(see entire article and explanation)DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE THIRTY ONE FORMS
OF EXISTENCES IN SAMSARA
(The Round of Endless Rebirths and Deaths)
* I. ARUPA-BHUMI (the plane of formlessness)
* II. RUPA-BHUMI (the plane of Brahma Gods with extra-fine body)
* III. KAMASUGATI-BHUMI (the plane of sensuous and blissful states)
* IV. APAYA or KAMADUGGATI-BHUMI (the nether world of existences)
I. ARUPA-BHUMI. This plane consists of four existences of Brahmas who have no physical body, but have a mind and they can create a physical body if they want to get themselves seen. Rebirth in these existences can only be achieved by intense Samatha meditation and have reached Jhanas or mental accomplishments during their life as humans. They do not have a faculty to perceive Dhamma and therefore they are non-returnees and can never become enlightened nor attain Nibbana.
I.1 Nevasanna-nasannayatana bhumi. The realm of neither perception nor non-perception, the summit of all existences. They can live a life span that is equivalent to that of 84000 Maha kappa or universes. Udaka, the ascetic who was the second teacher abandoned by the Buddha in his search for the Four Noble Truths was reborn in this Brahma realm after dying on the night before the Buddha decided to teach the Dhamma.(3) Reaching the eighth Jhana of Samatha meditation can only attain this highest existence.
I.2. Akincannayatana bhumi. The realm based on nothingness. These Brahmas can live for a life span of 60000 Maha kappa or universes. The teacher of the recluse encountered first by the Buddha in his quest for the truth was the ascetic, Alara. He was the first person searched by the Buddha to reveal his discovery after he decided to teach, but Alara passed away seven days earlier and was found to be reborn in this Brahma realm. (3) The seventh Jhana of the Samatha practice can only reach this attainment.
I.3. Vinnanancayatana bhumi, the realm of infinite consciousness. These Brahmas can survive for the lifetime of 40000 universes (Maha kappa). Those who have practised Samatha meditation as humans and have reached the sixth Jhana can be reborn in this realm.
I.4. Akasanancayatana bhumi, the realm of infinite space. These Brahmas have a life span equivalent to that of 20000 universes. The fifth Jhana of the Samatha meditation can attain this existence.
II. RUPA BHUMI, the heavenly abodes of Brahmas who have a physical body, but does not enjoy sensual pleasures. There are altogether 16 realms of Rupa Brahmas divided into four categories according to the status of Jhana achievements. These Brahmas have faculties to perceive Dhamma and can become enlightened if they come to know the Dhamma.
II.A. Fourth Jhana Planes. The first five abodes in this category are called Suddhavasa or the heavens of purity and only the enlightened ones of Anagami stage are reborn in these planes.
II.A1.5. Akanittha, the supreme heaven where Arahats and Anagams who have a mature Manyi-indriya reside before releasing the final existence and enter Anupadhisata nibbana. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 16000 universes before releasing the final existence.
II.A2.6. Sudassi, the clear-sighted heaven where the Anagams with a mature Samadhi-indriya reside. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 8000 universes before releasing the final existence.
II.A3.7. Sudassa, the beautiful heaven where the Anagams with a mature Sati-indriya reside. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 4000 universes before releasing the final existence.
II.A4.8. Atappa, the serene heaven where the Anagams with a mature Viri-indriya reside. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 2000 universes before releasing the final existence.
II.A5.9. Aviha, the durable heaven where the Anagams with a mature Saddha-indriya reside. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 1000 universes before releasing the final existence.
II.A6.10. Asanna-satta, the heaven of Brahmas with just a body and without any mental aggregate resides. These Brahmas regarded that the mind was the main source for corruption and had strive to annihilate the mind while practising Samatha meditation as a human. The Brahmas of this realm can live up to the life span of 500 universes.
II.A7.11Vehapphala, the heaven of gods and Ariyas of great reward. This realm is shared between Brahmas who have practised Samatha and Vipassana meditation during their life as humans. Those Brahmas who have practised Samatha only can be reborn into lower realms after dying, but those who have practised Vipassana and have attained the Ariya stage can be reborn in this realm again or a higher realm. The famous Ledi Sayadaw was believed to be reborn in this realm by some followers. (7) The Brahmas of this realm can live up to a period of the life span of 500 universes.
II.B. Third Jhana Planes. These abodes harbour Brahmas who have a body with aura as the characteristic. There are three planes in this category.
II.B1.12. Subha-kinha, the heaven of gods full of steady aura. They can live up to the life span of 64 universes.
II.B2.13. Appamana-subha, the heaven of gods of infinite aura. They can live up to the life span of 32 universes.
II.B3.14. Paritta-subha, the heaven of gods with minor aura. They can live up to the life span of 16 universes.
II.C. Second Jhana Planes. The Brahmas of these abodes have a body with different degrees of lustre.
II.C1.15. Abhassara, the heaven of radiant gods. They can live up to the life span of 8 universes.
II.C2.16. Appamanabha, the heaven of gods with infinite lustre. They can live up to the life span of 4 universes.
II.C3.17. Parittabha, the heaven of gods with minor lustre. They can live up to the life span of 2 universes.
II.D. First Jhana Planes. The Brahmas of these abodes are the lowest grade of the Brahma loka. They have a huge body measuring 12 Yojanas (about 96 miles) and have internal organs as ourselves except for the genitalia although they have an appearance of a male. They are well organised and have a head in every thousand Brahmas. The Chief of Maha Brahmas is called Harita and has 100000 followers.
II.D1.18. Maha Brahma, the heaven of the great Brahma Gods. They can live up to the life span of one Asankheyya, an indefinite period equivalent to 64 Antara kappas or human evolution cycles.
II.D2.19. Brahma Purohita, a heaven of the Brahma ministers. They can live up to the life span of a half of one Asankheyya.
II.D3.20. Brahma Parisajja, a heaven of a retinue of Brahmas. They can live up to the life span of a third of one Asankheyya.
III. KAMMASUGATI-BHUMI, the sensuous and blissful existences
This existence consists of the six heavenly abodes of Devas or gods and goddess or angels, the abode of humans and animals, and that of the other three nether existences. All beings of these existences enjoy sensual pleasures and suffer bodily pain and inconveniences. However, the proportion of pain and pleasure is very much different from one abode to the other depending upon the grade. Devas have more pleasure than pain, whilst animals and beings of the nether existences have more pain than pleasure. Humans have a well-balanced sensuality between pain and pleasure, but the hell beings have only pain and without any sensual pleasure.