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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do we stay in a Heavenly realm forever? Is Heaven the ultimate goal?

Beings who have done much good and accumulated much positive kamma may be reborn in a Heavenly realm. If one is not yet able to achieve Nibbana, the Buddha encouraged all of us to lead upright and virtuous lives in order for us to be reborn in a Higher realm, and more importantly to protect ourselves from rebirth in a Lower realm.

While existence in a Heavenly realm may be for an extremely long time, it is still not forever. Beings in such realms will also eventually pass away and be reborn once their positive kamma has been exhausted.

As such, Buddhists do not consider rebirth in a Heavenly realm to be the ultimate goal. For most Buddhists, the ultimate objective would be to attain Nibbana.

It is said that Nanda, the Buddha's half-brother, was discontented and told the Buddha he wanted to give up the holy life. The Buddha then brought him to one of the Heavenly realms and showed him all its delights. The Buddha promised him that he would be able to enjoy all these delights if he practiced the Dhamma well. This inspired Nanda and he practiced very hard so that he could be reborn in that heavenly realm.

While practicing, Nanda gradually realized that Nibbana is a far greater happiness than being in Heaven, and he then released the Buddha from his earlier promise.

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