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 [Dhamma Talk]


 

The Paths

In [AN 4.126] The Buddha describes four paths to the Pure Abodes based on the four devine lifestyles: friendliness, sympathy, empathy and detachment in combination with seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self.

These are the Paths described in AN 4.125 and AN 4.126 together with those of AN 4.123 and AN 4.124:

Practice Co-factor Immediate Destiny Subsequent Destiny
1st Jhāna Non-believer Brahmā-world.
Lifespan 1 kappa.[1]
Return to the Round of Rebirths
1st Jhāna 'Hearer' of the Buddha[2] Brahmā-world.
Lifespan 1 kappa.
Arahantship there
2nd Jhāna Non-believer Ābhassara-world (Radiant Ones).
Lifespan 2 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
2nd Jhāna 'Hearer' of the Buddha Ābhassara-world (Radiant Ones).
Lifespan 2 kappas.
Arahantship there
3rd Jhāna Non-believer Subhakiṇha-world (Luminous Ones).
Lifespan 4 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
2nd Jhāna 'Hearer' of the Buddha Subhakiṇha-world (Luminous Ones).
Lifespan 4 kappas.
Arahantship there
4th Jhāna Non-believer Vehapphala-world (Fruit of the Sky).
Lifespan 500 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
4th Jhāna 'Hearer' of the Buddha Vehapphala-world (Fruit of the Sky).
Lifespan 500 kappas.
Arahantship there
1st Jhāna seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
2nd Jhāna seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
2nd Jhāna seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
4th Jhāna seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Friendliness Non-believer Brahmā-world.
Lifespan 1 kappa.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
Abiding with a heart of Friendliness 'Hearer' of the Buddha Brahmā-world.
Lifespan 1 kappa.
Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Sympathy Non-believer Ābhassara-world (Radiant Ones).
Lifespan 2 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
Abiding with a heart of Sympathy 'Hearer' of the Buddha Ābhassara-world (Radiant Ones).
Lifespan 2 kappas.
Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Empathy Non-believer Subhakiṇha-world (Luminous Ones).
Lifespan 4 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
Abiding with a heart of Empathy 'Hearer' of the Buddha Subhakiṇha-world (Luminous Ones).
Lifespan 4 kappas.
Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Detachment Non-believer Vehapphala-world (Fruit of the Sky).
Lifespan 500 kappas.
Return to the Round of Rebirths
Abiding with a heart of Detachment 'Hearer' of the Buddha Vehapphala-world (Fruit of the Sky).
Lifespan 500 kappas.
Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Friendliness seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Sympathy seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Empathy seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there
Abiding with a heart of Detachment seeing that form, sense-experience, sense-perception, own-making, and sense-consciousness are changable, painful, a sickness, a boil, a dart, grief-ridden, an opression, another's, destined for destruction, empty, and not-self. Pure Abodes Arahantship there

 


[1] One complete evolution and devolution of the World-system.

[2] There is no specification as to the nature of the 'hearer' (Bhagavato sāvaka), but presumably this would at least require the individual to have unshakable faith or to have conceived the yearning to bring rebirth to an end or the idea of Arahantship would not occur to him ... and it would not happen unawares.

Except for the cases of the non-believer, all of these are Non-Returner paths. Note that except where the practice of jhāna leads directly to the Pure Abodes, the implication is that the full lifespan of the destination is to be lived Ḷ. There is a definate progression with regard to rebirth of each succeeding devine abiding, with that of upekha, rebirth in the Vehapphala-world being the most pleasant and long lasting, but that if the time it takes to achieve Arahantship is considered, the heierarchy is reversed. This accords with a theme that runs throughout the suttas that it is better to 'take one's medicine' here — that though the life in lower worlds may be more unpleasant, it is also more conducive to achieving the goal. A note of caution not to take this to extremes! The situation again reverses at the point below human birth where each succeeding lower rebirth is more difficult to escape.

See also: AN 3.88 and AN 3.92.


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