Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5634
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:18 pm

zengen wrote: These two professors are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners. They can rely on their sharp intellect for eons, but fail to attain enlightenment.

There are internet Buddhists that are very good practitioners. Don't look down on them.
You no way of knowing that Rupert Gethin -( who is a Dhamma practitioner) - is not a serious practitioner or that he will fail to reach enlightenment, nor that Richard Gombrich will fail to reach enlightenment. Neither do you know for sure who is a good or bad practitioner amongst people on the internet who you've never met.

It is a mistake to tell me not to look down on people, because I most certainly don't. Additionally, I've also always had supportive Vajrayana and Theravada teachers in "meat space" and I'm very happy with that.

Please don't try to engage me in conversation in future, because I'm not interested in any further dialogue with you.

Many thanks. :anjali:


.
Last edited by Aloka on Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Sea Turtle
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:47 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Sea Turtle » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:27 pm

zengen wrote:There are internet Buddhists that are very good practitioners
I'm sure that is true.
zengen wrote: These two professors [Rupert Gethin, Richard Gombrich] are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners.


The italicized statement may be untrue and is furthermore impossible to judge.

:anjali:

zengen
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 10:04 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:32 pm

Aloka wrote:
zengen wrote: These two professors are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners. They can rely on their sharp intellect for eons, but fail to attain enlightenment.

There are internet Buddhists that are very good practitioners. Don't look down on them.
Aloka wrote:You no way of knowing that Rupert Gethin -( who is a Dhamma practitioner) - is not a serious practitioner or that he will fail to reach enlightenment, nor that Richard Gombrich will fail to reach enlightenment.
You misunderstood me. I never said Rupert Gethin and Richard Gombrich will not attain enlightenment. I said they will not attain enlightenment by relying on their intellect alone. People like that rely heavily on their intellect in their study of the Dhamma, which can actually be a hindrance to enlightenment, since they cannot develop proper faith in the Buddha's teachings.
Last edited by zengen on Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

zengen
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 10:04 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:42 pm

Sea Turtle wrote:
zengen wrote: These two professors [Rupert Gethin, Richard Gombrich] are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners.


The italicized statement may be untrue and is furthermore impossible to judge.
That's right, which is why I wrote "I doubt".
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 817
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:54 pm

Spiritual progress depends on the emergence of five cardinal virtues —
faith, vigor, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Ben » Fri Jun 03, 2016 9:13 pm

zengen wrote:
Aloka wrote:
zengen wrote: Those were just speculations made by Gombrich and Gethin. How are these speculations relevant to the practice of Dhamma? One can say they're just a waste of time.
Richard Gombrich is an Indologist and scholar of Sanskrit, Pāli, and Buddhist Studies. He was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford from 1976 to 2004. He is currently Founder-President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is a past President of the Pali Text Society.

Rupert Gethin is a practising Buddhist in the UK, who is a Professor of Buddhist studies and the president of the Pali Text society.

For internet Buddhists to claim that whatever these men have to say is irrelevant, I find quite astonishingly closed minded.

But it is as it is. :shrug:
These two professors are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners. They can rely on their sharp intellect for eons, but fail to attain enlightenment.

There are internet Buddhists that are very good practitioners. Don't look down on them.
You really don't know what you're talking about.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

zengen
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 10:04 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:02 pm

Ben wrote: You really don't know what you're talking about.
Dear Ben,

I accept your criticism. I'm not a scholarly person, but I have faith in the Sutta that hell is physical realm where beings can take rebirth. As mentioned previously, the Sutta leaves no room for interpretation, or even debate. If the Buddha taught the hell realm as a means to explain mental states, why did the Buddha give so many details of the sufferings in hell, even names of various levels of hell?

If you have read the quote from Ajahn Maha Boowa which I posted, you shall find implication that the hell realm can be perceived as a physical realm by those who are advanced in practice. The Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa spoke from his own realization of the Dhamma. The scholars on the other hand, not having their own realization of the Dhamma, are making mere suggestions based on academic research. There is a world of difference.

From Ajahn Maha Boowa in The Path to Arahantship:
Then the consequences of good and evil and the existence of heaven and hell strike one with the irrefutable force of the obvious. I wish they could strike all you skeptics with such force; all of you who have allowed the kilesas to deceive you into believing that there is no such thing as the consequences of evil, no such thing as the consequences of goodness, no such thing as heaven and hell. They have existed since time immemorial and they have been all-pervasive. You just have not perceived them yet. Do you understand? These things have existed always. They continue to harm those who are foolishly ignorant of their existence and so blinded by the kilesas’ deceptions that they never glimpse the truth.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

santa100
Posts: 2726
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by santa100 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 5:29 am

I haven't come across any excerpt in Gethin or Gombrich's papers that explicitly deny hell realm as concrete physical realm, nor they've declared hell realm exclusively as mental states. They seem to only add the extra interpretation of hell realms as mental states in addition to the original interpretation defined in the Canon. So there's no conflict here.

