Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Are There Gods, Demons, Devas, Realms etc?

Captain_AmericaCaptain_America Explorer
edited September 2012 in Buddhism Today
So in the random/scattered readings I've done regarding Buddhism, I've come across something that I didn't think was a part of Buddhism: the supernatural. Now I'm not saying that I don't believe any of these things exist (although I'm skeptical I think), I'm just wondering if these are supposed to be literal beings/places or if it's figurative or disputed?

Comments

  • Depends on which branch/school of Buddhism you follow.
    Some take it quite literally and others such as Zen don't.
    What do YOU believe?
    DaltheJigsaw
  • I had the privilege of doing a bit of work with Dr. Gabor Mate who's book "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" is about the ravages of addiction.

    He sees the addict as the hungry ghost and that the different realms represent different aspects of the human experience.

    http://drgabormate.com/
  • Well in terms of what branch/school I follow, I'm trying to figure that out still. Not sure of all my options and what they all believe. Pretty lost, really.

    As for my personal beliefs right now, I'm pretty unsure there too. I'm a weak (also known as agnostic) atheist. I don't really believe in a God/gods and therefore don't really believe there are demons either. As for realms, well science thinks the possibility of other dimensions is there and I follow that too. And Devas, well that's a completely new thing to me.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    many take them metaphorically.
    I do too.
    I think to be honest, that this is how you are meant to take them, in reality.
    some do, some don't.
    However you decide to take them, examine what they're meant to be teaching you.
  • I'm assuming we don't know whether or not the Buddha actually believed in these beings/realms or not?
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I'm assuming we don't know whether or not the Buddha actually believed in these beings/realms or not?

    The suttas are full of references to beings being reborn in various realms according to their actions ( kamma ). Whether the suttas faithfully reflect what the Buddha taught is a complex question, on balance I think they are a reasonably accurate representation. Personally I feel it's best to keep an open mind on these questions.
    poptartpersonDaltheJigsaw
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran

    So in the random/scattered readings I've done regarding Buddhism, I've come across something that I didn't think was a part of Buddhism: the supernatural. Now I'm not saying that I don't believe any of these things exist (although I'm skeptical I think), I'm just wondering if these are supposed to be literal beings/places or if it's figurative or disputed?


    Yes they are Literal the so called supernatural is just natural phenomena that is not currently observable. There are many hidden objects in the universe the realms of existence are some of them having a refined mind through concentration allows one to see them as Buddha and his many disciples did.
    Davetheseeker
  • There is so much about which it is not possible to know despite how much attention and focus we into it, so with this in mind, I take the same approach as Cloud describes above .
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Hi Cloud,
    what relation do they have to your life? They don't have any relation to my life or my suffering
    Yes... just to embellish, I think you are right to take the reality of that side of things lightly, but I'd take the unreality of it lightly too.
  • taiyakitaiyaki Michigan Veteran
    What do you define as real?
  • DaltheJigsawDaltheJigsaw Mountain View Veteran
    Like many mentioned, it depends which sector of Buddhism you follow. If you follow Zen Buddhism, which I follow it focuses on the practice. Do you think it will help you with your practice though? I know that when I was getting into this type of stuff, it only fogged my mind further.
  • If life consists of a continuos cycle of rebirth (ie. you are not the same person who entered the room 10 min ago) then being reborn into the different realms may simply refer to the fruition of karma as we go through changes in our lives.
    Bunks
  • taiyaki:
    What do you define as real?
    I don't. I'm not unhappy enough anymore to need to.
  • Cloud said:

    @Captain_America, I think the bigger question is... what relation do they have to your life? They don't have any relation to my life or my suffering, and so I pay them no mind. Whether they exist or not isn't going to help alleviate suffering. They're not part of the Four Noble Truths and its Noble Eightfold Path. If they exist they exist; if not then not. Doesn't matter. If we were wise we'd look at what's here and now, which is where suffering arises, and get our heads out of the clouds anyway. We could "what if" for a lifetime, which is what most people do. The source of suffering is something we know, or at least Buddhism teaches it, and there's a Path to get rid of it once and for all. That's what I'd concentrate on (and in fact what I do concentrate on).

    I know that these thoughts won't have much of an effect on my life, but I don't see why that means I can't want to know about them. Things like science are driven by a desire to know what's around us, in us and what's out there. I feel ignorant or close minded if I don't try to find these things out. Sure it may not do anything other than satisfy an appetite for knowledge, but that's really all I'm shooting for. And who knows how such knowledge could come into play in the future? There's plenty of more important things to learn about, yes, but I don't see the harm in wondering and speculating about the "super"natural.
  • There is definitely no "harm in wondering and speculating about the 'super'natural" but after you've been at it for a while you may wonder what value there is in it.

