Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Karma and Self Importance

Every being has to confront and hopefully eventually overcome, Self-Importance. This dukkha or burden is common to all of mankind to a greater or lesser extent. Whilst it is current, it induces a myopia and self-centred orientation towards the world; some call this EGO. Under its influence the being imagines incorrectly that the whole world revolves around its wants, desires and convenience. When the evidential circumstance of the world is inconsistent with this, the being “suffers”. This suffering is self induced and is also inflicted upon others.

Caught up in SELF IMPORTANCE the being progresses through life trying to get its own way and exert its will over others. Unfortunately, most only come to have insight or understanding about this quality in manifestation, towards the end of life. It is only then that they can even begin to acknowledge how much harm their self importance has done both to their life and the lives around them. Many of the lessons associated with self importance are therefore autumnal.

As the leaves of a lifetime start to fall and the mind and body age, the bare tree of life starts to show through. It is in this stage of life that many self-important beings first get any sight of and start to own, how their behaviour has manifested. This realization is not possible or evident amidst a busy and hectic life. Yet as the engine starts to rev. more slowly the effects of self importance emerge from under the carpet.

Being an autumnal realisation there is little time to redress that which it is they have done. The slow appearance of understanding can lead to old age melancholy and bitterness. These are not pleasant to experience yet are by way of necessary learning in preparation for upcoming lives. Lifetime after lifetime are beings born to struggle with their own EGO and self importance. It is a lesson which is very long in the learning and because of the nature of self importance, one which so many adamantly resist to learn. They are way too self important to even begin to learn what it does and how to undo it.

The antidote is a realistic humility, and not a faux self important or “put on”, humility. Though many try to play humble, false piety is eventually transparent and God is not gullible.

If you don’t start to address self importance and that which it causes, according to Karma you will be shown some of the effects it has brought in the Autumn of your life.

It makes sense to do the work on self importance whilst you are of relatively sound body and mind. Leaving it to the last minutes in the hope that it will disappear all on its own, is not a wise strategy.

When two self-importances rub up against each other there is conflict. I mean this both at a personal level and in much wider circumstances. At the root of many world or national conflicts, there are opinions and EGOS.

Many of the major Karmic Challenges facing humanity have their root in EGO and Self Importance.

It is not possible to achieve liberation whilst one has SELF importance. This is the law.

Having said this few realize the total debilitation and self slavery, that is slavery by and to the self, with which they are encumbered. Self importance is the master of self deception. It parades as a friend and saviour, whilst in reality it is anything but!

Does my self importance bring me a sense of freedom or am I eternally busy trying to satisfy its whims?

Somebody Else’s Karma

One of the most difficult things in respect of Karma is figuring out when not to interfere. This is because interfering can stop people from learning the lesson which is due them. Altruism however, points at trying to mitigate the suffering of others; yet all too often a “helping hand” simply delays what a being needs to learn. By apparently preventing the suffering in the moment, it can actually be prolonging it.

It is not easy to ascertain when someone has Karmic learning to do. The only reliable pointer is recurrence. If a person keeps on doing the same thing and does not learn from it because others “help out”, rather than acting as a salve, that assistance, prolongs. A recurring pattern is more likely than not something Karmic and is by way of unfinished business.

It is never easy watching someone get “punched in the head” by life, yet sometimes this is exactly what is needed. Putting a glove on can appear to soften the blow yet this means that more blows are needed for the same lesson to be learned.

The desire to assist or ameliorate somebody else’s experience often comes about because of a “but for the grace of God there go I” feeling. There is something about the situation which strikes a chord of recognition. Deep down the lesson being learned is one which the being seeking to help knows is awaiting them, unless they change their ways. So they seek to mitigate the outcome of something which the world is mirroring for them. The experience which they are observing is a little too close for comfort.

Watching somebody else’s Karma can inform as to the causal consequence of one’s own actions. One can see mirrored the effect of similar causes currently being played out in one’s own life. Sometimes it is a reminder of lessons which one has already, sometimes painfully, learned; perhaps echoes of a past behaviour are surfacing again and one is given a timely reminder. Things in the mirror often reflect that which is too close for comfort for us. This is a good thing and should a situation cause discomfort, then it is a sure sign that there is some learning in and around such circumstance.

If one is serious about working with Karma, no matter how tempting it might be, Karmic challenges must be seized and not put off, nor should “help” always be accepted. If the situation is beyond current capacity, then help is OK. If laziness is at work, then help simply puts off the scheduled learning.

The motivations for interfering are many and manifold. Some of these are pure, others are not. When a situation unfolds in which one is able to assist it is always wise to be honest about the motive, for so doing. Many like to be painted hero. This in itself is a cause for subsequent effect.

