Buddhist Eschatology

Jan Nattier

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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If eschatology is understood to refer to “final things”—that is, the idea that the world will one day come to a definitive end—there is simply no parallel in the Buddhist tradition. This being said, Buddhist sources do refer to what Zwi Werblowsky has aptly termed “relative eschatologies.” On the cosmic level, one can speak of the end of a particular phase of manifestation or non-manifestation of the universe as a whole or, within this larger framework, the end of a specific cycle of devolution or evolution. On the historical level, Buddhist scriptures predict the demise of the Buddhist religion itself, holding that Buddhism—like all causally constructed phenomena—will eventually come to an end. This article deals with Buddhist eschatology, cosmic eschatology, cosmology and modernity, Mahāayāna developments, and the legacy of Śākyamuni Buddha and other Buddhas such as Maitreya.

Keywords: Buddhism; cosmology; modernity; Buddhas; Maitreya; universe

Article.  8932 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Buddhism

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