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The Ten Dharma Realms are not Beyond a Single Thought
The Dharma Realm of Gods
Beings of the Six Desire and the Brahma heavens,
Practice the five precepts and the ten good deeds.
Planting seeds with outflows,
They cannot terminate their transmigration.
Beings of the Six Desire and the Brahma Heavens. First of all, there are the Six Desire Heavens, which are the Heavens of the Desire Realm. There are heavens in the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm—in all of the Three Realms.
Our world is located under the first of the six heavens of the Desire Realm—the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings. This heaven, which is directly above us, is governed by the four Heavenly Kings. It is located halfway up Mount Sumeru, which means that half of Mount Sumeru is within the human realm while the other half is above the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings. The parts of this heaven located on the north, south, east, and west sides of Mount Sumeru are governed by the four Heavenly Kings, as are the four continents of our world: Purvavideha to the east, Jambudvipa to the south, Aparagodaniya to the west, and Uttarakuru to the north. If we were to go into detail, we would never finish our discussion of this heaven.
The beings in the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings have a life span of 500 years, but that's not the same as 500 years in our world. One day and night in that heaven is equal to 50 years on earth. Figure it out: How many years on earth is 500 years in the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings? The beings in that heaven live for 500 years. One of their days is 50 human years. How many human years is 365 of their days? If you know math, you can figure it out.
The second heaven in the Desire Realm is the Trayastrimsha Heaven. Trayastrimsha (Trayastri) is a Sanskrit word. You don't know what that means? Then let's call it the "Don't Know Heaven." The Don't Know Heaven is just the Trayastrimsha, a Sanskrit word that means thirty-three." Shakra, known as yin tuo la ye (Indra) in the Shurangama Mantra, resides in the center of these heavens. He is the God" revered in Christianity, and in China he is known as the Jade Emperor. The Book of History (Shu-jing) refers to him as the Supreme Lord and says, "Bathe and observe purity in order to worship the Supreme Lord."
In ancient China no one knew about the Buddha; they knew only about the Supreme Lord. In the Shang Dynasty, Emperor Tang used a black bull as an offering to the Supreme Lord and said, "I, Lü, but a small child, presume to use this black bull in venturing to make known to the Supremely Exalted Ruling Lord that if I have offenses, they are not the people's, and if the people have offenses, the offenses rest with me."
Emperor Tang's name was Lü, and he referred to himself as a small child out of respect for the Supreme Lord. He very sincerely offered a black bull and told the Supreme Lord that if he made errors, the citizens should not be blamed, and that if the common folk of his country committed offenses, the responsibility should rest with the Emperor for not having taught them correctly.
The ancients blamed themselves in that way, unlike people of today who clearly know that they are in the wrong but say, "Don't look at me! It's his fault! How can you blame me?" and complain, "God is unjust.
Why does he confer wealth on others and make me so poor? Why does he bestow honor on some and leave me so wretched?" They blame heaven and curse mankind, looking for faults in others instead of admitting their own wrongs. The ancients acknowledged their own mistakes.
In the Trayastrimsha Heaven, Shakra resides in the middle, with eight heavens surrounding him to the north, south, east, and west, making thirty-three in all.
The third of the Desire Heavens is the Yama [Suyama] Heaven. Yama is a Sanskrit word which means "time period." In this heaven, the gods are so happy that they sing songs about their bliss day and night. They sing, "How happy I am! I'm so happy!" They are joyful throughout the six periods of the day and night. Hence, the name of this heaven is translated as "time period." Every time period is filled with happiness.
The fourth of the Desire Heavens is the Tushita Heaven, which translates as "happiness and contentment." The beings there are always happy and satisfied. Those who know contentment are always happy. That heaven is also called the "Heaven of Contentment," because the beings there never have a worry or care from morning to night. They don't have any afflictions or worries.
The fifth of the Desire Heavens is the Heaven of the Transformation of Bliss (Nirmalarati). The beings in this heaven can derive happiness from transformations. In the previous heaven of "happiness and contentment," the beings are happy and content regardless of whether there are transformations; they are content even in unhappy situations. In this heaven, the beings bring about happiness through transformations.
The sixth of the Desire Heavens is the Heaven of the Transformation of Others' Bliss (Paranirmita-vavartin). The beings of this heaven haven't any bliss of their own, but they can take it from beings in other heavens for their own enjoyment. Many demons live in this heaven along with their retinues. Why do they take the happiness of beings in other heavens? Because they are unreasonable. Common thieves in the world of men are generally gods fallen from the Heaven of the Transformation of Others' Bliss. Having fallen, they still have the habit of stealing money from others.
The Brahma Heavens include the Great Brahma (Mahabrahma) Heaven, the Multitudes of Brahma (Brahmakayika) Heaven, and the Ministers of Brahma (Brahmapurohita) Heaven. Beings of the Six Desire Heavens and the Brahma Heavens practice the five precepts and the ten good deeds.
Because these beings cultivated the five precepts and the ten good deeds, they obtain the blessings and rewards of the heavens. However, the cultivation of the five precepts and the ten good deeds plants good roots that have outflows, so the verse says: Planting seeds with outflows. It has nothing to do with anyone else at all. [Note: This last line is actually from the verse for the Dharma Realm of People.] You yourself are responsible.
It's not easy to explain the Dharma in the Sutras. When I speak, I don't prepare ahead of time. "The Master said it wrong," some of you are thinking, but you don't dare to say it aloud. However, once you say it in your mind, strangely enough, I receive your telegram. So I'll correct the last line: They cannot terminate their transmigration. Am I right this time? Did you say in your mind that I said it wrong? [Disciple: Yes."] Ha! It wasn't just one person who thought that way. The rest of you should also admit it if you were having such thoughts. [Another disciple: "Yes, I was."] You have to be honest. If you aren't honest, you will never attain the Way. [Other disciples also admit that they were thinking that way.]