the ocean?”

“That would be impossible.”

“Yes, it would be. Since the ocean is infinite, no part of the ocean can be separated from it. But, if any part of the ocean were to experience itself as separate from the ocean would that not be a delusion?”

“Yes, Lama Nayaka, I would have to agree with that.”

“And so my dear, that is how it is, drops of deluded mind take themselves to be separate from the ocean of mind and in that state, conjointly create, maintain, and dissolve, the universe and all its affairs. The universe exists on the support of all minds and so all minds agree on the illusion they create. Your olive tree does not wholly and solely exist because you create it alone. The mind of the olive tree and all the minds of everything exiting in the garden, and your mind, and your grandfather’s mind, and my mind too, create and maintain the illusion of reality of the olive tree we see. And there is more also…”

“Lama Nayaka, what did you mean when you said that all minds agree on the illusions they create?”

“They agree, because, in reality, they are all the same one mind. The drops are never out of the ocean, they are the ocean, and as such, they share the consciousness of the ocean. What differentiates one drop from another are the impressions that color the consciousness of those iotas of ocean. Your grandfather once read me a quotation from Meher Baba, let me see; ‘All souls are one; there is no difference between souls; but there is a difference in the impressions of souls and there is a difference in the experience of souls.’God Speaks. I think that sums it up.

“Now, to go a little further, the ocean exists neither in time nor space—time and space are attributes of the illusory universe created by the iotas ocean that have acquired the false sense of separateness from the ocean. Therefore, iotas of the ocean, or if you prefer, drops of the ocean, or if you prefer, individual minds within the one mind, have no actual physical relationship to each other, because the attributes of time and space that would be necessary to establish physical proximity exists only in the minds of individualized iotas, or drops, or minds. Within the infinite ocean, proximity is established through the similarity or dissimilarity of impressions—what Grandfather calls sanskaras.”

And so Lama Nayaka, you are saying that the impressions of my mind, your mind, and grandfather’s mind, share enough similar impressions that we can agree on the olive tree and its qualities?”

“Yes that is true, but also, let us not forget that what we are calling the olive tree has its own impressions, the projection of which creates its own reality—much in the same way that the impressions of the individualized mind project the reality of each one of us. No doubt, the olive tree’s consciousness is something quite different than human consciousness, but because of the unity of mind itself, the consciousnesses of all minds are totally synchronized at all levels of manifestation.”

“Please explain.”

“What we are calling the olive tree is based on what we see—correct?”

“Yes, we can see it.”

“But is the olive tree something that we can also touch, smell, and taste?”

“That is so.”

“Seeing, tasting, smelling, and touching are how we perceive the universe we ourselves project. Why is that so? Because all the substances that make up the material universe are made up of four primary qualities that can be seen, tasted, smelled, and touched. These primary qualities, or primary elements, are earth, water, fire, and air—but please understand that what we perceive as earth, water, fire, and air, in the gross sense, are not the primary elements I am talking about.

“When we speak about projecting the universe, when we say that it just a dream, it should not be suggested that the reality of Self that only the Perfect Ones experience and the illusion of self that the unenlightened experience have no intermediate, or if you prefer, no levels in-between. On the contrary, Illusion—the universe—is like a series of turning wheels, interconnected—when one moves, all moves, and movement begins with the movement of the mind as it ticks away at a rate of three trillion beats per second. 

“The movement of mind projects certain qualities, or elements, that then, on their own, create and project further qualities, or elements, that form the illusory stuff of the material universe. Take for example what we call substances. There can be found an almost unlimited number of substances that make up the material universe. What is a substance? Consider your olive tree. Some of the many substances that make up your olive tree are wood, the pit of the olive, the oil, pulp, and skin of the olive, etc. Now, when the Buddha examined various substances what did he find? He found that they were composed of all four of the primary elements—earth, water, fire, and, air.

