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 anantariya kamma or five acts that will bring a bad birth without “a gap” (unlike many kamma vipaka can come to fruition in later lives, i.e., their results are seen only later in sansara). These five are:
- Killing one’s mother
- Killing one’s father
- Killing an Arahant
- Causing an injury to a Buddha
- Causing schism in the Sangha (the monastic order)
2. The next level is “niyatha micca ditthi” 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 apayas at some point in sansara. This means that one with these false views could be reborn in the apayas 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 vipaka, (6) opapatika birth (instant full-formed birth), (7) apayas, 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 Sotapanna may not be fully convinced of the truth of some of the above. But a Sotapanna has not ruled out any of the above and is not adamant on holding onto a wrong view.
3. Thus the possibility of a birth in the apayas in any future birth is there until all established (unshakable) wrong views (niyata micca ditthi) 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 apayas (the four lowest realms) in ANY future life is to become a Sotapanna.
What Happens at the Sotapanna 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 Sotapanna 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 clear vision”. This is why “dassanena pahatabba” or “removal by vision” is listed as #1 item in the seven items required to attain Nibbana in the Sabbasava Sutta; see, “Key Points in the Sabbasava Sutta” in “The Sotapanna Stage“.
4. Thus essentially all that happens at reaching the Sotapanna 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 asavas other than the ditthi asava. Thus one still may have kamasava, bhavasava, and avijjasava, 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 asavas are formed starting with habits is discussed in the “Habits and Goals“, “Sansaric Habits and Asavas“, and “The Way to Nibbāna – Removal of Āsavas” 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 Sotapanna stage one does not need a teacher. One knows what needs to be done. As one gets rid of the remaining asavas, the vision becomes even more clear and full and complete Samma Ditthi is attained at the Arahanthood.