Six Realms: The Hell Realm
During my mindfulness journey I discovered a fascinating teaching called the six realms. It is a wonderful illustration which emerged from Buddhism. Whether you think of them as literal or figurative they reflect real human experiences we all have. The six realms are the following:
- The Hell Realm
- The Ghost Realm
- The Animal Realm
- The Human Realm
- The Titan Realm
- The God Realm
Each realm represents a metaphorical and emotional reality. Many of these realms can even interweave throughout your day or within the same experience. Just to give a birds eye view on this idea of the realms we'll start with the hell realm and work our way through with each post.
The Hell Realm is as you might of guessed it, Hell. Fire, pain, agony and anger. When you're angry you're in the hell realm. And what the hell realm teaches us is that anger is ultimately about feeling alone. Now there is an immense amount of literature on this subject but I'd like to keep this subject as personal as possible. One of the beautiful things about Buddhist teachings is they deliberately ask you to test their ideas and not to swallow them mindless or dogmatically.
Growing up in a Christian home I was told basically that anger was bad and that angry people are bad. Which made sense to me. Angry people do violent things and violence is bad. Right? Well this is where I've evolve my own ideas. Anger is just an emotion, and emotions aren't really bad or good they're just emotions. And these emotions have greater underlining meanings within ourselves that requires a deeper reflection to begin to understand.
Let me explain. For most of my life I considered myself to be a very even tempered person. Outwardly cool, calm and collected. When someone would cut me off or was rude to me I never said anything cruel or reactionary in response. I just outwardly held my peace about it. Thinking all a long, "look at how nice I am letting other people act a fool" and me not saying anything. Now little did I know that I was actually feeling superior to these people, a feeling akin to the god realm, a self righteous attitude. So I ignored feeling frustrated to jump to being holy.
You might be thinking, I'm having trouble tracking. Well I wasn't escaping my anger by ignoring it or displacing it with false piety I was treating a natural human experience as if the very idea of getting upset reflected something fundamentally wrong about myself. Anger isn't good or bad it just exist. Why we're angry is a far more insightful exploration. When I was being wronged, then immediately ignoring my anger I was missing out on the revelation that anger brings. I was feeling alone. Someone or something upset me and isolated me. We'll get into the other realms later. But for years I thought I wasn't an angry person meaning I don't get angry, so I'm a good person, I was in reality lying to myself. Anger like many other emotions are a kind of litmus tests of your spiritual health.
Your body isn't healthy because it's not currently fighting an infection. Your body is constantly fighting microscopic battles night and day. You're body is considered healthy when those infections aren't overpowering your life. Such is anger. This is not to police your emotions but to learn from them, to dissect them pattern by pattern. Examine them. Understand and validate them. This doesn't mean we indulge them but we learn from them.
Perhaps why I was angry with a careless driver is because they scared me and almost caused myself or someone else harm. Perhaps underneath that anger is a frustrated, hungry, or scared person using anger pretending it's a shield of courage. 🛡
Anger is like the hot water that draws out the flavors of a tea. The hot water isn't what I'm after but the flavor of the tea. The hell realm is often just around the corner, but knowing that anger teleports us there is a power in itself. When we're angry and stay angry we're burning in a type of hell. I'm sure there's hours of conversation about anger triggers but perhaps we can learn to look at anger face to face and see the deeper pattern within. The why we're angry and not just the reaction. We all get angry and this doesn't fundamentally reflect anything greater about ourselves than that we're human. It does however have the powerful potential to bring about greater insights into our being.
While I'm chewing on the topic of the six realms I intend to break down the other five realms in future posts. So I invite you to stay tuned.
thanks for following my journey 📖