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5634
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Sat Jun 04, 2016 5:53 am

My quotes from Gombrich and Gethin on page one of this topic were about ancient Buddhist cosmology in general. (which has a flat world, amongst other things.)

More about that here:

The Buddhist Universe

Ancient Buddhists imagined the universe as essentially flat, with Mount Meru at the center of all things. Surrounding this universe was a vast expanse of water, and surrounding the water was a vast expanse of wind.

This universe was made of thirty-one planes of existence, stacked in layers, and three realms, or dhatus.

The three realms were Ārūpyadhātu, the formless realm; Rūpadhātu, the realm of form; and Kāmadhātu, the realm of desire. Each of these was further divided into multiple worlds that were the homes of many sorts of beings. This cosmos was thought to be one of a succession of universes coming into and going out of existence through infinite time.

Our world was thought to be a wedge-shaped island continent in a vast sea south of Mount Meru, called Jambudvipa, in the realm of Kāmadhātu. The earth, then, was thought to be flat and surrounded by ocean.

The World Becomes Round

As with the sacred writings of many religions, Buddhist cosmology can be interpreted as myth or allegory. But many generations of Buddhists understood the universe of Mount Meru to exist literally.

Then, in the 16th century, European explorers came to Asia claiming the earth was round and suspended in space. And a controversy was born.

http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhisthi ... ntmeru.htm
:anjali:

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 3012
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Dan74 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:17 am

zengen wrote:
Ben wrote: You really don't know what you're talking about.
Dear Ben,

I accept your criticism. I'm not a scholarly person, but I have faith in the Sutta that hell is physical realm where beings can take rebirth. As mentioned previously, the Sutta leaves no room for interpretation, or even debate. If the Buddha taught the hell realm as a means to explain mental states, why did the Buddha give so many details of the sufferings in hell, even names of various levels of hell?

If you have read the quote from Ajahn Maha Boowa which I posted, you shall find implication that the hell realm can be perceived as a physical realm by those who are advanced in practice. The Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa spoke from his own realization of the Dhamma. The scholars on the other hand, not having their own realization of the Dhamma, are making mere suggestions based on academic research. There is a world of difference.

From Ajahn Maha Boowa in The Path to Arahantship:
Then the consequences of good and evil and the existence of heaven and hell strike one with the irrefutable force of the obvious. I wish they could strike all you skeptics with such force; all of you who have allowed the kilesas to deceive you into believing that there is no such thing as the consequences of evil, no such thing as the consequences of goodness, no such thing as heaven and hell. They have existed since time immemorial and they have been all-pervasive. You just have not perceived them yet. Do you understand? These things have existed always. They continue to harm those who are foolishly ignorant of their existence and so blinded by the kilesas’ deceptions that they never glimpse the truth.
Whatever helps us to practice with commitment and vigour is good. If believing in literal hells motivates you, helps you keep the momentum of practice going, that's great. If it gives rise to anxiety, fear, mental illness, then it's probably not such a good belief to hold to.

I think we have very little understanding of the nature of this realm that we currently inhabit. This is where the efforts should be focused. If we don't practice, we will continue being bound to the wheel of samsara, deluded, ignorant, subject to the worldly winds, a slave of desires and hates. Once we taste the freedom even a little and begin to see that there is no happiness that can be possessed, nothing to chase or desire except the opportunity to practice and to serve others, then the fear of the hell realms fades in importance. Until then, perhaps it is the only thing that can get most of us focused on the Dhamma.

But like everything else, it should be in balance. I can't for the life of me see how so much focus on the hell realms can be healthy when the practice in right here, right now, the realm which our kamma has led us to. But if the belief in the hell realms helps one treasure the opportunity of human birth, bring vigour to practice, cultivate the brahmaviharas, give yourself to your every undertaking completely, and avid wasting time as much as possible, then great! Ultimately it is about practice, not realms. Otherwise it becomes another samsaric race - run from the lower realms and aim for the higher realms - more attachment and aversion.
_/|\_

zengen
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 10:04 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:32 pm

Following video is Ajahn Maha Boowa's talk which was made into The Path to Arahantship.

You can skip to 17:00 where Ajahn Maha Boowa talks about the existence of heaven and hell.

There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 817
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:39 am

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS ARE ABOUT REBIRTH.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Ben » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:02 am

cappuccino wrote:THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS ARE ABOUT REBIRTH.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths
You're citing a Wikipedia article on the four noble truths on a Theravāda forum? Are you serious??
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Ben » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:18 am

zengen wrote:
Ben wrote: You really don't know what you're talking about.
Dear Ben,

I accept your criticism. I'm not a scholarly person, but I have faith in the Sutta that hell is physical realm where beings can take rebirth. As mentioned previously, the Sutta leaves no room for interpretation, or even debate. If the Buddha taught the hell realm as a means to explain mental states, why did the Buddha give so many details of the sufferings in hell, even names of various levels of hell?

