Why Would Devas Come Down To The Human Realm To Listen To Desanas?

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    • #16791
      firewns
      Participant

      For those of us who are religiously following the mundane or Noble Eightfold Path, and accumulating merit, at the end of our human bhava, we may grasp a deva bhava.

      I have always had a little fear of the deva bhava. For one thing, they have much less suffering in their lives and much more sense pleasures available to them than humans. In the midst of so much enjoyment, would the non-Ariya devas simply spend their entire existence enjoying sense pleasures and neglect to cultivate the path? Would they even doubt or dismiss the idea that there is much suffering in samsara?

      For another thing, they live immensely long lives and thus must be depleting their merits at quite an incredible rate. Even given the fact that they may have accumulated infinite merits in their infinite existences, still, the depletion of so much merit might leave more opportunities for their demerits to bear fruit, perhaps at the cuti-patisandhi moment.

      Yet, the Buddha has mentioned at least in one instance that when He was giving a discourse, devas would come to listen to Him. Why would they do that, if they do not seem to have much incentive to get out of samsara? Even in the human realm, we can imagine that some rich and powerful humans believe that suffering is only for the disadvantaged poor. They do not realize how much suffering there is, until they are severely old or sick and it is too late.

      I am fascinated that devas and even brahmas would believe in the merits of learning and practising Dhamma. It does not seem very likely to me that they would think so, but if they do, then perhaps the deva and brahma realms do not seem so dangerous after all.

    • #16792
      firewns
      Participant

      One more related question would be: Do all devas and brahmas have supernatural powers? If they all have divine eyes and divine ears and the ability to travel great distances in short periods of times, then these would aid them immensely in finding opportunities to listen to desanas by Ariyas.

      Thank you very much in advance for your answers to my questions.

    • #16793
      Lal
      Keymaster

      “In the midst of so much enjoyment, would the non-Ariya devas simply spend their entire existence enjoying sense pleasures and neglect to cultivate the path?”

      Yes. Most of them would not even think about samsaric suffering, since they see very little suffering. We can get an idea about a rich, powerful, and healthy human. Would he/she have time to even think about such things. They will be busy with enjoying sense pleasures and making more money.

      “Even given the fact that they may have accumulated infinite merits in their infinite existences,..”

      No living being has an infinite existence. Their lifetimes may be very long in terms of our time scale that we are used to. However, even the lifetime of an arupavacra brahma (which can be many aeons), is a just a blip the samsaric time scale.

      “Even in the human realm, we can imagine that some rich and powerful humans believe that suffering is only for the disadvantaged poor. They do not realize how much suffering there is, until they are severely old or sick and it is too late.
      Quite true.

      “I am fascinated that devas and even brahmas would believe in the merits of learning and practising Dhamma. It does not seem very likely to me that they would think so..”
      There are many devas/brahmas with lower stages of magga phala, below the Arahant stage. They are certainly interested in listening to Dhamma, if it is correct Dhamma (They will know the difference too). Furthermore, there could be many who are Sotapanna Anugami, and would be very much interested. They also discuss among themselves.

      “Do all devas and brahmas have supernatural powers?”
      The term “supernormal powers” is again relative to our (human) capabilities. Each bhava has its own capabilities and drawbacks. For example, owls can see at night, but humans cannot. That could be called a supernormal power for an owl. How do some birds fly many thousands of miles during seasonal migrations? That is a “built-in” capability for them that humans do not have. There are many examples like that.
      -The ability to travel long distances in short times is another characteristic of deva and brahma bhava. Not only them, but also human gandhabbas can travel at high speeds too (they have fine bodies that allow that); however, they cannot travel to deva/brahma realms, they can travel only within the human realm.

      Again, we can only speculate about some of these things. But we do know that devas/brahams came to see the Buddha, because many such incidents are described in the Tipitaka.

    • #16794
      y not
      Participant

      “…they may have accumulated infinite merits in their infinite existences, still, the depletion of so much merit might leave more opportunities for their demerits to bear fruit, perhaps at the cuti-patisandhi moment.”,… coupled with Lal’s:
      “…No living being has an infinite existence. Their lifetimes may be very long in terms of our time scale that we are used to. However, even the lifetime of an arupavacra brahma (which can be many aeons), is a just a blip the samsaric time scale.

