三界 – Chinese philosophy and culture

sānjiè 三界

Traidhātuka / Three Realms of Existence

佛教将众生所在的世界分为欲界、色界、无色界三种,合称“三界”。欲界中的众生,受到感官欲望的驱使而活动;色界中的众生远离了食欲、淫欲,但仍受到形式概念的束缚;无色界中的众生,能脱离一切名称概念而活动。凡三界众生都因作业受业而处于轮回之中,故谓三界苦轮。“三界”一方面是佛教的宇宙观,另一方面体现了佛教禅修世界的不同境地。

In Buddhism, the universe of sentient beings is composed of three realms: (1) the realm of desire (kāmadhātu), where the mind is motivated by sensual pleasures; (2) the realm of subtle forms (rūpadhātu), where the mind becomes uninterested in sensual objects but still engaged in conceptual mental activities; and (3) the realm of the formless (ārūpyadhātu), the higher level of a mind free from desire and conceptualization. Sentient beings are all subject to past and future deeds (karma), therefore trapped in the cycle of rebirth within the three realms. It is thus called the wheel of sufferings in the three realms. The idea of the three realms of existence reveals how the Buddhists understand the universe on the one hand, and how it is in relevance to the different stages of meditative achievements on the other.

引例 Citation:

◎三界所有皆如梦耳。我当精进,成阿惟三佛已,当为三界众生说法。(《放光般若经》卷十四)

(三界中的一切都好像做梦一样。我应当努力精进,成就正觉以后,定当为三界的众生讲述正法。)

Everything in the three realms is like a dream. I shall be motivated with diligence. Having become fully enlightened, I must expound the doctrine to all beings of the three realms. (The Effulgent Perfection of Wisdom Sutra)

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