Worlds Are a Product of Living Beings'
Thoughts and Karma
According to the cosmology of the Flower Adornment (Avatamsaka) Sutra, there are limitless seas of worlds, each with its own particular properties and various distinctions. Our world, for example, takes earth as its substance. Within our bodies are bones, blood, and the circulatory system. Upon the earth are rivers, lakes, and oceans. These bodies of water form the circulatory system of the earth. Beneath the earth lie gold, silver, copper, iron, and other metals which can be likened to the bones of the body. The body's hard substances are its bones, soft substances are its flesh and the moving parts its circulation. Just like a person, the earth has its skin, blood, flesh, bones, and marrow.
Since the earth is so huge, however, it differs from a human body. Within the earth are hot substances just as in the body there is warmth. I haven't thoroughly investigated the reasons why volcanoes erupt and the lava flows forth, why the earth quakes, or why the substances inside are boiling hot; but there are specific reasons for these phenomena. When mountains crash together and the seas dry up, you could say the earth is sick. When it quakes, it's like a person afflicted with such a serious illness that he suffers convulsions. The sickness of the earth differs from the ills of people in that it takes a long time to develop, whereas people can in the short span of perhaps a few years pass through many illnesses.
Gravitational fields bind the planets and stars, as the gravitational pull of the sun holds the earth in space, causing it to orbit around the sun. One revolution of the earth around the sun is a time span we call a year. One rotation of the earth on its axis is called a day. However, even if you calculate these motions by means of mathematics, the reason for them is still inconceivable. Even if the sun, the moon, or the entire galaxy were to perish, one would still never be able to comprehend the reason for them. And yet if this world were destroyed, another would be born because when one world is annihilated, another comes into being. The substances they are made of vary greatly.
The Flower Adornment Sutra principles discussed here are very general, not detailed. Although each phenomenon expands into ten, and the ten in turn can expand to a hundred, a thousand, and so forth, still the scope being discussed is in limited terms. In truth, there are no limits, and the principles can be expanded ad infinitum.
People are attached to their own bodies, their own homes, their own clothes, their own food, and to the notion that this is a great world. Because of these attachments they create all the false and empty worlds that exist. Originally there is not one thing; the Buddha-nature is empty. It is just because of attachments that the stars, moons, suns, and all the worlds come into being. The production, dwelling, decay, and extinction of all worlds result from the karma of the vain and false attachments of living beings.
People are tiny, like particles of dust within the entirety of space, so there is no way they can totally comprehend all of space. Like ants that scurry around in an airplane, people have no idea of where they are and what is happening to them. The ants are totally unaware that they are flying through space in a machine. In the same way, we don't know the magnitude of this world system we live in. You may say, "Oh, the scientists figured that out a long time ago." But I ask you, have they figured out exactly when they themselves will die? Do they know how many grains of rice they consume in a given day?
You say, "They can just weigh themselves before and after they eat and the difference between the two figures is how much they've eaten." Sure, that will give you a general idea, but it doesn't take a scientist to figure that out; anyone with average wits could do the same. Besides, I meant "know" without having to reckon and calculate. I meant "know" exactly and accurately without having to think about it. The point is this: all of you should deeply realize that this world is impermanent. Do not be so attached to using the calculating mind to figure it all out. That would be the very best!