The Realm of Birth and Death
Divided into the Three Realms of Existence
The following lists the states of existence within Samsara, the realm of birth and death. In Samsara there are three distinct levels of existence. The highest is the Formless Realm, in which there are the greatest gods who have transcended the physical body, having mentality only. There are four heavens on this level.
The next level, the Form Realm, also, only consists of heavens. The gods in these eighteen heavens have a form, but they have gone beyond the greed and lust for the pleasures of the five senses. They have attained a state of very profound and sublime happiness that it is a result of their skill in meditative concentration. Their greed for the five senses has been eclipsed by means of the force of their concentration-power. This is just like when a boulder is placed on grass, the grass is temporarily unable to grow. In the same way, their meditative power and ability has temporarily suppressed their thirst for the pleasures of the five senses, but it is still latent. The only way it can be eliminated forever, is by means of prajna wisdom. The Sages, that is the Arhats and Bodhisattvas as mentioned in Chapter Five, attain permanent states of Enlightenment in which this greed is truly extinguished.
On the next level, the Realm of Sensual Desire, there are six heavens, the realms of Asuras, human beings, animals, ghosts, and the denizens of hell. The minds of all the beings in these states are dominated by the drive for sensual pleasures. Those in the heavens here enjoy an incredible happiness associated with the senses as a result of their practice of good karma in the past.
Those in the three lowest states, also known as the Three Evil Destinies, that is animals, ghosts, and denizens of the hell, undergo much suffering and difficulty.
As mentioned in the Introduction, the purpose of the Buddha’s teachings is to see that all states of existence in Samsara lack substantial realty. As it says in the Shurangama Sutra (Volume 7) they:
Come into being from false thoughts, and their subsequent karma comes from false thoughts. Within the wonderful perfection of the fundamental mind that is unconditioned, they are like strange flowers in space, for there is basically nothing to cling to. They are entirely vain and false, and they have no source or beginning
All Buddhas become Buddhas in the human realm. The human realm presents the best state of existence for spiritual cultivation because it has a balance of good and bad. In the heavens life is too blissful to arouse concern over the problems of birth and death. In the three evil destinies (hells, animals, ghosts), intense suffering precludes any other awareness. One merely longs to escape the immediate agony, and is unable to consider the deeper significance of suffering as a universal condition of all the states of conditioned existence.
The Buddha once held up a clump of dirt in his hand and asked his disciples which was greater, the dirt in his hand, or the dirt of the whole earth. The disciples answered that of course the dirt of the earth was far greater than the dirt in the Buddha’s hand. The Buddha said that those beings who secure a human form are like the dirt in his hand; whereas those who had human form but have lost it (regressing into the three evil destinies) are as many as the dirt covering the entire earth. Thus we see that human life is extremely precious and fragile.
Although asuras are an individual realm by themselves, they also can appear in both of the other good paths of gods and humans as well as in the three evil destinies of the hells, the ghosts and animals. In general, regardless of what path they are in, they like to pick fights and have bad tempers. They enjoy bossing others around and like to be supervisors, but they cannot stand being supervised by others. Among people, asuras can be good or bad. The good asuras include military officials and troops, and bad asuras are thieves, thugs, murderers and the like.
Asuras are unruly beings that love to fight. Their name means “ugly”. It also means “ungodly” because, although some asuras enjoy heavenly blessings, nonetheless, the lack authority in the heavens.
There are four categories of asuras in the three realms of existence. Asuras in the path of ghosts use their strength to protect the Dharma and can with spiritual penetrations travel through space. They are born from eggs and belong to the destiny of ghosts.
Those who have fallen from virtue and been expelled from the heavens dwell in places near the sun and moon. They are asuras born from wombs and belong to the destiny of humans.
There are also asura kings who support the world with a penetrating power and fearlessness. They vie for position with the Brahma Lord, the God Shakra, and the Four Heavenly Kings. These asuras come into being by transformation and belong to the destiny of gods.
Ananda, there is another, base category of asuras. Their minds dwell on the sea; they live submerged in underwater caves. During the day they roam the skies; at night they return to their watery realm. These asuras come into being because of moisture and belong to the destiny of animals.
The Three Evil Destinies
If you wish, you can enter the realms of existence mentioned above to try them out—put on a play—but you should not play around with the three remaining realms. If you try these out you may not be able to escape. It is said that after one life in a human body, 10,000 kalpas may pass before that form can be obtained again. Playing around with the three evil destinies can be very dangerous.
Eager animals feed on greed,
Never sated by a lot.
Because they make what is black white,
They don’t distinguish wrong from right.