In many but not all cases, people have to learn the hard way. Interfering actually prevents learning. It in effect “steals” someone’s lesson away from them!

Which is more compassionate allowing someone to learn naturally or interfering and mitigating?

Dissatisfaction and Life Templates

Before I get more deeply into the subject of Karma, I am going to talk a little about dissatisfaction. This is what Buddhists might call dukkha and it is all pervasive. If you look around you do you see anyone who is content, even at peace with where they find themselves in life? Are not most people “after something”?

This grasping for something, perhaps that cure all elixir, underpins life. For most this has material elements, a better job, a new car, more sex, better food or a good night out with the pals. It does not address what is perhaps an underlying malaise, noted but never fully acknowledged, a sort of thirst even an itch. People are forever putting temporary salves on this and yet it never really goes away. If there is grasping, there can never be full satisfaction, for even if the object of desire is attained, then more grasping inevitably follows.

A major cause of this dissatisfaction is the purchase and installation of a Life Template. This is when one buys a ready-made template for life and then tries to fit it to what is actually happening. One might buy the “Successful career, Good husband and Father” template down at the shop of socially accepted templates in the supermarket of life. One then works with that theme for decades only customizing it ever so slightly. All of effort is directed at maintaining that template which one has sold to one’s friends and family. If you don’t stick to that template, they will remind you!

Associated with this template are house, car, kids, annual holidays and delightful family get togethers. Many versions of this template are on sale according to budget.

By trying to fit life to this template dissatisfaction results. People may gripe and moan about this, few do anything to change.

Nowadays we have a whole host of templates. One could be the thrusting career woman juggling corporate success, children and relationships; wanting to have cake and eat it.

People even assign templates to each other and if you do not fulfil the expectations of a template, this causes dissatisfaction for the person who assigned you that template. They then select another more negative template by which they view and judge you. These templates are all by way of an ersatz for reality.

It is by force of WILL that people strive to fit into and propagate, a template. This inevitably causes friction and dissatisfaction. This is by no means the only source of dissatisfaction yet “wanting to have life on your own terms” is a consistent and thematically encompassing overlay which pervades. If you do not get what you “think” you want, you get the hump at life.

Are you living a Template?

Tathāgata

This from Wikipedia:

Tathāgata (Sanskrit: [tɐˈtʰaːɡɐtɐ]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word; Gautama Buddha uses it when referring to himself in the Pāli Canon. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata), “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata), or sometimes “one who has thus not gone” (tathā-agata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathāgata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are, however, other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain.

The Buddha is quoted on numerous occasions in the Pali Canon as referring to himself as the Tathāgata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This may be meant to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth and death, i.e. beyond dukkha.

The term Tathāgata has a number of possible meanings.

Etymology and interpretation

The word’s original significance is not known and there has been speculation about it since at least the time of Buddhaghosa, who gives eight interpretations of the word, each with different etymological support, in his commentary on the Digha Nikaya, the SUMAṄGALAVILĀSINĪ.

  1. He who has arrived in such fashion, i.e. who has worked his way upwards to perfection for the world’s good in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas.
  2. He who walked in such fashion, i.e. (a) he who at birth took the seven equal steps in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas or (b) he who in the same way as all previous Buddhas went his way to Buddhahood through the four Jhanas and the Paths.
  3. He who by the path of knowledge has come at the real essentials of things.
  4. He who has won Truth.
  5. He who has discerned Truth.
  6. He who declares Truth.
  7. He whose words and deeds accord.
  8. The great physician whose medicine is all-potent.

Monks, in the world with its devas, Mara and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed and cognized, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind—all that is fully understood by the Tathagata. That is why he is called the Tathagata. (Anguttara Nikaya 4:23)

Modern scholarly opinion generally opines that Sanskrit grammar offers at least two possibilities for breaking up the compound word: either tathā and āgata (via a sandhi rule ā + ā → ā), or tathā and gata. Tathā means “thus” in Sanskrit and Pali, and Buddhist thought takes this to refer to what is called “reality as-it-is” (yathābhūta). This reality is also referred to as “thusness” or “suchness” (tathatā), indicating simply that it (reality) is what it is.

Tathāgata is defined as someone who “knows and sees reality as-it-is” (yathā bhūta ñāna dassana). Gata “gone” is the past passive participle of the verbal root gam “go, travel”. Āgata “come” is the past passive participle of the verb meaning “come, arrive”. In this interpretation, Tathāgata means literally either “the one who has gone to suchness” or “the one who has arrived at suchness”.