      Since there is no beginning to sansara, and therefore also no beginning to the acquiring of merits (as also of demerits), then they have indeed ‘accumulated infinite merits in their infinite (in the past) existences’ But Lal is also right,as I see, because their lives there are inherently limited as to duration, so however long those lifetimes are, even if they were infinite, the merits being infinite as well, they would remain stuck there for ever.

      …”there could be many who are Sotapanna Anugami, and would be very much interested.”

      I was under the impression that, apart from those who attain a deva bhava solely due to merits, the others would be (ariyas) who had developed Sakadagami bhava in a human life immediately preceding that.

      Meaning: are not Sotapannas and Sotapannas Anugani still attached to gross-material existence ? How is it that they can attain a deva realm (through magga phala) lower than that of a Sakadagami? They are freed of only the four lowest realms, not the human one.

      y not

    • #16795
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not asked: “How is it that they can attain a deva realm (through magga phala) lower than that of a Sakadagami?”

      This needs a bit of contemplation. Becoming free of the apayas is forever. We all have been born in the deva/brahma realms.

    • #16798
      firewns
      Participant

      y not said: I was under the impression that, apart from those who attain a deva bhava solely due to merits, the others would be (ariyas) who had developed Sakadagami bhava in a human life immediately preceding that.

      Meaning: are not Sotapannas and Sotapannas Anugani still attached to gross-material existence ? How is it that they can attain a deva realm (through magga phala) lower than that of a Sakadagami? They are freed of only the four lowest realms, not the human one.

      This is how I understand it: Sotapannas and Sotapanna Anugami are indeed still attached to gross-material existence. Even if they attain a deva bhava, they may still go back to a human bhava at the end of the deva bhava, or attain nirvana in the deva realms. They are only free of the four apayas, not the human realm, but they can become devas too.

    • #16801
      firewns
      Participant

      The deva realms also belong to the sphere of sensual desire (kama loka). It is only in the brahma realms that you have the sphere of fine materiality (rupa loka) and the sphere of non-materiality (arupa loka).

    • #16868
      y not
      Participant

      firewns:

      You state: ‘ Even if they(Sot. and Sot. Anug’s) attain a deva bhava, they may still go back to a human bhava at the end of the deva bhava, or attain nirvana in the deva realms.’ (Does it necessarily follow that since ‘they attain a deva bhava’ they automatically become Sakadagamis on getting there, or have they got to work towards that in theirSotapanna/Sotapanna Anugami stage?) This may sound confusing; if so, just pass it by.

      First of all, if they are still attached to gross-material existence,and that overwhelms any deva bhava they may have developed to whatever (minor) degree, PS would work in that direction; i.e. towards a human bhava. I cannot, at least for now, see how it can be otherwise. And..if that were so,that is, that they can indeed attain a deva bhava, then that will not be consistent with either: ‘When one attains the Sakadāgami stage by REDUCING kāma rāga and patigha, one will be forever released from the human realm and one could be born only in dēva realms of the kāma lōka.'(Seeking-nibbana/dasa-samyojana-bonds-in-rebirth-process #17) or with reason. The Sakadagami stage SPECIFICALLY is mentioned as the one through which the human stage is transcended- though I leave myself open to more light that may be shed on the matter through further reading and contemplation.

      Note that the above quote from the post does not specify whether that Sakadagami stage is attained in the human or a deva realm. I am apt to think that it is refering to the attainment of the Sakadagami stage when in the human realm. Further I have reflected for long on what could be the reason or reasons that a Sakadagami ‘descends’ to the human realm when he/she could strive to attain a higher bhava or Nibbana itself from there. Two that came to mind were:

      1) He/she realizes that he/she cannot strive for a higher magga phala or Nibbana because for that he /she would have to learn a lesson or lessons he had neglected when in former human bhavas, and the deva realm to which he belongs no longer afford such ‘elementary’ lessons – like when, for instance, you intend to build a telescope and recall that you had neglected the light section in physics when you were in secondary school. Now you must dig into those lessons again, otherwise you are stuck.

      2) The motivation to ‘clear debts’ with those still in a human body. These will be those you know you were connected with in the past and who you wish to ‘help on’. It may be likened to someone who leaves the comforts of home and undertakes a tiresome journey to find a friend and get him/her out of distress.

      I could go on, but will be content for now with your remarks on this much.

