According to Buddhism, we cannot only be born as human beings the next time, but also as animal, “god”, “half-god”, “hungry ghost” or even in “hell”. Obviously, these words have specific connotations in most religions, and the expressions in Buddhism refer to somewhat different experiences than e.g. in Christianity. The main difference is that in Buddhism, a stay in none of the realms is permanent. After a life in “god-realm” we could be reborn in the “hell-realm”; it all just depends on our karma ripening.
A very brief description of the six desire realms:
1. Deva (god) realm: Life is experienced as happiness virtually without any problems whatsoever. The largest problem of this realm comes when the time is near to die, one begins to experience suffering as one can see the next rebirth coming up, which is usually much less pleasant. So a life as a deva or god definitely does not refer to anything like “God” in the Judeo-Christian-Moslim traditions; maybe they can be compared better to the gods in Greek mythology. These god-realms or heavens can be divided in many specific worlds.
2. Half-deva (demi god) realm: Quite a happy life is experienced, the main problems are caused by jealousy. The demi-gods can see the perfect life the gods are experiencing and become jealous, as the gods have somewhat better lives. They then want to fight the gods, but are always defeated.
3. Human realm: Life shifts between happiness and suffering. The biggest advantage of being born as a human is that one has the possibilities to change one’s karma and do practices to become liberated from cyclic existence or even achieve Buddhahood; see below in Precious Human Rebirth, and at the same time one experiences enough problems to be motivated into action.
4. Animal realm: Life is ruled by ignorance. Happiness and suffering happen, but understanding it, or even controlling it, is barely possible in the darkened awareness of an animal.
5. Hungry ghost or Preta (Tib.) realm: Life is marked by suffering, especially from attachment and craving, without being able to satisfy one’s needs. Life here is often described as a continuous suffering from hunger and thirst, but one cannot eat or drink.
6. Hell realm: Life is defined as suffering virtually without any happiness whatsoever. The only positive thing about the Buddhist hell realm is the fact that it is not eternal. After consuming up much of the negative karmic potential, one will die and has the chance to be reborn in a different (more pleasant) realm. Similar to the heavens, many different hells are also described (like hot and cold hells etc.).
back to basics here in colorado. i have a 2nd interview with an organization that i am hopeful about. i have not been so glad to be home in quite awhile. the last travel escapade with murphy’s law really wore me out a bit. i have survived however.
it turns out that the medical director for the methadone clinic i worked for has given her resignation also. it seems i might have started a trend. and a counselor/social worker i was supervising has taken a position there now. and change is happening as it always is and always shall be.
i don’t really remember being as hopeful as i feel right now. i have enough in my life right now and i am open to what will come.
my belief is that heaven and hell are the things we experience right now as a direct result of our decisions and our actions right now. i believe in reincarnation and i believe we transcend. my hope is to understand and “get” as much as i can now so that if i return i don’t have to start at square one.
“Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood.”
― Hal Norby