Another interpretation, proposed by the scholar Richard Gombrich, is based on the fact that, when used as a suffix in compounds, -gata will often lose its literal meaning and signifies instead “being”. Tathāgata would thus mean “one like that”, with no motion in either direction.

According to Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, the term has a non-Buddhist origin, and is best understood when compared to its usage in non-Buddhist works such as the Mahabharata. Shcherbatskoy gives the following example from the Mahabharata (Shantiparva, 181.22): “Just as the footprints of birds (flying) in the sky and fish (swimming) in water cannot be seen, Thus (tātha) is going (gati) of those who have realized the Truth.”

The French author René Guénon, in an essay distinguishing between Pratyēka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, writes that the former appear outwardly superior to the latter, simply because they are allowed to remain impassible, whereas the latter must in some sense appear to rediscover “a way” or at least recapitulate it, so that others, too, may “go that way,” hence tathā-gata

The nature of a Tathāgata

A number of passages affirm that a Tathāgata is “immeasurable”, “inscrutable”, “hard to fathom”, and “not apprehended”. A tathāgata has abandoned that clinging to the skandhas (personality factors) that render citta (the mind) a bounded, measurable entity, and is instead “freed from being reckoned by” all or any of them, even in life. The aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and cognizance that compose personal identity have been seen to be dukkha (a burden), and an enlightened individual is one with “burden dropped”. The Buddha explains “that for which a monk has a latent tendency, by that is he reckoned, what he does not have a latent tendency for, by that is he not reckoned. These tendencies are ways in which the mind becomes involved in and clings to conditioned phenomena. Without them, an enlightened person cannot be “reckoned” or “named”; he or she is beyond the range of other beings, and cannot be “found” by them, even by gods, or Mara. In one passage, Sariputta states that the mind of the Buddha cannot be “encompassed” even by him.

The Buddha and Sariputta, in similar passages, when confronted with speculation as to the status of an arahant after death, bring their interlocutors to admit that they cannot even apprehend an arahant that is alive. As Sariputta puts it, his questioner Yamaka “can’t pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life.” These passages imply that condition of the arahant, both before and after parinirvana, lies beyond the domain where the descriptive powers of ordinary language are at home; that is, the world of the skandhas and the greed, hatred, and delusion that are “blown out” with nirvana.

In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, an ascetic named Vaccha questions the Buddha on a variety of metaphysical issues. When Vaccha asks about the status of a tathagata after death, the Buddha asks him in which direction a fire goes when it has gone out. Vaccha replies that the question “does not fit the case … For the fire that depended on fuel … when that fuel has all gone, and it can get no other, being thus without nutriment, it is said to be extinct.” The Buddha then explains: “In exactly the same way …, all form by which one could predicate the existence of the saint, all that form has been abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future. The saint … who has been released from what is styled form is deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, like the mighty ocean.” The same is then said of the other aggregates. A variety of similar passages make it clear that the metaphor “gone out, he cannot be defined” (atthangato so na pamanam eti) refers equally to liberation in life. In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta itself, it is clear that the Buddha is the subject of the metaphor, and the Buddha has already “uprooted” or “annihilated” the five aggregates. In Sn 1074, it is stated that the sage cannot be “reckoned” because he is freed from the category “name” or, more generally, concepts. The absence of this precludes the possibility of reckoning or articulating a state of affairs; “name” here refers to the concepts or apperceptions that make propositions possible.

Nagarjuna expressed this understanding in the nirvana chapter of his Mulamadhyamakakarika: “It is not assumed that the Blessed One exists after death. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither. It is not assumed that even a living Blessed One exists. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither.”

Speaking within the context of Mahayana Buddhism (specifically the Perfection of Wisdom sutras), Edward Conze writes that the term ‘tathagata’ denotes inherent true selfhood within the human being:

Just as tathata designates true reality in general, so the word which developed into “Tathagata” designated the true self, the true reality within man.

Buddhist Cosmology

Excerpted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology_of_the_Theravada_school

Introduction

Theravada Buddhist cosmology describes the 31 planes of existence in which rebirth takes place. The order of the planes are found in various discourses of Gautama Buddha in the Sutta Pitaka. For example, in the Saleyyaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya the Buddha mentioned the planes above the human plane in ascending order.  In several suttas in the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha described the causes of rebirth in these planes in the same order. In Buddhism, the devas are not immortal gods that play a creative role in the cosmic process. They are simply elevated beings who had been reborn in the celestial planes as a result of their words, thoughts, and actions. Usually, they are just as much in bondage to delusion and desire as human beings, and as in need of guidance from the Enlightened One. The Buddha is the “teacher of devas and humans (satthadevamanussanam). The devas came to visit the Buddha in the night. The Devatasamyutta and the Devaputtasamyutta of the Samyutta Nikaya gives a record of their conversations. The devaputtas are young devas newly arisen in heavenly planes, and devatas are mature deities.

