In the english translation of the sutta it is said that:
In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among devas. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell… in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts." (Pansu Sutta, SN 56.102)
Is this translation correct? Does this text actually say that most people will be reborn in the 3 lower dimensions?
I’ve made research about this and it seems that some people seem to understand this text differently. According to one person “paccājāyant” is not about reincarnation. I would appreciate it if someone can help me understand this text better.
In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts.
Rebirth depends on Kamma. Since most humans are neither stream enterers nor on the path to Stream Entry, they don’t have Right View and they don’t keep any moral values. As a result, they accumulate bad Kamma… where else will they be reborn, if not in the lower realms?
That sutta and some of the related linked discourses near it are indeed somewhat disconcerting. A couple of related suttas preceding SN 56.102, including SN 56.95, SN 56.96-101, might be helpful. Specifically, they read:
“… the sentient beings who refrain from bribery, fraud, cheating, and duplicity are few, while those who don’t refrain are many. …” SN 56.95
“… the sentient beings who refrain from mutilation, murder, abduction, banditry, plunder, and violence are few, while those who don’t refrain are many. Why is that? It’s because they haven’t seen the four noble truths. What four? The noble truths of suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path.
That’s why you should practice meditation …”
So, if we look at the linked suttas before and after the one you quote, it looks like many are reborn in lower realms because those same many lie, cheat, steal, mutilate, murder, steal, are violent, etc. Thus, if we abstain from those things, it seems like we can expect different results in this life and in rebirth(especially if we develop insight into the 4 noble truths).
The problem, I guess, is that unless you can evaluate all your past lives you cannot predict where you might end up. In my admittedly muddled mind,
I see kamma vipaka as a complex probability density function of all previous and past action which, although less likely, may result in a good rebirth from a bad life and vice versa.