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The Ten Realms of Existence in Buddhism (1): The First Six Lower Realms

Published Nobyembre 8, 2016 by jptan2012

When I wrote the post entitled – IS THERE A FENG SHUI RELEVANCE TO ALL SOULS DAY – I know that this is really the time for me to write about the topic that I have always wanted to write but has withheld from writing it because I’m not sure whether my readers are ready for it and also if it is the right time.

However, in hindsight this is something that I should have written before I even wrote and posted about the article about the Feng Shui relevance of All Souls Day. But having said that, I still believe that everything works and happened on its right time. And maybe it is really meant for me to write this now.

For Christians, when you die you either go to hell or heaven, maybe purgatory. And there you stay forever, that’s the only rebirth you experience. But in Buddhism, it is said that one goes thru reincarnation or rebirth, and there are different realms that you go to, the first six realms which are considered as the lower realm you go through that several times.

What are these SIX LOWER REALMS?

  1. HELL. To put it plainly this is a realm very similar to what Christians believe in. This is where you undergo punishment for your sins. If I’m not mistaken, in the Bible, hell is described as a lake of fire. In Buddhism, the lake of fire is just one part of hell. There are many different stages and parts of a hell. But needless to say in all those parts you go through retribution by a lot of suffering from your offenses in your other lives.
  2. HUNGRY GHOST. This is somewhat akin to hell, only the difference is that some Hungry Ghost still has the capacity to live amongst humans. You undergo suffering and retribution in this realm by feeling that you have a physical body but are unable to touch physical things. One of these things is food. Technically speaking, Hungry Ghosts may be nice or temperamental. They retain characteristics of human in terms of temperament and personality.
  3. ANIMAL. Simply put you are born as an animal, which is seen as a lesser being because of several attachments and inability to fully discern right and wrong. And most animals have a short life span and also are less fortunate than humans.
  4. HUMAN. This is us. If you are human, it is considered that you have enough good karma for you to be born as one. Because humans have the power to right things and learn new things and learn about the dharma (Buddha’s Teachings). But take note that we are still in the lower realm, and we are not in the highest in the lower realm.
  5. ASURA. Asura’ are unseen being that are better off than humans, they still need to learn things and they have their own realm of existence. They can see us, but we cannot see us. It is said that you are born as an Asura if as a human you are very generous but tends to have foul mouth and a bad temper. I guess one example of this is to take the story of Robinhood. Somebody like will be born as an Asura because he did a lot of good things but at the same time he stole things.
  6. HEAVENLY BEINGS. There are so many stages in Heavenly Beings that I will discuss in the future. But as a heavenly being one has some kind of supernatural power, but one has no physical body. A Heavenly Being lives in a place much like what the Bible described. However, as a heavenly being they still need to learn more about the Dharma. Some of the gods and deities of Taoism are considered as Heavenly Beings in Buddhism. In the lowest realm of Heavenly Beings are the Demons, who guard the lower realms like hell. And heavenly beings can be reborn as an Asura or Human or Animal, but their life span is much longer than that of human. Heavenly beings can help protect those in the lower realms like humans. In fact, in the Sutras a lot of the Lord and Yakshas and ‘Demons’ have committed to protect the people who read and carry or own the Medicine Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, and the Surangama Mantra Amulet.

Everybody in the lower realm undergoes rebirth. One can go up to Heavenly Beings or go down to Hell depending on one’s karma. As long as we don’t achieve Samadhi we will continue to be born in one of these realms.

We only stop samsara (cycle of rebirth) once we have attained Samadhi. And we enter the 4 higher realms. I will discuss that on my next post.

For questions, comments and suggestions please email sanaakosirickylee@gmail.com

 

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Rituals to Appease and Protect Oneself from the Hungry Ghosts

Published Hulyo 19, 2012 by jptan2012

In my last two posts, I talked about and introduced to you the DREADED HUNGRY GHOST MONTH and also talked about the EFFECTS OF THE HUNGRY GHOST MONTH.

As I always said it is useless to know about all these things if we are unable to protect ourselves. It is because of this that I would like to share with you some rituals that we can do to help protect us from the ill effects of the Hungry Ghost Month and the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Some people will make more elaborate offerings liek the one depicted in the photo. However, simply offerings the ones that I’ve listed are good enough.

