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Samsara and the Buddha Worlds

In this article the six realms of samsara and the Buddha worlds will be defined. Once this is done, I will describe the six realms and what quality of the mind each realm represents. Then the Buddha world will be described, using Sukhavati (the Pure Land of Bliss) as the example. This will be followed by the references used in this article.

The Six Realms of Samsara

Samsara is represented by the Buddhist Wheel of Life, which depicts the traditional view of samsaric existence. It is the third layer found on the picture of the Buddhist Wheel of Life.

In Samsara — this world of birth-life-death — there are six realms of existence. They are divided into the three higher realms and the three lower realms. The higher realms consist of the god realm, the demi-god realm and the human realm. The lower realms consists of the animal realm, the hungry ghost realm, and the hell realm.

From a psychological aspect, in Tibetan Buddhism, the six classes of beings who dwell in the six realms and the qualities of the mind they represent are:
  • hell beings — anger
  • hungry ghosts, or pretas — miserliness
  • animals — stupidity
  • human beings — desire
  • demi-gods, or asuras — jealousy, and
  • gods — pride.

    In the Abhidharma literature, the six realms are also know in Buddhism as the Desire Realm, which is the first of the Three Realms (Trailokya).

    Above the Desire Realm is the Form Realm, where the Seventeen Heavens are. They are only populated by gods

    Above the Form Realm is the Formless Realm, where gods without any form dwell in four types of perception spheres.

    Within context of this article, the Form Realm and the Formless Realm will not be described.

    Buddha World

    In contrast to the six realms, the Buddha worlds (Pure Lands) are where the various Buddhas and their Pure Lands exist.

    Each of the Buddhas lives for an almost infinite number of years.

    Sakyamuni Buddha does not have a Buddha World and may appear to the residents of a particular Buddha world i.e. in the Pure Land of Bliss.

    However, the Buddha worlds are not found in the three realms of the Abhidharma. They exist outside of Samsara.


    Six Realms of Samsara:
    Six classes of beings:
    Three Realms:
    Three Worlds:
    Form Realm:
    Formless Realm:
    Wheel of Life:
    Abhidharma is the third collection of the Buddha's teachings, which holds the special knowledge of Buddhism, and teaches the Higher Training of Wisdom.
    Three pitakas:
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