Do Buddhists believe in heaven and hell?

Do Buddhists believe in heaven and hell? We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation.

Lion’s Roar
30 November 2016
Illustration by Nolan Pelletier.

Yes, but not in the same way other religions do. According to Buddhism, mind has the ability to create any conceivable self, environment, and experience. So the Buddhist cosmos contains numberless, perhaps infinite, beings of different bodies, sense faculties, and realms. Their experiences range from extreme pleasure to extreme pain, and everything in-between. We can also see these realms as psychological rather than “real.” All of us have experienced the hell of extreme anger and the heaven of great joy. Buddhists traditionally identify six realms in samsara, the wheel of cyclic existence drive by our belief in a fixed self. One of these—the human realm—you and I are experiencing right now. These realms seem very real to the beings who “inhabit” them. But then, so did the dream you had last night.

Lion's Roar

Lion’s Roar

Lion’s Roar is the website of Lion’s Roar magazine (formerly the Shambhala Sun) and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, with exclusive Buddhist news, teachings, art, and commentary. Sign up for the Lion’s Roar weekly newsletter and follow Lion’s Roar on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.