How to Avoid Birth in the Apāyā

1. There are five heinous kamma (acts) that GUARANTEE a rebirth in the lowest four realms in the very next birth. These are called the panca ānantariya kamma or five acts that will bring a bad birth without “a gap” (unlike many kamma vipāka can come to fruition in later lives, i.e., their results are seen only later in saṃsāra). These five are:

  • Killing one’s mother
  • Killing one’s father
  • Killing an Arahant
  • Causing an injury to a Buddha
  • Causing schism in the Saṅgha (the monastic order)

2. The next level is niyatha micchā diṭṭhi” or “an established wrong world view” (which means one is not even willing to consider the possibility that one could be wrong in holding onto such views) that will cause one to be born in the apāyā at some point in saṃsāra.  This means that one with these false views could be reborn in the apāyā in the next life or any future life. There are eight such views:

  • No such thing as, (1) mother, (2) father, (3) Buddha, (4) rebirth, (5) kamma vipāka, (6) opapatika birth (instant full-formed birth), and the existence of (7) apāyā, and (8) rupa loka/arupa loka. For explanations on (6)-(8), see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“.

It must be noted that Even a Sotāpanna may not be fully convinced of the truth of some of the above. But a Sotāpanna has not ruled out any of the above and is not adamant about holding onto a wrong view.

3. Thus the possibility of birth in the apāyā in any future birth is there until all established (unshakable) wrong views (niyata micchā diṭṭhi) are rejected by one’s mind. We all have committed both good and bad kamma in the past lives that we are not aware of; thus any of those could cause a birth anywhere in the 31 realms.

4. It is important to remember that those false views cannot be just memorized and pretended to be discarded. The mind needs to be convinced that those are indeed false views. This is why it is important to examine the world view of the Buddha. These are the key concepts discussed in the top menus, especially, “What is Buddha Dhamma?” and “Key Dhamma Concepts“.

5. The only guaranteed way to stay out of the apāyā (the four lowest realms) in ANY future life is to become a Sotāpanna.

What Happens at the Sotāpanna Stage?

1. As I keep repeating, the Buddha is just the messenger; he discovered the true nature of this world. First of all, this world is much more complex than we perceive. In order to understand how to remove suffering, one has to understand the causes, and that requires the complete picture of “this world” (see, “What is Buddha Dhamma?” and in particular, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“) and also why it is not possible to remove suffering without understanding the Three Characteristics of “this world” (see, “Key Dhamma Concepts” and in particular, “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta“).

2. When one “sees” the true nature of “this world”, the mind will automatically give up those false views mentioned in the above section (#2). This is why it is first important to learn Dhamma first. No one, regardless of one’s high intellect, can discover the complete set of nature’s laws other than a Buddha. 

3. From the discussion so far, it is clear what needs to be done to reach the Sotāpanna stage. All that is needed is to carefully examine the world view of the Buddha as mentioned in #1 in this section. One needs to understand the “vision”, and to become “dassanena sampanno” or “one with a clear vision”. This is why “dassanena pahatabba” or “removal by vision” is listed as #1 item in the seven items required to attain Nibbāna in the Sabbāsava Sutta; see, “Key Points in the Sabbāsava Sutta” in “The Sotāpanna Stage“.

4. Thus essentially all that happens at reaching the Sotāpanna stage is to get a clear world view. Now one has understood the true nature of this world, and thus “knows” that it is not possible to achieve lasting happiness anywhere in the 31 realms. One may not have removed any āsavā other than the diṭṭhi āsāva. Thus one still may have kāmasava, bhavāsāva, and avijjāsāva, i.e., one still may have greed, hatred, and ignorance even though parts of all three have been permanently been removed by the clear vision. How the āsavā are formed starting with habits is discussed in the “Habits and Goals“, “Saṃsāric Habits and Āsavas“, and “The Way to Nibbāna – Removal of Āsavā” sections in that order.

5. Therefore, even though one may have greed, hate, and ignorance left, one knows what they are. And one knows how to remove them. After attaining the Sotāpanna stage one does not need a teacher. One knows what needs to be done. As one gets rid of the remaining āsavā, the vision becomes even more clear and full and complete Sammā Diṭṭhi is attained at the Arahanthood.

Next, “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm“, …….

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