Congratulations, and welcome to this second page you should visit in this website (after the home page).  What Buddha's Teaching (Dharma or Dhamma) are the absolute Truths, not only for human beings, but for other beings as well if Buddha does not preach "This is for human-beings only."  Dharma is not only for human-beings to practice and get good results, but also for other beings as well (if they have the ability and condition to practise).  Dharma is not only for human-beings on this earth to practise, but also for other human-beings in the whole universe to practise too.  Shakyamuni Buddha (or historical Buddha) preached continuously for 79 years long.  He only sleep 1 hour a day.  Dharma are important to know and there are too many.  You can learn many important things in this website.  But to save you time, in this page, I only show you some essential things needed to know:

 

This is a Truth in the Dhammapada Sutra, verse 278 said:

278. When with wisdom one discerns

all knowables are not a self

one wearily from dukkha turns

treading the Path to purity.

Then you should visit this page to see some very important diagrams in Buddhism:  http://www.truehappiness.ws/105.html 

Body and mind, Death and rebirth 

BODY AND MIND

In Buddhism, the way to describe the body and mind, is to talk about the five aggregates. The first aggregate is form, which refers to the physical aspect or body of a sentient being, and the next four aggregates are aspects of the mind. All five are:

1. Form - the body
2. Feeling or sensation - this refers to the mental separation of sensations into pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.
3. Recognition, discrimination or distinguishing awareness - in many ways similar to the discriminating intellect
4. Primary Consciousness - the five sense consciousnesses (smell, touch, taste, seeing and hearing) and mental consciousness
5. Compositional Factors, volition - these are all other remaining mental processes, in general "thoughts".


Another essential distinction is made between the different levels of subtlety of body and mind. Distinctions are made between:
Gross Body: our "normal" physical body of muscles, fat, bones etc.
Gross Mind: our "normal" observed continuation of thoughts and feelings etc.
Subtle Body: the "energy" within our body as it flows in our energy channels, similar to their description in Chinese acupuncture or Indian yoga.
Subtle Mind: the state of mind that we are normally unaware of, and which becomes noticeable during deep meditation. This is not really identical to our Western concept of sub-consciousness, although some aspects may overlap. It may be more similar to intuition and inner wisdom.
Most Subtle Body / Mind: this is the most essential and subtle part of a sentient being. This aspect of ourselves is extremely difficult to observe; body and mind at this level are inseparable and could be described as 'mental energy'.


The above levels of mind and body are sometimes compared to going to sleep:
Gross: when awake, we are aware of our gross body and mind.
Subtle: when we are dreaming, we have a very flexible body and ideas in our mind that we normally do not experience, similar to the subtle body and mind.
Very subtle: when we are in deep sleep, we are barely aware of both body and mind.


Source: http://buddhism.kalachakranet.org/rebirth_reincarnation.html


The desire realms of rebirth and the preciousness of the Human realm

 THE DESIRE REALMS

 A short story from 'Zen flesh, Zen bones', called 'The Gates of Paradise':

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"
"Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.
"I am a samurai", the warrior replied.
"You, a soldier!" sneered Hakuin, "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar". Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably to dull to cut off my head."
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked:"Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, put away his sword and bowed.
"Here open the gates of paradise", said Hakuin.

The concepts of the different realms in Buddhism can be seen as a direct consequence of the law of karma. When beings accumulate many negative actions, they can be expected to receive "hellish" experiences in return; similarly, many positive actions can give rise to a "heavenly" existence.

The reason that these realms are called "Desire Realms" is that desire (and other delusions) is in some way or another present in all of them.

There is also mention of the 'Form Realms' and 'Formless Realms'; which are more like being in advanced stages of meditation, and are actually results of advanced meditation. Although desire is not really experienced in these states (they are sometimes called Desireless realms), apart from the desire to meditate, progress to enlightenment not possible here.

The "realms" do not necessarily need to exist in different locations or dimensions. Basically, they are described in terms of the main type of experience that beings have. All these realms are all within "cyclic existence", meaning they are all temporary states within the cycles of death and birth.

