Abhidhamma in Daily Life (by Ashin Janakabhivamsa)
Part 2 - How The World Came To An End
All things must come to an end one day. This is the impermanent nature of everything, anicca. So also the world, the habitat of sentient beings must one day face destruction and oblivion. The world may end in fire, water or wind. If the world end in the fire, two suns appear, one during the day and the other during the night. Water streams and creeks dry up under the heat. When the third sun arises rivers dry up. With the appearance of the fourth sun, the seven great lakes in the vicinity of Himavanta evaporates completely. The fifth sun dries up the ocean; the sixth removes all remaining traces of moistures and humidity.
When the seventh sun comes up one hundred thousand worlds are incinerated. Enormous flames rise up to the plane of First Jhana Brahmas, burning all mountains including Himavanta, Meru, etc. and the jewel mansions located at those mountaintops. Everything is burnt to ashes. Only then the death of the world is completed. (Visualize for yourself how the world would end by water or by wind).
When and How Long
These destruction period last for a very long time. When the age limit of the human arise from 10-year span to asankheyeyya, infinity and again diminished to 10 years, this duration is called antara kappa (World cycle between). The burning of the world lasts such 64 immediate kappas. Then the world stays in this ruined state, just like a house burned down by fire, for another such 64 kappas.
Beings Take Refuge in Brahma Loka
During the destruction of the world, all living beings become Brahmas and dwell in Brahma which is not affected by the fire. One hundred thousand years prior to the end of the world, Devas who foresee the doom announced the coming obliteration. All beings on hearing this warning get rid of their reckless way of life and practiced meritorious deeds. Due to their good kamma all beings achieve jhana and become Brahmas. Therefore all beings except those who profess wrong views (niyata miccha ditthi) reach Brahma loka at least once.
How The World Is Created
After the destruction of the world, when the time is ripe, world creation rain starts to fall. First it drizzles, gradually increasing in intensity till the raindrops are as large as houses of hills. The entire world is flooded up to the Brahma loka. When after many years the flood recedes, the burnt higher celestial abodes are rehabilitated. When the water level reaches the human abode, mountain, hills, valleys, rivers, creeks and plains begin to take shape. The creamy upper crust slowly hardens and becomes solid earth and rock. The earth’s mass so formed in two hundred and forty thousands yojanas thick.
The mass of water in which the earth’s mass floats if four hundred and eighty yojanas in depth. The water is extremely cold and the mass resembles endless ocean of ice. This immense mass of water can easily support the landmass, which is only half its depth. This mass of water is again supported on n atmospheric-mass nine hundred and sixty yojanas deep. Below this air mass is limitless space of void.
There are countless world systems complete with masses of land, water and air, human, Deva and Brahma loka. These world systems are identical to ours in constitution. These countless world-systems together form the infinite universe (Ananta Cakavala). One hundred thousand similar universes face the same fate, the same end and the same rehabilitation simultaneously. One Universe is separated from another by a universal rock mountain, which serves as a dividing wall.
The Lokantarika Hell
When three universes meet, there is space where Lokantarika hell exists, where neither sunray nor moonbeam can reach. Complete darkness reigns there. Those who insulted and ridiculed noble and virtuous persons become petas or asura-kayas and suffer from hunger in this hell. They cling to the walls of the universe in complete darkness. They mistake the other sinner to be some food, and try to bite each other. On doing so, they fall down into the icy water and perish.
In the center of the universe there stands Mount Meru one hundred and sixty thousand yojanas high. Half of it is submerged in the ocean, and only the upper half is visible. Sida, the icy river, flows around it. Beyond Sida and stands Mount Yugandhara, hay as high as Mount Meru. Another Sida winds this mount; again beyond this river is Mount Issandhara. In like manner, seven mountains and seven Sidas stand in conjunction.