    • #16869
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Here are some critical points to remember:

      1. A normal human can be born in most of the 31 realms (excluding those realms reserved for the Anagamis).
      2. – A birth (jati) is within the bhava that is grasped at the cuti-patisandhi moment. A bhava is grasped based on a kamma vipaka.
        – If a good kamma vipaka (kamma beeja) is grasped one is born in sugati (good bhava): human, deva, brahma. Such kamma vipaka are rooted in alobha, adosa, amoha, i.e., those are based on meritorious deeds or punnabhisankhara (for arupavacra brahma realms anenjabhisankhara).
        – If a bad kamma vipaka (kamma beeja) is grasped one is born in dugati (bad bhava): the four lowest realms. Such kamma vipaka are rooted in lobha, dosa, moha, i.e., those are based on meritorious deeds or apunnabhisankhara.

      3. One will be eligible for all these bhava (and jati) until one attains the Sotapanna stage.
      4. – A Sotapanna will not grasp a bhava in the lowest 4 realms (apayas). There could be many such bad kamma beeja, but he/she WILL NOT grasp any of them.
        – A Sakadagami will not grasp a bhava in the lowest 4 realms (apayas) and the human bhava. So, a Sakadagami can be born only in a deva or brahma bhava.
        – An Anagami will not grasp a bhava in the lowest 4 realms (apayas) and anywhere in kama loka. So, an Anagami can be born only in a brahma bhava. Most are born in the rupavacara brahma realms reserved for Anagamis.
        – An Arahant will not born any of the 31 realms. He/she will attain Parinibbana upon the death of the physical body.

      5. When one is born in a “good bhava“, lobha, dosa, moha are SUPPRESSED at various levels.
      6. – For example, when one is born in any brahma realm, kama raga is absent as long as one is in that bhava. But that brahma may grasp a lower bhava with kama raga (say human) upon death there. In this case, it is said that kama raga remained as an anusaya during the brahma lifetime, because it had NOT been REMOVED.
        – However, an Ariya will NEVER grasp a lower bhava, because he/she has REMOVED anusaya at that level. For example, a Sakadagmi will NOT be born in the human bhava or the apayas.

      7. This can be explained via step-by-step removal of the dasa samyojana as well, with stages of magga phala.
      8. – For example, three samyojana of sakkaya ditthi, vicikicca, silabbata paramasa are removed at the Sotapanna stage. With those three “bonds” REMOVED, a Sotapanna will never be born in the apayas.

      These are important facts. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if not clear.

    • #16870
      y not
      Participant

      Thank you Lal:

      – However, an Ariya will NEVER grasp a lower bhava, because he/she has REMOVED anusaya at that level. For example, a Sakadagmi will NOT be born in the human bhava or the apayas.-

      This refutes both 1) and 2) in my post. Of course, a Buddha who takes on a human form after leaving the Tavatimsa is another concept altogether.

      No doubt I will ask further questions as they come up

      ever grateful

    • #16871
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not said: ” Of course, a Buddha who takes on a human form after leaving the Tavatimsa is another concept altogether.”

      Why is that a different concept?

    • #16875
      y not
      Participant

      “an Ariya will NEVER grasp a lower bhava”

      …if a Buddha be not an Ariya too, and ‘grasp another bhava’ does not apply because He grasps only one jati in that human bhava.

      y not

    • #16876
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not: A Buddha did not come to this world from a deva world. It was a human baby, prince Siddhartha, that was born in the human world. He attained the Buddhahood and became Buddha Gotama at the age of 35 years.

    • #16879
      y not
      Participant

      Lal:

      Hmmm .. yes, but of course. Did not click. But did He not have at least some stage of magga phala while a Boddhisatta in the Tavatimsa? (I am not saying He had) then, out of compassion, descended to the human realm? Or would Boddhisattas then be only lay persons without any magga phala whatsoever?

      Thank you

    • #17046
      Akvan
      Participant

      Hi y not,

      A Buddha (or a pacceka Buddha) realises the dhamma by himself, without any help from anyone else. Therefore a Buddha will not have attained any magga pala until he attains enlightenment.

      If he did have some stage of magga pala before he was born as Siddhartha, then he would have been an ariya shrawaka and will not be a Budda / Bodhisatta.

