Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reincarnation and the 31 realms of existence

The difference between dimensions, realms & Universes
A dimension is a level of consciousness and within a dimension you have realms. A realm is a level of consciousness in which an individual lives, so you can have an infinite number of realms within a dimension. Within these dimension there is a light and sound spectrum and each has its own frequency. A universe is a collective of dimensions and a collective of universes is the totality of existence, physical and non-physical.

Density & frequency
Within these realms are beings, humans are one of those. Spirituality often mentions words such as density and frequency. I use these words myself when I am explaining something. But, what do they mean? Density, our body for example, is the degree of compactness of a substance.  In terms of spirituality density is energy. The lower your frequency, the denser (thicker) your energy will be. You could also explain this as negative energy. Frequency is the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second. We can raise our vibration by what we eat, drink, listen to, the colors we wear, and so on. 

When we understand the basic spiritual lingo, which is used in many articles and memes that we see on the internet, we raise our consciousness (awareness) and open up to receive knowledge from spirit. Many of you channel and some may not even realize that this is what they are doing and simply call it intuition. Much of the information received from spirit is universal, meaning that you are not the only one who has received this type of information directly from spirit. Spirit calls this “general information”.  To receive more specific information we have to increase our awareness and we can do this by increasing our knowledge. When you do this, our spirit guides, angels, and other beings can communicate through us in more specific ways. So, the more you know, the more you can understand. This doesn’t mean that what we receive is the absolute truth; however, it is the truth according to our level of awareness. It is this level of awareness within us that also attracts certain beings that reside in the spiritual realm. When you send out love and light (positive energy) while channeling, you will attract beings with the same qualities. When you send out a negative energy while channeling, you will attract beings that can be harmful to you. This is also true when it comes to our everyday life. Always ground and protect yourself and make your intentions clear before you channel.

I’ve written about the dimensions within the spiritual realms, which offers one explanation viewed through our 3D consciousness. There are other explanations about the structure and the beings of our cosmos. One of these explanations we can find in Buddhism. I find this information interesting because it creates understanding about reincarnation.

Mount Meru
Scattered throughout the Buddhist scriptures (Suttas) are references to thirty one distinct “planes” or “realms” of existence into which beings can be reborn during their wandering through samsara. Samsara is the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound. The existence in every realm is temporary. These realms range from grim and painful hell realms all the way up to the most refined and blissful heaven realms. In Buddhist cosmology there is no eternal heaven or hell. Beings are born into a particular realm according to their past karma. According to Buddhist cosmology these 31 realms are all clustered in layers around Mount Meru, which is a sacred mountain with five peaks. Mount Meru is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.
The realms of existence are customarily divided into three distinct “worlds” (Loka):

The immaterial world (Arupa-loka). The formless realms. The inhabitants of these realms are possessed entirely of mind and have no physical body or location. These beings do not interact with the rest of the universe and are unable to hear Buddha’s teachings. They achieve this by attaining the formless levels in a previous life, and now enjoy the fruits of the good karma of that accomplishment for a period before rebirth in a lower plane again.
This world consists of four sub-realms:
(31) Sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. The beings in this plane only have mind and no physical body.
(30) Sphere of Nothingness. Rebirth in this plane is a result of attaining the third formless in a previous life. This is considered a form of perception, though a very subtle one.
(29) Sphere of Infinite consciousness. Rebirth in this plane is a result of attaining the second formless. In this sphere formless beings dwell meditating on their consciousness as infinitely pervasive.
(28) Sphere of Infinite space. Rebirth in this plane is a result of attaining the first formless.

The Fine-material world (Rupa-loka). This is the world of form. The beings of this realm are said to have very subtle forms that would be invisible to most other beings, but they are forms nonetheless. There are five primary realms within the Rupa-loka, but also a number of sub-realms. All together they account for 16 of the 31 realms. The five primary realms are: Suddhavasa, Brhatphala, Subhakrtsna, Abhasvara, and Brahma. Certain devas (divine beings with godlike characteristics) correspond with these realms.

