Scriptural

Kevatta Sutta – Part 20

Conversations with the Gods

This last section of the Kevatta Sutta demonstrates the relationships between a practicing Buddhist and the various gods in heavens. When our mind is pure and concentrated, properly prepared as per the instructions in Kevatta sutta; we open a channel of communications with higher beings.

It is noteworthy that Buddhist scriptures mentioned spiritual connections with higher realms instead of lower realms. That means, one connects with angels rather than with ghosts and earthly spirits. The logic is actually simple. Buddhist practices increase our spiritual energy and thus open the channel to higher realms. To go into Jhana, we need to let go of all mental baggage. (There is no room for sadness or longing for the departed loves one, and etc)

Thus our mind is inclined towards brightness, happiness, peace etc. (the rapture or bliss that was described in this sutta) When Buddhism spread to China and Sino-influenced countries (example, China, Japan, Vietnam and etc); practitioners tend to associate psychic abilities with spirit communication. (Yin-Yang eyes – A Taoist / sino-spiritualism that describe the ability to perceive ghosts and spirits.) I guess this could be attributed to the strong influence of ancestor worship in Sino-culture. I was taught not to crave or attract attentions from the lower ghostly realms. Thus, sharing with you here.

On the other hand, during my meditation lesson, my instructor did advice us to reach out to the heavenly beings for help when we were on the verge of 1st jhana breakthrough.

Thinking back, I feel it was good advice to incline our mind towards brightness and happiness rather than sadness and yearning.


As a Buddhist, we are respectful and polite people. We do not go around offending people of other religion. Although we do not worship any Gods/Goddess, there is nothing stopping us from making friends with them or gaining their acquaintances.

If we read the biography of great Buddhist masters; many of them had recounted helps from divine beings. These higher realm beings voluntarily help a practitioner who are on the right path. Some spiritual beings requires worship or submission in exchange of their help.

For example, a Thai forest monk recounted a Chinese Mountain Goddess offering her help in exchange for the monk’s unceasing devotion to her. He declined politely by explaining that his only refuge is with Buddha Dharma Sangha. She left him to his own devices.

Let us now explore the last section of this wonderful sutta.

“Once, Kevatta, this train of thought arose in the awareness of a certain monk in this very community of monks: ‘Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?’ Then he attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them,”Once, Kevatta, this train of thought arose in the awareness of a certain monk in this very community of monks: ‘Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?’ Then he attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, ‘Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?’

The monk had a question and he inclined his mind towards heavens during Jhana. He addressed the gods as friends.

See? we do not have any animosity. But of course, we cannot go around telling people that we are friends with God(s). It can be insulting to others and more seriously, any Buddhist who claims to be friend with Gods, Bodhisattvas or Buddha etc is actually guilty of breaking a major precept of speech. (Big lie – 大妄语)That is why no Buddhist masters or monks will make such declarations in public. Boasting is not a virtue in Buddhism. So beware of boastful teachers. This position is also in line with the essence of Kevatta Sutta. We do not seek to gain faithful converts through means associated with the supernatural.

The heaven that is being mentioned here, refers to the lowest heaven. The four great Kings are Buddhist and you will see their images being displayed at the entrance of Mahayana Buddhist Temples. It is said that they are closest to the human realm and getting help from them is more timely.

Many Buddhist might not even be aware of this; but if you must pray to seek divine intervention for mundane stuffs in life (example: land a good paying job, get a promotion, and etc); do it at that part of the temple where images of the 4 great Kings are placed. Once you enter the Hall of Great Hero (name of the Building where Buddha’s images are being enshrined), we say refuge prayer, recollect qualities of Buddha, and etc. Such activities generate tons of merits and it makes the jobs of the 4 heavenly kings and their retinue of gods easier. (maybe I’ll do a separate post on how to pray…..)

Back to the sutta.

This particular monk had a question about the deep mystery of existence. Thus, he asked the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, ‘Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property (solid matter), the liquid property (fluid matter), the fire property (energy matter), and the wind property (gaseous matter) — cease without remainder?’

“When this was said, the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings said to the monk, ‘We also don’t know where the four great elements… cease without remainder. But there are the Four Great Kings who are higher and more sublime than we. They should know where the four great elements… cease without remainder.’

The monk approached the lesser gods under the command of the 4 great kings first. They in turn refer him to their superiors. (The 4 heavenly Kings)

“So the monk approached the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, ‘Friends, where do these four great elements… cease without remainder?’

“When this was said, the Four Great Kings said to the monk, ‘We also don’t know where the four great elements… cease without remainder. But there are the gods of the Thirty-three who are higher and more sublime than we. They should know…’

May all be well and happy.

Categories: Scriptural

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