Friday, June 1, 2012

On the six categories of unenlightened beings

Unenlightened beings are of many types, but what they all have in common is various kinds of illusions and ignorance.

Our view of reality is corrupted by many attachments of which some are hidden deep in our unconscious. Any action done by a being drowned in illusion and motivated by attachment gives rise to karma[1] and suffering or passing states of wellness. Everything is cause and effect. As long as one acts with an unenlightened mind, under the slavery of false views, the effect is a little or more unsatisfactoriness or happiness of limited duration.

Thus there are beings that are always motivated by hate and constantly do deeds of cruelty. Even since this present life they are though being burned by fire, and after their life is ended they will be born in places where they are devoured by their own hate and the effects of their evil actions. These are the beings born in hells.

Other beings are consumed by a never ending hunger and thirst for various possessions, living as they are never satisfied. After death their mind stream, which is impregnated with this obsession, will take a form (body) similar with it and will wander in places without food or water. But even if water or food can be found their bodies are so much distorted that they cannot digest it. These are the beings born as hungry ghosts (pretas).

Next there are beings that have their minds focused only on sex, food and drink, with no further aspirations related to higher spiritual goals. Limited as they are to their instincts they will be born in their next life as animals. The fear they experience and the tensions created by instincts are so great that they live almost entirely to satisfy themselves.

Humans are beings in which the various tendencies are somehow in the middle. The karma which manifested at their previous death was not so bad as to go to the lowest level of existence, but also not so good as to go higher than the human realm.

The two spheres of existence which are immediately higher than the human realm are by no means without suffering, illusions or attachments, but these can be found in smaller quantities than those on the human or lower levels.
Right above humans are the asuras (demigods or fighting spirits), which are beings in whom jealousy and a competitive spirit still remain very powerful.

Above the asuras are the devas or gods – whose merits and virtues they accumulated in previous lives manifested in the form of birth in heavenly realms.

It is very important to know that these states of existence generally described above and the beings born there are not free or enlightened, but rather are only owners of a better or worse karma.

Imagine something like a reservoir of good or bad karma – the result of various good or evil acts which is waiting to manifest itself. The more good karma this reservoir has, the happier the next life in various forms of existence will be. But there is a warning here, as this reservoir will become empty sooner or later and the person will fall in the end from the good state he dwells now, dying and leaving that place to be born somewhere lower, depending on other types of karma gathered in previous existences.

Thus, no state is permanent. No matter whether one is on the low level or the upper level of the wheel of life, he is never free and secure. Pain and suffering follow him always, in many forms, until Buddhahood or complete freedom is attained.

[1] Karma means any action by thought, deed and word which one day (in this life or future lives) will produce an effect.

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