Observations on rebirth

In Buddhism there are six realms one can be born into. From lowest to highest these are birth in a hell, birth as a beast, birth as a hungry spirit, birth as a fighting spirit (asura), birth as human being and birth in a heaven (http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoor/0006e/sources/realms.htm).

Lester Levenson said that the states of conflict–grief, fear, lust, anger–are higher than being in what he called a state of apathy. I believe that these states of conflict are what early Buddhists meant by the realm of fighting spirits. I prefer “pessimism” to describe the state of apathy. Pessimists are people who recognize things that are wrong with the world but avoid thinking about them and about their purpose in life.

People in the lower realms think that everyone else is in the same realm as they are. Beasts see everyone else as beasts who are pretending they are not beasts. Pessimists cannot understand why fighting spirits fight when it is easier and safer to go along with the majority.

* * *

Human being:

Seeker of the truth

Embodies courage, acceptance, peace of mind

Fighting spirit:

Right and wrong are more important than approval and safety

Does not fear conflict


Knows right from wrong but approval and safety are more important

Fearful of conflict


Lives for the moment-to-moment gratification of desires and thinks everyone else does, too

Reputation and self-image are only important for the moment, not the long term

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