Great and Small Islands
Beyond the mountains, the vast ocean extends to the wall of the universe. In the middle of this great ocean are big and small island. Those to the east of Mount Meru are called the Eastern Continent. In the same way there are the Southern, the Western and the Northern Continents in the respective cardinal directions.
Deva and Brahma Planes
At the top of Mount Yugandhara, which is situated in the middle of Mount Meru is the plane of Catumaharaja Devas. The sun, stars and planets are the mansions in this celestial plan say the texts. At the top of Mount Meru, is Tavatimsa where Sakka, King of the Deva, dwells in the City of Sudassana. The four higher Deva planes Yama, Tushita, Nimmanarati and Paranimmita vasavatti belong to the heavenly world, independent of he firmament. All Brahma planes are also situated up in heaven. (For further details reference may made to our treatise “Sangha Bhasa Tika”).
How Human Beings Came Into Existence
After the formation of human, Deva and Brahma abodes, some Brahmas came to their end of their celestial terms. Some are reborn in lower Brahma worlds, some in the abode of Devas and some in the human world. Those reborn as first humans had no parents. Due to the power of kamma they are reborn instantly as grown ups in the fashion of Devas. The early humans are sexless; they have neither male nor female organs. They can survive without nutrition. There is neither sun nor moon; they dwell in the light of their own body radiance. They can fly in space like the Brahmas they have been.
Partaking of Topsoil
While these human beings were flying about space, they happened to discover the creamy topsoil that covered the ground. A curious one, attracted by the cream-like appearance, tried the taste of the topsoil. Being the essence of the earth, this topsoil proved delicious and so humans one after another came and helped themselves in mouthfuls. Due to their lust and greed in craving for the delicious topsoil, they all lost their radiance. The whole world was then encompassed in sheer darkness.
How the Sun and Moon Appear
As the early human beings lived in fear in the darkness, due to their remaining good kamma, the Suriya, meaning 'courage,' which it gave them (sun) rose from the east. The sun measures fifty yojanas in circumference and its rays gave courage to mankind.
When the sunset, darkness again pervaded, and the human again wished for another source of light. In accord with their ardent wish the moon, forty-nine yojanas in circumference, appeared in the sky. Since the moon appeared to satisfy the wishes of the inhabitants of the earth, they call it Chanda from which, the name Canda is derived. Together with Canda (the moon) stars and planets also appeared. This appearance of heavenly bodies coincided with the full waning of the month of Tabaung, phagguna according to the calendar of Majhimadesa. Therefore people still that the first moon of this world cycle waxes on the first day of Tagu, citta.
How People Discovered Rice
Primitive man lived on tasty topsoil (earth-essence). Due to their lust for delicious taste, which is akusala, the topsoil gradually got thinner and thinner. Finally the topsoil disintegrated and rolled up into small stalks called Nwecho (sweet stalk). When these stalks were exhausted husk less paddy came into being. These grains, when put in pots and placed over a slab of rock called joti pasana are automatically cooked by the heat of the slab, which cooled sown when cooking was done.
Male and Female
Primitive people could digest all they ate because their staple was only earth essence. All they ate became flesh and sinew. Nothing was left over. But when they had to change their diet to rice, their bodily organism cannot digest all they consume. Undigested matter remained in the bowels. Primitive humans had no openings in their bodies meant for excretion. Yet the vayo element in the body cavity exerted pressure on the excrete within. So body openings such as rectum and urethra had to develop in the human being. This was followed by the development of bhavarupas the process means of which masculinity and femininity are determined. Some became men and some women in conformity with their sexual status before they reached the Brahma realms.
Men and women were lured into sexual acts as they developed mutual lust for each other’s physique. The wise forebode sexual intercourse as unwholesome and looked down upon them but the majority could not resist the sensual pleasure. Couples had to carry out the ignoble vile act in small edifices they had set up in fear of being ridiculed and stoned. (At present in some places this custom of throwing stones at the newly wed couple’s house continues). In this way human settlements began to take shape. Later on beings with bad kamma were reborn as animals, making the world complete.