“What accounts for the differences among substances is the proportion of these four elements that they are made up of. For example, the pit and the wood of the tree have less of the water element than do the pulp of the olive and the oil of the olive. The Buddha found that all substances must have all four of the elements, but one of the elements is always in the ratio of one. For example a substance may be made of four units of the earth element, three of the water element, two of the fire element, and only one the air element. The emanations of these various elements are perceived by our senses that perceive the emanations we call scent, taste, sensation, and sound.” 

“Lama Nayaka, can you say more about the mind? Where is it? What is it made of?”

“There is nothing material at all in the make-up of the mind, for it the mind that creates the illusion of the material. Likewise, the mind has no location, because time and space are the creations of the mind also. Now consider; mind could not exist without intelligence. What is the nature of intelligence, it is to know. How does intelligence know? It thinks. In order for intelligence to think it creates the mind. It is the mind that thinks—more precisely, it is intelligence that thinks through the mind.”

“And Lama Nayaka, what does the intelligence want to know?”

“Ultimately, it wants to know itself. Do you want to know yourself?”

“I think I do.”

“And do you ever look into the mirror?”


“And do you see yourself?”


“Do you see yourself, or do you see your reflection?”

“I see my reflection.”

“But your reflection in not yourself.”

“That is true; I see my reflection, not myself.”

“But I can see you.”

“Yes, and I can see you.”

“Yes, and I cannot see myself, only my reflection. And, let it be said, that we are talking only about the appearance of ourselves, not what is under the appearance.”

“Yes, Lama Nayaka, that is true.”

“So intelligence, through mind, thinks and creates the mirror of the universe, the mirror of other, to see itself in, and ultimately know, itself through. What we are talking about in all this is the nature of what intelligence sees in the mirror; but, remember, what it sees is only a reflection and reflection is not reality.”

“And so, Lama Nayaka, is the mind illusion or reality?”

“My dear, the mind is both reality and illusion, and as such it is neither.”

“That is incredible; what can be neither reality nor illusion?”

“That which is beyond both—that which is unspeakable, unknowable, beyond all thought, all imagination, all conception, all duality…  But, my child, in the illusion created by mind, there is birth, life, and death, and because sentient beings experience those currents, be they illusory or not, for them this is their reality and therefore they suffer, and therefore, how can our response be anything other than compassion?”

“Lama Nayaka, I fear that my question regarding the nature of the mind has distracted us from   our discussion of the olive tree and your explanation of the universe.”

“Child, there is no distraction; neither the mind nor the universe can be adequately understood without a thorough investigation of both, because the universe is a projection of the mind and the mind sees its reflection in the universe.”

“Thank you Lama Nayaka, will you be so kind as to tell grandfather and me how it is that you have come to this explanation of the mind and the universe, and also, if your explanation is based on your own experiences.”

“Child, I am neither an Arahant—one who has achieved a state that is free of passion, ill-will, and delusion, nor have I attained the state of love and devotion that characterized Buddha’s closest and dearest disciple Ananda. The explanation, therefore, that I give you is not my explanation, but the Buddha’s.

“As you know, we use the term Buddha to represent what others call the Christ, or the Avatar. Gotama is the name of the one who embodied the Buddha state, as Jesus embodied the Christ state, and as Meher Baba embodied the state of Avatar. Gotama Buddha was a historic personage. He died approximately 544 BC. One of the traits we know of his was that he was very inquisitive and honored that trait in others. So, when he was asked for an explanation of the universe, he convened a meeting—what would you call it grandfather?”

“A sahavas.”

“Yes, a sahavas—Gotama Buddha convened a sahavas that lasted one month. During that time he discoursed in great detail regarding the nature of the universe and the mind. Of course the Arahants attended, as did Ananda, and all of them had the capacity to remember, word for word, each and every discourse of the Buddha.”

“Word for word!”

“Yes child, word for word, for when the state of Arahant is achieved, no thoughts are generated by the mind. In that state, the mind is pristine and clear and capable of absorbing all and everything that it decides to absorb. And in the case of Ananda, though he had not yet achieved the state of perfection, he had achieved the state of absolute effacement in the love of his Lord Gotama and, therefore, was also capable of absorbing, word for word, all of the utterances of his Lord Gotama.

