The Ten Worlds

Buddhism identifies Ten Worlds—ten states or conditions of life that we experience within our lives, moving from one to another at any moment according to our interactions with our environment and those around us.

The Ten Worlds are the worlds of hell, hungry spirits, animals, asuras, human beings, heavenly beings, voice-hearers, cause-awakened ones, bodhisattvas and Buddhas. In some Buddhist teachings, the “nine realms”—the worlds other than Buddhahood, are considered to be fundamentally separate from the Buddha state. This is not the view taken in Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches that all ten worlds, or realms, are present in every human being.

The worlds of voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones are sometimes known as the “two vehicles”; in many Buddhist teachings people in these life states are seen as being cut off by their arrogant attachment from the ultimate enlightenment of Buddhahood. However, the Lotus Sutra that Nichiren embraced teaches that even individuals of the two vehicles can attain Buddhahood.