The data for the 31 planes of existence in samsara are compiled from the Majjhima Nikaya, Anguttara Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya, Digha Nikaya, Khuddaka Nikaya, and others. The 31 planes of existence can be perceived by a Buddha’s Divine eye (dibbacakkhu) and some of his awakened disciples through the development of jhana meditation. According to the suttas, a Buddha can access all these planes and know all his past lives as well as those of other beings.

In the Maha-Saccaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya of the Pali Canon, Gautama Buddha said:

“When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma:

‘These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.’

Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.”

In the Itivuttaka edition of the Khuddaka Nikaya and in the Māpuññabhāyi Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha told about his past lives:

“Whenever the eon contracted I reached the “Plane of Streaming Radiance”, and when the eon expanded I arose in an empty divine mansion. And there I was Brahma, the great Brahma, the unvanquished victor, the all-seeing, the all-powerful. Thirty-six times I was Sakka, ruler of the devas. And many hundreds of times I was a wheel-turning monarch, righteous, a king of righteousness, conqueror of the four regions of the earth, maintaining stability in the land, in possession of the seven treasures.”

Causes for rebirth in various planes

The process by which sentient beings migrate from one state of existence to another is dependent on causes and conditions. The three causes are giving or charity, moral conduct, meditative development, and their opposites. Rebirth in the Kama-loka depends on a person’s moral conduct and practice of giving. Rebirth in the Rupa-loka and Arupa-loka also requires meditation development. Liberation from all rebirth requires wisdom in addition to moral conduct and meditation.

About the cycle of rebirth, Bhikkhu Bodhi, a scholar monk who has translated numerous texts from the Pali Canon, writes that beyond all planes of existence is the unconditioned Nibbana, the final goal of the Buddha’s teaching:

“A blissful heavenly rebirth, however, is not the final purpose for which the Buddha taught the Dhamma. At best it is only a temporary way station. The ultimate goal is the cessation of suffering, and the bliss of the heavens, no matter how blissful, is not the same as the cessation of suffering. According to the Buddha’s teaching, all states of existence within the round of rebirths, even the heavens, are transient, unreliable, bound up with pain. Thus, the ultimate aim of the Dhamma is nothing short of liberation, which means total release from the round of rebirth and death.”

Liberation from rebirth

Liberation from the rounds of rebirth requires more than just meditation achievement. It is necessary to apply Yoniso Manasikara after emerging from Samma Samadhi (1st to 4th jhana) in order to arrive at a breakthrough by wisdom. The Udana shows that after emerging from the jhanas, the Buddha directed his attention to the cause of dukkha and the way leading to its cessation. This process culminates in the discovery of Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) and the Four Noble Truths.

When the seven days had come to a close, the Exalted One arose from the state of trance and in the first watch of the night, thoroughly thought out the chain of cause and effect, in direct order, thus; “If there is this (state), another (state) arises, by the arising of this (state), a (state) is produced, that is to say: “From Ignorance spring Fabrications, from Fabrications springs Consciousness, from Consciousness spring Mind and Material Form, from Mind and Material Form, the six Organs of Sense, from the six Organs of Sense, Contact, from Contact, Sensations, from Sensations, Desire, from Desire, Attachment, from Attachment, Becoming, from Becoming, Birth, from Birth spring Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief and Despair. Thus, the whole mass of suffering originates.”

“By the destruction of Ignorance, Fabrications are destroyed, by the destruction of Fabrications, Consciousness is destroyed, by the destruction of Consciousness, Mind and Material Form are destroyed, by the destruction of Mind and Material Form, the six Organs of Sense are destroyed, by the destruction of the six Organs of Sense, Contact is destroyed, by the destruction of Contact, Sensations are destroyed, by the destruction of Sensations, Desire is destroyed, by the destruction of Desire, Attachment is destroyed, by the destruction of Attachment, Becoming is destroyed, by the destruction of Becoming, Birth is destroyed, and by the destruction of Birth, Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief and Despair are destroyed. Thus, the whole mass of suffering is brought to an end.”

