Ten Worlds


In Nichiren Buddhism there are ten worlds we can be in.  Some people live in hell for long periods of time, think of a drug addict, or a financial scammer stuck in a circle of credit fraud.  This is Hell, the lowest of the ten worlds.  The highest state is Buddhahood, this is a person living in perfect harmony with one's life.  Some of us achieve this state on a regular bases by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo twice a day to elevate our lives.  Most of us go through these ten worlds a lot throughout the day.  A driver cuts you off the road and angers you to swear at him.  You are in a state of hell.  Your girlfriend gives you a surprise kiss out of nowhere, you are in a state of Buddhahood, then she tells you it's your last kiss, she's leaving you.  Hell.  

The secret is to chant for happiness.  

Here is a breakdown of all the worlds we can go through in any moment of time. 

1. Hell (jigoku)

Hell indicates a condition in which one is dominated by the impulse of rage to destroy oneself and everything else. In this state one is utterly devoid of freedom and undergoes extreme and indescribable suffering.

2. Hunger (gaki)

Hunger is a condition characterized by insatiable desire for food, clothes, wealth, pleasure, fame, power and so forth.  One in this state is tormented by relentless craving and by his inability to assuage it.

3. Animality (chikusho)

Animality is a condition governed by instinct, in which one has no sense of reason or morality.  One in this state stands in fear of the strong but despises and preys upon those weaker than himself. 

4. Anger (shura)

Anger is a condition dominated by a selfish ego.  One in this stage is compelled by the need to be superior to others in all things, despising them and valuing one’s self alone.  Nichiren Daishonin wrote: "He who is in the world of Anger, motivated by the warped desire to be better than everyone else, is forever belittling others and exalting himself.  He is like a hawk sweeping the sky in search of pray.  He may outwardly display benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and good faith, and even possess a rudimentary moral sense, but his heart remains in hell.”

5. Humanity or Tranquility (nin)

In this state, one can judge fairly, control his/hers instinctive desires with reason and act in harmony with the environment.

6. Heaven or Rapture (ten)

This state indicates the sense of pleasure which one experiences when his/hers desire is fulfilled.  However, the joy in the state of Heaven is temporary, and disappears with the passage of time or with even a slight change in circumstances.  The six states from Hell through Heaven are called the six paths (rokudo).  The majority of people spend most of their time transmigrating, or moving back and forth among the six paths.  In these states one is governed totally by his reactions to external influences and is therefore extremely vulnerable to changing circumstances.

Those states in which one transcends the uncertainty of the six paths are called the four noble worlds.

7. Learning  (shomon)

A condition in which one awakens to the impermanence of all things and the instability of the six paths, and seeks some lasting truth and aims at self-reformation through the teachings of others.  Men of Learning (Skt shravaka) originally meant those who listen to the Buddha preach the four noble truths and practice the eightfold path in order to acquire emancipation from earthly desires.

8. Realization (engaku)

This is a condition in which one perceives the impermanence of all phenomena and strives to free one’s self from the sufferings of the six paths, by seeking some lasting truth through one’s own observations and effort.  Men of Realizatoin (Skt. pratyekabuddha) originally meant those who attain a form of emancipation by perceiving the twelve-linked chain of causation or by observing natural phenomena.  Learning and Realization are called the two vehicles (Jap nijo).  The defect of the two vehicles lies in the fact the persons in these states seek only their own salvation.

9. Bodhissatva (bosatsu)

In this state, one not only aspires for enlightenment himself but also devotes one’s self to compassionate actions.  The characteristic of Bodhisattva lies in this dedication to altruism.  The “Causality within the Ten States of Life” (“Jippokai Myoinga Sho”) states, “Those in the state of Bodhisattva dwell among the common mortals of the six paths and humble themselves while respecting others.  They draw evil to themselves and give benefit to others.”

10. Buddhahood (butsu)

This is a condition of perfect and absolute freedom, in which one enjoys boundless wisdom and compassion, and is filled with the courage and power to surmount all hardships.  A Buddha understands all phenomena and realizes the Middle Way.  The ten honorable titles of the Buddha represent the great power, wisdom and virtue of the Buddha.

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