Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Tag: universe

Master Huijing’s Dharma Words about the Purpose of Life

If we step back and pause to reflect a little, we’ll realize just how many concerns dog us in our daily existence. As Buddhists we shouldn’t seek to ignore the conventional realities that can cause concern and vexation to arise in us. I’d be the first to confess that I have plenty of worries. But we should also put these worries into perspective. In our everyday lives, over the course of many years, we discern that some worries are trivial and deserve little thought while others, like marriage, family, and work are legitimately significant and can shape the direction and affect the wellbeing of our lives.

Let’s take the most significant of worldly worries, then, and contrast it with the great matter of birth and death. Even the biggest matters of our lives will fall into frivolity when compared to our concern about that which lies beyond. The true purpose of life is invoking Amitabha Buddha with faith, for when it comes to we who are unenlightened and lacking insight, the matter of transcending birth and death overrides all others.

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Life, Death… All a Matter of Perspective

We like to tell ourselves that we intellectually (even if we struggle to emotionally) grasp the significance of death as the end of our present existence. But time, life, and death are nowhere near as commonsense as we think. In an article in The Independent, professor Robert Lanza lays out the concept of biocentrism: ‘the universe only exists because of an individual’s consciousness of it – essentially life and biology are central to reality, which in turn creates the universe; the universe itself does not create life. The same applies to the concepts of space and time, which Professor Lanza describes as “simply tools of the mind.”’

We don’t experience reality “as it is.” We simply don’t have that kind of access, unless we are bodhisattvas or Buddhas. For us, “life,” “death,” and everything in between is filtered through our senses and perceptions. Similarly, as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has said (and which we highlight in today’s Wisdom for Today quote on the main website), birth and death are quite literally a matter of perspectives, much like the concept of above and below when we’re sitting on this blue and green rock in a quiet corner of a galaxy among billions of galaxies in a vast, unfathomable universe.

The most ancient and primeval human story is the struggle to understand the great mystery and what lies beyond, that which is too big to be contained merely by our conceptions of what reality is. Only the Buddha can help us peer past the veil that our minds have created to obscure our insight.

#Buddhistdoor Global—Your Doorway to the World of #Buddhism
#Wisdom for Today: https://www.buddhistdoor.net/wisdom-for-today

Postcard from Raymond: The Unseen is the Real

There is a mysterious, imperceptible force from beyond the observable universe yanking our galaxy in a certain and irresistible direction. We can’t stop it.

The cosmic phenomenon known as “dark flow” is controversial, but it describes a flow or peculiar velocity of galaxies towards the Centaurus and Hydra Constellations. The gravitational anomaly called the “Great Attractor” is responsible for this debated flow, and is a concentration of mass tens of thousands of times more gargantuan than our Milky Way galaxy. Yet even the Laniakea Supercluster, which is in that region of the cosmos, does not have enough mass to be able to cause the dark flow.

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Postcard from Raymond: Pale Blue Dot

I love nothing more than having my assumptions demolished. I enjoy being put in my place. This is not some masochistic desire to be debased or humiliated. Rather, I find it liberating to see how small we really are in the cosmos, via images of space and all kinds of beginner-friendly astronomical analyses. It was the writer Carl Sagan who put it best on 13 October 1994. When giving a speech at Cornell University he mentioned the Pale Blue Dot photo, taken by the Voyager 1 space probe on 14 February 1990, 6 billion kilometres from Earth. Earth appears as a tiny, almost indiscernible speck on the image against the vastness of space. Sagan’s profound words are worth quoting in full:

“We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there—on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

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Postcard from Raymond: What is Dharma?


Dharma is the cosmic law of reality. It is simultaneously the Buddha’s teaching, meaning two very important things. First, it means that the Buddhist teachings and reality itself are one and the same; they correspond to each other. The Dharma is the fount of all things which lies beyond the universe and the wheel of becoming.

Secondly, since Dharma is beginningless and endless, the Buddha did not invent this teaching out of thin air. He discovered it as Siddhartha Gautama, and by attaining Buddhahood, Siddhartha became a perfect embodiment of the Dharma. Every Buddha represents the Dharma, and point to “the way things really are” in their own unique way. To gain insight is to know Dharma, and become one with it as a bodhisattva and then finally a Buddha. Namo Amitabha!

To Find That Place

Steve Braff


To find that place
beyond judgment
beyond fear

a place of presence
the simple clarity
of knowing

this most gentle unveiling
of the sacred
in this moment
of the whole
in which
I am
no longer

Songs of the Ocean’s Tides


St Catherine's Chapel in Abbotsbury, with Chesil beach in the background. From Jurassic Coast

St Catherine’s Chapel in Abbotsbury, with Chesil beach in the background. From Jurassic Coast

Take a walk on the beach, holding a friend’s hand, and relax. Feel the sand squeezed between your toes and listen to the gently lapping waves. Peaceful, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not. Choose a different beach, and the surface might be sharp edges of volcanic rock, a foam frozen in time and cut by erosion to leave knife-edge broken bubbles. Or perhaps the beach is a long bank of rounded pebbles, tiring to walk on, like the 29-kilometer Chesil Beach in southern England. Each beach has its story, a varied history perhaps of fire and upheaval, or of shipwrecks and smugglers. But even a smooth, sandy beach has secrets. Life teems beneath your feet and the washed-up seaweed is home and food for numerous worms, crustaceans and arthropods. Come back in a few hours, and the broad swathe of sand might have disappeared so the waves pound the bottom of the cliff; the tide has come in.

The creatures of the beach face constant change, dominated by the twice-daily tide. Yet not quite: the major rhythm is every 12 hours, 25.2 minutes because the Moon orbits the Earth in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation. Beach creatures synchronise their activity with the tide, feeding when the food arrives and burrowing or hiding when necessary. Beach visitors, such as gulls, plovers, and curlews, time their visits by the tides too.

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The Moon Has Disappeared. Now What?



It’s the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the whole family has gathered to play with lanterns and gaze at the beautiful full moon. Suddenly, the Moon disappears. What happens to our family and the Earth?

The Moon is a 3,475 kilometer-wide ball of rock. How could it disappear? Let’s take a look at a few different ideas, and what the effects of each would be.

One fundamental law of physics is that matter cannot be created or destroyed, so the moon could not just cease to exist. However, matter can be converted into energy, as described by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2. Suppose the Moon was suddenly converted into energy, in the form of radiation: radio waves, microwaves, light, x-rays and cosmic rays. That would be 6.57 x 1039 Joules, which is about the same as the Sun’s total energy output for thirty five and a half years. Everything on the side of the Earth facing the Moon would be instantly vaporised, and a shockwave of hot gasses would cook everything on the far side. The Earth would be sterilised.

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