Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 29, No 1 (2010)

Eschatology and World Order in Buddhist Formations

James B. Apple
Issued Date: 8 Nov 2010


At the core of Buddhist eschatological tradition is the concept of dharma -an ordering principle of an unending and beginningless universe, oscillating in a “cyclic existence” of creation and dissolution. But how does this cosmological principle shape Buddhist understanding and interpretation of the contemporary world order? This article relates Buddha’s dharma, with its primary themes of suffering and impermanence, to sociopolitical conditions in the realm of human affairs. Pointing out the dichotomy between the mundane (societal) and the super-mundane (cosmological), the article argues that world order is a process of dissolution and re-emergence based on the differentiation of environmental conditions and human dispositions. It concludes that although Buddhist tradition departs from the normal “end of things” eschatology, relative eschatologies have developed within the varied conditions in which Buddhism has flourished.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v29i1.109


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