Rebirth - The Consequence of Wholesome or Unwholesome Karma
The GODS live in a temporal paradise achieved by good deeds. The Gods are enjoying continual pleasures and sensual delights, but this eternity is an illusion. When their wholesome karma is exhausted, they will be subject to old age and death and experience excruciating desperation as they realise they will fall into one of the lower realms. Gods are confused by self-absorption and self-satisfied pride, varying in degrees and subtlety, from the highest absorptions of meditative bliss to mere sensual pleasure.
HUMANS are always in the grip of passion. They are subject to the four great streams of suffering: birth, old age, sickness and death. They bare just as confused as beings in other realms and experience all the various sufferings of samsara. Yet, they have the capacity for reasoning. By reasoning and logic, they can understand their predicament and pursue the path of awakening, which the Buddha has pointed out. This truth makes the human realm different to the other two fortunate domains. In the Buddhist view, it is lucky to be born into the human realm.
The DEMI-GODS, driven by insatiable ambition and jealousy, never allows themselves to be content. No matter how much they already have, they always want more. They deeply resent the Gods’ happiness, and they live a life of war and despair. The pleasure of others frustrates them. This realm of confusion expresses itself by jealousy, insecurity and fixation on perceived self-worth.
ANIMALS live in fear, oppression, and confusion. Their energy points towards satisfaction of physical needs and self-preservation, and they cannot change their situation. Animals embody the principle of passive ignorance as they dwell in set, predictable ways. They rely on their senses and rarely stray from eating, procreating, and survival needs. The psychology of the animal realm is the naive adherence to what senses and desires desire. The perspective is limited, and exploration of possibilities is not possible.
HELL BEINGS suffer tremendously in the hot and cold hells that emphasise pain, torment, torture and constant suffering inflicted by other furious, vengeful hellish creatures. This tremendous suffering results from anger and hatred and lasts until the initial unwholesome condition has been exhausted. The psychology of hell is that of intense and self-perpetuating hatred and paranoia. No external factors impose this pain; it is the creation of the hateful mind.
HUNGRY GHOSTS are human-like creatures with bloated bellies and thin arms and necks that populate a desolate region. They can go for hundreds of years without finding nourishment, and they mistreat each other in various terrible ways. Hungry ghosts suffer from insatiable greed that can never be satisfied or relieved. Nothing soothes their appetite for more. Their tiny mouths and long and narrow legs frustrate them, and their hunger and thirst become even more extraordinary. Their existence is that of misery and a fixation on the experience of poverty.
The Twelve Links can also work backwards: overcome ignorance, and action will cease. With no effort, consciousness fades. Without consciousness, there is no name and form. From the end of name-and-form comes the stop of the six senses. Without the six senses, there will be no contact. Without contact, there will be no feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the end of craving, without craving, no more grasping. Without grasping, no becoming. Without becoming no more birth. The absence of birth eliminates aging and death, an end of sorrow and suffering.