There are billions of animals, an infinite variety—flying, crawling, swimming, and walking—on land, in the water and in the sky. Beings become animals as a result of one thing: greed. For them, no matter what it is, the more the better. Animals lack the ability to reason. They become muddled and ignorance envelops them so that they become totally oblivious to anything rational—even to the point that they are greedy to eat excrement.
The ghostly crew delights in hate,
Deluded by effects, confused about cause.
Their ignorance and upside-downness
grows greater each day, deeper each month,
Almost everyone has heard of ghosts, but not everyone believes in them. Ghosts are masses of yin energy which have shadow and no form, or form and no shadow. There are as many different kinds of ghosts as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. Some ghosts are affluent and reign as kings over the ghost realm; some ghosts are poverty stricken and devoid of authority—it is often the poor ghosts who bother people. If you want to investigate ghosts in detail, work hard at your spiritual cultivation, open the Five Eyes and Six Spiritual Penetrations, and then explore for yourself.
The hells’ anxiety and suffering
Is devoid of doors yet one bores right in.
Giving rise to delusion deeds are done.
The retribution is born in due accord.
Anyone who would like to take a vacation in the hells can do so at any time at all. I can guarantee that. But the hells are a miserable place. Lamentation plants the seeds for hells; happiness plants the seeds for heavens. Unlike jails, the hells, although man-made by people who commit offenses, haven’t any doors. However, if you are due to go to the hells, when you arrive it is just as if a door opened, because you find yourself worming and boring in where there was no entrance.
If a sotapanna or sakadagami person died and then he born into human/deva realm, does:
1. He immediately become sotapanna/sakadagami from birth? (means his state of ariya is continued on next birth)
2. He born as puthujjana/non-ariya and must strive again to attain sotapanna/sakadagami? (means his state of ariya is reset on next birth)
Mind and Death
A virtuous mind at death is like water – it nourishes the virtuous potentialities that remain like dry seeds within our field-like consciousness. The minds we have when we are dying are of two types, gross and subtle. Whereas the gross minds of death can be virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral, for ordinary beings the subtle minds of death are only neutral. When we are dying, if our last gross mind is virtuous it will cause the good potentialities carried in our mind to ripen as a virtuous mental action that will lead us directly to higher rebirth as a human or a god. A virtuous mind at death is like water – it nourishes the virtuous potentialities that remain like dry seeds within our field-like consciousness. If two kinds of seed, barley seeds and wheat seeds, are sown in a field, but only the wheat seeds are watered, these will be certain to ripen first. In a similar way, while we still carry both virtuous and non-virtuous potentialities within our mind, a virtuous mind at the time of death will ensure that our virtuous potentialities are the ones that will ripen. This holds even if we have led an immoral life and committed many non-virtuous actions. However, we do not thereby escape the effects of all our non-virtuous deeds. If we take a human rebirth our life may be afflicted with great suffering or our life span may be short. If we do not purify our negative karma we shall eventually experience the fully ripened effect of our actions by taking rebirth in the lower realms.
How We Attract Gods & Goddesses?
It is very difficult to get god's attraction within small time such as one day, sometimes two or more months want to wait for get attraction from particular god. However Buddhist people can get their attraction from mind request in every day after worshiping to triple gem. But some people can get their attraction very soon cause of past lives relationship with gods. But gods attraction formula is so simple, which is :
Merits + Precepts + Tidiness + Sweet Odors + Chanting Dhamma (Parittas)
Lord Buddha say it is wise transfer merits to gods by doing Buddhist merit activities such as : giving alms or medicine, cloths donations to sangha, help to making temples or rooms for meditative Buddhist monks, doing meditations, observe precepts, teaching dharma, learning dharma, helping to poor people, etc...
Earth Based gods and goddesses are attracted to - sweet odors such as water flowers, sandalwood, jasmine, pichcha, some oils, fruits or clean places such as clean ponds, rivers, big trees, nice gardens, stupa and temples. If you keep such odors, trees or flowers inside your home, rooms or garden so gods will like to your home.
Also keeping Buddha worshiping place (neat room or tall table with Buddha statue, leave of Bodi tree & small stupa, where you can offer flowers, incense sticks & oil lamp to Lord Buddha.) in your home is another way to get attractions of gods. If all family members worship to Buddha in this place, then all of them will be attracted by kindly gods.
Another thing is after you get sign from ishta devatha or other gods attracted to you, it is not good wear or use Amulets (Yantras) or use sound science (Mantras) for cure your problems. Then gods think you neglect their power, so they remove their attraction from you or your family. Instead of Mantras, you can use Buddhist poems or Parittas (Gods are esp. like to hear Karaniya Metta sutta & Maha Mangala Sutta). Good thing is you talk such things with your family Astrologer. If you reduce your merit works then gods also reduce their attraction as same amount from you & your family. Dhamapada said person who not get angry, who say true words & who give donations may close to gods!