      Bodhisatta is actually a name / label given in retrospect. So a bodhisatta may not even know that he is one. He is just a person going in search of the truth and help everyone else see the truth.

    • #17048
      y not
      Participant

      Akvan:

      Thank you. That is it. I am surprised how basic tenets like these (because they follow from others I am aware of and accept) sometimes escape me.

      Again, thank you.

    • #17185
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Something came to my mind today:

      A Deva-born-Sakadagami will attain Nibbana faster than a Brahma-born-Anāgāmi, right? Since the life span of the latter is much much longer than the former. A Deva-born-Sakadagami, after attaining the fruition of Sakadagami in the human realm, gets reborn as a once-returner to Kama Loka in the deva realm and attain Nibbana from there. Similarly for the case of the Brahma-born-Anāgāmi where he will be dwelling in the Pure Abodes for a much longer time before attaining Nibbna. If that is the case, a Sotāpanna can also attain Nibbana faster than a Deva-born-Sakadagami and Brahma-born-Anagami. For instance, a person attains Sotāpanna fruition in this life time. Assuming he is the laziest Sotāpanna around and that he is to max out the 7 rounds of bhava entirely in the human realm (obviously he cannot fall into woeful planes. Phew! Crisis averted!). The maximum time he would have to spend before attaining Nibbana is only thousands of years versus millions of years and aeons for the case of a Deva-born-Sakadagami and Brahma-born-Anāgāmi, respectively.

    • #17186
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Johnny_Lim:
      “A Deva-born-Sakadagami will attain Nibbana faster than a Brahma-born-Anāgāmi, right?”.

      There are few things that need to be taken into account in your whole analysis:

      1. A Sakadagami will not come back to the kama loka once born in the deva loka. But he MAY attain the Anagami stage, and be born in the brahma realm before attaining Nibbana.
      2. In the case of Anagami, he may not need to spend the whole maximum possible lifetime for that realm before attaining Nibbana. He may attain Nibbana shortly after being born there; nothing to prevent that.
      3. Same kind of arguments for one who attains Sotapanna stage in the human realm. Those remaining seven bhava could be in any higher realms, depending on when he/she attains Sakadagami or Anagami stages.
      • #17188
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Hi Lal,

        “A Sakadagami will not come back to the kama loka once born in the deva loka. But he MAY attain the Anagami stage, and be born in the brahma realm before attaining Nibbana.”

        Agreed. A Sakadagami in the deva realm can shift gear in his practice and attain Anāgāmi when he is dwelling in the deva realm.

        “In the case of Anagami, he may not need to spend the whole maximum possible lifetime for that realm before attaining Nibbana. He may attain Nibbana shortly after being born there; nothing to prevent that.”

        Assuming the Anāgāmi lived throughout his life span in the Pure Abodes. He would have a chance to see 2 or even more successive Sammāsambuddhas?

    • #17187
      y not
      Participant

      Johnny:

      There is more to it. A Sakadagami enjoys pleasures or whatever his heart was set on that was of a sensuous nature, however subtle, for at most 9 billion years ‘only’and pays the price by the suffering he is largely unable to see now. An Anagami is absorbed for 1000 to 16000 mahakalpas in mental bliss IN SOLITUDE, which is deeper than that resulting from contact with anything or anyone outside, so the ‘mental suffering’ that goes with it must be more subtle and therefore more’agonizing’.

      So the finer the realm, the more subtle and the more prolonged the experiencing – but that goes for both the enjoyment and the suffering attached to it. As you say, the most ‘efficient’ way would be to attain Nibbana in a human bhava, but that is difficult, to say the least. Also, the ‘going beyond’ of sensuous, if not sensual, pleasures is hard to do. Therefore, as I see at least, the gap or decisive ‘leap’, is not from Sotapanna to Sakadagami, but from Sakadagami to Anagami.

      • #17189
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Hi y not,

        “So the finer the realm, the more subtle and the more prolonged the experiencing”

        I would also think the waiting is agonising especially those who are so looking forward to Nibbana. Basically, just waiting to die.

    • #17190
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hi Johnny,
      You said: “Assuming the Anāgāmi lived throughout his life span in the Pure Abodes. He would have a chance to see 2 or even more successive Sammāsambuddhas?”

      Yes. I don’t remember the suttas, but there are accounts of some of those brahmas, who had listened to desanas from several Buddhas.

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