The Six Desire Realms

The Six Desire Realms May 26, 2022

The image to the left is a depiction of the Six Desire Realms. Some might be misled into thinking that these realms are spiritual ‘places’, for lack of a better term. That idea is, however, wrong. When we speak of these realms what we truly mean is psychological states. These are six ways people think and live. Let’s take a look at each level with an eye toward discovering which realm or realms our psychology tends to occupy.

  1. The Realm of the Divine Being-The top center of the depiction is this realm. The Divine Being (Kami-sama, God) is powerful, eternal and possesses all things. Those who focus their consciousness on divine things attain to these same things on two levels. First, the spiritual level: when we live with our consciousness focused on the Divine, developing a grateful and compassionate heart, living rightly, speaking rightly and acting rightly, we attain to spiritual power, eternal life and the riches of spiritual truth. On the temporal level, we develop the ability to live in our world effectively and successfully (power), always remaining aware and calm in our psychological reaction to difficulties (eternal), and enjoying a good career, happy marriage and healthy children (wealth). In effect, we live like God.
  2. The Realm of Angry Demons-This is depicted in the upper left. This is the realm of the Oni (demons). Oni are known for their jealousy, hatefulness, and anger. They envy the Divine Being, wishing they possessed the same qualities. Those in this realm exhibit the same psychological states. They have a desire to be superior to those around them. They belittle those who they see are inferior to them in some way, look down on others, and exhibit the typical ‘better-than-thou’ attitude. They might exhibit all the externals of spiritual life, but inside they are anything but spiritual. They often pretend to spiritual knowledge they don’t possess to gather sincere seekers to themselves, all to satiate their fragile ego.
  3. The Realm of Humanity-This is depicted in the upper right. The psychology of those in this realm is one filled with doubt, material desires, unbridled passions. However, it is also the state wherein one has the opportunity to escape the illusions of Materialism. It can be difficult to do so precisely because we are blind to the availability of enlightenment and spiritual truth due to our preoccupation with the material conceptions of life.
  4. The Realm of Animals-This is depicted in the lower left. The psychology of those in this realm is marked by ignorance, complacency and rejection of anything that isn’t familiar. These sorts might be wealthy, avoiding any discomfort. They eat and drink lavishly and frequently are gluttons and drunkards. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending is the limit of their consciousness.
  5. The Realm of Hungry Spirits-This realm is depicted in the lower right. The hungry spirit psychology is one wherein we are always looking for something new, something exciting that we believe will satisfy the inner emptiness that can never be filled by Materialism. Whatever it is they believe will bring them comfort and happiness, that is what they pursue with all the passion of a spiritual adept. Those in this realm are often addicted to drugs, alcohol, food or sex. And even when they are presented with spiritual truth, they aren’t satisfied because they’ve conditioned themselves to always move on to the next thing.
  6. The Realm of Suffering-This realm is depicted in the bottom center. This is the lowest of the psychological states. These people are almost always angry or depressed. They’re very easily moved to anger and depression, and almost anything can set them off. Their anger compels them to engage in acts of aggression. This may be physical, mental or passive. They tend to push away anyone who loves them, shows them kindness or compassion or who tries to help them understand their psychological state is unhealthy and isolating them. Since they are incapable of engaging in healthy relationships, they often only have others who are also in this realm for associates.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking someone resides in one of the realms to the exclusion of the others. Human psychology is more complex than that. It is often the case that people occupy two of the more negative states at the same time. The only state that is exclusive is the first-the Realm of the Divine Being. It is only this state that is free of the other lower states of consciousness. These six realms can help you begin to look at yourself with a bit more clarity, and having done so, to address the symptoms and begin to move toward the highest realm, the highest state of consciousness.

Jake Davila (Nur ibn Yaqub) is a Theologian and Philosopher who has contributed to programming for CNN, The Travel Channel, National Geographic and others. He is of the Traditionalist School of the Philosophia Perennis and is firm in his belief that we can gain knowledge of God, and that all revelations, despite their differences, share a common Source. His approach to spiritual life is inspired by such teachers as Mokichi Okada, Dengyo Daishi, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rene Guenon, Ibn Arabi, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Isa Nur ad-Din. You can read more about the author here.

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