A Comparative Study of the Hierarchy of Existence in Islamic Mysticism and Buddhist Mysticism

Ja’far Ahmadi / Ph.D. Student, Religions and Mysticism, the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute                                                                                                                              Jafarahmadi@iki.ac.ir

Received: 2019/07/20 - Accepted: 2019/12/21



In Islamic mysticism as well as in Buddhist mysticism, the hierarchy of existence is explained in a longitudinal and descending order. In Islamic mysticism, the hierarchy of existence is established according to the theory of unity of Being and plurality of appearance in the form of essence and the five levels of existence, whereas in Buddhist mysticism, in the form of the three bodies: the Buddha, the first Buddha and its manifestations. Making a comparison between these two systems to explain the hierarchy of existence can, on the one hand, prepare the ground for a rational understanding of Buddhist teachings; and, on the other hand, explain the similarities and differences between them and the merits of each one. Using a descriptive-analytical method, this article explains the hierarchy of existence of each of these two systems; then makes a comparison between them. It concludes that, Islamic mysticism and Buddhist mysticism are alike in regard to the principle of creating the hierarchy of the existence of universe longitudinally and in a descending order; but they are significantly different in the content and details, despite the several points of similarities between them. The difference between the two lies in the fact that in Islamic mysticism hierarchy of existence is based on Deity and pure monotheism, but in Buddhist mysticism it is based on a kind of human deity or supernatural deity.


Keywords: hierarchy of existence, the unity of Being, the five levels of existence, Trikaya, Dharma, Adi-Buddha, Diana-Buddha.



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