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Tibetan Bhavacakra or "Wheel of Life" in Sera, Lhasa.


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The desire realm (Sanskrit kama-dhatu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or three worlds (S. triloka) in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which into which a being wandering in saṃsāra may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, (S. rupa-dhātu) and the formless realm (S. ārupa-dhatu).[1]

Within the desire realm are either five or six domains (S.: gati, also sometimes translated as "realm"). In Indo-Tibetan Mahāyāna Buddhism there are six domains (Tibetan: rigs drug gi skye gnas) and in Theravada Buddhism there are only five, because the domain of the asuras is not regarded as separate from that of the devas. Taoism also features the five realms.[2][3][4][5]

The Shurangama Sutra in Mahayana Buddhism regarded the 10 kinds of Xian (Taoism) as a separate Immortal realm between the Deva and Human realms.[6][7]

The thirty-one realms are also known as the "thirty-one paths of rebirth", the "six paths of suffering", the "six planes", and the "six lower realms". They stand in contrast to the higher attainments of the Ten spiritual realms).

One's previous actions and thoughts determine which of the six domains one is reborn into.

Contents

The Six Domains)

The six domains of the desire realm are as follows:

  • the god (Sanskrit, Pali: deva) realm
  • the jealous god (S., P.: asura) realm
  • the human (S. manushya) realm
  • the animal (. tiryagyoni) realm
  • the hungry ghost (S. preta) realm
  • the hell (S., P.: Naraka) realm
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God Realm (Blissful State)

The Deva realm is the realm of bliss. The disadvantage of this realm is that things are so very comfortable there, that these beings completely neglect to work towards enlightenment. Instead they gradually use up the good karma they had previously accumulated, and so they subsequently fall to a lower rebirth.

The Deva realm is sometimes also referred to as the gods' realm, because its inhabitants are so powerful within their own realm, that compared to humans, they resemble the gods of Greek or Roman mythology. However, while the Devas may be referred to as gods, they are not immortal, omniscient, nor omnipotent, and they do not act as creators or judges at death, so they are notably very distinct from the monotheistic Western concept of God.

Human Realm

The Human realm (also known as the Manuṣya realm) is based on passion, desire, doubt, and pride.

Buddhists see this realm as human existence. A human rebirth is in fact considered to be the by far most advantageous of all possible rebirths in samsara because a human rebirth is the samsaric realm from which one can directly ensure enlightenment either in the present or future birth (for anagamis, the actual liberation occurs in a deva realm). This is because of the unique possibilities that a human rebirth offers.

A human rebirth is considered to have tremendous potential when used correctly, however we usually waste our human lifetime in materialistic pursuits, and end up reinforcing our unhelpful emotions, thoughts, and actions. Because of this, it is almost always the case that one descends to a lower rebirth after a human life, rather than immediately going on to another human birth.

In the lower realms, such as for example, the animal realm, it is a very slow and difficult process to accumulate enough merit to achieve a human birth once again, so it may be countless lifetimes before one has another chance.

Asura Realm

The Asura realm is the realm of the demigods. They are here because of actions based on jealousy, struggle, combat or rationalization of the world. They may be here because in human form they had good intentions but committed bad actions such as harming others.

The Asuras are said to experience a much more pleasurable life than humans, but they are plagued by envy for the devas, whom they can see just as animals can perceive humans.

The Asura realm is also sometimes referred to as the Ashura realm, Titan realm, Jealous God realm, Demigod realm, or Anti-God realm. Asura is also sometimes translated as "demon," "fighting demon," "those without wine," or "angry ghost," which can cause confusion because beings of the hell realm are also sometimes referred to as demons.

Animal Realm

The Animal realm (also known as the Tiryag-yoni realm) is based on strong mental states of stupidity and prejudice cultivated in a previous life or lives.

Buddhists believe that this realm is the realm of existence of the nonhuman animals on Earth. Humans can however be seen by the animals, in the same way that the Asura can see the Devas.

Preta Realm

The Hungry Ghost realm (also known as the Preta realm) is a rebirth based on strong possessiveness and desire which were cultivated in a previous life or lives.

The sentient beings in this realm are known as "hungry ghosts". They are constantly extremely hungry and thirsty, but they cannot satisfy these needs. In Tibetan versions of the Bhavacakra these beings are drawn with narrow necks and large bellies. This represents the fact that their desires torment them, but they are completely unable to satisfy themselves.

Hell Realm

The Naraka realm, or "hell realm" is a rebirth based on strong states of hatred cultivated in a previous life or lives.

The Buddhist view of Niraya differs significantly from that of most monotheistic religions in that those being punished in this realm are not trapped permanently. Rather, they remain there until their negative karma is used up, at which point they are reborn into another realm.

The Wheel of Life

The Bhavacakra or "Wheel of Life" is a popular teaching tool often used in the Indo-Tibetan tradition. It is a kind of diagram which portrays these realms and the mechanism that causes these samsaric rebirths. In this depiction, the realm of the Devas is shown at the top, followed clockwise by the realms of the Asuras, the Pretas, Naraka, Animals, and Humans. Close examination will show that the Buddha is shown as being present in every one of these realms.

