View Full Version : Its All A State of Mind

07 Jun 15, 13:26
An article by Ty Phillips at the Patheos website.

Comments welcome.

Its All A State of Mind

Anyone familiar with Mahayana Buddhism, is probably also familiar with the idea of the six realms of existence. In traditional setting of Buddhism (think Asia) these are easily accepted as literal realms of existence that interplay with the process of samsara and reincarnation.

Understanding the western mindset and its lack of acceptance of reincarnation, the famed Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa presented these realms as states of psychological or emotional existence within the human experience.

Continued at the link:



07 Jun 15, 13:57
Today's Western culture can speak of psychological realms. Yesterday's cultures spoke of actual realms, as do modern religious people generally. But, in every case, the understanding of realms and of post-death states and past lives... all of it reflects culture, in this case based mostly on Iron Age India. The Dravidian & Brahmin cultures held rather different understandings of cosmology at that time, and there was a crazy amalgamation of ideas during the second urbanization in Magadha, when Buddhism was first growing.

I don't find that the Buddha taught a cosmology in this environment, so much as ethicized whichever extant ones obtained by describing how conditionality would apply in this or that case; this came to be mistakenly reified & developed, and just as it was a mistake then, so too we must be alive to the possibility of that mistake today.

So, it isn't important to establish a past cosmology or a modern one as the right one; I think it's clear that the proper approach is one that simply makes the same move the Buddha did, which is to say, whatever cosmology obtains, work to establish the applicability of ethical conditionality, whether with threat of hellfire if that's already in their minds, or with a Safe Bet approach & other secular argumentation.

Let's just remember that the goal is seeing conditionality & eliminating taints, not navigating post-death states; if "navigating realms-of-mind" ends up being a poetic narration of satipatthana, I guess that's just fine.

08 Jun 15, 15:11
Hi Aloka

The wheel of life was explained to me forty years ago in the same way Ty Phillips article, I mistakenly though it was the classical buddhist explanation, however it was explained by a student of Trungpa

If it was not, as an explanation, pointing at the changing states of mind, it has worked well for me, I have seen and experience each of the six realms in daily life