How To Be Human and Higher

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Sunrise behind clouds, free public domain CC0 image.

Many people want to go to Heaven or at least be born in human worlds but most people do not know what is needed to go there, let alone how to achieve enlightenment. Previously, in a previous article, I explained what happens after death according to the Theravāda teachings. If you have not read it, you really should. It explains the five causes for the five effects to arise (rebirth). In short, your kamma, and wish determine your next birth, but it is often like a raffle. Where do you want to go and what do you need to do to get there?

Raffle Tickets and Kamma

The next birth is determined like a raffle system. Everything you do is like a raffle ticket thrown into a basket with a description of what you did with each ticket having the same energy to come back to you again. If you do something weak, it is only one ticket. If you do something strong, it is 100 tickets, or one million tickets. Furthermore, there will be tickets that grab your attention easier by look and feel when you grab them later.

The good tickets will have the energy to give back good results and the bad tickets have the energy to give bad results. Throughout your life, you are constantly attacked and affected in good and bad ways with these tickets of past good and bad kamma. However, when you die…one last ticket is picked. It is like the grand prize or demise because it will cause you to get the next life with that kamma as a cause.

So at the end of the life, all of the raffle tickets are jumping up and down like dogs in a kennel hoping to get picked. The tickets are yours and created by you. They are not created or picked by the Grace of God. The tickets are jumping up and down and desire to be picked because of your own mind. You will pick your own ticket but it is the mind combined with kamma that picks it. The consciousness that takes the ticket is a consciousness called near death consciousness or maraṇāsanna javanaMaraṇā means death and javana means running. Therefore it is the near death running moment. The tickets with good kamma will lead to a good destination. The tickets with bad kamma will have a bad destination. That is how you are judged, and it is your ticket to ride. You can influence this, but you really don’t have much control over it.

How to be Human?

In order to be human in your next life, you need to have a good ticket that gets picked. To increase the odds, you have to constantly live a humane life. That means you must follow the five precepts and make merit.

  1. Not to kill any living beings (including inside the womb)
  2. Not to steal
  3. Not to engage in sexual misconduct (see post on: sexual misconduct)
  4. Not to lie
  5. Not to take any intoxicants

If you follow these rules and act humane, you are likely to be born again as a human. If you break these modes of humane conduct quite often, then it is difficult to be reborn as a human. If you participate in animal-like behaviors or even desire such behaviors like casual sex and violence, etc, similar to what animals do, then the animal realm is where you can easily end up.



“Well, Punna, since I certainly cannot persuade you when I say ‘Enough, Punna, let that be. Do not ask me that,’ I shall therefore answer you.

3. “Here, Punna, someone develops the dog duty fully and unstintingly, he develops the dog-habit fully and unstintingly, he develops the dog mind fully and unstintingly, he develops dog behavior fully and unstintingly. Having done that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of dogs. But if his view is such as this: ‘By this virtue or duty or asceticism or religious life I shall become a (great) god or some (lesser) god,’ that is wrong view in his case. Now there are two destinations for one with wrong view, I say: hell or the animal womb. So, Punna, if his dog duty is perfected, it will lead him to the company of dogs; if it is not, it will lead him to hell.”

MN 57

You can also end up in lower ghost or hell realms too. The Buddha has said that the lower realms are much more populated than the preceding higher realms. It is very easy to fall down and that is why the human realm is quite empty relative to the lower realms.

1. Similes

A Fingernail
At Sāvatthī.
Then the Buddha, picking up a little bit of dirt under his fingernail, addressed the mendicants: “What do you think, mendicants? Which is more: the little bit of dirt under my fingernail, or this great earth?”

“Sir, the great earth is far more. The little bit of dirt under your fingernail is tiny. Compared to the great earth, it doesn’t count, there’s no comparison, it’s not worth a fraction.”

“In the same way the sentient beings reborn as humans are few, while those not reborn as humans are many.

So you should train like this: ‘We will stay diligent.’ That’s how you should train.”

SN 20.2

How to go to Heaven?

Many people wish to go to heaven. The above five modes of conduct should be followed plus one should make merit. In order to be born in the heaven realms.. as an angel, one must act like an angel or a guardian angel. That means you must be super morally fit, plus you should help many people in many ways, because that is what guardian angels do, right? People who know you, should instinctively say, “He is such a good person and he never does anything wrong. He is like an angel.” Dedicating your life towards helping people is not a bad idea if you want to become an angel because heaven is the place of angels. Act like one, and you are likely to be born again as one. The problem is few people really want to be like angels in this life and somehow magically wish to become one through attending ceremonies on Christmas eve, or other major holidays and then forgetting about religion and modes of conduct on most other days. In reality, they don’t want to be angels, because there are only goody goodies who live there. It would be boring to most people.

