Wisdom Library Logo

Chapter 5 - Seeing The World Beyond

(7), (8) and (9) The right views about the existence of this world, the invisible world and the living beings such as the devas who come into existence by spontaneous materialization. These right views are also implicit in the belief in the law of kamma for the law of kamma makes it possible for a living being from the animal or deva world to pass on to human world or vice versa according to his kamma after death. This can be demonstrated to a certain extent but the observer will have to possess psychic powers, vipassana insight or the ability to think rationally.

Through the practice of samathajhana, a yogi can acquire the power of recalling the past lives; he can have the divine eye (dibbacakkhu) that affords him a glimpse into the physical appearance, etc., of a person who has passed on to a new existence. This psychic power is also accessible to those who practise vipassana.

Those who cannot practise samatha or vipassana will have to depend on their power of reasoning. There are certain persons here and there who can recall their previous lives, people who are credited with jatissaranana in Buddhist literature. They describe their past lives as human beings, animals, spirits or ghosts. To the rational mind, these accounts clearly point to the post mortem transition from this world to the other world and vice versa as well as to the instant materialization of certain beings.

Here we wish to mention the way of thinking on the issue of a future life suggested by wise men. Suppose a man accepts the belief in kamma and life after death while another man rejects the belief. The second man will not do good deeds such as dana, sila and he will not avoid doing evil. He will give free rein to his desires. Therefore, he has no virtue that is worthy of respect and admiration by other people. If contrary to his belief, the law of kamma and a future life are real, he is bound to land in the lower worlds immediately after his death and suffer for many lifetimes throughout his samsaric existence.

On the other hand, the man who believes in kamma and after life will avoid evil, do good and so, even if there is no kamma or a future life, he will be extolled and well known for his good character. He will rejoice at the contemplation of his good deeds. As a good citizen, he will lead a peaceful life. These are the benefits that will certainly accrue to him from his belief in kamma in the present life. And if life after death is indeed a fact, he is assured of happiness hereafter. So it is reasonable to accept the belief in after life since it serves our interests now or in future in any event. This is the infallible way of thinking that the Buddha recommends in Apannaka sutta of Majjhima nikaya.

firstpreviousindexnextlast