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Buddhists/6 realms of existence

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Question
Hi Stuart,

I just wanted to know what the Zen perspective was on the 6 realms of existence of Buddhist cosmology?

Is it more symbolic and metaphorical or actual realms to be reborn into?

Also does it differ from Soto to Rinzai or is it universally the same throughout Zen buddhism.

Thanks in advance!

Answer
Zen means direct pointing to Truth. Truth is already right in front of you: what do you see, what do you hear, what are you doing right now?

If you want to know the future, pay attention to this moment, because what you're doing now is what creates the future. If you want to know the past, pay attention to this moment, because when you add up everything you've done in the past, it creates what you're experiencing now.

Sometimes, if you want someone to eat a strawberry, you need to dip it in chocolate. If they like chocolate, then they'll be inspired to eat the strawberry. So Zen teachers will sometimes make up all kinds of stories (about realms of existence or cosmology or whatever), but only as teaching devices when they feel it's necessary to inspire students to attend to this very moment.

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Stuart Resnick

Expertise

I'm a long-time practitioner in a Korean-style Zen school. I can answer questions regarding Zen, formal sitting meditation, self-inquiry, the practice of "koan" transmission, and offer the particular perspective of this school on the great life questions.

Experience

18 years of formal practice with the Kwan Um School of Zen, currently with the Empty Gate Zen Center of Berkeley, currently a "Senior Dharma Teacher" at this center, I give periodic talks and informally answer questions of students interested in Zen practice and teaching style

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