Ben wrote:I think Retro is saying that he thinks heaven and hell are metaphors, and don't actually exist.
I don't think it's quite as simple as that though.
If you look at the loka (world) of experience, it comprises of the six senses, the five aggregates, that which is subject to dissolution etc. Regardless of which "objectified" realm you wish to ascribe existence to, the fact remains unchanged that the domain of experience (loka) remains the same. It's still the six senses, the five aggregates, that which is subject to dissolution etc.
That's neither to deny nor confirm the existence of objectified heavens, hells and other realms so as to render them as 'metaphors', which I think deprives them of their reality. My point is that irrespective of any such "objective" classifications, the subjective or experiential domain maintains the same categories, and that the "objective" classification is subordinate to that which is experienced, because the "objective" cannot be experienced as anything other than a concept. The "objective" cannot be known in any other way, and can only point to what is experienced by way of concept.
A realm as some kind of objectified geo-spatial "place" is meaningless, and potentially harmful, because it offsets the wisdom that "Mind precedes all dhammas. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought." (Dhp 1-2). It's also in conflict with the reality that humans and animals co-inhabit the same geo-spatial "place".
I find it helpful to ask the question, "In which realm did the Buddha exist?".