BUDDHIST believe that DEATH is not the end. Following death is rebirth. This is a never ending cycle until we realise the truth and leave all this behind.
That realisation is called Nirvana. (It’s realisation, not knowledge)
There are 6 broad categories of existence. Starting from the lowest hell realm, followed by the hungry ghost realm, the animal realm, the human realm, Asura realm and the god realm. There is no fixed course and we are reborn in any one of these realms after we die (based on our karma). Karma is action, speech and thought.
To be born a human is considered a very precious occurrence in Buddhism. We will be mistaken if we think we will definitely be human in our next life.
The following is what I think.
I had been musing, how does one’s karma affect us. If you read the doctrinal teachings of Pure land school or Vajrayana School, it is said that when a person is at their death bed, their dying moment plays an imporatant part in their next rebirth.
That is why family members are adviced not to display strong lamentation in front of the dying. The reason is that the lamentation may bring forth a sense of attachment and anguish in the dying. That lingering moment of negative thought is enough to make one miss the opportunity of better rebirth.
I believe there is truth in such advice. This further emphasise the fact that our mind is very powerful.
It is said that an angry mind will result in rebirth in hell (A state of constant Violence) I think this makes sense because if we are someone who is constantly angry, then our mind is being conditioned towards a state of anger. That means when one is dead, the mind will seek out a place that is full of anger and violence. This is especially so if that person is also accustom to angry speech and action while alive. The speech and actions bind the anger deeper with the mind.
Likewise, if one is constant craving for things, (example, sex, food, fame etc ) then the mind is accustomed to the sense of craving. Therefore the craving mind go towards place of rebirth where craving is the basis of existence. The Hungry ghost realm.
Therefore it is important to look after our mental health while we are alive.
Instead of cultivating a mind that is constantly angry, lustful, craving, jealous etc, it is important for us to nurture our mind to have love, kindness, compassion, peace, satisfaction.
Imagine being reborn in a state where we are always satisfied, never lacking in anything. A place where there is only love, peace , harmony etc. Isn’t that heaven?
For a Buddhist practicing meditation and chanting, it is very important to be mindful of our inner mental state as well.
The sutra already warn us that rebirth in Pure land cannot be done if we lack good Karma. Karma means action speech and thoughts.
So we can chant many mantra like om mani padme hum etc.
But if our mind is full of lust and various evils, then our mind will still be inclined towards rebirth in a lower realm.