The Ten Worlds
Have you ever felt angry? Or sad? Hopeless? Happy? Elated – over the moon where your whole world reflects that joy back at you? Have you ever felt jealous? Bored? Calm? Lost in thought? Or so absorbed in what you were doing that you felt like it was teaching you things – things you couldn’t even put into words? Did your heart ever break with someone else’s pain, even a stranger, someone across from you on the subway? Did you feel in that moment their suffering as if it was your own?
These are some of the inner states described in the Buddhist concept of the Ten Worlds. When we’re feeling good, why can something quickly knock us out of that good feeling? And how can something lift us out of feeling awful?
The Buddhist concept of the Ten Worlds has profound implications for our daily lives.
The lowest of the ten worlds is Hell, a state in which we feel uncontrollable anger and suffering and can't imagine anything beyond our own suffering.
The world of Hunger is characterized by constant craving and a feeling of never being fully satisfied. More food! More money! More power! More stuff! It’s the state in which our desires rule us.
Animality is the world in which one acts instinctively without reason without considering the effects our actions have on us or on anyone else.
In the world of Anger we feel superior to other people, raging and blaming others for what happens to us.
In the world of Humanity we feel calm and composed, and can go about our lives based on reason.
The world of Rapture is the feeling of a dream come true. A goal achieved, a desire fulfilled. He loves me! She loves me! I got the job! I won the lottery!
In the world of Learning we absorb and profit from the accumulated knowledge that other people have handed down.
Realization is the world in which we come to some understanding about the nature of reality through our direct experiences.
The world of Bodhisattva is exemplified by compassion. In this world we naturally focus on helping other people. Feeding the hungry, easing someone else’s suffering, comforting a friend are all examples of a Bodhisattva life condition.
Finally there is the world of enlightenment or Buddhahood, the perfect fusion of subjective wisdom and objective reality. In this state our happiness is not dependent on outside events or circumstances. Buddhahood is a state of unshakable joy, freedom, compassion and understanding that comes from within.
In each of the aforementioned ten worlds, the other nine are right there, immediately accessible. Think about that. Even Buddhahood is accessible from hell.
It may seem improbable to you that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo could have any effect whatsoever on how you feel or how your life unfolds. But it does. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the name of your Buddha nature and the law of cause and effect that underlies all phenomena. When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to the Gohonzon the dormant or sleeping Buddha nature within us hears its name being called and is awakened. By activating our Buddha nature every morning and evening, there is nothing that cannot change for the better.