Heaven and Hell

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Heaven and Hell

Postby Wind » Wed May 05, 2010 4:17 am

Does one spontaneously arise in Heaven or Hell? If so, what form does one take? Would their memories be the same as that when they are human? Or is it much like the human realm where one is born into it and all memories is likely forgotten?
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 05, 2010 4:21 am

Greetings Wind,

Wind wrote:Does one spontaneously arise in Heaven or Hell? If so, what form does one take?

The objectified external form may be something like this...

Image

... but I think the more important aspect is that which is within one's experiential range.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Wind » Wed May 05, 2010 4:37 am

Hi Retro

Although that image is slightly disturbing lol, are you implying they are likely same as human form? I haven't come across any suttas that goes into details the arising into heaven or hell. I wonder if the Abhidhamma cover this particular aspect or the commentaries?
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Ben » Wed May 05, 2010 4:39 am

Hi Wind

I think Retro is saying that he thinks heaven and hell are metaphors, and don't actually exist.
kind regards

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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Wind » Wed May 05, 2010 5:07 am

Ben wrote:Hi Wind

I think Retro is saying that he thinks heaven and hell are metaphors, and don't actually exist.
kind regards

Ben


I had no idea Retro held this view. I'm with the literal plane of existence view, although I can see it applies in some instances as metaphorically.
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 05, 2010 5:14 am

Greetings Ben,

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?".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Kenshou » Wed May 05, 2010 5:15 am

Why are "places of existence" necessary, and what exactly does that entail? The experience is what matters, I think this is what Retro was saying.

The way I see it, as far as I know, the stratified construction of the cosmos is an Indian idea that predates Buddhism, and I think it's likely that the Buddha would have explained his teachings in a context that his audience would be familiar with and would understand.

But there's no need to imagine these things as discreetly separate dimensions of existence. If a particular birth is characterized by very unpleasant circumstances, why not call it a birth into a "hell realm"?
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Shonin » Wed May 05, 2010 11:30 am

I agree with Retro. The Buddha taught primarily in terms of what can be experienced not in terms of abstract ontological speculation.
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby PeterB » Wed May 05, 2010 12:17 pm

Shonin wrote:I agree with Retro. The Buddha taught primarily in terms of what can be experienced not in terms of abstract ontological speculation.

That he did.
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Zom » Wed May 05, 2010 2:46 pm

Does one spontaneously arise in Heaven or Hell?


Yes:

"What is egg-born generation? There are these beings born by breaking out of the shell of an egg; this is called egg-born generation. What is womb-born generation? There are these beings born by breaking out from the caul; this is called womb-born generation. What is moisture-born generation? There are these beings born in a rotten fish, in a rotten corpse, in rotten dough, in a cesspit, or in a sewer; this is called moisture-born generation. What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation. These are the four kinds of generation.

http://www.online-dhamma.net/nanda/Acce ... 2-nt0.html

Or he has wrong view, distorted vision, thus: 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed, no fruit and ripening of good and bad kammas, no this world, no other world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously (born) beings...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

But there's no need to imagine these things as discreetly separate dimensions of existence. If a particular birth is characterized by very unpleasant circumstances, why not call it a birth into a "hell realm"?


Because this is not real hell and we can find suttas where it is said that tortures in human world is nothing if compared with hell suffering. I'm 100% sure that heavens and hells exist as a separate worlds and many suttas confirm this. For example MN 129:

Bhikkhus, the fool misbehaving by body, speech and mind, at the break up of the body after death, goes to decrease, is born in hell. Saying it rightly that hell is completely unwelcome and disagreeable. It is not easy to give a comparison for that unpleasantness....
....

Then the Blessed One took a small stone that fitted his fist and addressed the bhikkus. ‘Bhikkhus, which is bigger in size, the stone in my fist or the Himalaya mountains?’

‘Venerable sir, the stone in your fist cannot be reckoned as a comparison, not even as a quarter, nor even as a sign for the Great Himalayas’

‘In the same manner bhikkhus, the unpleasantess and displeasure experienced on account of giving six thousand whips three times a day cannot be reckoned as a comparison, not even as a quarter, nor even as a sign for the unpleasantness and displeasure experienced in hell.


http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ma ... dita-e.htm


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).


This is quite often misinterpretation of this verse. "All dhammas" here means only mental aspects of one's own mind. So this verse doesn't mean (as many people suggest) that mind creates objective outer world.

Correct one:

Verse 1: All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with an evil mind, 'dukkha' 3 follows him just as the wheel follows the hoofprint of the ox that draws the cart.

1. manopubbangama dhamma: All mental phenomena have Mind as their forerunner in the sense that Mind is the most dominant, and it is the cause of the other three mental phenomena, namely, Feeling (vedana), Perception (sanna) and Mental Formations or Mental Concomitants (sankhara). These three have Mind or Consciousness (vinnana) as their forerunner, because although they arise simultaneously with Mind they cannot arise if Mind does not arise. (The Commentary)

2. manasa ce padutthena (Verse 1) and manasi ce pasannena (Verse 2): Manasa here means intention or volition (cetana); volition leads one to the performance of volitional actions, both good and evil. This volition and the resultant actions constitute kamma; and kamma always follows one to produce results. Cakkhupala's blindness (Verse 1) was the consequence of his having acted with an evil intention in a previous existence and Matthakundali's happy existence in Tavatimsa celestial world (Verse 2) was the result of his mental devotion (manopasada) to the Buddha.
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Kenshou » Wed May 05, 2010 5:52 pm

Because this is not real hell and we can find suttas where it is said that tortures in human world is nothing if compared with hell suffering. I'm 100% sure that heavens and hells exist as a separate worlds and many suttas confirm this.

What do you mean by real hell? What makes one hell more real than another, if both include "hellish" experiences?

I'm not denying such unpleasant destinations, simply suggesting that there may be reason to not interpret these things 100% literally. As has been pointed out, ontology is not really Buddhism's main concern. With what we know of the universe, a cosmos conveniently layered by the characteristics of it's inhabitants makes no sense.
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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Wed May 05, 2010 9:16 pm

"In a world of monotonous horror there could be no salvation in wild dreaming." — Richard Matheson (I Am Legend)

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Re: Heaven and Hell

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 06, 2010 6:12 am

Zom wrote:‘In the same manner bhikkhus, the unpleasantess and displeasure experienced on account of giving six thousand whips three times a day cannot be reckoned as a comparison, not even as a quarter, nor even as a sign for the unpleasantness and displeasure experienced in hell.


:shock: That would be one whip every 4.8 seconds continuously or one whip every 1.6 seconds during a normal 8-hours working day.

I suppose that hellish experiences can arise spontaneously. Near-death-experiences often show such episodes. There is no doubt that some of them are very unpleasant. They seem to be not so much characterised by intense pain as by intense fear.

Cheers, Thomas
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