In both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhisms, there are heavenly and hell realms.
I can believe in karma, and I can almost believe in rebirth, but my rational mind will not let me believe in heavens or hells.
The Buddha was an insightful man, and his following continues to give brilliant life advice to this day, but do I really have to take every word that was said in the Tipitaka, and in other texts, as "infallible gospel"?
Do unfounded concepts like the heaven and hell realms hurt the credibility of the dhamma? A side of me thinks it does. "How could an enlightened being believe in something so preposterous?!" But another side of me thinks "maybe these ideas are just baggage carried over from Buddhism's Hindu roots, and I shouldn't fault the teacher(s) for getting stuck with that. Buddhism does offer great life advice, afterall."
One of the reasons why I left Buddhist Tradition #1 for Buddhist Tradition #2 is because I found the heaven and hell teachings to be a MAJOR turn off. And, just today, I discover that the heaven and hell teachings are also in the Buddhist tradition that I follow now.
Although most of the teachers within this sect don't even reference these places, or present them as metaphors, or reject them all together, I still don't like the fact that they are there! lol
What are your thoughts on the heaven and hell realms?
I really wish that I could just ignore that big rainbow colored gorilla sitting in my living-room, and focus on the teachings that work...