The 31 Planes of Existence is a concept in Buddhist cosmology that describes different realms in which beings can be reborn. These realms range from the lower realms of hell, ghost, and animal existence to the higher realms of gods, demigods, and humans.
The 31 Planes of Existence can be divided into three main categories:
- The Lower Realms: This category includes the realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. Beings in these realms are characterized by ignorance, craving, and suffering.
- The Human Realm: This realm is considered to be the most advantageous for spiritual development as it provides the necessary conditions for awakening.
- The Higher Realms: This category includes the realms of gods, demigods, and some forms of existence beyond human realms. Beings in these realms are characterized by pleasure, happiness, and longevity, but they are not free from suffering and ignorance.
It’s believed that the realm in which a being is reborn is determined by their actions (karma) in previous lives. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is to achieve liberation from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) and attain a state of enlightenment, beyond even the highest of the 31 Planes of Existence.