If we do many good deeds and achieve wholesome merit and virtue, we can be reborn in the heavens to enjoy celestial happiness. Celestial beings are always in samadhi. They
“take Dhyana bliss as their food and are filled with the joy of Dharma.” However, their state is not an ultimate one. When they exhaust their celestial blessings, they must re-enter the transmigratory cycle to receive the retribution they deserve.
The gods are so blessed that clothing or food materializes as soon as they think of them. Their clothing is extremely lightweight; hence the saying,
“Celestial clothes are seamless.” They don’t need tailors. Their clothes are always just the right size, not too big, not too small. When celestial beings wish to eat, food instantly appears, in exactly the right amount to satisfy the eater.
Five signs of decay appear when celestial beings are about to die:
1. Their flower garlands wilt. The elegant flower garlands worn by gods never wither. At the time of death, however, the flowers naturally wilt.
2. Their clothes become soiled. The clothes worn by the gods are gorgeous, clean, and dust-free; they don’t need to be washed. But when the gods are about to die, their clothes become soiled and dirty.
3. Their armpits begin to perspire. Celestial beings’ bodies never sweat. But at the time of their death, their armpits start to perspire.
4. Their bodies begin to stink. Since gods cultivated very diligently and upheld the precepts strictly, their bodies emit the
“fragrance of the precepts”; they constantly give off a pleasant fragrance. Why do our bodies stink? Because we do not uphold the precepts. As their death approaches, however, celestial beings’ bodies start to smell like corpses.
5. They cannot sit still. Celestial beings are perpetually in samadhi. Their bodies remain still and their minds are clear. But when they see the previous four signs of decay, they know their death is near. Thus their minds become confused and filled with random thoughts. They are fidgety-standing up and sitting down, sitting down and standing up-and after doing that a few times, they die and fall into the six paths to be reborn. If the karma that destines them for the hells ripens, they will be reborn in the hells. If the karma that destines them to be hungry ghosts ripens, they will be reborn in the path of hungry ghosts. If their animal karma ripens, they will get reborn in the path of animals. If their
asura karma ripens, they go to the path of the asuras. If their human karma ripens, they will become human beings. And within each path there are thousands upon thousand of variations. In the human path alone, there are different levels ranging from as high as an emperor to as low as a beggar. Some people are wealthy and noble, some are lowly and poor, some are wise, some are stupid, some enjoy long lives, some have short lives, some are healthy, and some are afflicted with illness. Those conditions are determined by the power of karma.