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From the divine realms to the infernal AN 4:125 II 128-29


#1

All

Why is there a difference in the lifespan of a person who is reborn when the person practices the different brahmavihara?

Ben


#2

It took me a while to find the EBT AN4.123

Firstly, a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

They enjoy it and like it and find it satisfying.

If they abide in that, are committed to it, and meditate on it often without losing it, when they die they’re reborn in the company of the gods of Brahmā’s Group.

The lifespan of the gods of Brahma’s Group is one eon.

An ordinary person stays there until the lifespan of those gods is spent, then they go to hell or the animal realm or the ghost realm.

But a disciple of the Buddha stays there until the lifespan of those gods is spent, then they’re extinguished in that very life.

The lifespan amongst the gods is the same (one eon), but the eventual destination is different. The difference is identity view. Believing that “I earned this”, one exhausts the merit. I suppose an “eon of Me” would sink like a stone when compared with the short human lifetime of metta.

Regarding the lifetime of gods, Earth is one of the Gods of the Thirty-Three, and the Earth certainly has been around for a long time, but it will die.


#3

Thanks karl. What I am unsure of is why is the reborn person having a lifespan of 1 eon if the person practices loving kindness in the previous life but having a lifespan of 500 eons if the person practices equanimity in the previous life.


#4

I think @benlim is referring to AN 4.125 and the fact that it states meditation on love leads to rebirth in the company of the gods of Brahma’s group (lifespan of one eon), whereas meditation on compassion, for example, leads to rebirth in the company of the gods of streaming radiance (lifespan of two eons):

Firstly, a person meditates spreading a heart full of love… If they abide in that, are committed to it, and meditate on it often without losing it, when they die they’re reborn in the company of the gods of Brahmā’s Group. The lifespan of the gods of Brahma’s Group is one eon.

Furthermore, a person meditates spreading a heart full of compassion… If they abide in that, are committed to it, and meditate on it often without losing it, when they die they’re reborn in the company of the gods of streaming radiance. The lifespan of the gods of streaming radiance is two eons.

AN 4.123 is important, though, because it shows that the AN 4.125 is relating the different brahaviharas to the jhanas. Love = 1st jhana, compassion = 2nd jhana, etc.

The 2nd jhana is more refined than the 1st jhana, so I imagine that AN 4.125 is noting that compassion is more refined than love, therefore leading to a more fortunate rebirth.

Whether that’s the case or not, an ordinary person eventually falls away from that realm into realms of deprivation and suffering… whether that’s in one eon or five hundred eons :no_mouth:


#5

Thanks for this reference. That’s quite the tour guide of hellish destinations of a road paved with good intentions.


#6

Does it mean that the practice of loving kindness leads to 1st Jhana, compassion the 2nd Jhana, altruistic joy the 3rd and equanimity the 4th Jhana?

Are there any other Suttas that teaches us how to practice altruistic joy and equanimity?


#7

Here are the suttas for the heart’s release. There are several different kinds of heart’s release. DN33 discusses six escapes, five of which are releases of the heart (love, compassion, rejoicing, equanimity, and signless). The sixth escape is from the conceit “I am”.


#8

Altruistic joy (also translated as rejoicing, empathetic joy, etc.), is usually seen as an antidote to jealousy or envy—feeling happy for others’ skillful actions. I haven’t seen specific suttas that give detailed instructions, but there are lots of suttas that teach how to develop that attitude (like basically any on gratitude and renunciation):

Equanimity is that quality of endurance or dispassion in the face of pain, pleasure, loss, gain, etc. So there’s a bunch of contemplations to develop that:

  • Things That Cannot Be Had (AN 5.48)
  • The Longer Advice to Rahula (MN 62)

#9

As far as I know, this is the only Sutta where each Brahma vihara is mapped to a specific Brahma abode, which in turn is linked to each jhana. Other Suttas follow different formulas. SN 46.54, for example, maps BVs 2-4 with the first three formless spheres.