Rebirth and apaya

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    • #35088

      Dear Lal and friends,
      I have another question.

      In the article

      Rebirth – Connection to Suffering in the First Noble Truth

      At the summary, you write:
      “Therefore, each of us has spent MOST of that time in the suffering-filled lowest 4 realms (apāyās.) Even though the realms at and above the human realms have much less suffering compared to the apāyās, the time spent in those higher realms would have been insignificant.
      ▪This is why it is unwise to seek rebirths in higher realms. Even though the lifetime in a Deva/Brahma realm can be many millions of years, that is INSIGNIFICANT compared to the time spent in the apāyās over the long run.”

      From my understanding of agañña Sutta, we spend more than 1/4 of the time of each mahakappa in Brahma realm, and so can spend maximum 3/4 in apāyā. That is not matching with your description of what you consider “significant” over “insignificant”. However, I read also a discussion here in the forum that even if we would spend only 10% of the time in apāyā, that would not be worth to continue. And that would be something I agree with. Also, the number of rebirths would make sense to describe as you did, saying that the # of jati (or bhava) spend in apāyā is hugely superior than the # of jati/bhava in human realm or higher. This is because we spend 1/4 of the time of each mahakappa in a single bhava (to my understanding), and have many births and deaths in the remaining time.

      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.

    • #35091

      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.

      My 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.”

      My comment:

      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.

    • #35159

      Ahhhh . . . It’s been awhile since that discussion . . . Where I’m at today is that I’m in the process of finding/feeling/seeing that even being in the heavenly realms is still suffering and meaningless/pointless.

      If the Buddha or someone made me an offer that

      a) If I give up on attaining Nibbana in return I would get to stay in the heavenly realms for 364 days and only go to the apaya’s for 1 day. Or I can stay in the heavenly realms permanently.

      b) I’m guaranteed to attain Nibbana if I have to spend 364 days in the apaya’s or a X amount of time in the apaya’s, but I’m guaranteed to attain Nibbana.

      I would always choose option B

      It’s taught by the noble one’s and Lal has mentioned that one should see suffering based on wisdom and not based on vedana.

      Even if we spend 99% of our time in the heavenly realms and if one believes that there’s less “net” suffering because of that. I believe that person is still seeing suffering based on feelings (vedana).

      I have contemplated on some of the sufferings that may occur in the heavenly realms. I thought I would share some of these. Some of the things I’m about to share is based on speculations, although not without good reasons, as well more details could be given.

      1). There’s a law in economics called “the law of diminishing returns”. I don’t know how applicable that is to our true reality, but that idea / concept resonates with me. Through my own personal experience and observation, to me it seems like the more we keep doing/experiencing the same thing over and over again, no matter how much we like it or enjoy it, the less pleasurable/enjoyable it becomes over time. I believe that’s one of the reasons why we always look for new experiences and such. As well, even if we enjoy/like a particular experience so much that even by experiencing the same thing over and over again and never get bored/sick of it. Eventually we will get old and the five senses starts to decay, we won’t be able to use the five senses like we did when we were younger to get the same enjoyment out of that experience that we like/enjoy so much. So even if our minds like it so much, but eventually our body will not allow us to get the same enjoyment.

      This is just speculation, but I believe possibly Deva’s and Brahmins would experience something similar (with their minds). One example of this are stories about the fall of Cakkavatti’s. As well Waharaka Thero mentions about how the brahmas descend to the world to become humans, after the formation of the world. “They recall past memories of how great it would be to be human. They fondly remember human nature and wish to be in that state. This is speculation on my part, but I believe it’s possible that Brahmas in the heavenly realms might even have such thoughts especially when they are near the end of their bhava/jati. What this tells me that even Brahma’s might eventually get bored / unfilled with their jhana’s or whatever it’s that experiencing in the rupa, arupa loka’s and would like to experience kama raga. (Speculation)

      When I think / contemplate about sensual pleasures in the heavenly realms, for example as a Deva. Although it might be very enjoyable at the beginning, partying, having sex, seeing beautiful sights, living in a palace etc . . . But if I keep doing these things over and over again, I feel it would become less and less enjoyable as time goes on. Because this is what I can observe when I contemplate and reflect back on my life.

      2) Burning from the 11 flames. One would still burn from the 11 flames in the heavenly realms. One could argue that one doesn’t burn from the first 3 flames of raga, dosa, moha in the heavenly realms. But one would still burn from the flame of jati, jara, marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa, upayasa.

      3) Sankata

      From my own understanding, I believe it would be very difficult, if not impossible to find other teachers that’s on par / level with Lord Buddha’s. The consistency, details, and clarity of the Dhamma taught by Lord Buddha’s, I simply have no words or believe any words can do justice to describe how intelligent / amazing Lord Buddha’s are.

      Just take Sankata and the naming of each of the 5 stages that Lord Buddha uses. I can use this to describe / explain to myself the connection between sankata’s and how it leads to anicca, dukkha, anatta. I hope Lal will eventually fix / write with more details on sankata’s since the post / link “Root cause of Anicca – Five stages of Sankata’s” no longer works and I believe it’s such an important teaching to understand. Anyways to make a long story short, one of the stages of a Sankata is adinava. What I have learned is that one of the ways to understand/see what adinava is, is that Adinava = Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. From my own understanding, I believe what all living beings experiencing are Sankata’s. So even if one is in the heavenly realms, one would still be experiencing Sankata’s and what is one of the 5 stages of a Sankata? Adinava = anicca, dukkha, anatta.

      I consider sankata’s to be a bottle of poison. Being attached to sankata’s is like drinking from a bottle of poison. If one is attached to sankata’s, that’s like drinking from the bottle of poison and one would have to experience the effects of poison or from the sankata perspective, one would have to suffer the bad consequences (adinava) of anicca, dukkha, anatta.

      To end this post off, from one of Waharaka’s Thero desana’s, subtitled:

      “Atteeyathi was explained as the vexatious nature, then the Lord Buddha showed us what is meant by “Anicca” that is vexation. This unfavorable vexatious nature should be held in contempt and should be ashamed to associate with. This vexatious world should be rejected. If one understands this particular fact, if one understands the nature of vexation, worries and frustration, it becomes clear that one is chasing immense vexation with the wrong impression that one is enjoying gratification.”

    • #35164

      Forgot to add that I rather not have anything to do with the 31 realms of existence even if it’s pleasurable and that if I would spend most of my time in the heavenly realms. It’s better to stop drinking the bottle of poison (the world) even if it taste sweet and gives pleasurable feelings.

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