God • Titan • Human • Animal • Hungry ghost • Hell
These are the names of the six realms, or lokas in Sanskrit. The realms represent the six styles in which human beings lose touch with their real nature and experience suffering, aka, karma.
The six realms are written about in Indian epic literature and teachings texts. They were organized into a system of spiritual practice by Tibetan Buddhist masters.
The realms are our karmic projections. We all “do” all of the realms at some point or another, often in quick succession! Despite the fact that the realms are about compulsive habits of body, energy and mind, each of them contains a seed of pure wisdom that, under the influence of spiritual practice, will sprout and blossom.
When we do sadhana, we begin to step out of the realms. Our clarity, spontaneity and freedom of expression increase.
God realm is the favorite hangout of those who try to antidote their fear of pain with philosophical or spiritual concepts and sloganism. It is the realm of spiritual bypassing and using spiritual teachings to support ego. People who gravitate toward god realm vision will most often try to escape pain by rising “above” it.
New ageism is a god realm feeling orientation, as is what I like to call “stupid non-dualism.” Stupid non-dualism is a state of numb out that uses concepts such as “everything is of one taste” as weapons against one’s own uncomfortable feelings.
The primary attachments of god realm are to feeling spiritually great, to so-called “bliss” and to being admired for philosophical or spiritual superiority. Someone deep in the god realm will demand that you admire their detachment or egolessness. It is a very contradictory position!
God realm karmic vision results from an excessive fear of painful feelings and especially from the fear of impermanence, aka aging and death.
People who gravitate toward this realm often exhibit a critical attitude toward others and a lack of empathy. Their fear of discomfort and death is so great, even the pain and illnesses of other people have to be pushed away, often with spiritual sloganism, or “teachings.” There can be a blaming attitude and frustration with other people’s inability to just “get over” their pain, or handle it in a more spiritual way.
Exit from the God Realm
Exit from this realm vision often occurs as the result of a painful life experience: an illness, loss of a loved one or other life crisis. Ram Das, a dharma pracitioner and teacher, has eloquently described his exit from the god realm in his movie Fierce Grace. After a lifetime of spiritual bypassing, he discovered his real condition during a massive stroke. This frightening and painful event rebooted his practice and set him on a path to more embodied understanding.
God realm vision is hard to let go of because remaining in the god realm does actually feel good. But it is like heroin: a habit-forming substitute for real god intoxication.
Some good ways to begin to ease yourself out of the god realm are:
- Don’t run away from discomfort and pain. Try to let yourself experience these – your own and other people’s – without judgement. Get re-accustomed to the natural discomfort and pain that is a part of every human life.
- Observe the impermanence of everything. Let yourself be around death and contemplate it. Even contemplating the impermanence of the seasons is helpful
- The Tantrik practice of bhuta shuddhi, or purification of the elements, can help get you back in touch with the whole range of human experience and natural processes of of birth and death.
- Full yogic breath, nadi shodhana and kapalabhati, or skull-clearing breath, can reduce numbness. Kapalabhati is contraindicated if you have digestive inflammation of any kind.
- Buddhist practices such as tonglen and chod bring you directly in contact with your fear of discomfort, aging and dissolution.
God realm fixation masks a deep intuition about the inevitability of pain and death. This intuition is the source of one’s exaggerated fear. If you can integrate with this intuition, you will discover a wellspring of compassion. Compassion is the wisdom seed of god realm.