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According to buddhism, there exists 31 "planes of existence".

Theravada Buddhist cosmology describes the 31 planes of existence in which rebirth takes place. The order of the planes are found in various discourses of the Gautama Buddha in the Sutta Pitaka. For example, in the Saleyyaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya the Buddha mentioned the planes above the human plane in ascending order.1 In several sūtras in the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha described the causes of rebirth in these planes in the same order. In Buddhism, the devas are not immortal gods that play a creative role in the cosmic process. They are simply elevated beings who had been reborn in the celestial planes as a result of their words, thoughts, and actions. Usually, they are just as much in bondage to delusion and desire as human beings, and as in need of guidance from the Enlightened One. The Buddha is the "teacher of devas and humans (satthadevamanussanam). The devas come to visit the Buddha in the night. The Devatasamyutta and the Devaputtasamyutta of the Samyutta Nikaya gives a record of their conversations. The devaputtas are young devas newly arisen in heavenly planes, and devatas are mature deities.

There are more than 10,000 crore (100 billion) solar systems in our Galaxy, and more than 10,000 crore (100 billion) galaxies in our Universe. There are many Universes in space. Past and future lives may occur on other planets. The data for the 31 planes of existence in samsara are compiled from the Majjhima Nikaya, Anguttara Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya, Digha Nikaya, Khuddaka Nikaya, and others. The 31 planes of existence can be perceived by a Buddha's Divine eye (dibbacakkhu) and some of his awakened disciples through the development of jhana meditation. According to the suttas, a Buddha can access all these planes and know all his past lives as well as those of other beings.

Buddhist cosmology of the Theravada school - Wikipedia

Hence the question: Are these 31 planes of existence actually existing all around us RIGHT HERE where we are (as in 31 'dimensions' per se), or are they belonging in different planets and galaxies far apart from each other? Since 'planes' can also mean 'dimensions' if viewed from such a perspective.

Please verify! Thanks for your patience! IMAGE: 31 planes of existence - Ven.Suvanno Mahathera

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They are said to be located from a certain distance from the human realm. ex: The closest heaven to us is the Chaturmaharajika heaven. It is located 42,000 Yojjanas above from the human realm. But the tree devas and certain Asuras/Yakkas also belong to this heaven. The closest hell realm 'Sanjiva' is located 15,000 Yojjanas below the human realm. Refer to this chart for more details.

As I've heard, humans can't see the Devas unless they develop the divine eye or if the devas make their bodies solid and reflective. In the same way, Devas can't see the Brahmas. So I would assume that the places they dwell are also invisible to average humans. You can possibly call them other dimensions or just think of them as what you can't see yet in this world system. It's the same with hell realms. Peta Vattu has stories about hungry ghosts in the human relam.

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  • Does our entire visible ( and whatever is invisible) universe constitute our world system?
    – Ryan
    Jul 25, 2015 at 0:12
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    Yes, the 31 planes of existence constitute 1 world system. Jul 25, 2015 at 2:17
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    A collection of 1000 world systems is called "sāhasra-cūḍika-lokadhātu". A collection of 1 million world systems is called “dvisāhasra-madhyama-lokadhātu".A collection of 1 billion world systems is called the "trisāhasra-mahāsāhasra-lokadhātu". Jul 25, 2015 at 2:36
  • dark matter perhaps? :)
    – Anthony
    Jul 25, 2015 at 18:13
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    Nice answer.......
    – Pycm
    Mar 17 at 4:06
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The Buddha said in many places his Dhamma is directly visible. The directly visible Dhamma is the only Dhamma refuge the Buddha described.

The 31 planes of existence appears to be psychological archetypes; that is all. For example, various suttas literally refer to parents (Iti 106) and moral husbands & wives as "gods" (AN 4.53) and literally refer to the "human state" as a state of virtue & wisdom (SN 56.47). In MN 37, Sakka, the King of the Gods, has a physical palace with gardens & sexy female nymphs, which merely gives the impression of worldly kings, emperors & oligarchs.

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