Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:43 pm

The way down to hell is easy.
The gates of Black Dis¹ stand open night and day.
But to retrace one's steps and escape to the upper air –
that is toil, that is labour.

¹Black Dis is the Guardian of Hell.
(Virgil, the Aeneid, Penguin Hutchinson Reference)

It is unfashionable to believe in hell these days. Any talk about hell is regarded as scaremongering. The Burmese Sayādaw's don't talk so much about Niraya, but they often talk about the dangers of rebirth in the lower realms. Once reborn in the lower realms such as the animal realm, the way down to hell is much easier. I wonder how we can realise just how rare human rebirth is?
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:27 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:It is unfashionable to believe in hell these days. Any talk about hell is regarded as scaremongering. The Burmese Sayādaw's don't talk so much about Niraya, but they often talk about the dangers of rebirth in the lower realms. Once reborn in the lower realms such as the animal realm, the way down to hell is much easier. I wonder how we can realise just how rare human rebirth is?

Very true, Bhante.

I suspect people are more attracted to the other slogan, "Anyone can go to heaven, just be good" because it sounds more pleasant and optimistic.

Perhaps for skilful means, the "Anyone can go to heaven, just be good" slogan is better, but you are right, we must never lose sight of how precious and rare human rebirth is.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:01 am

I've been "reborn" in both hell and heaven repeatedly in this life, sometimes with only a moment or two in between. Now I do my best to avoid them both - and to find the middle ground in daily life, right here, right now. :anjali:
Last edited by pink_trike on Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:22 am

Greetings,

I like how Bhikkhu Pesala never sugarcoats the Dhamma.

As for "anyone can go to hell", I believe that applies to anyone who has yet to reach stream-entry.

All the more reason to continue striving.

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: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby nathan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:23 am

Not afraid to go on record saying that hell is real and deep, easy to get into and hard to get out of. It may be unfashionable to say so and it may be fashionable to take steps towards ending up there but I've never had any fashion sense at all and I'm not afraid to admit that either. Anyone who thinks that hell is only in the mind should make efforts to somehow get a real tour of the real place before it is too late. It's one prayer request that usually get's a pretty speedy and efficacious response from someone somewhere capable of delivering the real goods. Not something I'd advise for the fearful, timid, those with a nervous disposition or for light sleepers and the like though. Go ahead, mock me if you like but I've had a taste, can you say the same?
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby SeerObserver » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:41 am

nathan wrote:Not afraid to go on record saying that hell is real and deep, easy to get into and hard to get out of. It may be unfashionable to say so and it may be fashionable to take steps towards ending up there but I've never had any fashion sense at all and I'm not afraid to admit that either. Anyone who thinks that hell is only in the mind should make efforts to somehow get a real tour of the real place before it is too late. It's one prayer request that usually get's a pretty speedy and efficacious response from someone somewhere capable of delivering the real goods. Not something I'd advise for the fearful, timid, those with a nervous disposition or for light sleepers and the like though. Go ahead, mock me if you like but I've had a taste, can you say the same?

Sounds like you've seen something very sobering.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Jechbi » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:05 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Any kind of wholesome kamma will change your mental state immediately. Practise generosity, reaffirm your determination to observe morality, practise meditation, pay homage to virtuous monks or to a Buddha image or pagoda, do something to help others, read a Dhamma book, discuss the Dhamma, etc.

Doing wholesome kamma is a practical way to get out of the hell of depression and enter the heaven of non-remorse. If you make wholesome kamma a lifelong habit you need not worry about falling into hell.

:anjali:
Last edited by Jechbi on Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby SeerObserver » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:08 am

Jechbi wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Any kind of wholesome kamma will change your mental state immediately. Practise generosity, reaffirm your determination to observe morality, practise meditation, pay homage to virtuous monks or to a Buddha image or pagoda, do something to help others, read a Dhamma book, discuss the Dhamma, etc.

Doing wholesome kamma is a practical way to get out of the hell of depression and enter the heaven of non-remorse. If you make wholesome kamma a lifelong habit you need not worry about falling into hell.

:anjali:

Which thread is this quote from?
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:16 am

nathan wrote: Anyone who thinks that hell is only in the mind should make efforts to somehow get a real tour of the real place before it is too late.

Mind is the forerunner of all things.

In psychiatric institutions, I've witnessed toe-curling, torturous, subterranean personal hells that originated of mind/body and were being experienced right here in this realm in living color by the poor people who were trapped there. It isn't important to me whether there is a "real" hell somewhere when the human mind has the potential to deliver us unfathomable hellishness right here - by degrees, for realz. These folks were in the depths of their hell, but they didn't have to go any further than the depths of their own mind to get there. We all have the same potential to go to our own personal hells, and if we practice enough, we probably will take a tour of our own subterranean, bosch-ian landscape...which we note and let go as best we can. Hell? Been there, done that, may do it again.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Jechbi » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:44 am

SeerObserver wrote:Which thread is this quote from?

