Part Two: Dharma Discourses

Chapter Six: Exposition of Scriptures


52. A student asked about the six rebirth destinies and the four modes of birth. The Master replied, “This world, which is constructed as the six rebirth destinies and four modes of birth, is created and arranged into such divisions by our discriminative minds. The destiny of divinities is that realm where all the sensory conditions, and suffering and happiness, are transcended, and those beings therefore have no attachments to such things; despite the existence of suffering, they would still find happiness and gratification in it. The destiny of human beings is that realm where those beings can engage in both wholesome and unwholesome acts, and experience both suffering and happiness. It is at the crossroads of ascending and descending, so that if humans behave well they can readily ascend into better destinies, but if they behave badly, they can easily descend into unwholesome destinies. The realm of animals is that realm where propriety and shame are lost. The realm of asuras is that realm where beings pass their lives in vain because they have a nihilistic view that the world comes to an end once they die. They therefore fall into the voidness of indeterminacy. In the realm of hungry ghosts they seek to receive merit without doing anything to deserve it, and keep panting for only their own reputation, wealth, and so forth. The realm of the hells is that realm where anger is dominant and the mind is benighted by rage. Those beings insist only on their own opinions, and have no one with whom to discuss anything. By understanding the principle that these six rebirths are constructed by our minds, we have the prospect of enjoying the realm of the divinities. However, only by transcending even the realm of the divinities will we be completely free and autonomous within the world comprised of these six rebirth destinies.”