This issue has been discussed at length in two threads. Following is a post of mine in one of them:
“Triplegemstudent wrote to me and we had a discussion via email. I am just going to post one of my emails and his last email.
This issue was discussed at:
“Post on “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)”
The essence of the discussion is in my following reply there, close to the top of the thread, was as follows:
“Dr. J Chakma wrote: “Out of 4 antakkappas a living being spend 3 anatakkappas (i.e. 75% time of a mahakappa) in Brahma realm (Abhassara) and enjoy jhanic pleasure. However, Buddha told this sansara is full of suffering (dukha and dukkha). So, a being even if it spent rest of the mahakappa in apayas, the being still spends 75% of time in Good realm (abhassara realm). So, theoretically a being enjoys more than it suffers.”
That is correct.
But as you said after that, the suffering, while it lasts, is unbearable.
To get a perspective consider the following scenario: If one is given the opportunity to enjoy all the comforts in the world for 9 months on the condition that one would then be subjected to various forms of torture (burned alive, cut into pieces only to reassembled instantaneously and to go through the whole process again, etc) incessantly for the next 3 months, would that be acceptable?
I don’t think one would even agree to one day of such suffering even for 9 months of luxurious living.”
Then I asked the Triplegemstudent:
Would you take that offer?
Imagine the worst suffering that you ever experienced in your life.
– Suffering in an apaya is MUCH worse. We can get a glimpse of it by thinking about an animal in the wild (not a pet). How many old animals are in a jungle? They are eaten alive as soon as they get a bit old.
Following is part of the final response of the Triplegemstudent:
“I read the whole discussion before and that’s why the idea/thought came to my mind. I wasn’t able to find a satisfactory answer including what you, myself or anyone answered. In my previous e-mail before this one, what I was trying to say was what I came to realize is what me and Dr. J Chakam is/was thinking/saying how we spend more time in the Brahma realms and therefore “should” be enjoying more pleasure is the wrong/incorrect thinking.
Because rather one is enjoying more pleasure or suffering, it’s still Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta in any of the 31 realms of existence. As long as we’re stuck in the rebirth process Sansara, not attaining Magga phala or Nibbana, the end result is always more suffering. And like you said, the suffering in the apaya is much worse and possibly greater > than any pleasures we receive.
So even when I get to enjoy 9 months of pleasure, that’s still Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. That 9 months of pleasure is Anatta, unfruitful/no essence/no refuge. That would be the same as the 3 months suffering for it.
Because that 9 and 3 months is both Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta I shouldn’t/don’t want to even to get involved with the pleasure or suffering in the first place because all that is Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. It’s better to attain Magga Phala/Nibbana, so that I don’t even have to make such a decision/or be in that position like in your example in the first place.
This is what I meant when I said, what me and Dr. J Chakma was thinking is wrong/incorrect.”
I am impressed by his reply.
He wrote: “So even when I get to enjoy 9 months of pleasure, that’s still Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. That 9 months of pleasure is Anatta, unfruitful/no essence/no refuge. That would be the same as the 3 months suffering for it.”
He realized the deeper aspect of it. That is in a way the First Noble Truth that the Buddha was trying to explain.
– What we PERCEIVE to be a pleasure (in sensory pleasures or even in jhanic pleasures in those Brahma realms) has “hidden suffering.” The more one is enamored by them, the more difficult it becomes to be able to free of ALL future suffering.
The above comment was posted on September 15, 2020 at 2:24 pm in the thread “First noble truth”
Daniel’s other question:
“In Ven Bodhi’s book on Abhidhamma, on page 230, he lists the rebirth-destinations for individual realms. Are these correct in your opinion? According to these, a Brahman would not immediately go to hell in a next bhava, but would be reborn as Deva or human and could go to hell or apāyā in a bhava after that.
– Yes. I agree with that. A Brahma would not be born directly in an apaya upon death.