Is Avici hell eternal?

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KiwiNFLFan
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Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

In most of the sources I've read about Buddhist cosmology, they state that there is no eternal hell (or heaven) in Buddhism. Only Nirvana is permanent.

However, I came across this article in the Chinese Buddhist Encylopedia, where it is stated that Avici may be eternal. Are there any sutras or other sources that back that up?

One of the things I like about Buddhism is that, unlike Christianity, there is no eternal hell.
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

In the Lotus Sutra it is but it isn't. In other words we can condemn ourselves to Avici hell but a bodhisattva/buddha can helps us end that cycle none the less.

One of the motivating factors of liberating others, they might want to be liberated but are stuck in a hell of incessant suffering they cannot elude on their own.
Simon E.
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Simon E. »

There is a paradox here isn’t there? How can Avici Hell be eternal unless we who might end up there are eternal? Which cuts across the doctrines both of anatta and anicca.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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Queequeg
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Queequeg »

As long as there are beings coursing in samsara, avici will endure. As long as there are beings coursing in samsara, there will be nirvana. Since beings are infinite...

Once again, its the reliance on individual identities that throw off understanding...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

One of the hardest things to fathom is genetic expression of the term of time. The DNA that gave rise to my father is not much different than the DNA that gave rise to me. In this way we could be seen as genetic emanations of the source DNA.

Eternal vs not eternal vs the middle way between both. AKA we are temporal gatherings of a larger living continuum. Our existence matters to the existence reliant on our own. Even if we are temporal our impact of our existence matters beyond this temporal condition.
Fortyeightvows
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Fortyeightvows »

What we understand as “time” is just different ways beings experience karma
dude
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by dude »

No condition is eternal. It has to change, and does, eventually. The ten worlds are eternal, so hell is eternal. Enlightenment is eternal so the other nine worlds are eternal as well.
Simon E.
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Simon E. »

dude wrote: Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:55 am No condition is eternal. It has to change, and does, eventually. The ten worlds are eternal, so hell is eternal. Enlightenment is eternal so the other nine worlds are eternal as well.
Even the ten worlds are not eternal.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

Simon E. wrote: Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:51 am
dude wrote: Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:55 am No condition is eternal. It has to change, and does, eventually. The ten worlds are eternal, so hell is eternal. Enlightenment is eternal so the other nine worlds are eternal as well.
Even the ten worlds are not eternal.
I think the understanding according the to the Lotus Sutra is more reasonable when this eternal aspect of consciousness is an analogy for boundlessness in regards to sentient consciousness.

The point is that whenever there is sentience there will be an expression of consciousness that has the ten realms. Past life on this planet this might simply imply that all life to come will have this feature or it could mean that all life in any cosmos throughout the cycling of yugas will posses it.

As I see it the real purpose here is to eliminate all doubt that where there is sentient life there is buddha nature regardless of what existence, what cosmos, no matter what form of sentient life.

It doesn't mean that this formation called existence is going to reappear cyclically but that doesn't mean nothing does. The constant potential of buddha nature appears substantial enough as a basis.
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Seishin
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Seishin »

I have issue with the word "eternal" here. The western meaning of eternal tends to mean "without end". However, in the Lotus Sutra, even those reborn in the Avici Hell for innumerable kalpas do eventually leave;
"They will go to the Avīci Hell,
And after spending a kalpa there,
Will be born in the same way
Again and again for innumerable kalpas.
After coming out of this hell,
They will be reborn as animals."

"innumerable" here simply means that our unenlightened minds simply cannot fathom the time spent in hell.
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Harimoo
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Harimoo »

Sometimes, eternal is mistaken for indefinite.
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

eternal = without beginning or end relative to a cycle

for example the rise and setting of sun for all life on earth is seemingly eternal because there is only one generation out of all that will be subject to this phenomenon ending. So all live will have known it as a fabric of their existence (rising and setting of sun)

I think the point to the evil paths or cessation eternal means that whenever there is sentient life there will potentially evolve a being capable of realizing a Buddha nature.

While life might come and go with the coming and going of cosmos/world systems/universe/galaxy/planet the same dynamic will exist.

IMHO The Buddha was no different than Einstein who saw in his mind how the universe works other than Buddha's domain being the realm of consciousness
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Caoimhghín »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:35 am In most of the sources I've read about Buddhist cosmology, they state that there is no eternal hell (or heaven) in Buddhism. Only Nirvana is permanent.

However, I came across this article in the Chinese Buddhist Encylopedia, where it is stated that Avici may be eternal. Are there any sutras or other sources that back that up?

