Stories of Heavenly Mansions(From the Vimanavatthu)

Meritorious Sons, Daughters, and Devotees,

We are very fortunate to learn about the knowledges of the Supreme Buddha. Our great teacher, the Supreme Buddha, had an extraordinary knowledge to see past lives of beings. In the Bhayaberava Sutta the Buddha tells us how he gained the knowledge to see his own past lives:When my mind was concentrated, purified, bright, clear, free from defilements, open, soft, steady, and unshakable, I directed my mind to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my various past lives, that is, one birth, two births... five, ten... fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand births, many eons of the cycle of formation and destruction of this earth. In one life I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that life, I was reborn in another place. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I was reborn here. I remembered my different past lives in every detail.

 

This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. My ignorance was destroyed, knowledge arose, darkness was destroyed, light arose, which happens in one who is mindful, passionate, and firm.

 

Next the Supreme Buddha gained the knowledge to see how other beings travel in this cycle of samsara, one life to another, because of their good and bad actions.

 

When my mind was concentrated, purified, bright, clear, free from defilements, open, soft, steady, and unshakable, I directed my mind to gain the knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of beings. With my divine eye which is purified and surpassing the human eye, I saw beings passing away and re-appearing, and I discovered how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: beings who committed bad conduct of body, speech and mind, who insulted noble ones, held wrong views and did bad deeds because of it, with the break-up of their body, after death, have been reborn in a bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But those beings who committed good deeds with body, speech, and mind, who did not insult noble ones, who held right views and did good deeds because of it, with the break-up of the body, after death, have been reborn in the good destinations, in the heavenly world. Therefore with my divine eye, which is purified and surpassing the human eye, I saw beings passing away and reborn, and I discovered how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

 

The Supreme Buddha is the knower of all worlds. He knows the qualities of all the worlds and the way beings are born in these different worlds, as he explains in the Maha Sihanada Sutta:

Sariputta, there are five types of beings. What are the five? Hell beings, animals, ghosts, human beings and gods.

I understand hell, and the path and way leading to hell. And I also understand how people who will be born in hell, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in a state of misery, in an unhappy destination, miserable, in hell.

 

I understand the animal world, and the path and way leading to the animal world. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, be reborn as an animal.

 

I understand the realm of ghosts, and the path and way leading to the realm of ghosts. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in the realm of ghosts.

 

I understand human beings, and the path and way leading to the human world. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear among human beings.

 

I understand the gods, and the path and way leading to the world of the gods. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, in the heavenly world.

And most fortunately, noble disciples have the opportunity to escape from all worlds by attaining Nibbana. The Supreme Buddha is the only teacher to show the way to Nibbana.

 

I understand Nibbana, and the path and way leading to Nibbana. I also understand how one who has entered this path will, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enter upon and abide in the liberation of the mind and liberation by wisdom that is taintless with the destruction of the taints.

 

From this book you are going to learn the actions that lead to the heavenly world and how beings are rejoicing living as devas. You will notice that they all lived in the human world like we do now. Here, the Supreme Buddha explains the happiness of the heavenly world with a simile:

By investigating a person’s mind using my psychic powers I understand how that person behaves. This person having behaved in such a way, on the dissolution of the body, after death, will reappear in a heavenly realm. Later on, I see that he has reappeared in a heavenly realm and is experiencing exclusively pleasant feelings. Suppose there was mansion and it had an upper room plastered inside and out, closed off, protected, with shutters on the windows. It had a couch with blankets and sheets, spread with a deer skin, covered by a canopy and with red pillows at both ends. Then a man, burnt and exhausted by hot weather, tired, dry and thirsty, headed to that place in hopes of resting in the mansion. A wise person then sees the thirsty man who has taken the path towards the mansion and realizes that the path that man is on will lead him to that mansion.

Read these stories very carefully. Think about your own life and how you can apply the lessons these devas have learned from their good behavior in the human world. May these stories help you to develop a desire to do wholesome actions in your precious human life.

 

May you practice generosity. May you keep the precepts well. May you control your bad thoughts. By practicing Dhamma, may you attain rebirth in the heavenly worlds.

 

May all of you realize the Four Noble Truths in this Gautama Buddha’s Dispensation.

With metta,

Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Bhikkhu

Mahamevnawa Monastery

Waduwawa, Yatigaloluwa, Polgahawela

Sri Lanka

Buddhist Year 2556 (2013)