Suddhavasa – Pure abodes. The Pure abodes are distinct from the other realms of the rupa-loka in that they do not house beings that were born there through ordinary merit or meditative attainments. The births in these five sub-realms are a result of attaining the fruit of non-returning, the third level of enlightenment. These pure abodes are accessible only to those who have destroyed the lower five fetters, consisting of self-view, skeptical doubt, clinging to rites and ceremonies, sense desires, and ill-will. They will destroy their remaining fetters of craving for fine material existence, craving for immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness and ignorance during their existence in the Pure Abodes. Those who take rebirth here are called “non-returners” because they don’t return from that world, but attain final Nirvana there without coming back. They guard and protect Buddhism on earth and will pass into enlightenment when they pass away from the Suddhavasa worlds. Among its inhabitants is Brahma who begs the Buddha to teach Dharma to the world.

(27) Peerless devas. Realm of devas “un-equal in rank”. The highest of all the Rupa-loki realms, it is often used to refer to the highest extreme of the universe. The current Sakra (ruler of Heaven) will eventually be born here.
(26) Clear-sighted devas. The “clear-seeing” devas live in a realm similar to and friendly with the realm of devas “un-equal in rank”.  
(25) Beautiful devas. The realm of the “beautiful” devas is said to be the place of rebirth for five kinds of Buddhist religious practitioners (anagamins) who died just short of attaining the state of Arhat, which is the end of the spiritual path.
(24) Untroubled devas. The realm of the “untroubled” devas, for whose company those of lower realms long.
(23) Devas not falling away. The realm of the “not falling” devas, perhaps the most common destination for Buddhist religious practitioners. Many achieve the end of the spiritual path directly in this world, but some pass away and are reborn in sequentially higher realms of the pure abodes until they are at last reborn in the realm of devas “equal in rank”. 

Brhatphala realms. These two realms are a result of attaining the fourth jhana. Jhana is a series of cultivated states of mind, which leads to the “state” of perfect equanimity and awareness. The beings here remain in the tranquil state attained in the 4th Jhana.
(22) Unconscious beings. It is the realm of mindless beings that only have bodies without consciousness. Rebirth into this plane results from a meditative practice aimed at the suppression of consciousness. Those who take up this practice assume release from suffering can be achieved by attaining unconsciousness. However, when the life span in this realm ends, the beings pass away and are born in other planes where consciousness returns.
(21) Very fruitful devas. The Buddha said that the fruitful devas, monks, have a life-span of 500 eons. A run-of-the-mill person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, goes to hell, to the animal womb, to the state of the hungry shades.

Subhakrtsna realm. These three realms are a result of attaining the third Jhana. The mental state of the devas of these realms correspond to the third jhana, and is characterized by a quiet joy. These devas have bodies that radiate a steady light.
(20) Devas of refulgent glory.
(19) Devas of unbounded glory. The realm of devas of “limitless beauty”.
(18) Devas of limited glory. The realm of devas of “limitless beauty”.

Abhasvara realm. These three realms are a result of attaining the second jhana. The metal state of the devas of this realm is characterized by delight as well as joy.
(17) Devas of streaming radiance
(16) Devas of unbounded radiance
(15) Devas of limited radiance

Brahma realm. The mental state of the devas of the Brahma realms corresponds to the first jhana. Like all beings, the brahma, are still tied to the cycle of rebirth, though sometimes they forget this and imagine that they are immortal. One way to rebirth in the brahma realm is mastery over the first jhana. Another is through meditations on loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. When the release of the mind in equanimity is developed none of the measured actions remain. This is the method to be born with Brahma.
(14) Great Brahmas. One of this realm’s most famous inhabitants is the great Brahma, a deity whose delusion leads him to regard himself as the all-powerful, all-seeing creator of the Universe. A great Brahma is a being from the Abhasvara realms who falls into a lower realm through exhaustion of his merits and is reborn alone in the Brahma realm; forgetting his former existence. He imagines himself to have come into existence without cause.
(13) Ministers of Brahma. The “ministers of Brahma” are beings, also originally from the Abhasvara realms that are born as companions to the great Brahma after he has spent some time alone. Since they arise after his thought of a desire for companions, he believes himself to be their creator. The ministers believe him to be their creator and lord.
(12) Retinue of Brahma. The “councilors of Brahma” or the devas belonging to the assembly of Brahma. 