According to Buddhism, we cannot only be born as human beings the next time, but also as animal, "god", "half-god", "hungry ghost" or even in "hell". Obviously, these words have specific connotations in most religions, and the expressions in Buddhism refer to different experiences than e.g. in Christianity. The main difference is that a stay in none of the realms is permanent. After a life in "god-realm" one could be reborn in the "hell-realm"; it all just depends on our karma ripening.

A brief description of the six desire realms:
1. God-realm: Life is experienced as happiness virtually without any problems whatsoever. The largest problem of this realm comes when the time is near to die, one begins to experience suffering as one can see the next rebirth coming up, which is usually much less pleasant. So a life as a god definitely does not refer to anything like "God" in the Judeo-Christian-Moslim traditions; maybe more like the Greek gods.
2. Demigod realm: Life is experiences at much happiness, the main problems are caused by jealousy. The demigods can see the perfect life the gods are experiencing and become jealous, as the gods have somewhat better lives. They then want to fight the gods, but are always defeated.
3. Human realm: Life is more or less a balance between happiness and suffering. The biggest advantage of being born as a human is that one has the possibilities (and good reasons because of the problems) to change one's karma and do practices to become liberated from cyclic existence or even achieve Buddhahood; see below in Precious Human Rebirth.
4. Animal realm: Life is ruled by ignorance. Happiness and suffering happen, but understanding it or even controlling it does not occur in the darkened awareness of an animal.
5. Hungry ghost or Preta (Tib.) realm: Life is marked by suffering, especially from attachment and craving, without being able to satisfy one's needs. Life here is often described as a continuous suffering from hunger and thirst, but one cannot eat or drink.
6. Hell realm: Life is defined as suffering virtually without any happiness whatsoever. The only positive thing about the Buddhist hell realm is the fact that it is not eternal. After consuming up much of the negative karmic potential, one will die and has the chance to be reborn in a different (more pleasant) realm.


Outside the Desire Realms, but still in cyclic existence, there are the Form Realm and the Formless Realm, existence in these realms can be extremely long, but when one's karma runs out, rebirth into lower states of existence with apparent suffering will occur:

Form Realm: achieved when one has attained high levels of concentration with which one focuses on clarity and nonconceptual awareness.
In the Form Realm, one does not experience the 'suffering of suffering'. Beings here have renounced the enjoyment of external sense objects but still have attachment to internal form (their own body and mind).

Formless Realm:The highest state of cyclic existence, achieved when one has attained high levels of concentration with which one focuses on nonconceptual awareness. Beings here have renounced form and attachment to pleasures of form (physical) pleasures, and exist only within their mindstream. Their mind however, is still bound by subtle desire and attachment to mental states and ego.

PRECIOUS HUMAN REBIRTH

The human rebirth is often called precious in Buddhism, as one has unique possibilities to free oneself from the cycle of rebirth. Simply said, in the 'lower realms', one is usually completely engulfed in misery (hell and hungry ghost realm) or simply unable to reason logically (animal realm). In the 'higher realms' like of the gods and demigods, one tends to indulge luxury and comfort, and barely realises the problems of rebirth until that life comes to an end.

In the Tibetan tradition, the factors making up the preciousness of human life are listed as the 8 leisures and 10 endowments (note that some of them actually are repeated twice with marginally different meanings):
The 8 leisures are freedom from: rebirth as hell-being, preta, animal, demigod or god, incomplete organs, having done the 5 heinous crimes, and having no views opposite to 3 jewels of refuge.
The 10 endowments are: being human, having one's organs intact, not having performed the 5 heinous crimes, no views opposite the 3 jewels of refuge, not being crazy, living in land where Dharma exists, not living in a barbarian country, living in a time when Dharma is available, having Dharma teachers/centers/practitioners around, and other people appreciate and help practitioners.

 "In order to develop a fully qualified desire to take advantage of a life of leisure, you must reflect on its four elements, as follows:
1) The need to practice the teachings, because all living beings only want happiness and do not want suffering and because achieving happiness and alleviating suffering depend only on practicing the teachings;
2) the ability to practice, because you are endowed with the external condition, a teacher, and the internal conditions, leisure and opportunity;
3) the need to practice in this lifetime, because if you do not practice, it will be very difficult to obtain leisure and opportunity again for many lifetimes; and
4) the need to practice right now, because there is no certainty when you will die.
Among these, the third stops the laziness of giving up, which thinks, "I will practice the teaching in future lives." The fourth stops the laziness of disengagement, which thinks, "Although I should practice in this lifetime, it is enough to practice later on and not to practice in my early years, months, and days."

