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Mind and Cosmos: Towards a New Buddhist Cosmology

a series of talks by Viryadeva

In contemporary Western society, Buddhism has become famous for its teachings about how to become psychologically healthier, happier and more robust. But this belies the true nature of the Dharma. Buddhism puts forward teachings not only about individual human consciousness, but also about the universe as a whole. In this series, Viryadeva attempts to show how traditional Buddhist cosmology contains a radical critique of everything we think we know about the mind, and its relationship to the cosmos. In doing so, he hopes to make Sangharakshita's crucial teachings on the cosmological context of Buddhism accessible to a wider audience.

Talk 1 title: The Mountain and the Shard In this talk (the first of three), Viryadeva sketches the outlines of traditional Buddhist cosmology. He focuses on the formation of Mount Meru, a great mountain looming over our world according to ancient Buddhist maps of the universe. Drawing parallels with the contemporary urban landscape, he argues that Mount Meru is a symbol for our fascination with material wealth and comfort - a fascination that Buddhist cosmology works to challenge.

Talk 2 title: The Diamond Throne The second talk in this series of three, Viryadeva takes a step back and tries to show what ancient Buddhist maps of the universe are telling us about the nature of existence as a whole. Taking the place of the Buddha's enlightenment - the mythical "diamond throne" - as the key to understanding Buddhist cosmology, Viryadeva guides us into the deeper nature of perception. At its heart, Buddhist cosmology shows us that the universe we think of as "real" is held within, and made possible by, mind itself.

Talk 3: Towards a New Buddhist Cosmology In the third and final talk in this series, Viryadeva shows how we can apply Buddhist cosmology to our own lives and communities. He argues that if we do not work to construct and live by cosmology which will guide our actions towards awakening, we will instead fall under the influence of the default, materialist cosmology that surrounds us. Our key means for making Buddhist cosmology a living reality is, he argues, through creating Buddhist Centres. In their ideal form, a Buddhist Centres is a place where the Buddhist universe - a universe with Awakening as its heart - can be manifested in our collective life.