This one, but you have to follow the link in the OP to get here. Near the bottom.

:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:57 am

pink_trike wrote:
nathan wrote: Anyone who thinks that hell is only in the mind should make efforts to somehow get a real tour of the real place before it is too late.

Mind is the forerunner of all things.

In psychiatric institutions, I've witnessed toe-curling, torturous, subterranean personal hells that originated of mind/body and were being experienced right here in this realm in living color by the poor people who were trapped there. It isn't important to me whether there is a "real" hell somewhere when the human mind has the potential to deliver us unfathomable hellishness right here - by degrees, for realz. These folks were in the depths of their hell, but they didn't have to go any further than the depths of their own mind to get there. We all have the same potential to go to our own personal hells, and if we practice enough, we probably will take a tour of our own subterranean, bosch-ian landscape...which we note and let go as best we can. Hell? Been there, done that, may do it again.

Hello Pink,

That is simply people suffering mentally in the human realm. Just as animals in the abattoir screaming in fear are also suffering mentally and physically in the animal realm. According to the Buddha's teachings there are much much worse places - the actual Hell Realms.

metta
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby nathan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:26 am

To be honest I'm a little fed up with the implications that I am simply mentally ill. If that's what you think why don't you just come out and say it you cowards.

I'll tell you what. I'll start a new thread called "The most negative mental state", we can all post the most negative mental states we have ever experienced and see who comes out on top.

When we get done with that I will tell you what an experience of actual hell is like. I'm pretty sure that if I don't come out on top of the negative mental state pissing contest that I will at least be a finalist. I have known the depths of depression, where death seems preferable and I have been incarcerated with some of the most violently and psychotically deranged people in society and I have been more or less directly exposed to those states of mind by cohabitation under the influence of some of the most powerful mind opening and mind destroying psychoactive drugs known to man.

I would say, in comparison to hell, the most disturbed and horrific mental states knowable in human experience are like a drop in the ocean of comparative suffering.'

Let the insufferable games begin.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:20 am

It might be interesting to discuss what is the wrong view with definite result (niyata micchādiṭṭhi). In my opinion this would include eternalism and annihilationism, which are both accompanied by a strong clinging to the belief in a soul or self (atta diṭṭhi) that either continues after death (sassata diṭṭhi) or is annihilated at death (uccheda diṭṭhi). It would definitely include the wrong views held by Punna and Seniya:
Sace kho panassa evaṃ diṭṭhi hoti — “Imināhaṃ sīlena vā vatena vā tapena vā brahmacariyena vā devo vā bhavissāmi devaññataro vā”ti, sāssa hoti micchādiṭṭhi. Micchādiṭṭhissa kho ahaṃ, seniya, dvinnaṃ gatīnaṃ aññataraṃ gatiṃ vadāmi — nirayaṃ vā tiracchānayoniṃ vā.

If his view is this: “By this morality, ritual, asceticism, or celibacy I shall become some god or other,” that is wrong view in his case. Now there are two destinations for one with wrong view, I say: hell or the animal womb.

If all wrong views definitely lead to either hell or the animal womb that would seem to imply that only the Noble Ones will escape that fate, but I don't believe that is the case. It seems that some wrong views have more serious consequences than others, such as the wrongs held by Punna and Seniya, or by Yodhājīva.

The ordinary well-instructed disciple of the Buddha has the fundamental right view called “kammassakatā-sammādiṭṭhi” or right view regarding the ownership of one's own actions. Holding such a right view, one will not be inclined to rely on rites and rituals to gain salvation. Nevertheless, such a person is not free from the serious wrong view of personality-view (sakkāya diṭṭhi). This serious wrong view has been accompanying us throughout the beginningless cycle of rebirth, and eradicating this wrong view is the only sure protection against rebirth in the four lower realms.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:28 am

Greetings venerable Pesala,

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If all wrong views definitely lead to either hell or the animal womb that would seem to imply that only the Noble Ones will escape that fate, but I don't believe that is the case.


The fact there were devas and so forth in the higher realms before the enlightenment of the Buddha would lend weight to your argument.

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: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:32 am

Chris wrote:
pink_trike wrote:
nathan wrote: Anyone who thinks that hell is only in the mind should make efforts to somehow get a real tour of the real place before it is too late.

Mind is the forerunner of all things.

In psychiatric institutions, I've witnessed toe-curling, torturous, subterranean personal hells that originated of mind/body and were being experienced right here in this realm in living color by the poor people who were trapped there. It isn't important to me whether there is a "real" hell somewhere when the human mind has the potential to deliver us unfathomable hellishness right here - by degrees, for realz. These folks were in the depths of their hell, but they didn't have to go any further than the depths of their own mind to get there. We all have the same potential to go to our own personal hells, and if we practice enough, we probably will take a tour of our own subterranean, bosch-ian landscape...which we note and let go as best we can. Hell? Been there, done that, may do it again.

