Bhikkhu Gavesako gave me this Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylaZvvO3gag
and it reminds me of the article I posted @ SD/JTN Group months ago. Today I would
like to share this wonderful article with you all.
The Thirty-One Planes Of Existence
[Edited by John T.Bullit 2005-2012]
The inescapable law of kamma guarantees that each and every one of our actions �
whether it be of body, speech, or mind � has consequences in line with the
skillfulness or unskillfulness of that action. We can often witness this process
first-hand in our own lives, even if the effects may not be immediately
apparent. But the Buddha also taught that our actions have effects that extend
far beyond our present life, determining the quality of rebirth we can expect
after death: act in wholesome, skillful ways and you are destined for a
favorable rebirth; act in unwholesome, unskillful ways and an unpleasant rebirth
awaits. Thus we coast for aeons through samsara, propelled from one birth to the
next by the quality of our choices and our actions.
The suttas describe thirty-one distinct "planes" or "realms" of existence into
which beings can be reborn during this long wandering through samsara. These
range from the extraordinarily dark, grim, and painful hell realms all the way
up to the most sublime, refined, and exquisitely blissful heaven realms.
Existence in every realm is impermanent; in Buddhist cosmology there is no
eternal heaven or hell. Beings are born into a particular realm according to
both their past kamma and their kamma at the moment of death. When the kammic
force that propelled them to that realm is finally exhausted, they pass away,
taking rebirth once again elsewhere according to their kamma. And so the
wearisome cycle continues.
The realms of existence are customarily divided into three distinct "worlds"
(loka), listed here in descending order of refinement:
The Immaterial World (arupa-loka). Consists of four realms that are accessible
to those who pass away while meditating in the formless jhanas.
The Fine-Material World (rupa-loka). Consists of sixteen realms whose
inhabitants (the devas) experience extremely refined degrees of mental pleasure.
These realms are accessible to those who have attained at least some level of
jhana and who have thereby managed to (temporarily) suppress hatred and
ill-will. They are said to possess extremely refined bodies of pure light. The
highest of these realms, the Pure Abodes, are accessible only to those who have
attained to "non-returning," the third stage of Awakening. The Fine-Material
World and the Immaterial World together constitute the "heavens" (sagga).
The Sensuous World (kama-loka). Consists of eleven realms in which experience �
both pleasurable and not � is dominated by the five senses. Seven of these
realms are favorable destinations, and include our own human realm as well as
several realms occupied by devas. The lowest realms are the four "bad"
destinations, which include the animal and hell realms.
It is pointless to debate whether these realms are real or simply fanciful
metaphors that describe the various mind-states we might experience in this
lifetime. The real message of this cosmology is this: unless we take steps to
break free of the iron grip of kamma, we are doomed to wander aimlessly from one
state to another, with true peace and satisfaction forever out of reach. The
Buddha's revolutionary discovery came in finding that there is a way to break
free: the Noble Eightfold Path, which equips us with precisely the tools we need
to escape from this wearisome wandering, once and for all, to a true and
The information on this page was assembled from a variety of sources. In the
interests of economizing space I have not attributed each fact to its respective
--------------- TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW ----------------
Love Buddha's dhamma,