The Ten Dharma Realms are
not beyond a
-continued from issue 37
The Six Desire Heavens, the Brahmas,
Come from the Five Precepts, the Ten Good Acts.
Planting causes which have outflows
The revolving wheel is hard to
The Six Desire
Heavens, the Brahmas...There are heavens in the desire realm, the form realm,
and the formless realm. The lowest heavens are the six in the desire
realm, and our world is subsumed under the first of these, the Heaven of
Four Kings. This heaven, Caturmaharajika, the one we know to be above us,
is located half way up Mt. Sumeru, which means that Sumeru is half within
the realm of men. The parts of this heaven located on the north, south,
east and west sides of Mt. Sumeru are governed by the Four Great Heaven
Kings, as are the continents connecting them, Jambudvipa to the south,
Purvavideha to the east, Aparagodaniya to the west, and Uttarakura to the
north. The gods in the Heaven of the Four Kings have a lifespan of 500
years, with each day and night in that heaven equivalent to 50 years on
The second desire heaven is the Trayastrimsa, a Sanskrit
word which means "thirty three." Sakra, referred to as "yin
two la yeh" in the Surangama Mantra, resides in the center of these
heavens. He is the
"God" revered in Christianity and in China he is known as the
Great Jade Emperor. In the Shu Ching, the Book of History,
he is referred to as the Supreme Lord, because in ancient China no one
knew about the Buddha and this heavenly being was the highest spiritual
entity they could conceive of.
In the Shang Dynasty, Emperor T'ang used a black bull as
an offering to this "Supreme Lord" and said, "I, Lu, but a
small child, presume to use this black bull in venturing to inform the
Supremely Exhalted Ruling Lord that if We have offenses, they are not the
people's, and if the people have offenses, the offenses rest with
Emperor T'ang's last name was LU, and he refers to
himself as a small child out of respect for the Supreme Lord. He told the
Lord that if he committed errors, the citizens should not be blamed, and
that if the common folk of his country created offenses, the
responsibility should rest with the Emperor for not having taught them
The ancients faulted themselves in this way, unlike
people of today who clearly know they are in the wrong but say,
"Don't look at me! It's his fault. How can you blame me!" and
complain, "God is unjust. Why does He let some people get rich and
make me so poor? Why does He bestow honor on some and leave me so
wretched?" They damn heaven and curse mankind, whereas the ancients
acknowledged their own mistakes.
In the Trayastrimsa Heaven, Sakra, God, resides in the
middle, with eight heavens surrounding him to the north, south, east, and
west, making, thirty-three in all.
The third desire heaven is the Suyama Heaven which
translates from the Sanskrit as "divisions of time" because the
gods in this heaven are so happy they sing songs about their bliss
throughout the six periods of the day and night. Every division of time is
filled with happiness.
The fourth is the Tusita Heaven, which translates as
"happy and satisfied," so called because the gods in this heaven
never have a worry or care from morning to night.
The fifth is the Nirminarati, Transformation of Bliss
Heaven. Gods in this heaven can transform their happiness but they are
content whether they exercise this power or not. Even when they are not
happy they are content--totally satisfied.
The sixth is the Paranirmitavasavartin,
Comfort Derived from the Transformation of Other's Bliss Heaven. The gods
of this heaven haven't any bliss but they can take bliss from other gods
to provide their own comfort. This heaven houses a retinue of heavenly
demons who are so unprincipled they will take from others. Common thieves
in the world of men are generally gods fallen from the Transformation of
Other's Bliss Heaven who still have the habit of stealing things.
The Brahma Heavens are above the desire realm and consist
of the Multitudes of Brahma Heaven, the Ministers of Brahma Heaven and the
Great Brahma Heaven.
Come from the Five Precepts, the Ten Good
Acts. Because these beings cultivate the Five Precepts and Ten Good
Acts, they obtained the blessings and rewards of the heavens. But their
cultivation plants good roots with outflows, and so the poem says: Planting
causes, which have outflows, the revolving wheel is hard to stop....
the Venerable High Master Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih
Furious asuras fight by nature,
Rich with blessings but lacking power.
Viciously hostile and fond of warfare,
float and drown in karmaís tow.
Furious asuras fight by
nature. Asura, a Sanskrit word, translates as "ceaseless
fighting" or "ugly." Male asuras are extremely ugly, but
female asuras are beautiful. It is the nature of the male asuras to
initiate fights. The female
asuras also are naturally fond of fighting, but they wage covert wars,
unlike the overt physical battles of the males, and use weapons of the
mind such as jealousy, obstruction, ignorance, and affliction. Although
asuras are an individual dharma-realm, they appear in all of the Three
Good Destinies of gods, men and asuras, and in the Three Evil Destinies of
the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. In general, regardless of what path
they are in, they like to pick fights and have big tempers. They enjoy
bossing others around and like to be supervisors, but they can't stand
supervision. Among people,
asuras can be good or bad. The good asuras include military officials and
troops, and the bad asuras thieves, thugs, murders and the like.
Heavenly asuras are in a perpetual siege with Sakra's
military division in an attempt to overthrow him and assume the jeweled
throne. But no matter what strategy they use, they are always defeated,
because they are rich with blessings but lacking power. They have
accumulated the blessings, which earn them rebirth in the heavens, but
they have no authority there.
Asura animals include vicious predators such
as tigers, lions, wolves, snakes, and eagles. Ghosts are basically
unprincipled, and asura ghosts are doubly so.
The world is full of asuras who are constantly baffling
with one another, and they keep on fighting for eternities. When the
Buddhadharma enters the Age Strong in Fighting, it is in the Dharma Ending
Age; nonetheless we should vow not to fight. If we did this, everyplace we
go would become a place of proper Dharma. If everyone fulfilled this vow,
the Dharma Ending Age would become the Proper Dharma Age.
Viciously hostile and fond of warfare, they float and
drown in karma's tow.
"Floating" refers to the asuras who are born in the Three Good
Destinies, and "drowning" to those whose heavy of tenses pull
them down to the hells, the realms of hungry ghosts, or animals where they
undergo severe retribution. If you donít fight with people, you wonít
get dragged into an asura realm. Five of the nine dharma-realms have
asuras, and within the realm of animals alone, many different kinds of
asuras can be recognized: crocodiles, wild stallions, bulls, and even
animals people keep as pets such as dogs. It is dangerous to become too
involved with asuras lest in the future you become one yourself.
The path of men is harmonious
Their merits and errors are interspersed.
By your virtuous deeds you rise; with offenses, fall.
It has nothing to do with anyone else at all.
The path of men is harmonious. People are harmonious beings who
are capable of relating to anyone.Their merit and errors are
interspersed. Beings who become people are not completely good or
completely bad. Beings who are totally good are born in the heavens, and
those who are thoroughly bad become animals, hungry ghosts, or fall into
When a personís merit is greater that his offenses, at the very
least he will be born into an honorable and wealthy family, but with small
merit and heavy offenses he will be born into a life of poverty. Between
these extremes are a thousand differences and ten thousand distinctions.
People are neither extremely yin or extremely yang beings; those with a
preponderance of yin become ghosts, and those long on yang become gods.
By your virtuous deeds you rise, with offenses, fall. Good
people ascend to the heavens, and those who commit offenses descend to
hell. It has nothing to do with anyone else at all. Other people
canít tell you to go to hell, make you a hungry ghost or teach you to be
an animal; it is entirely up to you. What you create you must undergo.
--To be continuedó