Celestial beings

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    • #47842
      Yash RS
      Participant

      There are many accounts of people seeing devas at the time of the Buddha. How is that possible if there bodies are so subtle?

      If the devas could use their powers to show themselves to the people,why has not anyone seen any Deva in the present time?

       

    • #47844
      Lal
      Keymaster

      In the suttas, what is mentioned in most cases is that “a certain Deva came to see the Buddha, and the light of that Deva lighted up the vicinity of Jetavanaramaya.”

      • See, for example, “Oghataraṇa Sutta (SN 1.1)“: “Then, late at night, a glorious deity, lighting up the entire Jeta’s Grove, went up to the Buddha, bowed, stood to one side, and said to him,…”

      I have not seen a sutta specifically state that people saw a Deva‘s body.

      • However, if they want to, they can “make up a dense body for the humans to see them.” 
      • There is a sutta that says the following. Once, a Deva came to see the Buddha and “could not balance his subtle, almost weightless body and was having a hard time standing up.” So, the Buddha asked the Deva to “make up a dense body so that he could stand firm.” I don’t recall the name of the sutta.

      By the way, there are many suttas, roughly from SN 1.1 (above sutta) to SN 6.10, that describe the visits of various Devas and Brahmas to see and discuss dhamma concepts with the Buddha.

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    • #47851
      Gad
      Participant

       Sir Lal: Once, a Deva came to see the Buddha and “could not balance his subtle, almost weightless body and was having a hard time standing up.” So, the Buddha asked the Deva to “make up a dense body so that he could stand firm.” I don’t recall the name of the sutta. 

      ME: It’s in the Hatthaka Sutta, sir.

      Hatthaka Alavaka passed away as a Non-Returner and was reborn in the first of the five Pure Abodes known as Aviha. According to the Hatthaka Devaputta sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya, during one night the deity (Brahma) Hatthaka visited the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery in Savatti. When he was with the Buddha he could not stay upright properly as his body was so fine and the Buddha had to advise him to make his body a coarse one so that he could stand up in front of the Buddha. 

      As we know, the body of Brahmas is even finer than the devas. This may be why it had difficulty solidifying at first. Hatthaka was one of the anagami brahmas who taught the Dhamma to other deities.

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    • #47852
      Gad
      Participant

      To answer Yash’s question, I believe it is due to the moral impurity of people in our time. The people of Lord Buddha’s time were much more virtuous than the people of now. This was why their era was the golden age of the Ariyas. Devas (those of good gati) tend to show themselves to those who are virtuous. Those who develop jhanas can see them very well I believe.

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    • #47853
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, Gad, for posting that sutta.

      • The reason that many Devas visited the ‘human world” during the time of the Buddha was to learn Dhamma from the Buddha. There is no compelling reason for them to visit these days. (However, Waharaka Thero mentioned in a discourse that he occasionally had some evidence for such a visit.) Learning from a Buddha is a rare event.
      • I read somewhere that an unimaginable number of Devas listened to the first sutta that the Buddha delivered. I remember the quotation (but not the source): “There were 60 Devas packed into a space comparable to the hole in a needle.” Since Devas have very fine bodies, that is not a crowded space for them!
      • Of course, there were only five humans there, the five ascetics. While only Ven. Kondanna attained the Sotapanna stage that night, a vast number of Devas and Brahmas attained various magga phala.
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    • #47871
      dosakkhayo
      Participant

      The Tipitaka reference Lal said is A2.36 #6.5

      with metta

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      Gad
    • #47875
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, Dosakhayo, for the reference!

      • It helps to quote the Tipitaka reference whenever we can (especially in a case like this, which can never be confirmed otherwise; some points can be confirmed by MUNDANE logic or reasoning, but this is an exception.) 

      P.S. We can learn a lot by contemplating what is embedded in this “information nugget.”

      • This gives an idea of how “fine” or “subtle” the “body of a Deva” is.
      • If 60 Devas can comfortably stay inside the space of a hole in a needle, we can imagine how small an entity it is (in mundane physical terms, we are used to).
      • Listening does not REQUIRE dense physical ears. When outside a physical human body, a gandhabba hears similarly, just using the “sota pasada rupa.” Seeing is the same way.
      • The dense physical body REQUIRED only for physical touching, tasting, and smelling. But then we have to endure the suffering that comes with it: injuries, sicknesses like cancer, body aches, etc. 
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    • #47881
      Gad
      Participant

      I found another sutta that supports this point. Lord Buddha tells the story of a man who saw an army of asuras enter a lotus stem!!! Lokacintāsutta : The defeated and terrified titans entered the citadel of the Titans (asuras) through the lotus stalk only to confuse the gods.

    • #47882
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. Our senses are amenable to only the human and animal realms.

      • Many things about the other 29 realms are not amenable to our limited senses. 
      • While it is good to be aware of such phenomena, we should not spend too much time investigating them—still, these “nuggets” point out the complexity of the broader world of 31 realms.

      Scientists are discovering many “strange phenomena” even within the animal realm. In many cases, animals have better or different sense capabilities. 

      • The sensory faculties of humans or animals (and in other realms) are devised by kammic energy to according the gati that gave rise to each birth. 
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      Gad
    • #47884
      Gad
      Participant

      Yes. I always found it fascinating. Animals are apaya beings and yet they have better sensory capacities than us.

      • They can see spirits and gandhabbas for example. I think I sent it to you by email last year. The story of a man in a coma who was saved by his dog. He spent a few years in a coma and the doctors wanted him unplugged. The dog threatened to bite the doctors. He knew (the dog) that they wanted to unplug him!! A few days later the dog’s owner wakes up. The dog saw that the gandhabba was still linked to the physical body. However, on deeper analysis, these advanced senses are only there to amplify the stress and constant distress of their conditions. Petas remember their past lives and are constantly in regret.
      • An average human would like to have all these abilities but he risks having severe depression seeing the horrible lives he had to go through in Samsara. Arahant Maha Mogallana often went to the niraya hells, without being affected. The mind of an arahant is immune to any unpleasant situation. If he was an average human without jhanas and abhinnas, he would have sunk into depression, seeing these worlds. Sometimes for some people, it’s better not to know certain things. We understand better why Lord Buddha said not to focus too much on this.
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