Gods and goddesses are powerful energy beings who did big merits on donations, precepts and meditations in their past life times. Gods don't like come near to human world or humans. So only they look at us and use mind waves(Their Blessings) for help us. Lot of times god's thoughts are powerful which means they can create some physical things from their mind. Gods look at people who do merits and use their mind power to help those people's life, which means make easy their works. This is called as Devadishti which means Attraction of Gods. We can get their attraction from mainly by giving merit to them. In Sri Lanka gods & goddesses we are calling Deviyo. If we are lucky enough in this human life we also can get god blessings. Actually its help living life come to success.
A gross misunderstanding of about Buddhism exists today, especially in the notion of reincarnation. The common misunderstanding is that a person has led countless previous lives, usually as an animal, but somehow in this life he is born as a human being and in the next life he will be reborn as an animal, depending on the kind of life he has lived.
This misunderstanding arises because people usually do not know-how to read the sutras or sacred writings. It is said that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings; the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds characteristics, tastes, etc. of the people. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha, the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally.
Herein lies our problem. A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality. However, if we learn to go beyond or transcend the parables and myths, we will be able to understand the truth.
People will say "If such is the case why not speak directly so that we will be able to come to an immediate grasp of the truth?" This statement is understandable, but truth is often inexpressible. [Ed comment: we as human beings are limited in understanding "Buddha Knowledge". We cannot speak TRUTH, only words ABOUT Truth] Thus, writers and teachers have often resorted to the language of the imagination to lead the reader from a lower to a higher truth. The doctrine of reincarnation is often understood in this light.
What Reincarnation is Not
Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person; for instance, John being reborn as a cat in the next life. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. This cycle is repeated over and over again. Or if he is lucky, he will be reborn as a human being. This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism.
Karma is a Sanskrit word from the root "Kri" to do or to make and simply means "action." It operates in the universe as the continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. It is not only confined to causation in the physical sense but also it has moral implications. "A good cause, a good effect; a bad cause a bad effect" is a common saying. In this sense karma is a moral law.
Now human beings are constantly giving off physical and spiritual forces in all directions. In physics we learn that no energy is ever lost; only that it changes form. This is the common law of conservation of energy. Similarly, spiritual and mental action is never lost. It is transformed. Thus Karma is the law of the conservation of moral energy.
By actions, thoughts, and words, man is releasing spiritual energy to the universe and he is in turn affected by influences coming in his direction. Man is therefore the sender and receiver of all these influences. The entire circumstances surrounding him is his karma.
With each action-influence he sends out and at the same time, receives, he is changing. This changing personality and the world he lives in, constitute the totality of his karma.
Karma should not be confused with fate. Fate is the notion that man's life is preplanned for him by some external power, and he has no control over his destiny. Karma on the other hand, can be changed. Because man is a conscious being he can be aware of his karma and thus strive to change the course of events. In the Dhammapada we find the following words, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts."
What we are, then, is entirely dependent on what we think. Therefore, the nobility of man's character is dependent on his"good" thoughts, actions, and words. At the same time, if he embraces degrading thoughts, those thoughts invariably influence him into negative words and actions.
Traditionally, Buddhism teaches the existence of the ten realms of being. At the top is Buddha and the scale descends as follows: Bodhisattva (an enlightened being destined to be a Buddha, but purposely remaining on earth to teach others), Pratyeka Buddha (a Buddha for himself), Sravka (direct disciple of Buddha), heavenly beings (superhuman [angels?]), human beings, Asura (fighting spirits), beasts, Preta (hungry ghosts), and depraved men (hellish beings).
Now, these ten realms may be viewed as unfixed, nonobjective worlds, as mental and spiritual states of mind. These states of mind are created by men's thoughts, actions, and words. In other words, psychological states. These ten realms are "mutually immanent and mutually inclusive, each one having in it the remaining nine realms." For example, the realm of human beings has all the other nine states (from hell to Buddhahood). Man is at the same time capable of real selfishness, creating his own hell, or is truly compassionate, reflecting the compassion of Amida Buddha. Buddhas too have the other nine realms in their minds, for how can a Buddha possibly save those in hell if he himself does not identify with their suffering and guide them to enlightenment.
We can learn a valuable lesson from the teaching of reincarnation.
In what realm do you now live? If you are hungry for power, love, and self-recognition, you live in the Preta world, or hungry ghosts. If you are motivated only by thirsts of the human organism, you are existing in the world of the beast.
Consider well then your motives and intentions. Remember that man is characteristically placed at the midpoint of the ten stages; he can either lower himself abruptly or gradually into hell or through discipline, cultivation and the awakening of faith rise to the Enlightened state of the Buddha.