“Within fifty years of Gotama’s death a council was convened to settle certain questions that had arisen since His passing. Ananda was invited and on that very eve achieved the state of Arahant. Repeating the Buddha’s discourse word for word, the matter was soon settled. After that, on various occasions and for various reasons, five other councils were held and the words of the Buddha were repeated and checked by lamas and monks who had devoted their lives to remembering, word for word, the explanations of Gotama Buddha. As I said before, I am neither an Arahant, nor have I acquired the state of Ananda, but I have had the good fortune to be able to study the teachings which have had the beneficent effect of settling the convulsions of my mind and allowing me to lead a happy life.”

“Lama Nayaka, please share with us more of the Buddha’s explanation regarding the nature of the mind and the universe.”

“The Buddha taught that there are three currents that flow through the projected qualities we call earth, water, fire, and air.  These three currents are called birth, life, and death. The average person regards these three current as events, but the Buddha taught us that these currents exist in all expressions of the universe and at all levels of the mind’s projection of the universe. When a substance is created by the linking together of the four projected qualities, the three currents of birth, life, and death manifest through and transform the projected qualities.

“For example, the substance that makes up the pit of the olives on your tree has its birth in the joining together of certain proportions of the four qualities of earth, water, fire, and air. When these qualities are brought together and bound in close proximity a substance is formed—we call this this the birth of that substance. Once born, the birth current rests while the life current becomes active. The life current was there at the birth of the substance, as was the current of death there also, but these currents were inactive. With the activity of the life current—the sustaining current—the birth current rests and the pit of the olive exists. How long does it exist for? It exists until the life current becomes exhausted—and this is due to the exhausting of the impressions of that particular olive pit. Working in complete harmony with the waning of the life current—due to the exhausting of the impressions of the olive pit—the death current becomes more and more active at the levels of atoms, elements, substances, and form, until it overwhelms the life current and unravels  the bond of the four qualities that make-up the substance.”

“Lama Nayaka, I find it interesting that the more details you share about the universe and all and everything within it,  the more real the universe begins to appear, yet, we began with the assertion that the universe and all and everything within it does not exist—that it is an illusion—a dream.”

“Though, if you think about it deeply, the explanations of the Buddha don’t make the universe more real, it just makes the universe and its workings more logical. Think of a movie theater—we watch the images on a screen and are moved by what we see. The movie is just a movie, the characters are only actors, and even the actors we see are only projections on a screen—they are not real. On the screen they could measure ten feet tall. It is all an illusion, but for that illusion to occur there needs to be so many things, like a film that captured the actors and their actions, a projector to project the images on to the screen, and the screen. The difference between the movie theater and the universe is that with regard to the universe, the film, the actors, the screen, and the projector, do not exist, except as thoughts and feelings within our own minds. The movie of the universe is simultaneously created, projected, and viewed by our minds—while, in reality, none of it, including what we take ourselves to be as the viewer, exists at all.”

“And the fact that we cannot change the movie at will is because…?”

“Yes, it is because once the mind puts it all in motion, its very existence is determined by the various laws that the mind creates to project and experience its own illusion, or, if you will, its own dream of itself.”

“Lama Nayaka, I have been enjoying this exchange between my granddaughter and you—there is such clarity and precision in the Buddha’s explanations. If it pleases you, there is one question I have regarding the explanations…”

“Yes, of course, my dear friend, what is your question?”

“My question refers to love. What is love, and where does love fit into the system as communicated by the Buddha?”

“Yes, my friend, that is indeed a good question and takes us even deeper into the Buddha’s explanation. What we are calling love is like a jewel with many facets—the facets are many, yet the jewel is one. We tend to think that there are two forces, one of attraction and one of repulsion, but, in fact, both attraction and repulsion are different sides of the same force. This force operates within all the various levels of creation, from the atom, to the solar system, from stone, to animal, to man. If we were to choose to, we could, as well, call love gravity. Gravity is the force that attracts one thing to another.