 His Holioness the Dalai Lama 

Source:  http://buddhism.kalachakranet.org/rebirth_reincarnation.html#7

Simple Basic Map of Six RealmsIn the Buddhist viewpoint, there are 6 different realms we can be reborn into. And beings in each of these states has different degrees of happiness and suffering. These realms are namely:6 Realms

The Upper Realms

The Lower Realms

Gods 
Demi-Gods (Asuras)

Humans

Animals

Hungry Ghosts 
Hell Beings


These Realms represents 6 different states of existence. Though some cannot be readily seen, they can be experienced. These 6 realms also represent 6 different states of mind a person might continually go through.

 

Gods


It is important to note that in Buddhism, gods are not beings that control or intervene in our daily lives. Rather, they are beings who experience a great deal of happiness as life goes on smoothly for a long time with absence of general suffering. However, this state is only temporal. We all, at one time or other, have had such an experience. When "everything" goes our way, as we wish, we are experiencing a state very similar to the gods.



Demi-Gods (Asuras)


These are beings who are constantly in an aggressive or competitive state of mind. They have great wealth, yet they are always reaching out, striving for more. In our modern world many of us are not unlike them. We live a generally high standard of life. Yet, we are constantly seeking and reaching out for more endlessly.



Human Beings


In this state we experience a mix of happiness and suffering. It is also in this state that we are able to attain Buddhahood. Thus a Buddhist would strive not to be born as a god but as a human, as it is as a human that we are most able to best practice the Dharma.

Animals


The most powerful force acting on animals is ignorance. They are guided mainly by instincts where the preoccupying thoughts are food, sex and material comfort. Many of us have had experiences when craving for food or sex is so strong that we do things that we might regret later. A person who is too preoccupied by these thoughts is thus somewhat bestial or animal in nature.


Hungry Ghosts


In the ghost realm, beings are in a state of neurotic desire, and not having them fulfilled. They are always filled with great hunger or thirst. We have often seen people in less fortunate nations in great hunger due to drought or war. Their living is not unlike beings in the ghost realm. Closer to home, many people experience neurotic craving for relationships and cause great pain to both parties.



Hell Beings


These beings, of all the realms, are the ones suffering from the most pain. These beings suffer from constant acute physical and mental pain. These descriptions fit the details of the ways in which many prisoners-of-war have been tortured.

 

Source: http://web.singnet.com.sg/~cswoon/realms.html

Next, you should know about the Wheel of Life, original drawn by Shakyamuni Buddha.  You can visit this link for beautiful pictures and clear narration:

http://www.npr.org/programs/re/geography_heaven/kawakarpo/wheeloflife/slide.html

or you can visit this link for Wheel of Life picture and written explanation:

http://www.angelfire.com/yt/fairtibet/whexpl.html

 

Six Realms of Rebirth Mandala

The Mandala ("Wheel of Life") represents the "Realms of Desire" in the Buddhist Universe.  The "Realms of Desire" includes realms of heavens, asuras, humans, Beasts, Hungry Ghosts, and Hell.  The "Wheel of Life" is held by Yama, the Lord of Death.  Yama is shown to be biting its teeth into the wheel symbolizing the "Realms of Form" may be destroyed at anytime.  Not shown in this painting, a buddha (located to the upper right coroner of the Mandala) with the index finger of his right hand pointing upward indicating the practices of Buddhism can liberate sentient beings from the endless cycle of life and death.

Mandala of Wheel of Life

 

Explanation of the Mandala

 

In the innermost circle, a ring is formed by three animals: a pig representing greed; a snake representing hatred; and a rooster representing delusion.  These three natures (poisons) are what drive sentient beings to remain in the "Realms of Desire" and undergo the endless cycle of life and death.

The middle ring representing the "Realms of Desires" has six divisions.

  • Heaven, the divine realm and residence of vedic gods.  It is formed by the good karmas of austere, meritous and charitable deeds.  Being borned into this realm is the reward for living meritous lives and practiced charitable deeds (but did not achieve enlightenment).  Although happiness transcend suffering in heavens, the gods' great blessings lure them into a false sense of security.  They are no longer motivated to seek enlightenment and regress.  A white buddha is depicted playing a flute reminding the gods that their stay in heaven is temporary.  When their good karma are exhausted, they will leave this realm.
  • Human, the realm of trial.  This realm is formed by both karma of merits and sins of sentient beings.  Consequently, there are both good and evil influences in this realm.  Every being born into this realm has the opportunity to choose the path of enlightenment or corruption.  This is the only realm which one can become enlighten because of the balance of good/evil forces:  Man can study the teaching of the Buddha (good influence) and the suffering (evil influences) serve as a motivation driving man to seek enlightenment.  A yellow buddha is depicted preaching the benefit of will power and four noble truth through which people can find the path to enlightenment.
  • Asuras, the realm of powerful spirits who are constantly at war and motivated by envy.  Asuras are beings with power like that of gods, but they are full of hate and envy.  This realm is formed by the karma of the devoted (priests, monks, nuns, laymen, etc.) who harbored hate and jealousy. Their envy and anger deny them entrance into heaven. and their merits prevent them from falling into hell.   Instead, they are reborned into realm of constant battle and jealousy formed by their own karma. The great wars and turmoil in this realm prevents beings from seeking enlightenment.  A green buddha in warrior garment and holding a flaming sword is depicted.  He declares virtue of moral restraint and order asuras to stop their mighty struggles.
  • Beast, the realm ruled by ignorance and instinct.  This realm is formed by the ill-karma of ignorance of sinners and criminals' animal-like instincts.  The sinners who enter into this realm had ignorant beliefs such as atheism, no existence of cosmic laws, etc.   The criminals who enter this realm are those who had acted like animals in their lives:  engaged in immoral sex, slaughter the innocent, etc.  Being in this realm cannot become enlighten because they are completely engulfed in their ignorance and instincts.  A blue buddha is depicted holding out a book of wisdom in order to teach beasts the benefit of perfect wisdom and ethical conducts.
  • Hungry Ghost, its inhabitants are consumed by greed and suffer from permanent hunger and thirst.  This realm is formed by the ill-karma of extreme selfishness.  Beings born in this realm had in their pervious incarnation refuse to share their blessings with the less fortunate.  The overwhelming sufferings of hunger and thirst prevent beings in this realm to become enlighten.  A red buddha is depicted carrying a container of celestial nourishment as a gift to the hungry ghost.  The buddha preaches to them the virtue of generosity and sacrifice.
  • Hell, the darkest of all realms.  It is formed by the ill-karma of hatred.  Beings in this realm had cold-hearts and harbored burning hatred in their previous incarnation.  They suffer many torture, fiery heat and icy cold to punish them for their past evil actions.  The suffering in this realm also prevent them from achieving enlightenment.  An indigo Buddha appears with water (symbolizing patience) and fire (symbolizing light of hope) is depicted.  He preaches the virtue of patience and reveal the way to the light.

 

These "six realms" do not constistute six discrete worlds, but refers to the categories used to classify the innumerable worlds inhabited by sentient beings in the "Realms of Desires."

The outer-most ring is divided into 12 divisions, and it symbolizes the 12 Karma Formations (the links of dependent origination).  The Buddha taught that everything arises and exists in dependence on other things.  Enlightenment can be attained only by freeing oneself from all of the 12 karma formations.

  • Craving -- two young people are depicted falling in love and represents emotions of craving.
  • Feeling -- The arrow piercing figure's eye showing way in which emotion strike us.
  • Contact -- the operation of the six sense results in contact with things of this world & in turn leads to the arising of feeling and desire.
  • Six senses -- Sight, smell, taste, hearing , touch and thought
  • Name & Form -- Activity of consciousness condition, the arising of name and form symbolize by two figures
  • Consciousness -- the monkey swing randomly from branch to branch represents the absence of control over consciousness
  • Act of Volition -- the potter molds their own fate (karma) in the pots they production, each one represents a deed, such as acting, thinking, or speaking.
  • Ignorance -- represent here by a blind man is the first of traditional 12 factors
  • Old age & death -- the inevitable consequence of birth is illness, anxiety, old age & death.
  • Rebirth -- natural consequence of sensual contact & marriage is birth
  • Becoming -- the man & woman are prisoners of sensory simulation of touch.
  • Clinging -- the man plucking fruits from a tree represents the sensual entanglement of desire and possession. 

 

A Japanese wood printing showing the six realms of rebirth and the four realms of attainments.  This makes up the ten realms.  The caption explains that all the different realms are only the manifestation of one's mind/heart.  Hence, a person's mind/heart/actions determine his/her path and the realms which he/she ultimately reaches.


Buddhists do not believe that death is the end of life. When one dies, one's consciousness leaves and enters one of the six paths of rebirth.

Heavenly Beings
Humans
Asurasare beings who have many good things in life, but still like to fight. They appear in the heavens or on earth as people or animals.
Hungry ghostsare beings who suffer from constant hunger.
Hell-beings

These are the six states on the wheel of life. At the top are the heavens, where everyone is happy. Below are the hells where the suffering is unbearable. Beings can rise or fall from one path to another. If one does good deeds, one will be born into the paths of gods, humans, or asuras. If one does evil deeds, one will be born into the paths of animals, hungry ghosts, or hell-beings. From one life to the next one can suddenly change from an human to an animal or from a ghost to a hell-being, according to the things one has done.


How to Escape the Turning Wheel

The wheel of life and death is kept turning by the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity. By cutting off the three poisons, we can escape the wheel and become enlightened. There are four stages of enlightenment.

Buddhas:  Perfect in enlightenment.
Bodhisattvas:  Enlighten themselves as well as others.
Pratyekabuddhas:  Hermits who retreat from the world to enlighten themselves.
Arhats:  Enlighten themselves.

Samsara

Samsara is this world, filled as it is with so much pain and sorrow. All beings in this world are subject to the law of karma. Karma means volitional act, that is, something you do, say, or think that is in fact in your control. Any such act has moral consequences, called vipaka, which means fruit. In traditional Buddhism, this consequences can occur in this life, or in a future life.

Most Buddhists believe in rebirth. For many, rebirth is no different from what the Hindus believed, i.e. reincarnation or transmigration -- moving from one's old body at death to a new body at birth or conception. A little more precisely, rebirth is nothing more than the transmission of one's karma. Buddha likened it to the flame that passes from one candle to another. So the idea of an immortal soul, a continuing personality, is definitely not part of the rebirth idea.

Rebirth and similar concepts are not a part of most westerners' cultures, so many western Buddhists, as well as some eastern Buddhists, take rebirth as a metaphor, rather than literally. Buddhism has never been a particularly literalist religion, so this is not at all taboo. In fact, Buddha often avoids discussing the reality of one metaphysical idea or another as irrelevant to the practice of the Dharma.

The Wheel of Life represents Samsara. In the very center, there is a rooster chasing a pig chasing a snake chasing the rooster -- craving, hatred, and ignorance. Around that are people ascending the white semicircle of life, and others descending the black semicircle of death. The greatest portion of the Wheel is devoted to representations of the six realms -- the realm of the gods, the realm of the titans, the realm of humans, the realm of animals, the realm of the hungry ghosts, and the realm of demons -- each realm looked over by its own boddhisattva. The outermost circle is the 12 steps of dependent origination. The entire Wheel is held by Yama, the Lord of Death.

Samyojana

The Ten Fetters (Samyojana) bind us to samsara.

1. Belief in a separate personality or individuality (drishti)
2. Doubt that has no desire for satisfaction (vichikitsa)
3. Uncritical attachment to rules and rituals (silabbata-paramasa)
4. Sensuous craving (kama-raga)
5. Ill will, wishing harm on others (vyapada)
6. Craving for a higher material existence (rupa-raga)
7. Craving for non-material existence (arupa-raga)
8. Conceit or egotism (mana)
9. Restlessness (udhacca)
10. Ignorance (avidya)

I will update more later.

The next page you should visit is:  http://www.data.truehappiness.ws/120.html