3 Realms 6 Paths In Buddhism

3 realms 6 paths

There are many worlds called “realms” such as human realm and many Deva realms that have low and high levels. We now live in this human realm, and practice Buddhism. When we die we will go to a Deva realm, low or high level depending on what we obtain from our practice. Maybe, someone used to be an animal, and when they paid back all their own karma, they can be reborn in human realm. Or someone lived in Deva realm, when their blessings have gone, they would be reborn in this human realm. Thus, all realms in which human or Deva beings live are only impermanent. All beings will move in this realm or that realm according to karma of each being.

3 Realms 6 Paths In Buddhism
3 Realms 6 Paths In Buddhism

We often hear that there are 6 realms to be reborn:

  • Those who are very cruel, commit a lot of sins, wrong doings will be born in hell. Beings in this place always are under torture, suffer a lot as serious consequences due to their evil things for people. 
  • Those who are greedy, selfish, deceitful and waste of food/ drink will be born in the realm of hungry ghosts. In the path of hungry ghosts, beings have ugly, smelly bodies, with bellies as big as drums and throats as small as needles, while flames shoot out of their mouths. They are always hungry and thirsty because of not being able to eat. 
  • Those who are addicted to alcohol, sex, prostitution, gambling, etc will be born in the realms of animals. The path of animals, such as buffaloes, cattle, donkeys and horses, is subject to heavy toil. Other domestic animals, such as goats, pigs, chicken and ducks, are subject to being killed to make food for human beings. Still other animals suffer from stupidity, living in filth, and killing one another for food. 
  • The fifth path is the State of Human-Beings: Our earth, place where those who keep the basic five precepts are reborn. 
  • Asuras’ realm where those who are heroes, have substantial service for the country or community but being  hot-tempered, violent. 
  • The sixth path is the State of Gods: Gods’ realm is reserved to those who observe the five basic commandments and have practiced the Ten Meritorious Action and abstained to do the Ten Evil Deeds. Beings in this realm are always happy. 

In fact, people keep wondering at something unacceptable. If a person is not rich or looks beautiful, then he/she easily accepts this realm is temporary. And he/she hopes to have something better in another world. But when people are rich and look beautiful, then they can’t easily admit this world to be temporary. They just can’t give away their wealthy and comfortable life. It’s general psychology of human beings. Only people who accumulated their process of hard practice and attained assurance can be conscious of impermanence of this world. This is the important point that we must be courageous to admit.

One day, our practice will progress and we will gain a good result, and when we die we can go to the heavenly world. There are only heavenly beings in that world, whose minds are deep in right concentration and whose hearts are filled with great compassion. They accumulated much merit and blessings and also help people a lot. Heavenly worlds are the world where heavenly beings can do what they want by their minds.

If our mind attains deep meditation-concentration, we are not sure we will go to heavenly worlds. Or if we do much good deeds, donations without attaining deep meditation-concentration, we will not go to the heavenly world. We can only be reborn in this human world to enjoy our blessings. To be born in the heavenly world, we need to obtain two kinds of practice: attaining deep meditation-concentration and having blessing from doing good deeds and donations.

When people go to heaven and enjoy their blessing, they usually feel satisfied and pleased with what they have. So they will not try hard to progress with their practice. In their minds, the clinging to ego is not completely wiped away, because they feel pleased too much. That’s why Bodhisattvas usually spend much time lecturing Dharma to beings in heavenly worlds.

Through this point, we know well Buddhism-Dharma; we should bring home to ourself that any human realm or Deva realm is only impermanent. Even the Pure Land of Amitabha is also temporary. In the Pure Land sect, there is a canon of faith, practice and vow saying about heavenly beings returning to this Earth to save and help people to work out their salvation. People who were born in the Pure Land realm must practice Buddhism until they attain Enlightenment, and then they must be born in any suffering world to save and help people. They are not allowed to stay in the Pure Land realm forever.

Ultimately, Enlightenment has no realm, no physiognomy, no figure. And Nirvana has no realm or form. All universe is held in a hand. Sutra said that “everything that has physiognomy or figure is a lie”. So any realm where practitioners are assured of Enlightenment is impermanent. We should be aware of this point so as not to attach to anything.

In this life, if we live and practice meditation, our mind is brilliant and serene. And we obtain supernatural power, fully understand Dharma, give lectures. All that means we are assured of partial Enlightenment. However, we know what we have attained is not lasting forever, is not the uttermost, and is only temporary. So, we must continue to practice, never stop, never feel satisfied, never boast about it.

If when we attain partial Enlightenment, or are assured of Enlightenment, our mind is illuminated to perceive all secrets of meditation sayings, and we obtain deep concentration and some supernatural power, then we suppose we completely attain Enlightenment; then our progress of practice will stop and back down. This is the Law of Causality. It’s because we raise self-satisfaction and keep it in mind. If we are not self-satisfied, we will continue advance of our practice. So, our Buddhists need to see clearly this matter. Every Buddhist should be penetrated to the heart of this point to see if self-satisfaction exists inside their mind. Buddhists must be never proud of having blessings, progressing in practice, or being assured.

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