If you have read the quote from Ajahn Maha Boowa which I posted, you shall find implication that the hell realm can be perceived as a physical realm by those who are advanced in practice. The Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa spoke from his own realization of the Dhamma. The scholars on the other hand, not having their own realization of the Dhamma, are making mere suggestions based on academic research. There is a world of difference.

From Ajahn Maha Boowa in The Path to Arahantship:
Then the consequences of good and evil and the existence of heaven and hell strike one with the irrefutable force of the obvious. I wish they could strike all you skeptics with such force; all of you who have allowed the kilesas to deceive you into believing that there is no such thing as the consequences of evil, no such thing as the consequences of goodness, no such thing as heaven and hell. They have existed since time immemorial and they have been all-pervasive. You just have not perceived them yet. Do you understand? These things have existed always. They continue to harm those who are foolishly ignorant of their existence and so blinded by the kilesas’ deceptions that they never glimpse the truth.
Personally, I am not a fan of teachers who make statements about their experiences which are veiled claims of attainment. Putting aside the fact that claims of attainment are a parajika offence and thus invalidates the claimant's status as a monk and his claim, what I suggest you do is read widely of other respected teachers whether they be lay or ordained and don't be afraid to extend a modicum of critical enquiry rather than blind acceptance. After all, the Buddha did not advise to accept blindly but to see for oneself (ehi passiko).
As for the suttas - the message given was dependent on the audience and the faculties of the people there.
Whether one accepts the prospect of other realms, does not accept or if one is agnostic about them - it's largely irrelevant to actually walking on the path.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 817
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:34 am

Ben wrote:You're citing a Wikipedia article … Are you serious??
Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many
The Phaedrus
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 18645
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:36 am

Greetings zengen,

Debate on whether heaven and hell realms literally exist in a geo-spatial sense may prove to be beside the point, because whether one frames them as "literal" or "metaphorical", the important aspect of them is that they are "experiential".

They can be experienced, and were they not experienced, they would not be of relevance to the Dhamma. They are mentioned by the Buddha in his discourses because they can be experienced, are replete with dukkha and are best avoided for this reason.

Further reading: MN 60: Apannaka Sutta and SN 56.31: Simsapa Sutta.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 18645
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:10 am

Greetings,
Ben wrote:... the fact that claims of attainment are a parajika offence and thus invalidates the claimant's status as a monk and his claim...
Actually, it's only a parajika offence to lie and falsely claim superhuman states.

Factual representations by bhikkhus are grounds only for expiation (pacittiya).

Source

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15232
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:44 am

Paul Davy wrote: They can be experienced, and were they not experienced, they would not be of relevance to the Dhamma. They are mentioned by the Buddha in his discourses because they can be experienced, are replete with dukkha and are best avoided for this reason.
I would agree, as long as "they can be experienced" is an expression of possibility, not only past or present personal experience. If one only went on one's personal experience, and not on the teaching of others, then learning anything would take a very long time... (aeons?).

As the first post of the thread mentioned:
Since living beings spend most of their lives in the three lower realms (animal, ghost, hell), do you think that in the infinite stretch of samsara (cyclic existence), living beings spend the majority of their time in the hell realm? It is truly scary if that is the case.
One can take these things as scary, or as inspiration to act. From the introduction to Chapter 1 of Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words": http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14640 or http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/buddhas- ... -condition
Moreover, the process is not only beginningless but is also potentially endless. As long as ignorance and craving remain intact, the process will continue indefinitely into the future with no end in sight. For the Buddha and Early Buddhism, this is above all the defining crisis at the heart of the human condition: we are bound to a chain of rebirths, and bound to it by nothing other than our own ignorance and craving. The pointless wandering on in saṃsāra occurs against a cosmic background of inconceivably vast dimensions. The period of time that it takes for a world system to evolve, reach its phase of maximum expansion, contract, and then disintegrate is called a kappa (Skt: kalpa), an eon. Text I,4(3) offers a vivid simile to suggest the eon’s duration; Text I,4(4), another vivid simile to illustrate the incalculable number of the eons through which we have wandered.
The texts are found in:
http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#sn15

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 18645
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:02 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I would agree, as long as "they can be experienced" is an expression of possibility, not only past or present personal experience. If one only went on one's personal experience, and not on the teaching of others, then learning anything would take a very long time... (aeons?).
Indeed. Nice clarification.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5634
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:46 am

Paul Davy wrote:
They can be experienced, and were they not experienced, they would not be of relevance to the Dhamma
Could you share your own experience of other realms, please Paul ?

Just as an aside, I noticed this comment by Barbara O'Brian (writer, journalist and Zen practitioner) in the section about the Buddhist Thirty- one realms at the About Religion website:
Whether it's useful to explore the other worlds I cannot say, because I haven't much looked at them myself. Information about them strikes me as a lot of brain clutter, frankly. But there may be some allegorical gems in the clutter somewhere that are worth seeking.

:anjali:

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 44 guests