The Ten Worlds is a way to
describe how life seems to change from moment to moment.
Although some of these "worlds" might seem better than
others, they are all necessaary parts of life. And we always
have the ability to make these worlds more enlightened. The
worlds all have positive side as well as negative sides.
purpose of Buddhism is to make the world of Buddhahood our most
condition in which one feels totally trapped and
filled with frustration, rage, helplessness, and
destructive impulses. In this state, the person is
poor or sick or in jail might show what this state is
like. The positive thing about Hell is the feeling of
"hitting the bottom" — this can help the
person to change and improve things.
example might be a person who has been ill and then
uses suffering to become more healthy. This is called
"turning poison into medicine."
person in this state is always craving things. But the
feeling doesn't go away, even when he or she gets the
thing! So the person just keeps wanting more.
hunger is seen positively, it can create an
unstoppable drive. For example, people fighting
tirelessly for nuclear disarmament are hungry for
is a condition that is ruled by animal instinct. A
person has no sense of reason, living only for the
present. One in this state fears the strong and prays
on the weak. Because of this he or she may be seen as
the positive side, animality protects one from danger
and alerts us to basic needs such as food and shelter.
is a condition dominated by selfish ego,
competitiveness, arrogance and the need to be right
about all things. Anger can also be the source of
great ideas and fuel for achievement.
organizations which work for social change have been
driven by people with a burning sense of anger and
indignation at the way people are being treated. This
is the positive side of Anger.
this calm state of life one can pass fair judgment,
and can control desires with reason. A person
can act in harmony with the environment.
like most of these ten worlds it is unstable and hard
to maintain. So while this might be a good state to be
in, it is unable to endure the conflicts which we face
in our daily lives.
is the condition of pleasure, that is often
experienced when a person's desires are fulfilled.
Unlike the true happiness of Buddhahood, however, this
state is only temporary. Like Tranquility, it is
easily disrupted by even a slight challenge. And even
if things do not change, Rapture simply disappears
with the passage of time.
majority of people spend most of their time moving between
these six conditions of life, from Hell to Rapture, totally
ruled by their reactions to outside events. They may be
easily swayed by things that happen in their lives.
next four worlds are called the four higher worlds or the
Four Noble Paths. A person must make an effort to reveal
these worlds within his or her life.
condition in which one seeks some skill, lasting
truth, or self reformation from the teachings of
others. When you shonestly study in school, you are in
the world of Learning.
person in a state of learning nevertheless, may not be
in a position to make decisions or take action.
is a state where a person discovers a partial truth
through his or her own efforts. The worlds of Learning
and Realization are closely related.
problem with Learning and Realization is that
people in these states may become arrogant and
self-centered. They may look down on those people who
seem "less smart" than themselves. They may
start to think that they have nothing to learn.
people in these states find it hard to admit mistakes.
is a condition where a person does not just think only
of himself (or herself). This person is devoted to
examples might be nurses or emergency rescue workers
even this state can have a negative side: the
Bodhisattva may continue to act for others, but, over
time, may come to resent doing it.
highest of the Ten Worlds, a condition of pure,
indestructible happiness which is not dependent on
what is happening in one's life. The Buddha is happy,
no matter what: problems in life are seen as
challenges to be overcome. It is a condition of
freedom, full of wisdom, courage, compassion, and life
have the ability to reveal any of our Ten Worlds, including
Buddhahood, from the first moment we chant. As we continue
to practice Buddhism, Buddhahood becomes our most frequent
world. And we begin to show the positive sides of all the
other worlds too.
this way, based on our daily chanting, our lives become
charged with positive, value-creating activity. We are able
to change our environment — our family, our friends, home,
school and/or workplace — and become happy.
can help others to become happy too, by teaching them to