"Cosmology orients us. It provides us a place within the universe, a home whereChristopher Key Chappel - Thomas Berry, Buddhism, and the New Cosmology
our story can be told in such a way that it makes sense to ourselves and the
people with whom we live. For millennia, the earth and water, the light, the
weather, and the heavens have been accounted for in myriad tales from diverse
cultures. Humans have found meaning in reading their own story against the story
of the place in which they find themselves. From the local shrines arising out
of archaic sensibilities to the elaborate Ptolemaic spheres and Dante-esque
hells of Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, the study of the cosmos begins
and ends with an exploration of self. For the past 300 years there has been a
slow and steady erosion of cos- mological theory. "
Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 18 (1998), pp. 147-154
And so it is with our study of Buddhist Ethics. We must understand the cosmology of Buddhism, the story that orients us - oriented the Buddha and his earliest followers. Yes, the study of specific terms and doctrines will shed light on us and the meaning of Buddhist Ethics, but without the cosmology, the framework, we tend to be shining a particularly bright beam on tiny specks of earth before us. What is needed is a greater understanding of the path as a whole...