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Pure Abodes (Suddhavasa)

The Pure Abodes are distinct from the other worlds of the rupa-loka in that they do not house beings who have been born there through ordinary merit or meditative attainments. Birth in these five realms are a result of attaining the fruit of non-returning or Anagami, the third level of enlightenment. These Pure Abodes are accessible only to those who have destroyed the lower five fetters, consisting of self-view, sceptical doubt, clinging to rites and ceremonies, sense desires, and ill-will. They will destroy their remaining fetters of craving for fine material existence, craving for immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness and ignorance during their existence in the Pure Abodes. Those who take rebirth here are called “non-returners” because they do not return from that world, but attain final nibbana there without coming back. They guard and protect Buddhism on earth, and will pass into enlightenment as Arhats when they pass away from the Suddhavasa worlds. According to the Ayacana Sutta, among its inhabitants is Brahma Sahampati, who begs the Buddha to teach Dhamma to the world.

The five Pure Abodes are:

27 – Peerless Devas (Akanittha deva): World of devas “un-equal in rank”. The highest of all the Rūpadhātu worlds, it is often used to refer to the highest extreme of the universe. The current Śakra will eventually be born there.

26 – Clear-Sighted Devas (Sudassi deva): The “clear-seeing” devas live in a world similar to and friendly with the Akanitṭha world.

25 – Beautiful Devas (Sudassa deva): The world of the “beautiful” devas is said to be the place of rebirth for five kinds of anāgāmins.

24 – Untroubled Devas (Atappa deva): The world of the “untroubled” devas, for whose company those of lower realms long.

23 – Devas not Falling Away (Aviha deva): The world of the “not falling” devas, perhaps the most common destination for reborn Anāgāmins. Many achieve arhatship directly in this world, but some pass away and are reborn in sequentially higher worlds of the Pure Abodes until they are at last reborn in the Akanitṭha world. These are called in Pāli uddhaṃsotas, “those whose stream goes upward”.

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Human Beings (manussa loka)

5 – Human (manussa loka): Birth in this plane results from giving and moral discipline of middling quality. This is the realm of moral choice where destiny can be guided. The Khana Sutta mentioned that this plane is a unique balance of pleasure and pain. It facilitates the development of virtue and wisdom to liberate oneself from the entire cycle or rebirths. For this reason rebirth as a human being is considered precious according to the Chiggala Sutta. In the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta (The Shorter Analysis of Action), the Buddha taught that:

Killing others lead to short life if one becomes reborn in the human plane instead of the four lower States of Deprivation. By abandoning the very acts of killing and harming, one gets to be reborn in a heavenly world. Alternatively, one gets to be reborn in the human world being endowed with long life.

 

Injuring of others beings can lead to rebirth in the States of Deprivation. Alternatively, the person comes back in the human plane as someone very sickly. Non-injuring of others leads to rebirth in good destinations. Alternatively, one comes back to the human plane enjoying good health.

 

The same goes for the following:

Beautiful or Unattractive Human Rebirth depends on whether the person has an irritable character in this life.

Influential or Ordinary Human Rebirth depends on whether the person is envious of the gain and honor received by others in this life.

Rich or Poor Human Rebirth depends on whether one is generous to others, such as providing the requisites of holy people, in this present life.

 

Related Suttas: Janussonin Sutta, Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta,

States of Deprivation (Apaya)

Rebirth into these planes results from unwholesome conduct. Beings reborn there have no moral sense and generally cannot create good kamma (karma). However, when the unwholesome kamma that brought them to these planes is exhausted, some stored good kamma can bring them rebirth in some other plane. Only stream-enterers and other ariyans can be sure they will never again be born in these planes of misery.

Related sutta: Saleyyaka Sutta and The Vipaka Sutta

 4 – Asura: They are demons or “titans” that are engaged in endless conflict with each other. From the Jataka Tales, we are told that the Asuras are always fighting to regain their lost kingdom on the top of Mount Sumeru, but are unable to break the guard of the Four Great Kings. The Asuras are divided into many groups, and have no single ruler, but among their leaders are Vemacitrin (Pāli: Vepacitti) and Rāhu. According to Marasinghe:

 “In later texts we find the Asura realm as one of the four unhappy states of rebirth. The Nikāya evidence however does not show that the Asura realm was regarded as a state of suffering”

Related sutta: Rattana Sutta

3 – Hungry ghost (pretha loka): This is the realm where ghost and unhappy spirits wander in vain, hopelessly in search of sensual fulfillment.

Related sutta : Tirokudda Kanda from the Khuddakapatha

2 – Animal (tiracchana yoni): The animal realm includes animals, insects, fish, birds, worms, etc..

1 – Hell realms (niraya)

These are realms of extreme sufferings are mentioned in the Balapandita Sutta and the Devaduta Sutta.