First, you must KEEP THE HUNGRY GHOSTS ‘HAPPY’, and you do this by feeding them. Some people say that you should do this every single day of the Hungry Ghost Month, but some say you should do this only on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Festival. Personally, I think this should be done every single day of the Hungry Ghost Month from the first day to the last.

What you need to do is quite simple. You need to put a bowl of cooked rice; a small cup of rice wine or any liquor; 3 different bowls of beans (red beans, chick peas, mung beans); a small slab of tofu or bean curd; a piece of any kind of fruit; a bowl of cooked peanuts; and a small portion of meat – any meat will do. Optional are lighting of 2 red candles and 2 incense sticks. However, I do these two as well. Also, you should put some Yin Money or Hell’s Money, which in the Philippines is available in Ongpin or any Chinatown. I also leave some real coins, which is considered as Yang Money, to balance the Yin energy of the Hell’s Money.

You should leave these things outside your main door. If you have a gate, you can also do this outside your gate, but if might cause some problems, just the main door of your house will do. I leave all these things outside the house for a full month of the Hungry Ghost Month, and only replacing some of the food if they start to spoil or rot.

Some people say that the bigger amount you put the better. But just follow your instincts and put just enough.

By doing this, you are preventing the Hungry Ghosts to enter your house to ‘look for food’, and sometime food can be your chi.

You can also do this in your office. If you happen to pass by an establishment or house that has this kind offering outside, it is customary to put some coins or small bills. It is like dropping and blessing the hungry ghosts with some yang energy to help them re-enter samsara (cycle of life).

At the end of Hungry Ghost Month, throw away the all the food and burn Hell’s Money. Donate the coins to a temple or church.

VISIT YOUR ANCESTORS’ grave or in the case of the Buddhist their spirit dwelling tablet. Light some incense and offer some food. It’s best to do this at the first 7 days of the Hungry Ghost Month.

VISIT A TAOIST OR BUDDHIST TEMPLE to ask for protection. Praying to any Buddha, Bodhisattva, Deity or Immortal is acceptable, but if possible visit a Taoist temple or Buddhist temple that has the images of the known protectors like Amitabha Buddha, Sun Wukong, Kuan Kong, Chung Kwei. Try to offer some fruits, flowers and incense.

LIGHT SOME LOTUS CANDLES. Lotus candles are simple candles made in the shape of a lotus, this is because lotus symbolizes purity and by lighting lotus candle you bless the hungry ghost with yang energy and purity. Two things that they need most to get out of hell.

Lotus Candles. You can also simply get candles in lotus shaped glass.

LIGHT SOME RED LANTERNS outside of your house (or window or balcony if living in a high rise) the whole month of the Hungry Ghost Month if you live near the ocean, river, lake or any body of water and if possible, let some lotus candle float on the body water on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Month.

PUT SALT ON YOUR DOORSTEP, WINDOWS, AND EVERY CORNER OF THE HOUSE. This is to ensure that the place is constantly cleansed of any form of Yin energy.

CONSTANTLY PLAY SOME MANTRA OR SUTRA in your house. You can do this by buying some CD or altar paraphernalia that constantly play different kinds of mantra or sutras. You do this not to drive them away, although it may drive them away, but more importantly to help them get the benefit of the mantra.

People watching the Chinese Opera. Notice the empty front chairs, they’re reserved for the Hungry Ghosts.

PLAY THE CHINESE OPERA on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Festival. In the olden time, Chinese Opera are played by actors on the street to an ‘empty’ audience. This is because it is believed that the Opera will distract the Hungry Ghosts and not wreak havoc. Nowadays, living people also watch these operas, but they usually leave the first one or two rows empty, because they’re reserved for the Hungry Ghosts.

Of course, it’s not practical for you to play the opera, what some people do is put a TV set or a radio and just leave it on to a ‘happy’ program. It is said that this will distract the hungry ghosts and make them believe that there are real people and therefore they won’t enter your house. The energy that you’re emitting by playing the radio or TV is also a yang energy that attracts them.

TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT THE HUNGRY GHOST MONTH, HUNGRY GHOSTS, IT’S EFFECTS, RITUALS AND PROTECTION READ THE FOLLOWING HUNGRY GHOSTS SERIES:

YOU MAY WISH TO READ THE FOLLOWING ALSO:

OR YOU CAN CLICK ON THE CATEGORY – KUWENTO TUNGKOL SA HUNGRY GHOST MONTH.

For questions, comments and suggestions, please email sanaakosirickylee@gmail.com

 

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