    As you practice more, you may find that you want to put your energies elsewhere - at least that is what happened in my practice.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I know that these thoughts won't have much of an effect on my life, but I don't see why that means I can't want to know about them. ...... There's plenty of more important things to learn about, yes, but I don't see the harm in wondering and speculating about the "super"natural.

    "There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

    "The Buddha-range of the Buddhas[1] is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

    "The jhana-range of a person in jhana...[2]

    "The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...

    "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

    "These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."
    RebeccaS
  • There are some demons that take human form and regularly make there appearances in the news.
    DaltheJigsaw
  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Are There Gods, Demons, Devas, Realms etc?
    Probably. Probably not.

    The question is: does it really matter in the end? Believe what you wish to believe and you will find out when you die. The same goes for the rest of us.
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Cloud said:

    They're not part of the Four Noble Truths and its Noble Eightfold Path.

    Sorry to be pedantic (!), but traditionally the realms and rebirth are part of the Four Noble Truths. The first Truth includes birth as a form of suffering ( which wouldn't make sense if there is no rebirth ) and the second Truth includes craving for becoming ( which is elsewhere defined as becoming in the realms ).
    Possibly this is the subject for another thread, and actually I agree with your general point that speculating on these issues or taking a position is not really productive.

    This sutta includes the teaching of the Four Noble Truths: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited September 2012
    @PedanticPorpoise, I rather think we're the ones who tie rebirth in to the Four Noble Truths. Not even the detailed description of the First Noble Truth, stating all that is Dukkha, says anything about "rebirth", only birth. The 4NT doesn't even say anything about Samsara. Whether we believe, disbelieve, or are agnostic about rebirth... the Four Noble Truths are still about suffering here and now (along with its origin, its cessation, and the path to liberation). I wouldn't impose rebirth upon anyone, so it's rather optional whether people patch it into the Four Noble Truths or not depending upon their tradition and personal beliefs. Whether there are realms, whether there are devas, yada yada yada, it's still the here and now that we need to concentrate on. That's what the 4NT and 8FP are really about... this life.

    I've decided, personally, to stop worrying about whether such things do or do not exist. I can't know, and to assume is foolish, and so on all such issues I'll be taking the agnostic position and focusing on the actual source of suffering. I do know the Noble Eightfold Path brings peace, and so that's what I follow. To each his or her own. :D Even if these things do not exist, and I don't know if that's the case, the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path still speak to our unsatisfactory existence and how to free ourselves of this up/down/up/down (which could also be called Samsara in this life, or a microcosm of the rebirth Samsara model).
    MaryAnneDaftChris
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    Cloud said:

    Not even the detailed description of the First Noble Truth, stating all that is Dukkha, says anything about "rebirth", only birth. The 4NT doesn't even say anything about Samsara.

    But logically it wouldn't make sense to include "birth" in dukkha if there was no rebirth. And as I said the second Noble Truth does describe samsara, ie becoming in the realms. And of course the Noble Truths are intimately connected with the teachings on dependent origination which can be seen as an elaboration of the second Truth.

    I agree there is no need to believe in rebirth and the realms in order to practice effectively, but that's a different point.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited September 2012
    I think we differ on what's logical. Birth is suffering, that's why it's (logically) included. It's suffering for mother and child both. Do you come out smiling or crying? ;) How about poor old mum? Likewise for death. The very thought of death is suffering, whether our own or our loved ones, not to mention painful processes of dying. Dukkha is describing everything that is painful, stressful or frustrating in our lives, which covers the entirety of our lives; it doesn't actually go into rebirth or cyclic existence itself (nor do the Four Noble Truths). We can look at the Four Noble Truths in any number of ways or "contexts" (with rebirth is one, without rebirth is another)... but what stays the same is exactly what they say, without anything added.

    1) We are Suffering, 2) due to Craving.
    3) Non-craving is Peace, and 4) the Noble Eightfold Path leads there.

    These truths can be digested by anyone. They're adaptable because they don't take on anything more than they do, and they speak to this life's direct experiences (and what can be known/experienced through practice). Other teachings serve other purposes, but it's really the Four Noble Truths that are the Buddha's message and his Way. With these liberation is possible, and since they're so basic they can be part of any number of "systems" and still be effective. The important thing is to know not to focus on the window dressings, but on the window itself!

    Anyway I don't really want to debate it. So I'll bow out of this convo. :D
Sign In or Register to comment.