Hello Pink,

That is simply people suffering mentally in the human realm. Just as animals in the abattoir screaming in fear are also suffering mentally and physically in the animal realm. According to the Buddha's teachings there are much much worse places - the actual Hell Realms.

metta
Chris


But surely if we practice the Dharma in relationship to the myriad hells available to us here in this realm, then if there are "real" hells somewhere (a big "if") then we will also be practicing in relationship to them. What need to look for real hells somewhere else when the potential for a hellish existence exists for us moment to moment in this life?
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:38 am

Hello Pink, all,

There are no hells in the Human realm. What we experience is just the intense suffering within the Human realm.
According to the Teachings, one may or may not be reborn in a Hell Realm due to kammic accumulations.
The SammaSamBuddha is born in the Human Realm because there is 'just enough' suffering mixed with 'just enough' happiness for the Teachings to have the best effect.

It is simply poetic licence to call any mental or physical state in the human realm 'hell'. It just leads to confusion.

Yes, we've all suffered - some terribly. You cannot know the citta of another - you cannot know what any others of us have suffered ... physically, emotionally or mentally.
Most of us don't reveal it.

But it is still just Human-realm Suffering.

metta
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:53 am

Chris wrote:Hello Pink, all,

There are no hells in the Human realm. What we experience is just the intense suffering within the Human realm.
According to the Teachings, one may or may not be reborn in a Hell Realm due to kammic accumulations.
The SammaSamBuddha is born in the Human Realm because there is 'just enough' suffering mixed with 'just enough' happiness for the Teachings to have the best effect.

It is simply poetic licence to call any mental or physical state in the human realm 'hell'. It just leads to confusion.

Yes, we've all suffered - some terribly. You cannot know the citta of another - you cannot know what any others of us have suffered ... physically, emotionally or mentally.
Most of us don't reveal it.

But it is still just Human-realm Suffering.

metta
Chris


Perhaps it is poetic license to understand the hells described in the suttas as literal, ignoring that they may have been piercing skillful means suitable to a certain time/place that is long gone.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby clw_uk » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:34 pm

Greetings


I agree with Pink, all the hells are right here, they can be in the next mind moment


These are more fearful than any lake of fire, since we know their pain to be very real and sadly how easy it can be sometimes to fall into the depths of them


It doesnt matter to me if they are real after death, knowing the pain of them now is enough to make one purify virtue so as not to enter any kind of hell, anywhere or in any form


Metta
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Ordinaryperson » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:15 pm

I can recall several dreams I had of entering hell a while back and they were very real that I can still remember them so clearly until today so make it what you will. Here are some of the descriptions.

1) I was crossing a lake with all sort of corpses in them. I mean all sorts. e.g. bursting stomach with intestine all over, "inflatable" corpses, skin peeling off, semi-submerged corpses, hacked bodies, children, adult, olds, young, male and female all in the lake. I was crossing the lake to a nearby train station on the opposite side of the lake by the way. I think I also noticed several mountains surrounding the lake (big lake) but the mountains were fairly barren but yet I could see something sticking up like tiny trees. But there were not trees. The lake has light breeze and water was very clear.

2) Another dream was me wondering into another hell of some sort where I felt a bit like entering a cave that was damp, dark, slimy, stale air and with little sunlight. Then I saw a group of people, four I think, wearing white clothing with long messy hairs with a chain tight to their waist belts and the belts contain spikes that punctured their skins. I think they were "human mules" pulling in circle a giant granite milling stone. Their white clothing, around the waist, was completely soaked with blood. I saw that when they slowed down to take a break by removing their belts temporarily. I think I saw a girl. She looked sad, very sad but suffered in silent and yet did cry or complain. Just like someone has given up hope. She was taking off her belt.

3) Then to another hall where everyone was sitting reading books with the "master or teacher" in front of them. The room was a cave that was damp, dark, slimy, stale air and with candle light on the wall. They all looked at me when I accidentally walked into their room but continued reading. The room/cave looked a very long and never ending so I walked on.

4) Then to another room where every stood naked on a staircase like stand packed like sardines and someone walked in to give everyone a cup of water to drink ... then I woke up.

There you go. They were all very real for me and did not have the "abstract" feel to them and the only thing was I could not smelt the odour very well but I could feel the breeze all over so for me I think they were real hell.

How I got there I do not know but I also dreamed of visiting a place full of monks.

:anjali:
~Actively trying to destroy the Three Unwholesome Roots of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance~
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Re: Anyone can go to hell, so be heedful

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:I agree with Pink, all the hells are right here, they can be in the next mind moment

Many people do not believe in literal hell realms. I wonder if those same people believe that a human being can be reborn after death in the animal realms, for example as a horse, bird, fish, or insect. Those realms of existence are undeniably real.
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