The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Six Realms of Samsara
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From A Brief Description of the Bardo
by Thrangu Rinponche, Geshe Lharampa
The six realms of samsara (Tib. rikdruk)
These are the possible types of rebirths for beings in samsara.
God (Skt. deva, Tib. lha)
Sanskrit for god. These are more highly evolved beings who is still part of samsara and therefore in need of Dharma teachings to reach enlightenment.
Jealous gods (Skt. asura, Tib. lha ma yin)
These beings are very jealous of the gods and are often depicted as cutting down the wish-fulfilling trees of the gods.
This is the world of human beings and is considered the best realm to be born in because it is the realm which has the best possibility of reaching enlightenment. Even in the god realm, the gods are so involved in their pleasures that they don’t seek enlightenment.
Hungry ghosts (Skt. preta, Tib. yadik)
A type of being who is always starving and thirsty. This is the result of excessive greed in previous lifetimes and are depicted as having an enormous stomachs and a thin throat. See the six realms of samsara.
This is the realm of animals who have the main obstacle of stupidity. Even though they may want to reach happiness, as all sentient being do, they do not have the intellectual capacity to understand how to do so.
In this realm there is much suffering with one being either extremely hot or extremely cold with there being no end of the feeling. The beings of these realms are consumed with anger or aggression.
In the Chenresig practice when we say the mantra OM MANI PEDME HUM, the OM is to liberate beings in the god realm, MA to liberate those in the jealous god realm, PE for the animal realm, ME for the hungry ghosts, and HUNG for those in the hell realms.