What would you classify aliens as in the 31 realms of existence?

@NgXinZhao and @cdpatton This happens to be a question of great interest to me since I am a physicist and have worked on astrophysics and gravitational waves long ago. It is indeed only at a speculative level for us right now but I am certain in a couple of hundred years it will be feasible to reach other nearby stars and send back information in reasonable amount of time.

What was surprising to me was that in DN (if I am not mistaken, Brahmajala sutta) we have descriptions of how towards the end of a universe cycle most beings, if you can call them that, are of streaming radiance type (I am paraphrasing here). That is exactly what is supposed to happen when the universe is in contraction phase - all matter gets progressively converted to pure energy, mostly light and if you could view it from a peripheral vantage point, it would appear as if the light is streaming towards the singularity. I maybe reading too much into it but the similarities are striking.
As far as the aliens go, they are almost certainly likely to exist - statistically, nothing happens just once in the universe. I have spent quite a bit of time mapping our imaginary vulcans, klingons, asgards, wraiths etc. with various orders of beings found in the suttas (guilty of pappancha, I know! ). I am not sure whether all of those passages are later additions/stories based on archetypes or indeed included in EBT for some specific reason.

PS: I apologize if I am not following posting guidelines by not citing and linking suttas I mentioned. I am a bit short on time right now. I can find the passages and edit the post later.


They could be from the five pure abodes suddhavasa. We know that Brahma Sahampati who convinced the Buddha to teach is among its inhabitants. Possibly anagamis who migrated there from the human realm still have some residual interest in the human realm. Otherwise, what is so interesting to be seen here! No good reasons to visit that i can think of.

You’re not far off the mark. The form realm is progressively less material. It’s called “form,” but ancient Buddhists considered images that we see of the same category as physical matter. They used the same word for both things. So, in my opinion, the form realm gods are basically like holograms, made of light. And, yes, it sounds like a repeating big bang theory, except that there’s some sort of dimension of energy or light (the Śuddhâvāsa heavens and above) that isn’t touched by the destruction of the material world below it.

In the Dirgha Agama, it depicts a humorous conversation between the gods when the world is destroyed. The newbies who never witnessed it before see the fire rising up towards them and get scared. “OMG, is that fire going to burn us up?” The veteran gods say, “Don’t worry! It never reaches us.” (paraphrasing to modern English)


@cdpatton It reminds me of the Q continuum folks in star trek TNG (sorry if it brings down the level of the conversation a couple of notches but as I said earlier I have spent way too much time on this mapping!)
Nice story! I suppose it is only found in DA and not DN, otherwise you would have mentioned it, but I will take a look it.

It depends, since alien or extraterrestrial just means not of this earth.

So the term “alien” could technically also apply to all devas, since they are not from this planet.

But aliens from other planets might still be in the “human realm” if they are from a planet with similar circumstances as ours. Because of this, I don’t think that “human realm” only refers to earth, but to any life, in any universe or planet, which is of a similar kind of karmic circumstance as ours (not heaven, but not hell or animal either).

Also, no matter how technologically advanced they are, they could still be in the “human realm”, since the deva realm is not necessarily about technology, but about one’s karma. So one could imagine a highly advanced civilization, like The Culture, who are still technically the “human realm”.

Of course, the main issue for beings like us would be that we would have no way of differentiating between a super advanced “human realm” alien and a deva realm alien, mainly due to Clark’s third law:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

A corollary of this, which I now dub Javier’s corollary, would be:

To a relatively primitive human, any sufficiently advanced human realm culture is indistinguishable from a deva realm culture.


I am much more guilty of it! See this mapping I have on what could devas be. Aliens is just one of 6 possible physics/ science fictional possibilities.

You might be interested in the other topics in the Physics and Buddhism stuffs in the blog too.

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As I put it in my first post here, I hope your faith can survive intact if we find aliens within your lifetime.

