jcsuperstar wrote:i either heard a talk once or read something by ajahn thanissaro that said you can still practice the dhamma in those realms, well at least in some of them, also you may be born in one where you live such a long time you are around to hear the next Buddha, never know... certainly beats hell
Indeed, it is a common belief that many human Buddhist practitioners who subsequently attain divine rebirth continue to learn the Dhamma whilst in the divine realms. Just look at the Sagatha-vagga in the Samyutta, for instance. Anathapindika is one example.
An interesting point is sometimes made: Non-Buddhists who have divine rebirth often follow up that rebirth with one in the lower realms. Now, this is obviously a huge obstruction. However, Buddhists who attain such rebirth, due to understanding of impermanence, etc., follow up their divine rebirth by being reborn again into the human realm. Is it both of, or perhaps just one, of these two case scenarios which is being rejected in Buddhist teachings?
Although in the system of the "eight obstructions" to the path, "rebirth in the long lived heavenly realms" is one of them, but personally I think that we should not reflect on this straight away. Only once we are actually able to drop away craving for this desire realm, eg. the human realm, should we then work on dropping attachment to the divine realms.
Otherwise, ego being what it is, it is easy to convince ourselves that we don't want divine rebirth (not that we could even make it there if we did, our desires being so strong), but our ego still have us embedded deeply in the mud of desire. It is kind of like the the beggar who sneers at the Ferrari driving millionaire, saying "Huh! The gas must cost a lot of money, who wants it?!" Sour grapes, is the term, I believe.
Particularly those of us who may have (unconscious) tendencies towards Buddhism merely on the grounds that "It is not theistic Christianity". We should be on the alert for such attitudes deep set within our mental stream.