The Flower Adornment Sutra,
The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds
Chapter One, Part Two, with Commentary by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
...Previously we talked about the Five Signs of Decay, which apply to gods in the Six Desire Realm Heavens. The following disasters occur in the Dhyana Heavens in the Form Realm:
burns up the First Dhyana.
Water floods the Second Dhyana.
Wind sweeps through the Third Dhyana.
There’s a verse that says:
Those in the Six Desire Heavens experience the Five Signs of Decay.
The Third Dhyana Heavens suffer the disaster of wind.
Even if you cultivate and reach the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought,
It’s not as good as going to the Western Land and then coming back.
The three disasters that occur in the Heavens of the First Dhyana are not like mere earthquakes that affect a local area. The disaster of fire is so devastating that it will burn up everyone in the world and dry up all the oceans. Seven suns will appear in the sky—perhaps six of them will be manmade. All the people and creatures on earth, up to the gods in the First Dhyana Heavens, will be burned to death. Therefore, even if you reach the First Dhyana Heavens in your cultivation, you have not ended birth and death.
The disaster of water reaches the Second Dhyana Heavens. After the disaster of fire abates, a huge flood comes in its wake. The water will rise up to the sky. Everything in the world will be gone; everything, having been burnt to a crisp by fire, will turn into water. Water, coming after the fire, will put out the flames. However, this great deluge will reach all the way up to the Second Dhyana Heavens, drowning all the gods in those heavens. They have cultivated millions of years in order to be born in the Second Dhyana Heavens, but at this time they will all be finished.
This is a very general explanation. If we discussed it in depth, we would find many causes and conditions behind such disasters.
disaster of water is followed by the disaster of wind. Water had extinguished
the fire, but then turned into a disaster itself. Now the wind blows the water
dry, but in the process everything in the world is ripped to shreds and blown to
utter destruction. Even the Third Dhyana Heavens are destroyed and all the gods
living there are killed and blown about like balloons.
“Even if you cultivate till you reach the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought…” That’s the highest of the Four Stations of Emptiness in the Formless Realm.
The Four Stations of Emptiness are:
1. The Heaven of the Station of Boundless Emptiness
2. The Heaven of the Station of Boundless Consciousness
3. The Heaven of the Station of Nothing Whatsoever
4. The Heaven of the Station of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought
In the Heaven of the Station of Boundless Consciousness, only consciousness remains. In the Heaven of the Station of Nothing Whatsoever, consciousness disappears, but one still engages in some form of thinking. But in the Heaven of the Station of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought, even thought is gone. Among all the heavens, that is the highest place. The gods there enjoy a life span of blessings that lasts for 80,000 great eons. However, when their lives come to an end after those 80,000 great eons, they will fall all the same, perhaps down to the realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, or animals. It’s not for sure. Therefore, the verse says, “Even if you cultivate till you reach the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought, / It’s not as good as going to the Western Land and then coming back.” It would be better to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss and then return. You will have better control over things that way.
The Flower Adornment Sutra, The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds, Chapter One, Part Two, with Commentary by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua