What Is The Afterlife Of Buddhism?
The Many Faces of Buddhism
Buddhism, at it’s heart, is relatively simplistic: meditate and be a good person to free yourself from suffering.
But because the nature of the religion is a little more “free form”, it has evolved overtime to suit the needs of different regions in the world. For instance, Buddhism in Tibet, Thailand, Japan, China, and India all look a little different.
Once again, basically the same, but slightly different.
Interestingly, most of the differences come down to what happens in the afterlife- or if there is one.
Older forms of Buddhism don’t actively believe in an afterlife, because Buddha had never mentioned it.
But other forms certainly did, and wrote about it extensively.
In many sects of Buddhism, there are 31 realms within Lokas.
SEE ALSO: The 6 Lokas Of Buddhism
These Lokas are both a mental state and real place. In other words, it has a dual meaning.
But within this context, it’s very obvious from the descriptions they believe these places literally exist. The concepts of heaven, hell, and purgatory are there- just like in several other major religions.
Heaven- “The Fine Material World” is a place that can only be attained by living a good life devoid of hatred. There are 16 realms here, and lots of Devas that preside over them. Existence here is very good; in fact, there is little suffering. Everyone has refined bodies of light. The highest realms can only be attained if an individual has attained a state of non-reincarnation.
Purgatory- “The Sensuous World” contains 11 realms that are perceived with the 5 senses. Interestingly, this includes fairies, goblins, and stuff of fairy tales. This even includes human incarnations, which go again and again until spiritual progress is made.
Hell– This is actually still classified as “The Sensuous World”, but it’s know as a state of deprivation. Though it does include animals (which are lower incarnations than humans), it does have a level specifically made for those who perpetrate horrendous acts such as murder. Of course, it’s not eternal, but it is based on karma.
The big distinction from other religions is that all states of being are considered to be less important than enlightenment or Nirvana. To this end, a human incarnation is considered to be the most important because it has the right balance of pain and pleasure. This gives proper motivation to seek enlightenment.
In the other levels of existence, there is either not enough suffering or too much.
Buddha said that an incarnation as a human was very rare for most beings, and should be cared for. In other words, it’s a lucky event.
Interestingly, this description also fits with the Hindu version as well of physical, astral, and causal incarnations.
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