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"To Hindus, Devaloka, akin to heaven, is a plane of blissful existence that can be reached as soon as one is sufficiently atuned to light and good." Isn´t this so for Buddhists? Is it necessary to specify Hindus? Subramanian talk 18:23, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Hi there, Subramanian. In Buddhism, Devaloka is recognised as being one of the six realms of samsara, and it is no closer to 'Buddhist Moksha' (or Nirvana) than any other realm, even Narakaloka. Therefore, from within a Buddhist context, we need to understand the dual nature of 'goodness' - (1) a goodness that leads to high rebirth (as a human, asura, or deva) which is happy, but does not lead to liberation, and (2) a goodness that leads to Nirvana, and has no specific destination in Samsara. Because of the Buddhist identification of Devaloka as being merely another phase of Samsara, it is dangerous to correlate Devaloka with the judao-christian concept of Heaven, in that within Buddhism, high rebirth is not a final goal of anything other than the lowest of religious motives. Of course, this does not stop many translators freely using the term 'heaven' for devaloka - even though the term is misapplied, and requires a great deal of gloss in order to differentiate it's value within the Buddhist context.
For those who may be thinking of Buddhist "Pure Lands", these are not devaloka - they are something else completely, related to the play of Samboghakaya. Though it is true that in certain "Pure land" schools, certainly the everyday practitioner relates to these realms in a manner which is pretty akin to a judao-christian form of heaven, the supporting doctrines for these lands are very distinct from the devaloka, and are more related to distinct, separate universes.
Also, within the context of Buddhism, there are three levels of Devaloka, the Desire, Form, and Formless realms - each one identified with a more rarified level of concentration, but none of which lead to liberation. Indeed Sakyamuni Buddha asserted that the moksha of Hinduism is actually impermanent - and eventually, even within the highest union of godhead, one will fall back into the lower realms. This is because one has never actually left Samsara. His basic reasoning for this is due to the nature of the twelve interdependent links, and that as the devayana (vehicles to devaloka) do not address the fundamental ignorance that lie at the root of samsara, there is no way out through that means.
Lastly though, we must understand that the devayana does actually have a place within Buddhism. the Sila/Samatha practice of Buddhism is a basic requirement in order to provide the stabilised focus for piercing through the knots tying us to Samsara when married to the solely Buddhist concept of Prajna (which is completely distinct from Hindu Prajna). In all texts, training in Samatha (the development of a high level of mental stability, or concentration) is recognised as a path in common to both Hinduism and Buddhism - and up until a specific level (called the "1st Concentration") Hinduism and Buddhism do not differ. After this specific point, Hinduism and Buddhism differ - for Hindus, the path is the Devayana - the continual deepening of the concentration through the various levels up to the highest formless realms, whereas for Buddhists, the path is Nirvanayana - or the development of Vipassana - or insight into the nature of reality in order to be liberated from Samsara. (20040302 16:26, 21 November 2005 (UTC))