Characteristics

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, there are some sayings reflecting a tradition that the manner of a sentient being's death indicates the world in which it will be reborn.[8][9] A common one is in the Verses on the Structure of the Eight Consciousnesses (八識規矩補註)[10], reads: "to birth in saints the last body temperature in top of head, to deva in eyes, to human in heart, to hungry ghosts in belly, to animals in knee cap, to the hells-realm in sole of feet." The Tibetan Buddhist text Bardo Thodol describes further on the experiences to these realms.

Notes

See also

External links


, Lhasa.]]


Part of a series on

Buddhism


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Major Figures

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Disciples · Later Buddhists

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The 6 realms (Tibetan: rigs drug gi skye gnas), are the six categories of rebirths within the system of traditional Buddhist cosmology. These six realms include all the possibilities, advantageous and less advantageous, of lives in saṃsāra.

The thirty-one realms are also known as the "thirty-one paths of rebirth", the "six paths of suffering", the "six planes", and the "six lower realms". They stand in contrast to the higher attainments of the Ten spiritual realms).

One's previous actions and thoughts determine which of the six realms one is reborn into.

The six realms are as follows: rebirth as a deva, an asura, a human being, an animal, a hungry ghost, or a being in Naraka (hell).

This six-fold system is most commonly seen in Tibetan Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Theravada Buddhism there are only five realms, because the realm of the asuras is not regarded as separate from the realm of the devas.

The Bhavacakra or "Wheel of Life" is a very useful and popular teaching tool. It is a kind of diagram which portrays these realms and the mechanism that causes these samsaric rebirths. In this depiction, the realm of the Devas is shown at the top, followed clockwise by the realms of the Asuras, the Pretas, Naraka, Animals, and Humans. Close examination will show that the Buddha is shown as being present in every one of these realms.

Contents

The Immaterial World

Deva Realm (Blissful State)

The Deva realm is the realm of bliss. The disadvantage of this realm is that things are so very comfortable there, that these beings completely neglect to work towards enlightenment. Instead they gradually use up the good karma they had previously accumulated, and so they subsequently fall to a lower rebirth.

The Deva realm is sometimes also referred to as the gods' realm, because its inhabitants are so powerful within their own realm, that compared to humans, they resemble the gods of Greek or Roman mythology. However, while the Devas may be referred to as gods, they are not immortal, omniscient, nor omnipotent, and they do not act as creators or judges at death, so they are notably very distinct from the monotheistic Western concept of God.

The Fine-Material World

The Sensuous World

Human Realm

The Human realm (also known as the Manuṣya realm) is based on passion, desire, doubt, and pride.

Buddhists see this realm as human existence. A human rebirth is in fact considered to be the by far most advantageous of all possible rebirths in samsara because a human rebirth is the samsaric realm from which one can directly ensure enlightenment either in the present or future birth (for anagamis, the actual liberation occurs in a deva realm). This is because of the unique possibilities that a human rebirth offers.

A human rebirth is considered to have tremendous potential when used correctly, however we usually waste our human lifetime in materialistic pursuits, and end up reinforcing our unhelpful emotions, thoughts, and actions. Because of this, it is almost always the case that one descends to a lower rebirth after a human life, rather than immediately going on to another human birth.

In the lower realms, such as for example, the animal realm, it is a very slow and difficult process to accumulate enough merit to achieve a human birth once again, so it may be countless lifetimes before one has another chance.

Asura Realm

The Asura realm is the realm of the demigods. They are here because of actions based on jealousy, struggle, combat or rationalization of the world. They may be here because in human form they had good intentions but committed bad actions such as harming others.

The Asuras are said to experience a much more pleasurable life than humans, but they are plagued by envy for the devas, whom they can see just as animals can perceive humans.

The Asura realm is also sometimes referred to as the Ashura realm, Titan realm, Jealous God realm, Demigod realm, or Anti-God realm. Asura is also sometimes translated as "demon," "fighting demon," "those without wine," or "angry ghost," which can cause confusion because beings of the hell realm are also sometimes referred to as demons.

Animal Realm

The Animal realm (also known as the Tiryag-yoni realm) is based on strong mental states of stupidity and prejudice cultivated in a previous life or lives.

Buddhists believe that this realm is the realm of existence of the nonhuman animals on Earth. Humans can however be seen by the animals, in the same way that the Asura can see the Devas.

Preta Realm

The Hungry Ghost realm (also known as the Preta realm) is a rebirth based on strong possessiveness and desire which were cultivated in a previous life or lives.

The sentient beings in this realm are known as "hungry ghosts". They are constantly extremely hungry and thirsty, but they cannot satisfy these needs. In Tibetan versions of the Bhavacakra these beings are drawn with narrow necks and large bellies. This represents the fact that their desires torment them, but they are completely unable to satisfy themselves.

Naraka Realm (Woeful State)

The Naraka realm, or "hell realm" is a rebirth based on strong states of hatred cultivated in a previous life or lives.

The Buddhist view of Niraya differs significantly from that of most monotheistic religions in that those being punished in this realm are not trapped permanently. Rather, they remain there until their negative karma is used up, at which point they are reborn into another realm.

See also

External links


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