Abhidhamma Series, no. 19. Rebirth in different planes of existence. (part 2).
- Dear friends,
Rebirth in different planes of existence. (part 2).
Rebirth-consciousness does not only arise in sensuous planes of
existence, kaama-bhuumi, it can also arise in higher heavenly planes
which are not sensuous planes of existence. If one is born in one of
the kaama-bhuumis and one sees the disadvantage of sense impressions,
one may cultivate jhaana, absorption. Then one can, besides
kaamaavacara cittas, also have ruupa-jhaanacittas and aruupa-
jhaanacittas. If one cultivates the eightfold Path one can have
lokuttara cittas, supramundane cittas which directly experience
There are four planes of citta: kaamaavacara cittas, ruupaavacaara
cittas which are ruupajhaanacittas, aruupaavacaara cittas which are
aruupajhaanacittas and lokuttara cittas. Which of these planes of
citta a particular citta belongs to, depends on the object it
experiences. Kaamaavacara citta experiences a sense object.
Ruupaavacaara cittas and aruupaavacaara cittas experience with
absorption the meditation subjects of ruupa-jhaana and
aruupajhaana. Lokuttara citta experiences nibbaana. A plane of
citta is different from a plane of existence which, as we have seen,
is the place where rebirth-consciousness arises.
When someone attains jhaana, the kusala kamma he performs is not
kaamaavacara kusala kamma; at the moment of jhaana there are no sense
impressions. The kusala kamma which is jhaana does not produce result
in the same lifespan one attains it, but it can produce result in the
form of pa.tisandhi-citta, the pa.tisandhi-citta of the next life. In
that case there are jhaanacittas arising shortly before death and the
pa.tisandhi-citta of the next life experiences the same object as
The result of ruupaavacara kusala citta (kusala citta which is ruupa-
jhaanacitta) is birth in a heavenly plane which is not kaama-bhuumi
but a ruupa-brahma-plane (fine-material world). The result of an
aruupaavacara kusala citta (kusala citta which is aruupa-jhaanacitta)
is birth in a heavenly plane which is an aruupa-brahma plane
(immaterial world). There are different ruupa-brahma-planes and
Those who attain ruupa-jhaana can be reborn in ruupa-brahma-planes
where there are less sense-impressions. There are sixteen ruupa-
brahma planes in all. One of these is the plane of unconscious
beings, asa~n~nasatta. Those who cultivate ruupajhaana and see the
disadvantage of naama may be reborn in a plane where there is only
ruupa, not naama. Thus, here there is not a rebirth-consciousness,
only ruupa-pa.tisandhi. Those who see the disadvantages of the
meditation subjects of ruupa-jhaana which are still bound up with
materiality, cultivate aruupa-jhaana. If they attain aruupa-jhaana
they can be reborn in aruupa-brahma planes where there is no ruupa,
only naama. There are four classes of aruupa-brahma planes.
There are thirty-one classes of planes of existence in all, namely:
4 woeful planes |
1 human plane | 11 sensuous planes
6 deva planes |
16 rúpa-brahma planes
4 arúpa-brahma planes
Kusala kamma can cause a happy rebirth, but the end of birth is to be
preferred to any kind of rebirth. If one cultivates the eightfold
Path and attains arahatship there will be no more rebirth. The dying-
consciousness (cuti-citta) of the arahat is not succeeded by a
pa.tisandhi-citta. The Buddha reminded people of the dangers of birth
and encouraged them to be mindful, in order to attain the
``deathless'' which is nibbaana.
We read in the Mahaa-parinibbaana-sutta (Dialogues of the Buddha II,
no. 16, chapter II, 1-4):
... The Exalted One proceeded with a great company of the monks to
Kotigåma; and there he stayed in the village itself.
And at that place the Exalted One addressed the monks, and said: ``It
is through not understanding and grasping four Ariyan Truths, O
monks, that we have had to run so long, to wander so long in this
weary path of rebirth, both you and I!''
``And what are these four?''
``The Ariyan truth about dukkha; the Ariyan truth about the cause of
dukkha; the Ariyan truth about the cessation of dukkha; and the
Ariyan truth about the path that leads to that cessation. But when
these Ariyan truths are grasped and known the craving for future life
is rooted out, that which leads to renewed becoming is destroyed, and
then there is no more birth!''
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