Hi joep, all,
I hope you don't mind if I ask a related question here, that occurred to me just the other day (rather than begin a new topic). There are trillions of stars and planets observable currently. They are all in our 'dimension' of being, in the sense that, with the right technology, we could build space ships and go there. In other words, if there are planets out there inhabited by other beings, there is another way, other than via death and rebirth, to visit those planets.
So I do not see how these physical planets made up of gross matter could be what is being referred to when the 'heavens' are referred to (in the suttas). Most of the planets, when investigated scientifically, show no signs of life, carbon based or otherwise. The "heavens" must refer to something else, something akin to another dimension, accessible not by any physical means, but only by being reborn there via (good) kamma, or by psychic power.
What I am leading to here, is that if universes are manifested due to the desires of living beings to be, become and enjoy, why are there so, so, so many planets that are clearly unliveable, or at least yet to be proven otherwise? What a tremendous expenditure of energy to no good cause. Furthermore, why is this fact, of most planets being lifeless wastelands, not mentioned in the suttas? The impression I get from reading the suttas (not to mention Vedic / Brahminical texts) is that the Universe is abundant with life, not that it's actually mostly empty space, punctuated by stars, many of which also have lifeless balls of rock, liquid or gas spinning around them, that serve no useful purpose other then simply existing.
I am wondering if maybe scientists are right about something: that maybe, most of the Universe is lifeless, and that planets such as ours are basically a wonderful fluke, a one-in-a-million chance, that they somehow develop to sustain life (of which the Earth is a prime example). I must admit, given a choice between direct observation and ancient books, I will lean towards preferencing direct observation (the only issue being that essentially, the 'direct observation' is done by astronomers, and others such as ourselves, must simply trust that they
are telling us the truth about what is out there).