Anyway, to address that kinda logic, we can apply it to computers too. There’s no such thing as computers/microbes, gravitational waves/exo planets etc, if it exist, the Buddha would had told us about it. Yet, the Buddha only taught us a handful of leaves, what he knows is as much as the leaves of the forest.

If alien refers to deva, i.e. divine being or deity which is foreign national or living being who is not a citizen or a national of a specific country, then, the Sagatha vagga of SN/SA records early Buddhist ‘adaptation’ of many general Indian religious beliefs about alines (devas). These are Devata, Devaputta, Mara, Brahma, Vana, Yakkha, and Sakka (ruler of the gods), which are featured in the collection of SN/SA.

Also, a group of sequential collections in SN 29-32 about early Buddhist ‘adaptations’ of Vedic mythical beliefs regarding nagas ‘mythical dragons/snakes’, supannas/garudas ‘mythical birds’, gandhabbas ‘fragrant plant devas’, and valahakas ‘cloud devas’ can be aliens.

I certainly will. Thanks for the link. For many years I avoided all “Physics and …” type of books, articles, etc. because I found such writings didn’t do justice to either physics or … Forums and blogs are the perfect places for exploring such ideas. In small doses, such explorations are quite fruitful in challenging deeply entrenched anthropomorphic assumptions in oneself. I personally know well educated folks who thought corals were marine plants becaue they “look like plants”. We tend to be very limited in our imagination because of our senses and perceptions.

Oh don’t worry. I have a bachelor’s in physics and another bachelor in Buddhism. I wrote these stuffs to give justice to both sides. Assuming that current (most updated as far as my knowledge goes) physics and Buddhism are both right and see the parallels of it.

The book is still in the middle of writing since 4 years ago… haha.

Is alien a being or not ?

Computer is not a being

What I stress is that alien is not that far away from you bhante you just refuse to know it

What’s a being ?

Sir, they speak of this thing called a ‘sentient being’. How is a sentient being defined?”

“Rādha, when you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for form, then a being is spoken of. When you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, then a being is spoken of.

I am using the term as living beings/ intelligence from another planet (not earth).

I would like to ignore disrespectful way of engagement. Anyway, haven’t formally taken the sekiya rules on that. Also, I ignored the earlier comment you made because it’s not on the topic. You redefined alien as alien to oneself.

wait, are you by any chance the person who started a subreddit on the same topic and ended it because you were going to ordain very shortly? I was possibly the very first or maybe the second person to respond on that subreddit when it began and got into a discussion about thermodynamics.

The link you gave reminded me of that subreddit.

Ya, r/PhysicsandBuddhism right? I am u/DiamondNgXZ. It’s not active, cause I am on quantum interpretation now.

Also, I made r/quantuminterpretation. That’s the physics part, haven’t finished yet, to compare with Buddhist philosophy.

@trusolo what’s your reddit name?

Not at all. (Major Star Trek fan here.) The Q were far more powerful than the Brahma gods in Buddhism since they could alter reality, time, etc. Brahma can appear and disappear and change into whatever shape he likes, but that’s about the limit of his power over the physical world. There are a few sutras in which the lower level gods will say, “We have no idea where Brahma is, but judging by the light right now, maybe he’s going to appear any time now.” So, even to the lower gods, Brahma was on another level, like the Q in Star Trek.

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Yes I thought as much! I saw your last post when you announced you were not going to be active and would someone else take over. I saw some posts on quantum stuff but since the online transition because of covid there is a lot of extra work in teaching so I kept delaying and I never got around to posting my thoughts there.

same. I keep this usrname on all forums and my one star trek ipad game that I play.

it’s not oneself it’s not self it’s alien

Not even nibbana is self

He directly knows Nibbāna as Nibbāna. Having directly known Nibbāna as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself in Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself apart from Nibbāna, he should not conceive Nibbāna to be ‘mine,’ he should not delight in Nibbāna. Why is that? Because he must fully understand it, I say.

What’s self according to you ?

How about other interpretations of what corals are? do they rely on other methods except through comparing and contrasting? and do you know of any examples of purposeless grouping that you could share?