You might have heard or read that the Buddha claimed “the world is within you.” Buddhists often make this claim based on a sutta (discourse) in the Gradual Discourses (Anguttara Nikaya) of the Buddha.
Words of the Buddha can offer inspiration and insight – even if the quote in English from the Pali language may not accurately reflect the original.
I have included below the original Pali (language of the Buddha) and meaning of key terms.
This is the quote from the Anguttara Nikaya 4. book of the fours, section 45.
We read that the Buddha said
“I declare that it is in this fathom long body with its perceptions and mind, there is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world.”
A Precise Translation
For it is in this fathom-long body with its perception and mind, that I make known/declare/recognise the world, its arising, its cessation, and the practice that leads to its cessation.
Api caham, avuso, imasmimyeva byamamatte kalevare sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññapemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagamininca miniñca patipadanti.
imasmimyeva – imasmim – this / that
byamamatte – byama (a fathom) + matta (measure, quantity)
kaevare – kalebara – body,
sasaññimhi – sa(own) + saññin (conscious, being aware of, perceiving)
samanake – sa(own) + mano (mind)
lokañca – loka – space, world, universe
paññapemi – paññapeti – causative form of pajanati – to make known, to declare, to define
The ‘world’ depends upon perceptions and use of the mind to make it known.
The ‘world’ is not within you, nor is it outside of you.
The ‘world’ consists of a general concept imposed upon what dependently arises.
The Buddha makes clear the perception and the perceived, the description and described, dependently arise upon each other ro form the “world” as we know it. Other creatures perceive the world in other ways according to their perceptions.
We can see with wisdom (pañña) the world, the conditions for the world’s arising, the ending of such arising and know the way to end the world.
If the world was within, we could create any kind of world we liked. We do not create our own reality.
If we could, we could create a world of lasting happiness, healthy, emotionally and financially secure, as a reality for ourselves. Dream on!
The Buddha told Rohitassa
The end of the world can never
Be reached by walking.
Without having reached the world’s end
There is no release from suffering.