The concept of paradise is common in many religion. Some teach that if one is faithful to a particular god or goddess, or a pantheon of gods or goddesses, then one obtain a pass to enter paradise after death.
Others teaches a further condition, whereby one needs to pass a judgement system. The good can enter paradise while the bad goes to hell.
People believe that paradise belongs to some higher beings and you may only reside in their paradise if they consent.
If we look at the social system that defines these paradise, it is not difficult to realise that they are similar to ancient society. You have an almighty ruler with his subjects. The rest are common angels or devas.
These beliefs are found worldwide, across various cultures. The difference between paradise and mortal realm is that, a paradise has no deaths and sicknesses. You don’t have to worry about food, water, shelter, entertainment etc.
Many people want to believe that such a paradise exist because it helps allay the fear of death and what comes after that.
Even though we have democracy now, we still wish to go to an afterlife where the old social system still exist?
Has anyone thought of voting in haven? What would the almighty god or goddess think about that?
Are there hamburger and parfait in paradise. Perhaps a mega shopping mall where I can shop to my content with an almighty credit card?
Depending on your whims and fancy, your idea of paradise maybe quite different from others.
What did Buddha teach about these paradise?
The good news is that the existence of such paradise is not being denied in the Buddhist doctrine. The bad news is that, they are not eternal.
Just like it is unnecessary to obtain permission from the ruler or president before you are being born in your country of origin, likewise, one is reborn in paradise through one’s karma.
Depending on karma, one will obtain different powers and glories in paradise. The size of these heavenly residence varies according to karma too. So paradise is not a place where everyone and everything is equal….
Life in these paradise is long but not eternal.
There are more than one paradise. Each with their own uniqueness. As explained by Buddha, going to paradise is not through a membership system.
It depends on the karma. If one has better karma, then one goes to a better paradise.
Better is not defined by material possessions but by mental purity. A purer mind goes to a more refine paradise. For example, beings in a higher paradise does not have physical body and thus their world cannot be physically destroyed.
All the above are not considered good enough from a Buddhist perspective and therefore not a Buddhist paradise. Although it is considered non ideal, a Buddhist may still end up being reborn there. As mentioned, it depends on ones karma.
It is important to note that Buddhist consider these various paradise as different types of world systems.
As a Buddhist, we do not discriminate or despise the depiction of paradise from other religion or culture. As taught by Buddha, aversion in our mind is an immediate road block to higher rebirth.
While we understand that only good beings go to paradise after their death, a Buddhist need to understand that it is not the Buddhist goal.
So what is the Buddhist paradise exactly?
That will be in part 2……
May all be well and happy.