36 Heaven, 3 realms and the underworld

The heavens are divided into ten directions
The thirty-two heavens that result from the original matrix (元 綱 Yuangang) are in the four cardinal directions, with eight heavens per cardinal direction. You can also add northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest, as well as top and bottom, to these four directions. In addition to these thirty-two heavens, there are four other heavens. All of these heavens are distributed in the eight directions mentioned above, as well as above and below, for a total of ten directions.


Names of thirty-six heavens
The original matrix gave birth to thirty-two heavens. These heavens are subject to catastrophes and universal cycles (kalpas); They are therefore born and die. The other four heavens are not subject to the kalpas, they include the three pristine heavens and the great overarching sky. In total there are thirty-six heavens (三十 六天 Sanshiliu Tian).

Their names are:
The Thirty-two Heavens: The Taihuang Huangceng Heaven, Taiming Yuwan Heaven, Qingming Hetong Heaven, Xuantai Pingyu Heaven, Yuanming Wenju Heaven, Shangming Qiyao Moyi Heaven, Xuwu Yueheng Heaven, Taiji Mengyi Heaven: the above form the eight Heavens of the East. Heyang Heaven, Xuanming Gonghua Heaven, Yaoming Zhongpiao Heaven, Zhuluo Huangjia Heaven, Xuming Tangliao Heaven, Guanming Duanjing Heaven, Xuanming Gongqing Heaven, and Taihuan Jiyao Heaven are the eight heavens of the south. The Yuanzai Kongshen Heaven, Tai’an Wangya Heaven, Xianding Jifeng Heaven, Sihuang Xiaomang Heaven, Taiji Weng Chongfu Rong Heaven, Wusi Jiangyou Heaven, Shangshe Ruanle Heaven and Wuji Fangshi Heaven are the eight heavens of the west. The Haoting Xiaodu Heaven, Yuantong Yuandong Heaven, Taiwen Hanchong Miaocheng Heaven,

The sky of the three untouched (三 清天 Sanqing Tian): the sky of the highest clarity (太清 天 Taiqing Tian); The sky of supreme clarity (上清 天 Shangqing Tian); The sky of jade clarity (玉清 天 Yuqing Tian).
The great overarching sky
Thirty-five of the thirty-six heavens are part of the great overarching sky (大 羅 天 Daluo Tian (Da = Dai)). The great overarching sky is infinite while other heavens are all finite. It is the highest sky, surpasses all other skies and has no limits. In space, the universe is infinite.

The Three Worlds and Outside
The thirty-six heavens are divided into different worlds. The three worlds (三界 Sanjie) are the world of desire (欲界 Yujie), the world of form (色 界 Sejie) and the world of formlessness (無色界 Wusejie). There are a total of 28 heavens in the three worlds. They are subject to kalpas; Those who are born or go to these heavens do not escape reincarnation and karma. Outside the three worlds, there are eight more heavens. Those who cultivate Dao and jump from the three worlds can escape from kalpas, karma and reincarnation.
The three worlds are the world of desire, the world of form and the world of formlessness
The world of desire contains six heavens, from the Taihuang Huangceng heaven to the Qiyao Moyi heaven. In this world there is form and desire, men and women have intercourse and give birth to offspring. The world of form comprises eighteen skies, from the Xuwu Yueheng sky to the Wuji Tanshi sky. In this world there is form but no desire; There is no sexual intercourse and humans are born directly from vital ether. The world of formlessness consists of four heavens, from the Haoting Xiaodu sky to the Xiule Jingshang sky. In this world there is neither desire nor form; Ordinary people cannot see the people in this world who can only be seen by real people (真人 Zhenren).
Outside the three worlds, the heavens can be divided into several planes, including the four pure heavens, the three pristine skies, and the great overarching sky.
The four pure heavens (四 梵天 Sifantian) are also called the four heavens of the Sami people (種 民 Zhongmin), from the Taixu Wushang Changrong heaven to the Taiji Pingyu Jiayi heaven. They are called the four heavens of the Seed People because those who enter this realm have already escaped the cycle of reincarnations; They do not die at the time of one kalpa, but become the seeds of the people of the next kalpa. The three prisitne heavens are also called the three pristine realms (三 清境 Sanqing Jing) and are ruled by the highest venerable sovereign (元始 天尊 Yuanshi Tianzun). The great overarching sky is above all other heavens and contains the whole universe. It is infinite and contains the Jade Capital (玉 京山 Yujing Shan), where 太上老君 Taishang Laojun lives.

Everything is formless and invisible; It is the abode of the immortals (神仙 Shenxian). When they unite, they become forms; When they disperse, they become Vital Breath; They wander around unrestrictedly on their own. In the great overarching sky everything is a pure vital breath (道 氣 Daoqi). The highest level of cultivation of immortality is the level of Golden Immortality (金 仙 Jinxian) of the Great Abundant Heaven.

The Underworld
Daoism divides the world into nine levels, which are called nine realms (九 壘 Jiulei). Each of these realms can be further divided into four realms, making a total of thirty-six realms. Each realm is ruled by an emperor of the earth (土黃 Tuhuang). The names of the Nine Realms are as follows:

1. Realm of colorful brilliance (色 潤 地 Serundi);
2. Realm of diamond brilliance (剛 色 地 Gangsedi);
3. Realm of paraffin brilliance (石 肢 色澤 地 Shizhise Zedi);
4. Realm of damp brilliance (潤澤 地 Run Zedi);
5. Empire of the golden millet brilliance (金粟 澤 地 Jinsu Zedi);
6. Kingdom of diamonds and iron brilliance (金剛 鐵 澤 地 Jinggangtie Zedi);
7. Realm of water brilliance (水 制 澤 地 Shuizhi Zedi);
8. Realm of great wind brilliance (大風 澤 地 Dafeng Zedi);
9. Colorless Diamond Realm of the Pervasive Abby (洞 淵 無色 剛 維 地 Dongyuan Wuse Gangwei Di).

The underworld is dark and obscure. The underworld cannot be entered by common people, but the souls of the dead inevitably have to go there unless it has become an immortal. The Chinese call the place where the souls of the dead go “highest yin” (太陰 Taiyin). The underworld is ruled by the Five Kings of Hell (五嶽 Wuyu), especially by the spirit of the eastern hell of Mount Tai (東嶽 泰山 之 神 Dongyu Taishan Zhi Shen). It is also said that the underworld is ruled by the Great Emperor of Fengdu (酆 都 大帝 Fengdu Dadi). The underworld is the location of hell where the souls of sinners are imprisoned, as well as ghosts and goblins.

 

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