One of the things I like about Buddhism is that, unlike Christianity, there is no eternal hell.
In that article, as far as I could read it, it doesn't say beings born in Avīci have infinite lifespans and can suffer there infinitely. It just says Avīci is eternally hell. The 8 dhyāna heavens are similarly eternally always the 8 dhyāna heavens. That doesn't mean deities born there enjoy lifespans coterminous with that eternity.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Motova
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Motova »

I think:

Avici Hell is life without a qualified Lama.

The end.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Dhammanando »

In Buddhist cosmology it's said that portions of each world system get regularly destroyed, either by fire, water or wind. Destruction by fire burns up all realms from the hells to the Ābhassara Brahma heaven. Destruction by water washes away all realms from the hells up to Subhakiṇha. Destruction by wind, which is the most destructive destruction, blows away all realms from the hells up to Vehapphala.

In short, Avīci, being the lowest hell, gets destroyed every time.
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LastLegend
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by LastLegend »

I’ve never been there! I hope not! :lol:
It’s eye blinking.
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

Dhammanando wrote: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:24 am In Buddhist cosmology it's said that portions of each world system get regularly destroyed, either by fire, water or wind. Destruction by fire burns up all realms from the hells to the Ābhassara Brahma heaven. Destruction by water washes away all realms from the hells up to Subhakiṇha. Destruction by wind, which is the most destructive destruction, blows away all realms from the hells up to Vehapphala.

In short, Avīci, being the lowest hell, gets destroyed every time.
I feel as if these are analogous to metaphors such as (these are personal examples) perhaps fire represents wisdom that burns through ignorance, purity of water washing away defilement and perhaps air represents boundlessness. I have seen references to equation of element to meaning in regards to the mind but I can't find direct sources.

Thank you for the commentary it is very interesting.
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well wisher
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by well wisher »

From the Buddhist tradition (Chinese Mahayana) I have been taught: there is no such thing as a eternal permanent hell. But neither is there a eternal permanent Deva heaven realm either.
It just may feel like an EXTREMELY LONG time for some circumstances, like many many eons or kalpas, for the conditioned karma to be extinguished. Again, remember the concept of impermanence, which applies to all 6 realms of rebirth in the reincarnation wheel, including us in the humans/animal realm in the Saha/Earth world right now.

Also if you use basic logic to think about it: it is utterly unfair to condemn a sentient being to enteral suffering in hell, without chances to move up and out. Especially considering possible requisite environmental conditions not under the said being's control, which might have forced to take some "evil" or harmful & suffering actions against others. For example, being borned into poverty, or subject to constant tyranny. Also many different people have different opinions and standards about what's evil or not.
I would believe a fairer model is: purgatory / hell exists to serve as learning experience, to not repeat the same mistakes that might repeatedly cause harm to other sentient beings. The once the lesson is learned and embedded to heart, then I would believe it would only be fair for that being to be moved out of such hell.

But still, I really admire Ksitgarbha Bodhisattavs' 'vow of "not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied." May this wonderful vow become fulfilled without any obstruction! And the sooner the better, in my opinion. There are better realms other than hell to learn such lessons, in my opinion.

P.S. The Mahayana Buddhism tradition that has been taught to my father and myself about the reincarnation wheel of existence and brief descriptions about it, actually has a lot of similar description with the ones listed on this Dhamma/Theravadan webpage: accesstoinsight.org. This of course includes descriptions about said hells.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dha ... /loka.html
The Thirty-one Planes of Existence
Last edited by well wisher on Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by Caoimhghín »

Dhammanando wrote: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:24 am In Buddhist cosmology it's said that portions of each world system get regularly destroyed, either by fire, water or wind. Destruction by fire burns up all realms from the hells to the Ābhassara Brahma heaven. Destruction by water washes away all realms from the hells up to Subhakiṇha. Destruction by wind, which is the most destructive destruction, blows away all realms from the hells up to Vehapphala.

In short, Avīci, being the lowest hell, gets destroyed every time.
That's a good clarification, bhante.

If I recall you from a while ago on DhammaWheel (some years ago), I think either you or the user Alfatun in responces to you used a dichotomy of Platonic Forms vs Theseus' Ship to explore it. I will have to find the post I am thinking of.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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tkp67
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Re: Is Avici hell eternal?

Post by tkp67 »

IMHO If there is omnipotent attachment to eternal it all falls apart in buddhist context. Eternal hell like impermanence is a gross characteristic of our existence as It describes potential that surrounds experiential reality. Measured from the current moment it simply can be seen as revealing an indeterminate beginning or end of consciousness.
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