How long is the life in heavens and hells?

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How long is the life in heavens and hells?

Post by smokey » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:33 pm

I read on wikipedia in section Buddist Cosmology:" onclick=";return false; that life in heavens and hells is millions of years long. I wonder where did they get that information? I never encountered in any of the suttas that information. Is that perhaps thought in the oral tradition?

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Re: How long is the life in heavens and hells?

Post by DNS » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:34 pm ... _existence" onclick=";return false;

Number of years in the deva realms in parentheses. It is in the Suttas, I think mostly in the Digha Nikaya.

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Re: How long is the life in heavens and hells?

Post by Chula » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:56 pm

It's mentioned whenever the suttas talk of the benefits of practicing the Uposatha. The Anguttara has a lot of examples that can give you exact lifespans for the devas of the sensual realm:

"Fifty human years are equal to one day & night among the Devas of the Four Great Kings. Thirty such days & nights make a month. Twelve such months make a year. Five hundred such heavenly years constitute the life-span among the Devas of the Four Great Kings."
AN 3.70: Muluposatha Sutta
AN 8.43: Visakhuposatha Sutta

When it comes to the form realm, the suttas only talk of lifespan in terms of kappas (eons):

The devas of Brahma's retinue, monks, have a life-span of an eon.
AN 4.123: Jhana Sutta

From what I've read, only the formless realms and the hells realms are left without explicit mention of lifespans. I think the commentaries give lifespans in eons for the formless realms (something like 84,000 eons in the highest formless realm). Also the suttas state that the lifespans in hell realms can be extremely long or short depending on the kamma.
Last edited by Chula on Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How long is the life in heavens and hells?

Post by Mukunda » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:21 pm

Something to bear in mind, IMO comparing the lifespans of the other realms to our own is really pointless. The life span for one in a heavenly or hell realm may seem impossibly long to us, but in that realm it is the norm. Just like a human lifespan of 67 years (the last average I know of) would seem impossibly long to a fruit fly, who life span is just a few days. If one is reborn in a heavenly or hell realm, and lives eons, that time will be experienced as just a normal life span.

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