Are you looking for happiness? Well, you won’t find it in this world because The World of Humans is one of the six hells described in the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”, nicely named The Six Realms of Existence.
We must have done something bad in our previous lives if we pass through this realm of existence… The good news is that in Buddhism it is believed that we can escape any hell.
The Six Realms of Existence
The six realms are worlds of suffering governed by the Law of Karma and where the cycle of birth, life, and death is fully at work.
Since the consciousness of the dead person now possesses a “radiant body” and is equipped with the power of seeing the future, it can now perceive these realms one by one. The six realms of existence are the Deva realm, the Asura realm (jealous gods), the Human realm, the Animal realm, the Preta realm (hungry ghosts), and the World of Hells.
The Buddhists believe that as long as sentient beings are attached to the world of suffering due to ignorance, hatred, and greed, it is impossible to be free from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Because of this, Avalokitesvara appears in the six realms, in the form of the Six Buddhas described in the Chonyid Bardo, to teach the path of Wisdom and Enlightenment.
The Deva Realm (the realm of the gods)
The Deva or Gods’ realm is a world of enjoyment and pleasure. One can see delightful temples and mansions built of different kinds of precious metals upon entering this realm. Avalokitesvara appears in the Gods’ realm as the Buddha brGya-byin who carries a melodious lute in his hands. He teaches that it is improper for the beings to be proud of their joyful existence in this place because their stay here is based upon good karmic deeds and must at some point come to an end. However, if one is to be born as a Deva, one is permitted to enter this realm.
The Asura Realm (the realm of the jealous Gods)
The Asura realm is a world of fighting or strife. One can see either a charming forest or circles of fire revolving in opposite directions upon entering this realm. In the Asura realm, there is great envy among the Gods over the fruits of the tree of knowledge. Avalokitesvara appears here as the Buddha Thag-bzang-ris in a knight’s armor while carrying a sword to settle the envy-inspired fighting. The Buddha teaches the titans the perfection of moral education, in order to overcome divisive envy. In the death ritual, one is not advised to enter this realm.
The Human Realm
The Human realm is where you are now, unless if you believe you’re in a different World of Existence. According to tradition, Avalokitesvara took the form of Buddha Sakyamuni by incarnating as Gautama Buddha (the historical Buddha). His symbol is the alms bowl and a beggar’s staff.
In our world, Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path so that we may overcome the three most powerful forces that govern each of our lives: ignorance, greed, and hatred.
The Animal Realm
The Animal realm is a world that lacks reason. For those who are to be born amongst animals, rock caverns, deep holes in the earth mists will be seen. One is not advised to enter this realm. In the world of Animals who live in ignorance and stupidity, Avalokitesvara appears as Buddha Seng-ge rab-brtan who carries the book of wisdom. He teaches the animals to overcome ignorance by striving after the perfection of knowledge.
The Preta Realm (the realm of hungry ghosts)
The Preta realm is a world of avarice and greed inhabited by beings that experience an extreme degree of hunger and thirst. They are called Pretas or hungry ghosts. One who is destined to be born as a Preta will see desolate treeless plains, shallow caverns, jungle glades, and forest wastes. Avalokitesvara appears in the Preta realm as the Buddha Kha-‘bar-ma who teaches the perfection of generosity. The dead person is instructed to exert the greatest amount of energy to avoid entering this realm.
The World of Hells
The World of Hells is the realm of extreme suffering and the place of retribution for the vices of anger and hatred. One who is to fall into the World of Hells may hear wailings of tormented people, black houses, and lands of gloom. It is also here where one suffers the intolerable pains of heat and cold. Avalokitesvara appears in the World of Hells as the Buddha Dharma-Raja (described earlier) and carries water and fire to alleviate the sufferings of the beings tormented by heat and cold. In order that the denizens of hell may overcome the opposites of passionate hatred, the Dharma-Raja teaches them the perfection of equanimity. The dead person is also instructed to exert the greatest amount of energy to avoid entering this realm.
However, you must know that at the moment of our death we experience a state of extreme happiness. In order to be able to take advantages of that unique moment and be capable to avoid the entering in one of the six hells, we have to train our happiness in advance, otherwise, we won’t be able to cope with that state of mind and we’ll run to reincarnate again and again… For whatever reason you want to train your happiness, either to enjoy it while you live or to be well prepared for a favorable incarnation or liberation from the circles of life and death, you’d better start now.