1

About the doctrine of the 31 realms of existence. I have a few questions, because science, especially the theory of evolution, makes a good argument for categorizing humans as animals.

  1. Is this list of 31 realms static or can single realms vanish? Because due to science we know that this earth won't last forever. This would mean, that there are no animals or humans anymore, unless a similar species lives on another planet somewhere in this universe (which is very, very, very unlikely if you consider the set of condition it took of several billion years to evolve humans).
  2. The theory of evolution proofs, that humans have evolved from animals and just use different techniques for surviving as every other species as well. So knowing that there was a time of transition, where there only existed primordial human beings, how could you at that time say if it was a human or an animal? How can you cross that line between one species (humans) and every other one? Because it is sure, that in the next few 100.000 years humans will have evolved to a totally different species according to the conditions in the environment.

So how should you understand this classification of beings. Is it just a provisional and time-dependent concept? Or is it only related to the degree of suffering, which predominate each realm?

I know on this topic are already many questions. But none of these related to this particular question. So please don't tag as duplicate.

1

Some Buddhists regard the realms of existence as psychological states of people. For example, if you are moral & humane, you have a 'human' existence. If you act impulsively, without self-control, without reasoned reflection, & particularly without moral conscience & with violence, your state of mind is like an 'animal'.

The following quotes from the scriptures support this view. Particularly, the quote at the bottom states an 'animal', by realising the Four Noble Truths, can be reborn as 'human', such as occurred to Angulimala (the former mass murderer who became a fully enlightened monk), as shown in the video link at the bottom.

Monks, these two bright qualities guard the world. Which two? Conscience & concern. If these two bright qualities did not guard the world, there would be no recognition of 'mother' here, no recognition of 'mother's sister,' 'uncle's wife,' 'teacher's wife,' or 'wife of those who deserve respect.' The world would be immersed in promiscuity, like rams with goats, roosters with pigs or dogs with jackals. But because these two bright qualities guard the world, there is recognition of 'mother,' 'mother's sister,' 'uncle's wife,' 'teacher's wife,' & 'wife of those who deserve respect.'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an02/an02.009.than.html

~~~~

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time a large number of monks, after the meal, on returning from their alms round, had gathered at the meeting hall and were engaged in many kinds of bestial topics (tiracchānakathaṃ) of conversation: conversation about kings, robbers, & ministers of state; armies, alarms, & battles; food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women & heroes; the gossip of the street & the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.069.than.html

~~~~

Few are the beings who, on passing away from the animal realm, are reborn among human beings or gods. But far more numerous are reborn is hell. For what reason? They have not seen the Four Noble Truths.

SN 56.123 (no link)

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i49oX1Shxf4

0

Buddhism doesn't subscribe to the view that humans evolved from animals.

The theory of evolution proofs, that humans have evolved from animals

No, it doesn't. It's just a theory with some supporting evidence.

Is this list of 31 realms static or can single realms vanish?

No conditioned phenomena is static. This time, up to 14 realms will be destroyed by fire at the end of the aeon(Kalpa). Most of the beings are born in higher Brahma realms at the time. Those who don't make it(due to nihilistic views) will be born in a hell that is out of this world system.

unless a similar species lives on another planet somewhere in this universe (which is very, very, very unlikely...

No, it is very likely, even scientifically speaking, to have similar living conditions elsewhere in the universe. In November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars.

How can you cross that line between one species (humans) and every other one? Because it is sure, that in the next few 100.000 years humans will have evolved

According to Buddhism, there's no crossing of the line between species, unless you mean something like a human dying and being born as an animal. Also, humans are devolving during this period of the cosmic timeline. Not evolving.

  • 1
    I see your point about the possibility of living beings on other planets in the universe. But evolution can't be disproved. There are many homologies (anatomically and genetically), which proof the existence of a same origin (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homology_%28biology%29). – OidaOudenEidos May 10 '16 at 9:20
  • That is supporting evidence based on scientific research. Not proof. :) – Sankha Kulathantille May 10 '16 at 9:26
  • Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that this theory isn't true. – OidaOudenEidos May 10 '16 at 19:41
  • There are many. ex: The huge intelligence gap between animals and humans. The capacity for art. The potential for spiritual growth etc. The problem with science is that it's too materialistic. They completely ignore the mental aspect of the universe. – Sankha Kulathantille May 11 '16 at 2:27
  • Just because Sakyamuni Buddha didn't say anything about evolution doesn't mean there wasn't evolution.. Or maybe there wasn't evolution.. Maybe our state of consciousness is around the animals and the humans.. We cannot talk about something we haven't realized to be true. IMHO, If we talk about such things, it's called "Belief" or just a "Point Of View". I don't know if this is Nihilism ;) – Gokul NC May 14 '16 at 11:20
0

Some Buddhists take the stance that the mind is the driving force behind evolution and the appearances of different species (and beings).

Dalai Lama dismisses the element of randomness in the theory of evolution based on natural selection:[5] From the Buddhist's perspective, the idea of these mutations being random events is deeply unsatisfying for a theory that purports to explain the origin of life. Lopez elaborates that the process of Rebirth (into any of a large number of states of being including the human, any kind of animal and several types of supernatural being) is conditioned by karma (action of consciousness), which explains Dalai Lama's view.[6]

  • The idea of the stackexchange-fora is to put questions as questions and not hidden in answers. So why not move the text of your inside-questions into a new explicite one? – Gottfried Helms May 11 '16 at 9:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.