Six classes of beings
[[Image:Six realms.jpg|frame|The six classes of beings depicted in a thangka of the Wheel of Life)] Six classes of beings (Skt. ṣaḍgati; Wyl. rigs drug) — the major modes of existence within samsara, each caused and dominated by a particular destructive emotion:
- hell beings (Wyl. dmyal ba) - anger
- hungry ghosts, or pretas (Wyl. yi dvags) - miserliness
- animals (Wyl. dud 'gro) - stupidity
- human beings (Wyl. mi) - desire
- demi-gods, or asuras (Wyl. lha min) - jealousy
- gods (Wyl. lha) - pride
Sogyal Rinpoche writes:
- Looking at the world around us, and into our own minds, we can see that the six realms definitely do exist. They exist in the way we unconsciously allow our destructive emotions to project and crystallize entire realms around us, and to define the style, form, flavour and context of our life in those realms.
Location of the six realms according to the Abhidharma literature
1-The Hot Hells are located one under another, from the Reviving Hell down to the Hell of Unrelenting Pain, which is 20,000 yojanas below this world. Each is surrounded in the four directions by the four Neighbouring Hells, one after the other. The Cold Hells are also below the ground, one on top of another, in another location. It is said that since the world is an immense gathering of particles, they can all fit. It is often said that the Hot Hells are located below Mount Meru, while the Cold Hells are below Lake Manasarovar. According to the Mahayana though, since the Hell Realms are actually understood to be our own perception, it is not necessary to consider them as definitely existent.
4-Demi-gods inhabit cavities inside Mount Meru down to the universal golden basis, some above the water line, some below. The demi-gods living above the water line are sometimes counted as animals and include their chiefs such as Rahu.
6-As for the gods, there are six abodes of the gods of the Desire Realm. The gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-three live at the top of Mount Meru. The gods in the Abode of the Four Great Kings reside on the four terraces at the top of Mount Meru, just below the Heaven of the Thirty-three, as well as on the crests of the seven mountain ranges, in space and so on. In the sky above the Heaven of the Thirty-three, are the four other abodes of the gods of the Desire Realm, one above the other.
Above these, are the Seventeen Heavens of the Form Realm.
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, pages 116-117.