Buddhist Belief of the Beginning

Even Buddha did not claim to understand the beginning of the universe.
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Unlike other major world religions, Buddhists reject the notion of an all-powerful God or other divine beings and instead focus on teaching a way of avoiding suffering. Nevertheless, Buddhism does provide a cosmology of the universe that extends to the beginning of the world even if human beings are incapable of understanding it.

1 Unknown Origins

Atheists believe that the universe came into being through a natural phenomenon, while most religions teach that an all powerful God or gods brought it into existence. Officially, Buddhists don't subscribe to either of these views. Instead, Buddhism teaches that the origin of the world is unknowable. In one foundational Buddhist story, Buddha refused to answer a follower's questions about the origins of the universe, stating that the past and the future are unimportant when compared to liberating oneself from the suffering of the present. To illustrate this point, Buddha told the follower the story of a man who refused to remove an arrow from his foot until he found out who shot it; by the time he discovered the shooter, he was dead.

2 The Cycle

Although the original creation of the universe is unknowable, Buddhism does teach that the universe is one of many that have come before. This means that this world came into being following the destruction of another and will be followed by yet another universe. The pattern of death and rebirth is eternal, and so it is pointless to single out any one beginning. Furthermore, the energies of this world are infinite and interrelated to other planes of existence, which Buddhists believe exist parallel to our own.

3 Human Origins

Unlike the beginning of the universe, Buddhism's doctrine about the origin of life is less uncertain. Buddhism accepts evolution as the source of life on Earth because according to Daily Buddhism, Buddhists do not challenge scientific teachings even when they contradict Buddhist philosophy. Because Buddhism is more concerned with personal fulfillment than with preaching the truth of its cosmological principles, many Buddhists believe that their religion does not conflict with or contradict other cosmological explanations.

4 The Middle Path

The Buddhist emphasis on the Middle Path is another reason Buddhists avoid trying to know the origins of the universe. Buddhism teaches that followers should try to be moderate and passive in all things and thus should not strive to know things that are beyond their understanding. Buddhism is about accepting the emptiness of the world and finding inner peace. By doing this, human beings can escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth and achieve a state of nirvana where they will know and embrace a state of emptiness.

James Stuart began his professional writing career in 2010. He traveled through Asia, Europe, and North America, and has recently returned from Japan, where he worked as a freelance editor for several English language publications. He looks forward to using his travel experience in his writing. Stuart holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Toronto.