What Are the Six Realms?

The six realms are different forms of existence in which we can take rebirth, or psychological states we experience in the human realm.

Lion’s Roar
24 October 2017
Illustration by Ray Fenwick.

Higher Realms

God Realm:

A blissful, ethereal state in which one is supremely contented but oblivious to the suffering of others.

Jealous God Realm:

Fueled by ego and aggression, jealous or warring gods (asuras) are always striving to rise in power and position.

Human Realm:

Passionate and perceptive, human beings experience many states of mind and have the most opportunity to free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara).

Lower Realms

Animal Realm:

A life of ignorant complacency and dullness, in which one doesn’t look beyond avoiding pain and seeking comfort.

Hungry Ghost Realm:

Incalculably frustrated by desires they cannot fulfill, hungry ghosts (pretas) are depicted with big bellies and tiny mouths.

Hell Realm:

A claustrophobic place of extreme hot or cold in which you can’t escape the torment of your own intense anger and hate.

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.