How to go to “Cloud 9” Brahma Realms

For Westerners, there is no separation between the Brahma realms and the Heaven Realms. Nevertheless, Westerners do have a term called “Cloud 9” and we also have the common visualizations of angels hanging out alone on a single cloud with a halo on the head. Could this be real in actual life? It is my personal belief that many of the religions have similar descriptions of the different realms, and also our ancient memes might also give us a clue. For me, I believe the angel sitting alone on a cloud might better represent the Brahma Realm instead of Heaven Realm. The Brahma Realms are exclusive for those who have attainments in samatha (calm) meditation, also called samādhi or jhāna. In these concentrated attainments, one is surrounded by a visual object that manifests as different bright colors or even a bright cloud itself depending on the meditation subject chosen. The halo might represent the light that emanates from their body caused by mind based materiality (cittajarūpa kalāpā) that arises from such mental states.

When you see an angel just hanging out in a cloud alone by himself, could you do this for multitudes of millions of years? Would you be happy alone in your own personal cloud? That is why you need to have such meditative absorption attainments in order to get in such realms. Even if you were let in without such attainments, you would probably not like it and leave. Would you like to be alone in a single cloud? Probably not.

On the contrary, our meditation monastery is a special place where monks, nuns and laypeople strive to practice to get such samādhi attainments in addition to seeing mind, matter, their causes and the Un-caused. We have been on a strict monastery lockdown for over 2 years. Few of us have ever left and usually only for medical reasons. Most of us like the monastery better this way. Yet, even still, our population has dropped in half as monks and nuns slowly left.

You Are What You Eat

You might start to understand that there is an underlying theme for this article. Just as “You are what you eat”, kamma is the nutriment for further existences. Therefore you will “become” as your mind thinks, speaks and acts. In order to be human, you need to think humanely, speak humanely and act humanely. In order to be an angel, you need to think, speak and act like an angel or guardian angel. In order to enter a Brahma realm, you need to already have the meditative attainments such as jhāna and samādhi which gives you the happiness to be content with hanging out in a single cloud. And finally, if you enjoy the lower behaviors, you will go to the various lower realms where you can continue such behavior. Be careful of who you associate with, especially with the media channels. The media not only influences your perception of the world and your desires, but it also affects the deepest subconscious levels of humans and language accents.

So the theme is,

Just as “you are what you eat”, kamma is the nutriment for further existences. Therefore you will “become” as your mind thinks, speaks and acts.

How To Get Enlightened?

Most people want Enlightenment but few know what that really means. The ultimate enlightenment is to remove the fuel which causes the “you-components-that-arise-and-pass” to cease and not reappear again. This ultimate goal is called Parinibbāna. The “you-components” are called the five khandas.

  1. Material Form
  2. Feeling
  3. Perception
  4. Volitional Formations (saṅkhāra)
  5. Consciousness

These five parts arise and pass away very quickly and make up the “you” that you think exists. Enlightenment is to see this as a reality of the self and then to see that there is no such possible thing as a self. Knowledge is developed to see the reality of that. To see that there is the fuel of kamma that causes the various types of consciousness that produces kamma. This in turn is the cause for the five parts or khandas to arise again and again with no end in sight. There is nothing outside of these five khandas. Nothing. The goal is to have the fuel of kamma removed and fully depleted. When that fuel is removed, the fire is extinguished forever. The fire does not go anywhere. It is gone. In the same way, when the fuel is gone, the five khandas do not arise again. Birth is destroyed without remainder. There is nothing more to be done because there is nothing left when the five khandas do not arise. When the five khandas do not arise, there is no way for kamma to be created. All is finished. This is Parinibbāna and it is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.

Most people want to become enlightened so they can be forever happy. However, when one attains even the very first level of enlightenment, they are destined for the complete extinguishment. It cannot be reversed.

Do you want this complete extinguishment to happen? Most people do not want this.


So most people wish to go to Heaven, but few wish to live like angels or guardian angels. Most would like to be Human but most will find the humane modes of conduct difficult. Not many people wish to live in the cloud-9 realms or the Brahma Realms, let alone imagining living in such a way. Lastly, most people want enlightenment , but few know what that really means. Most people do not want full extinguishment of the five khandas without remainder.

As a reader of this blog, you are likely to want Buddhism, meditation and Enlightenment. Do you really want it?

1 thought on “How To Be Human and Higher”

  1. Pingback: Why Is Halloween Bad According To Theravada Buddhism? - American Buddhist Monk: Bhante Subhūti

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