Articles

Practical Companion – 19

Asura

An Asura is known as a demigod. They possess the power of god without god’s merit. To understand this definition correctly, we have to understand the definition of god in Buddhism. the word god is borrowed from the western vocabulary as a substitute for the word Deva.

Deva refers to celestial beings and the characteristics of a deva (the merits of deva) are loving-kindness, compassion, joyousness, and equality. Therefore, a deva does not feel angry, that is because he/she/them (higher realm deva are without gender) is/are encompassed by celestial joy. Their compassion and love are constant and all-embracing, and that is the meaning of equality. Their minds are pure and light. This kind of mental state can be experienced when we achieve Jhana states. The purity of the above characteristics defines the “level” of these celestial beings. In that manner, there are different levels of celestial existence. A more intense level of goodness results in a “higher” deva.

On the other hand, an Asura lacks these positive “energies” (ie, loving-kindness, compassion joyousness, equality). In that manner, we (the Buddhists) say that an Asura lacks the merits of god. An Asura is therefore capable of supernatural power but they lack the grace of “Goodness”. In that manner, an Asura is capable of anger, jealousy, and other mental negativities.

Now, the important question is, “are people praying to god or Asura?” This depends on who you are reaching out to in your mind. Remember, the definition of “goodness” is associated with Deva Realms. Negative energy is absent. So do you think your prayer for “God” to punish is appropriate? Are you sending your mental wave to the correct entity?

In that manner, some people (not limited by types of religions but by individuals’ mental inclinations) mistakenly pray to Asura instead of the divine during their prayer. In that manner, they know their gods to be angry gods.

The Asura feel jealousy towards the gods’ realm and because of that, they desire war and constantly try to win over the position of God. The irony is that their desire and jealousy contributed towards their “ungodliness” in the first place. In that manner, Asura’s quest for “godliness” is destined for failure from the start. That is why they never win against the Gods.

Therefore, the existence of Asura is plagued by discontentment, anger, a sense of unfairness, etc. Although they are already endowed with supernatural powers to enjoy life, they do not know how to enjoy them. Instead, they are troubled by strife and use their supernatural ability to create a hostile environment for everyone. Consequently, the female Asura and children experience the grief of loss when the male Asura falls in battle against the Gods. This may sound like a fairy tale to some of us but in reality, the experience of an Asura can be relatable too.

Some of us may have experienced the sufferings of Asura in our life. Like the Asura, we may already be in a nice situation in life and possess all the good factors to enjoy ourselves already; but due to the afflictions of the 3 mental poisons, we perceive things differently. Consequently, we wage war against our imaginary enemies. For example, some children behave like Asura fighting against the gods when they communicate with their parents. Some employees behave like Asura against fellow colleagues or their bosses. They compete for the sake of competing or are aggressive for some imaginary slight or injustice.

In their twisted logic, they may even wrongly conclude that their aggression is an act of mercy or justice. This is obviously ignorance that leads to downfall. Because aggression burns up good karma. In that manner, an Asura ignorantly eliminates his path toward future happiness and will ultimately fall to a lower realm.

The terrible thing about the above is that one will err without realising one’s mistake until it is too late. Therefore, the realm of an Asura is not enviable even though it belongs to a higher realm.

May all be well and happy.

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