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Is being reborn as a deva or human better? Can you achieve nirvana if you are reborn as a deva as well as a human?

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    The simple fact is that these are belief systems that hold back the practitioner, and what you perceive to be other realms are actually imaginary ideas not worthy of even holding to a belief system. When I began dropping these silly notions, I made tremendous headway and found peace in the here-and-now.
    – user17652
    Mar 2, 2023 at 9:26
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    Max, why do you assume that every practitioner is like you?
    – user13375
    Mar 2, 2023 at 22:00
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    @YesheTenley - there's nothing wrong with believing in these things, but to give yourself over to their notions is simply a mild form of psychosis. I don't recall anywhere in Theravada where this occurs. In fact, quite the opposite: one is encouraged to not think about themselves in the past or in the future. There are some Tibetan sects that do those strange things, but pragmatically, whatever they think they're doing it's all imagined stories made to look overly fantastical.
    – user17652
    Mar 3, 2023 at 19:49
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    @Max, that is a very hardened, fixed, unyielding, rigid, fundamental, self-assured, conceited, point-of-view for something that may be a hard to understand, hard to know, and hard to see obscure phenomena. Careful that you are not holding views that you’ll need to relinquish to grow further.
    – user13375
    Mar 4, 2023 at 15:39
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    @max, I’m drawn to your use of the word pragmatic in your last comment to note that it might not be pragmatic to so doggedly deny and hold rigidly to the view that reality is such and such against these beliefs or that these beliefs are never helpful for anyone, anywhere, at any time. In fact, they might very well be just the medicine the doctor ordered as an antidote to such fixed and rigid beliefs denying them.
    – user13375
    Mar 4, 2023 at 15:46

4 Answers 4

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Ideally, you're a healthy human during a Buddha's dispensation so you can understand the teachings and practice them. Devas can still practice Dhamma but their world is so pleasurable that they're less likely to.

When it's not the Buddha's dispensation, being a deva seems like the better choice. Much less pain and much more pleasure than a human. And since the Dhamma is lost, there's no point in being a human.

But a better goal is to reach a level of awakening so you'll eventually escape samsara. Periods where the Dhamma are revealed are rare.

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  • Essentially if I am reborn as a deva I am still able to escape samsara but its so pleasurable that I forget to achieve nirvana?
    – Orionixe
    Mar 3, 2023 at 4:32
  • @Orionixe Basically, devas have too much fun and don't want to practice. They could practice and in the suttas you see that some do. The human realm has more pain so the need to practice is more obvious.
    – triplej
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:59
  • I see, speaking of wasn't there a school of Buddhism who's main goal was to get reborn as a deva?
    – Orionixe
    Mar 8, 2023 at 5:01
  • @Orionixe There's Pure Land Buddhism. There goal is to be reborn into a pure land of Buddha Amitābha and from there get Enlightened. They believe practice in the pure land is easier than practice on Earth.
    – triplej
    Mar 8, 2023 at 16:18
  • Do they believe they are reborn as a deva or just live among them?
    – Orionixe
    Mar 9, 2023 at 4:29
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Your future rebirth will depend upon specific past karma (from a limitless supply) ripening at an exact critical moment. Beings reborn in the deva realm have gone on to become Buddha. Beings reborn in the human realm have gone on to become Buddha.

Any rebirth in a higher realm is considered a fortunate rebirth so focus on generating karma for future rebirths in any higher realm while avoiding generating karma resulting in future rebirths in any lower realm.

Don't worry too much about human vs deva rebirth as our ability to control such rebirths at this point on the path isn't practical. Only advanced practitioners can hope to accomplish something with this and only at a very precise moment of death. More practical is to rejoice that you have a human rebirth for this very life and the opportunity to practice dharma!

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    If I get reborn as a deva I can still achieve nirvana? Or is it impossible since being a deva is extremely pleasurable and I would not want to be reborn as a lower being?
    – Orionixe
    Mar 8, 2023 at 5:04
  • Just strive for a higher rebirth. By the time where this question will be relevant for you - ie., when you are able to exhibit some control over your mind a the moment of dying - you'll have long since had your answer.
    – user13375
    Mar 9, 2023 at 13:19
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Remember the life of the Buddha himself: he was locked in a palace surrounded by obscene luxury and didn't think of Dharma. Even with the merit he accumulated through countless lives, his awakening only started when he escaped the palace and saw death and suffering.

The entire realm of the devas is like that palace, largely free of suffering. Commonly, the only kind of dukha they encounter is knowing their life of pleasure is about to end, and when that happens, they don't have much time to practice Dharma. That's why you get the most opportunities to practice as a human. But as long as you're not in the lower realms, you have the capacity to practice and thus can achieve the fruit regardless if you're a human, asura or deva.

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From Awareness Itself by Ven. Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, compiled by his disciple Ven. Thanissaro:

A group of laypeople who had studied the Abhidhamma together came to Ajaan Fuang to try out his version of mental training, but when he told them to sit, close their eyes, and focus on the breath, they immediately backed off, saying that they didn't want to practice concentration, for fear that they'd get stuck on jhana and end up being reborn in the Brahma worlds. He responded, "What's there to be afraid of? Even non-returners are reborn in the Brahma worlds. At any rate, being reborn in the Brahma worlds is better than being reborn as a dog."

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