Author Topic: The 31 Planes of Existense  (Read 4386 times)

sonamdhargey

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The 31 Planes of Existense
« on: October 14, 2012, 02:29:38 PM »
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
unshakeable freedom.


Midakpa

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2012, 05:33:14 PM »
The Buddha has mentioned that there are thirty-one planes of existence within the universe. They are:

(1) 4 states of unhappiness or sub-human realms (life in hells, animal life, ghost-worlds and demon-worlds)
(2) 1 human world
(3) 6 devalokas or heavenly realms
(4) 16 rupaloka or realms of fine-material forms
(5) 4 arupalokas or formless realms

The existence of these planes are yet to be confirmed by modern science. Buddhists believe that after death rebirth can take place in any one of a number of possible existences.The future existence is conditioned by the last thought-moment a person experiences at the point of death.This last thought which determines the next existence results from the past actions of a man either in this life or before that.

Midakpa

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2012, 06:43:27 PM »
The beings of the thirty-one planes of existence may be different in appearance but they are subject to the same laws as ourselves. Are there other forms of existence in other universes? It is possible given the fact that there are as many number of universes as there are grains of sand on all the sea shores of the world. The Buddha has said that the world is nothing more than the combination, existence, disappearance and recombination of mind and matter (nama-rupa). To be free of the pain of existence, we must strive diligently until we arrive at a true understanding of our own nature and of the changeable nature of the universe. To be really free, we must tame our mind, to destroy craving for sensual pleasure. When we realize that the universe is impermanent, we will destroy our illusion of self.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Midakpa

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2012, 06:56:06 PM »
The best plane of existence to be born in is the human realm where there is a mixture of both pain and happiness. This is why human beings can realize the real nature of life. In any other plane of existence, inhabitants have less chance for this realization. From the Buddhist point of view, wherever there is suffering, either in this world or any other plane, that place is a hell to those who suffer. Similarly, where there is more pleasure or happiness, either in this world or any other plane, that place is a heaven to those who enjoy their worldly life in that particular place. But every state of existence is temporary and when the karma is exhausted, a new life must begin all over again, determined by another dominating karmic energy. This repetitious process goes on endlessly unless one arrives at "right view" and makes a firm resolve to follow the Noble Path which produces the ultimate happiness of Nirvana.

yontenjamyang

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 06:19:58 AM »
There are 3 realms of existence ie the Form, Formless and Desire realms within the 31 planes of existence. Collectively the 31 planes is the samsara realms.  Human are in the Desire realms and so is the 3 lower rebirth ie hell, hungry ghost and animal. Demi gods and some gods are also in the Desire realm. "Higher gods" are in the form realm and the highest is the formless realm which is inhabited by gods that exist in mind only. These gods are in bliss and cannot hear the Dharma.
All in all this 31 planes are samsara planes and should not be the aspired destinations for Buddhist practitioners. Even the highest gods would take rebirth in the Hells when their good karma is exhausted. Hence, we should focus on creating merits.

buddhalovely

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 07:54:58 AM »
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.

RedLantern

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2012, 07:03:46 PM »
The realms of existence are customarily divided into 3 distinct 'world'(loka),listed here indescending order of refinement.
The immaterial world( arupa-loka) consistsof 4 realms that are assessible to those w2ho passed away.While meditating in the formless jhnas.)
The Fine material world-(rupa-loka) consists of 16 realms whose inhabitants (the devas)experience extremely refined degrees of mortal pleasure.The realms are assessible to those who have attained at least some level of jhna and who have thereby managed to temporarily suppress hatred and ill-will.They are said to possess  extremely refine bodies of pure light.The highest of these realms ,the pure abode,are assessible 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'(saga)
The sensuous World (kama-loka) consists of 11 realms in which experience both pleasurable and not dorminated by the 5 senses.7 of the realms are favorable destinations,and conclude our own human realm as well as several realms occuppied by Devas.The lowest realm are the 4 'bad' destinations,which include the animal and hell realms.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 01:54:49 PM »
The Buddha has mentioned that there are thirty-one planes of existence within the universe. They are:

(1) 4 states of unhappiness or sub-human realms (life in hells, animal life, ghost-worlds and demon-worlds)
(2) 1 human world
(3) 6 devalokas or heavenly realms
(4) 16 rupaloka or realms of fine-material forms
(5) 4 arupalokas or formless realms

The existence of these planes are yet to be confirmed by modern science. Buddhists believe that after death rebirth can take place in any one of a number of possible existences.The future existence is conditioned by the last thought-moment a person experiences at the point of death.This last thought which determines the next existence results from the past actions of a man either in this life or before that.


How ignorant can I be to imagine the limited realms as God, Semi God, Human, animal, hell and spirit realms.
Now I know better and be more mindful to have a good rebirth to be near the Dharma to continue my journey to enlightenment.

eyesoftara

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2015, 09:32:38 AM »
To me the most important thing having known the 31 planes and the 3 realms (Formless, form and desire) is that the practice of other religions may have goal of bringing one to these realms and warning against negative actions that will bring one to the lowest realms. But no religion except Buddhism brings one out of these planes of samsara that is the uncontrollable cyclic existence that has suffering as the nature.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: The 31 Planes of Existense
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2015, 02:42:03 PM »
I agree with you eyesoftara, that only Buddhism brings on the ignorance of what samsara truly is and how it is dissatisfactory and being in it is a way of going to the lower realms if we do not practise well.