The sensuous world (Kama-loka). This is “our” world, the world of desire, or samsara, or karma. When Buddhists talk about the six realms, they are talking about Kama-loka (Kamadhatu). This is the world represented on the wheel of life. Born into these realms takes place as a result of giving and moral discipline, it is the lowest of the three worlds. The driving force within this realm is sensual desire. These devas enjoy aesthetic pleasure, long life, beauty, and certain powers. These realms are not reserved only for good Buddhists. Anyone who has led a wholesome life can be born in them. People who believe in an “eternal heaven” may carry their belief to the deva plane and take the long life span there to be an eternal existence. Only those who have known the Dhamma will realize that as these realms are impermanent someday these sentient beings will fall away from them and be reborn elsewhere. The devas can help people by inclining their minds to wholesome acts, and people can help the devas by inviting them to rejoice in their meritorious deeds.

Higher Kama-loka. These devas live in four heavens that float in the air, leaving them free from contact with the strife of the lower world.
(11) Devas wielding power over the creation of others. These devas enjoy sensual pleasure created by others for them. These devas do not create pleasing forms that they desire themselves, but their desires are fulfilled by the acts of other devas who wish for their favor. Mara, the personification of delusion and desire, lives here.
(10) Devas delighting in creation. These devas delight in the sense objects of their own creation. They are capable of changing appearance to please themselves. The lord of this realm is Sunirmita (the heaven of pleasant transformation).
(09) Contented devas. This is the home of the contented gods, among them is the future Maitreya which is the teacher of the world. Hindu’s call him Krishna. Before his birth as Siddhartha, this is the realm where he dwells with other Bodhisattvas. In Buddhism, Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated Bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.
(08) Yama devas. These devas live in the air, free of all difficulties.

Lower Kama-Loka. The lower devas of the kama-loka live on different parts of the mountain at the center of the world, sumeru. They are even more passionate than the higher devas, and do not simply enjoy themselves but also engage in strife and fighting.
(7) Thirty-three Gods. Beings that live on the peak of Sumeru are like the Olympian gods. Their ruler is Sakka or Sakra, a devotee of the Buddha, who rules by righteousness, patience towards aggressors, and compassionate treatment of wrongdoers. Sakka and the devas honor sages and holy men. He earned his place as ruler of the devas by fulfilling seven vows which embody the standards of the virtuous householder while he was still a human beings. The Buddha holds up Sakka’s patience and forgiveness as a model for the Bhikkhus (an ordained male monk). Many devas dwelling here live in mansions in the air. Besides the 33 Gods, many other devas and supernatural beings dwell here, including the attendants of the devas and many nymphs.
(6) Four great kings. The realm of the four great kings includes the martial kings who guard the four quarters of the Earth. The devas who guide the sun and the moon are also part of this world. This real is home to the four types of earthly demigod or nature-spirits. These nature-spirits inhabit remote areas such as forests, hills, and abandoned caves. Through living in misery they have the potential for awakening and can attain the path and fruits of the spiritual life.  
(5) Human beings. A birth in this realm results from giving and moral discipline of middling quality. This is the realm of moral choice where destiny can be guided. This realm is a unique balance of pleasure and pain. It facilitates the development of virtue and wisdom to liberate oneself from the entire cycle or rebirths. For this reason rebirth as a human being is considered precious. Killing others lead to short life if one becomes reborn in the human realm instead of the four lower states of deprivation. By abandoning the very acts of killing and harming, one gets to be reborn in a heavenly realm. Alternatively, one gets to be reborn in the human realm being endowed with long life. The injuring of other beings can lead to rebirth in the states of deprivation. Alternatively, the person comes back in the human realm as someone very sickly. The non-injuring of others leads to rebirth in good destinations, alternatively, one comes back to the human realm enjoying good health.

States of deprivation (Apaya). Rebirth into these realms results from unwholesome conduct. Beings reborn here have no moral sense and generally cannot create good Karma. However, when the unwholesome Karma that brought them to these realms is exhausted, some store good Karma can bring them rebirth in some other plane. Only stream-enterers and other ariyans (a member of the ancient Aryan people) can be sure that they will never again be born in these realms of misery.
(04) Asuras. The demons (titans) that dwell here are engaged in relentless conflict with each other.
(03) Hungry shades / ghosts. Ghosts and unhappy spirits wander hopelessly about this realm, searching in vain for sensual fulfillment.
(02) Animals. This realm includes all the non-human forms of life that are visible to us under ordinary circumstances (animals, insects, fish, birds, worms, etc.).
(01) Hell. This is not to be confused with the eternal hell found in other religious traditions. One’s time here, as in every realm, is temporary.

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