That head, having supported the family unit,
blameless, goes to a heavenly place
Is the Heaven here mentioned an earthly or heavenly realm?
Edit: Since posting this question I ran across this advice on reading the suttas from suttacentral:
Maybe I am trying to over-interpret. The reason for my question is that I get hung up on a conflict with the Christian concept of heaven as a spirit abode. I wonder if the Buddha meant such a place when he spoke of heaven, or did he mean “Heaven” as in a sublime existence, a physically pleasant place?
The Buddha very much taught that heaven was a place to be reborn in. Rebirth in the lower heavenly realms (deva loka) is usually dependent on “mundane” good actions and rebirth in the higher heavenly realms (brahma loka) dependent on spiritual good actions.
Well, at least a consensus among those who believe that.
This is one of the primary differences between the traditional view and the modernist view. However there is no evidence in the scriptures to support the idea that the various realms of rebirth are anything but actual places. And the modernists would say that there is no evidence outside the scriptures to prove they exist, which is what they care about.
If it is helpful, here are a couple differences. In the Buddhist cosmology:
Heavens and hells are not permanent. Just like everything else, our stay there has a beginning, middle, and end.
Our ending up in these realms is not determined by some almighty deity. Rather, it is determined by our own kamma and state of consciousness. We can see some of the effects of this in the present based on how the mind reacts to actions we do. The question just becomes if the mind continues and the effects of kamma.
These realms are like ‘stations’ or wavelengths of consciousness into which we settle and ‘resonate.’ It is a kind of natural process, determined by laws of kamma, inclinations of the mind, and craving, rather than a “magical” process which is explainable only by the power or primacy of a deity or “pure faith.”
The Buddha and many of his disciples claimed to have remembered past lives staying in these realms, to have witnessed beings currently in these realms, and to have made contact with some other beings in these realms. If we trust the Buddha and all his many disciples to be honest, virtuous, and wise people, then there might be something to these experiences beyond mere lying or delusion.
Likewise, these realizations are understood as being accessible to all who practice the path to the same extent. It is not mere faith in a pastor or scripture. It is meant to be investigated and experienced if possible via meditation.
I’ve noticed this in my current practice, how past lives can reveal themselves merely as memories, and becoming as a persona we imagine ourselves to be at a given time. Thanks for reminding me of that!
I can see the difference in the two as you describe it.