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The Realms among which We Transmigrate


The six worlds of delusion filled with endless suffering are called the Six Realms or the Six Worlds. List them.

Answer: 1. Realm of hell 2. Realm of hungry ghosts 3. Realm of animals 4. Realm of asuras 5. Realm of humans 6. Realm of heavenly beings


Six Realms Six worlds of delusion (worlds of suffering). (1) The realm of hell: The realm of extreme agony. (2) The realm of hungry ghosts: In this realm, when beings try to eat or drink, all the food and drink turns into fire, so they are unable to consume anything. Because of this, these beings are extremely thin and continually suffer from hunger and thirst. (3) The realm of animals: The world of dogs, cats, and other animals. In this realm, the strong prey on the weak, so beings live in constant fear. (4) The realm of asuras: A realm of conflict in which beings suffer because of ceaseless fighting. (5) The realm of humans: A realm where beings experience a mixture of pain and pleasure, and the realm in which we live. (6) The realm of heavenly beings: The world of ample pleasure. The suffering that beings experience here is lighter than that of other realms. However, this is also a realm of delusion. Their lives are limited, and their pleasure does not last.

Buddhism teaches that from ages past, each of us has been born and reborn countless times in a myriad of life forms. Just as a wheel keeps turning without end, so all beings travel endlessly back and forth among the various worlds of illusion, in constant suffering. This is known as ‘transmigration in the six realms’, ‘the birth-and-death cycle’, or ‘the endless wheel of suffering’.

In Hymn of True Faith, Master Shinran wrote, “Circling among the houses of the birth-and-death cycle…” The condition of endless suffering that we cannot escape is likened to a house apart from which we cannot live. ‘Circling’ means ‘going back and forth’; without end. You Were Born for a Reason pg. 53】

To be liberated from these worlds of delusion and live in eternal happiness is the very purpose of listening to Buddhism.


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