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After have studied Hinduism, and more modern reality creation referring to concepts such as higher vibrations, higher realms that exists beyond our material, such as the astral or heavenly. Also having witnessed fruits of human/divine will and the power of creative imagination, such as people being healed.

However I have yet to truly study Buddhism, but I have a lingering sense that, unlike Hinduism, which is concentrated on an entity. That there must be something beyond the Gods, who most likely exist on a heavenly, but nevertheless, on a lower plane.

What is beyond that? Oneness of all concepts and Gods? Infinite awareness? Is it experiencial only? What does Buddhism state when it comes to this?

Thanks guys.

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The Buddha himself is beyond all gods. He is referred to as 'Satta deva manussanam' which means, he is the teacher to gods and humans. The word deva refers to both the gods and brahmas. And in that field he was incomparable. He was the supreme teacher and a vast number of gods, brahmas and human beings received his teachings, his advice, his guidance and they liberated themselves from this mass of suffering as a result of that.

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The Theravada school teaches the thirty one planes of existence.

These 31 planes are separated into three major categories:

  • Immaterial or formless world (arupa loka)
  • Fine material world (rupa loka)
  • Sensuous world (kama loka)

The sensuous world is divided into:

  • Happy destinations (including the human realm)
  • Unhappy destinations (including hell and the animal realm)

The immaterial world has beings with mind but no body. This world is above or beyond the gods (brahmas and devas). The realms here include:

  • Neither-perception-nor-non-perception
  • Nothingness
  • Infinite Consciousness
  • Infinite Space

It appears that devas (a type of god) and humans live in the happy sensuous destinations, while there are brahmas and devas (types of gods) living in the fine material world. Brahmas are superior to devas.

Those who have reached the level of non-returners (anagamin) would be reborn in the upper five realms of the fine material world. After this, they gain enlightenment there and would no longer be reborn, after passing.

All beings, whether formless beings or gods or humans or animals or ghosts etc. are not immortal. The gods like the Maha Brahmas may live for a very long period of time, that they may assume that they are immortal, according to DN11. All unenlightened beings would face death and rebirth, while enlightened beings would no longer be reborn after physical death.

The Buddha is said to be the highest type of being of them all, who is enlightened and has psychic powers allowing him to teach gods and humans in the fine material world and sensuous world. But even he is not immortal or permanent.

The only thing that is not impermanent is Nibbana. Udana 8.1 describes it as:

There is, bhikkhus, that base where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air; no base consisting of the infinity of space, no base consisting of the infinity of consciousness, no base consisting of nothingness, no base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this world nor another world nor both; neither sun nor moon. Here, bhikkhus, I say there is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, no uprising. Not fixed, not movable, it has no support. Just this is the end of suffering.

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It may depend on the school of Buddhism; for example:

I think that, in Buddhism, enlightenment might often be regarded as greater than or beyond heaven -- but again, see Enlightenment in Buddhism, doctrine on this varies some from school to school.

Or perhaps you're asking about Dhyāna or Jhāna states (see Dhyāna in Buddhism). Or on the subject of "infinite awareness", some of the doctrine mentions "The Divine Eye", a supernatural power attributed to the Buddha.

But (except to the Pure Land schools) I'm not sure that these doctrines are of central importance to Buddhism -- i.e. writing about them might, I don't know, misrepresent what's central to Buddhism.

Perhaps more importantly, I suspect that all schools agree on something like, that heaven and hell and such-like are "mind-made", that there are mental "defilements" or "obscurations" (e.g. pride, avarice, and ill-will and so on), and that a goal at least for humans is to clean the mind of these. IMO one of the Zen stories illustrates that: The Gates of Paradise.

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