We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

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questions543
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We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by questions543 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:40 am

Reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "The Truth of Rebirth" I found that the Buddha stated that we are much more likely to be reborn in hell than in heaven or as humans. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.
The Buddha says that the overwhelmingly vast majority of humans will be reborn as animals, hungry ghosts, or hell beings.

I'm having difficulty getting my head around this teaching because our next life is determined in large part by how we die, and if we die in a state of fear, it will hurt us karmically. Are we supposed to believe that we will be one of the lucky ones? Isn't it uncompassionate to believe that we'll be spared while a significant fraction of mankind will be reborn to experience billions of years of torture in hell?

I also learned in "The Truth of Rebirth" that karma is complicated that karma from previous lives can go on to affect our next rebirth so a good person in this life may be reborn in hell and a bad person in heaven. If karma works that noisily and erratically, then should we do our best to develop equanimity about the prospect of being reborn in hell?

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Anders
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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by Anders » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:11 pm

Living in the modern western world is, to my mind, a quite misleading image of what is generally entailed by human life. And even then, it's skindeep.

For millenia, people have warred against each other, raped, stolen, and destroyed each other, lied and deceived. They still do all over the world. In many places, human life is cheap and disposable.

To live in a society of relative peacefulness where one has come to expect a certain ethical behaviour to be the norm is in many ways, not quite the norm of human society, although it may look like this from the inside of such a society.

To have have limited exposure to these aspects of humanity, and wondering about suttas like this, is in itself a sign of good karma. It's not just the angels who live somewhat sheltered in the heavens due to their karma.

Fortunately, there is nothing to do with luck or law of probability in all this. There is no quota you must pass. If you live a good life as a good person, you can expect good fruits from it. Sure, some bad karma from the past may sneak in between your good deeds and experiencing the fruits of said good deeds, but dems the breaks of endless samsara. If you don't like the rules, quit the game. ;)

Blessings :namaste:
Anders

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dhammacoustic
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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by dhammacoustic » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:27 pm

Only a buddha can see the process of rebecoming, it's impossible for a puthujjana to see their future destination.

One can only avoid rebirth in lower worlds by attainning sotāpatti. Also, check out 'the great exposition of kamma' if you haven't already.

:anjali:
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

santa100
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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by santa100 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:53 pm

questions543 wrote:I'm having difficulty getting my head around this teaching because our next life is determined in large part by how we die, and if we die in a state of fear, it will hurt us karmically. Are we supposed to believe that we will be one of the lucky ones? Isn't it uncompassionate to believe that we'll be spared while a significant fraction of mankind will be reborn to experience billions of years of torture in hell?
Mahanama had similar question and the Buddha provided some great insight in SN 55.22:
Suppose a tree were leaning toward the east, slanting toward the east, inclining toward the east. When its root is cut, which way would it fall?"

"In whichever way it was leaning, slanting, and inclining, lord."

"In the same way, Mahanama, a disciple of the noble ones, when endowed with four qualities, leans toward Unbinding, slants toward Unbinding, inclines toward Unbinding."
So it's entirely up to the individual himself to determine his future destination:
AN 5.57 wrote:I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir."

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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by dhammapal » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:52 pm

Hi Questions543, Please read the previous suttas for the context:
the Buddha wrote:So too, bhikkhus, those beings are few who abstain from mutilating, murder, binding, robbery, plunder, and violence. But these beings are more numerous who do not so abstain. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering. ~ Samyutta Nikaya 56:96-101
Ancient India must have been a dangerous place!

With metta / dhammapal.

perkele
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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by perkele » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:21 pm

Do you mean that today the tendency is for people to be better as a rule?

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Re: We're (almost) all going to hell? (Question on Pansu Suttas: Dust)

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:51 pm

dhammapal wrote:Hi Questions543, Please read the previous suttas for the context:
the Buddha wrote:So too, bhikkhus, those beings are few who abstain from mutilating, murder, binding, robbery, plunder, and violence. But these beings are more numerous who do not so abstain. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering. ~ Samyutta Nikaya 56:96-101
Ancient India must have been a dangerous place!
I think what is related in this sutta is no less true of our own time. If it doesn't seem so, then it's probably because of the translator's rendering of vadha as "murder" (i.e. the unlawful killing of humans), though in fact the term means all intentional killing of living beings, including animals.

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