“We tend to regard gravity as a one-way street, but, in fact, everything attracts everything. Not only does the sun attract the planet, but the planet also attracts the sun. This mutual attraction can be called love. But what happens when this love is fully consummated? Once the sun and the planet unite—fully unite—the force of attraction is lost, because the two have now become one.

“Inherent in the force of attraction is the force of repulsion. In our example, the force of repulsion could be called centrifugal force. Centrifugal force pushes the planet away from the sun. Now if the two forces are in balance, the planet continues to orbit the sun, or if you prefer the words of your favorite poet Rumi, the moth continues to circle the flame. What is important to remember is that both the force of attraction and the force of repulsion are facets of the same love. Why does love want to repulse? Because love disappears after consummation.”

“Rumi said, “burn in that flame, is not the candle He?”


“Now it should be understood, that this force we are calling love is a quality that the Buddha called space. Space is always connected to the four projected qualities of earth, water, fire, and air. Remember that substances are formed when these four qualities are united in various proportions. Space is the medium that connects the qualities. What are the two aspects of space? – attraction and repulsion. So the qualities become attracted to each other—three of them beginning to orbit the fourth—the one with the greatest concentration—while the force of repulsion keeps the force of attraction at bay, thus maintaining the inherent identity of each of the qualities. Without the action of repulsion, the four qualities would totally unite and lose their individual attributes.

“So, this space—this love—is everywhere and in everything. It is what we call gravity, it is what we call magnetism, and in human beings, it is what we call love. The Buddha observed that in animate creation—expressed more and more fully in ascending order from insects, to animals, and eventually to man—that four characteristics are shared by all; eating, keeping from being eaten, sleeping, and procreating.

“These four activities involve the physical body and the mind. All four of these activities make use of the senses and all the senses work through their respective organs of perception—the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the skin, and the mind which includes both domains of thought and feeling.

“In other words, the Buddha, out of compassion for all creation, but most especially human beings who have the capacity to ask the questions why, and how, and what,—in other words to self-reflect—shared His infinite knowledge with regard to the questions that He knew human beings would ask.

“The Buddha asked and answered these questions thousands of years ago, yet man continues to ask these same questions in numerous, almost unlimited, ways, “Who am I? Where am I? Who are you? Who is God? Where is God? What is life? What is death? What is the cause of suffering?” — questions add-infinitum.  Why does man continue to ask? What is that saying you love to quote about experiencing?”

“By the Perfect Master Kabir?”

“Yes my dear friend.”

“Until you experience it, it is not true.”

“Yes, that is it, man’s sojourn of experience leads through questions. Questions have the energy, answers kill questions and that is why the Buddha said that it is up to every man to work out the way to his own salvation.”


“From the knowledge of the Buddha, men have learned that the universe is on vast and infinite self-winding mechanism. The mechanism is like a giant system of wheels and there are wheels in it both giant and minute and in each of these wheels there rotate an infinity of smaller and smaller wheels…

“What is true of the universe as a whole is also true of all beings and man…

“…the most powerful of all the wheels of the universe are wheels of the individual mind…

“…no phenomenon of the universe is permanent…

“Man’s life in the universe is a myth; it is a mirage; it is a dream…

“In the universe, everything is suffering…

“To the Buddha, life ultimately culminates in universal love, and it is because truth and love are meant to be experienced that the mind and the universe came into being…”


All of the explanations and teachings regarding the nature of the universe as expressed in this blog by Lama Nayaka have been culled from a book called Lord Buddha’s Explanation of the Universe translated from the Pali into English by C.P.Ranasinghe 1957 and then edited in 2004 by Lawrence Reiter. (Available at; and at the Open Library Additionally, and for perspective, see )
The final quotes in the blog, in italics, are taken word for word from the Lawrence Reiter edition.

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