The Hearers and Those Enlightened by Conditions are the Two Vehicles. Together with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, they comprise the Four Sagely Dharma Realms.
The Six Common Dharma Realms
1.The Dharma Realm of Gods. This is the highest of the six common realms. People who don't understand the Buddhadharma believe that getting born into the Garden of Paradise in Heaven is the most supreme bliss. In fact, that is still within the six common Dharma Realms, and one who is born there has not transcended the cycle of rebirth.
The longest life span of the gods is eighty-thousand great kalpas. That occurs in the heaven of Neither Thought Nor Non-thought. But once the gods' life spans end, they are destined to fall. If their good karma has matured, they will be born in the three wholesome paths of rebirth. If their evil karma has come to fruition, they will be reborn in the evil paths. Besides that heaven, there are many, many others.
2. The Dharma Realm of Asuras. Asura is a Sanskrit word, which is translated as "ugly." It also means "no wine." Although the male asuras are extremely ugly, the asura women are exceptionally beautiful. Asuras like to fight. They are strong in fighting and like to make war. There are asuras in the realm of the gods, in the human realm, in the animal realm, and in the realm of ghosts. Asuras go everywhere, and so sometimes they are counted among the three wholesome paths and sometimes among the four evil destinies. The four evil destinies are the asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings.
3. The Dharma Realm of Humans. Let's look into how many kinds of people there are. At the highest level, there are the Presidents, Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, and various other people in official positions. There are wealthy people who are world magnates— from the most wealthy, to the second most wealthy, to the third most wealthy, and on down. There are also people in the world with absolutely no money who live in utter poverty, on down to the very poorest person in the world, someone who does not even own a place large enough to put the point of an awl. There are extremely ugly people, whom no one would even want to look at, and also exceptionally beautiful people, whom everyone enjoys seeing. There are also very strange freaks. There are terribly fat people— some even weigh a couple thousand pounds! They can't even get through the doors that ordinary people use, or fit through the doors of the city buses! If they want to go on a vacation, they have to rent their own special bus and have a special airplane made just for them. There are also people so thin they look like match-sticks.
How do all these different kinds of people— wealthy and honored, poor and lowly, fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, handsome— come about? In general, if you plant the causes for being wealthy, you will receive the reward of being wealthy. If you plant the causes for being honored, you will receive the reward of being honored. If you plant the causes for being poor, you will receive the retribution of being poor. If you plant the causes for having blessings, then you will receive the reward of having blessings. You plant a cause and you receive a retribution. Fat people no doubt thought that they would like to be fat, and so now they receive the retribution of being fatter than pigs. In the human realm there are all different kinds of people.
4. The Dharma Realm of Animals
5. The Dharma Realm of Hungry Ghosts
6. The Dharma Realm of Hell-beings
These are the three evil paths. There are so many species and classes of animals, for example, that you could never finish counting them all. It's the same with hungry ghosts. There are many, many different kinds of ghosts, not just one or two. The hells also have many categories of beings.
The Six Common Realms and the Four Sagely Realms make up the Ten Dharma Realms. These Ten Dharma Realms come from the single thought present in our minds right now. If you lose your temper every day, then "the fire of ignorance and a tiger-like spirit are rooted in offenses created in previous lives." When you lose your temper, you really are just as fierce as a tiger. If you keep on losing your temper and having so much fire, you will walk right into the path of asuras. If you are greedy, hateful, and stupid, you will fall into the three evil paths of the hells, the hungry ghosts, and the animals. If you want to cultivate the Four Truths of suffering, accumulation, cessation, and the Way, then you will go into the path of those of the Two Vehicles. If you want to cultivate to be a Bodhisattva and to become a Buddha, then you must bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and cultivate the Six Perfections and the Myriad Practices and eventually become a Buddha.
To be continued