All the unbearable suffering of the lower realms is created by our afflictive emotions. The Buddha did not invent or create a certain belief, but rather, having realized how things really are, the Buddha compassionately explained what causes suffering and what causes happiness. He taught, "If you wish to be happy, this is what you need to do. If you wish to avoid suffering, this is what you must give up." "The very nature of hatred is hell. The very nature of love is the pure land." Hell is not a place someone sends you to in order to punish you. It is just the nature of hatred to produce hell, or the nature of hatred is hell. This is just how things are.
Sometimes people doubt the reality of hell. Even Buddhists sometimes think "it is just a state of mind. If its just mind then its not real, so it can't be that bad." However, while it is true that hell does not inherently exist, neither does this human life! If you experience this life as a reality, hell will be experiencedin the same way. For as long as there is negative karma, for as long as there is self-grasping, suffering is a real experience. Only when one attains enlightenment and realizes emptiness, one realizes that the realms, including the pure lands do not inherently exist.In addition, we can see the suffering of all realms in our world. There are humans who experience the suffering of hell and hungry spirits. What is the cause of all suffering? The cause of all suffering is self-grasping and the afflictive emotions arising from it.
Thus you should observe your own mind and if you find that you possess afflictive emotions such as anger, the result will certainly ripen in the future. Milarepa said, "The root of the lower realms is hatred, therefore practice patience even at the cost of your life." When you understand the suffering resulting from hatred, you will naturally wish to abandon it. If you do not understand this you may even mistakenly justify anger. From hatred arises hell, from greed appear the hungry spirits and from ignorance the animals. For instance, some people are unaware and destroy their life by drinking alcohol and taking drugs. This creates a propensity of ignorance leading to birth as an animal.There is outer and inner karma.
Outer karma refers to our external activities. One may think, “I am not killing, or stealing, I'm not doing anything wrong.” But what is more important is the inner karma. Even if one is not engaging in negative deeds externally, if one fails to give rise to compassion and only thinks about oneself, negative thoughts will accumulate in the mind like snowflakes falling continuously day and night. If we keep following the afflictive emotions, we will not find freedom for countless eons. That is only due to the actions we have committed based on this body. Karma, cause and effect, is infallible.
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