What are the Three Worlds and Ten Directions, Four Births and Six Realms?

Taoism always referes to 三界 Three Worlds and 十方 Ten Directions, 四生 Four Births and 六道 Six Realms. Below we explain these in detail.

三界 Three Worlds

Taoism says: “Beyond the Three Worlds, outside of the Five Elements”, the Three Worlds here refer to the world of desire, form and formlessness. Five Elements refere to 木Wood, 土Earth, 火Fire, 金Metal and 水Water.

The World of Desire is divided into six heavens, namely 太皇黄曾天、太明玉完天、清明何重天、玄胎平育天、元明文举天、七曜摩夷天.

The World of Form is divided into eighteen heavens , namely, 虚无越衡天、八极蒙翳天、赤明和阳天、玄明恭华天、耀明宗飘天、竺落皇笳天、虚明堂曜天、观明端靖天、玄明恭庆天、太焕极瑶天、元载孔升天、太安皇崖天、显定极风天、始黄孝芒天、太黄翁重天、无思江由天、上揲阮乐天、无极昙誓天.

The World of Formlessness is divided into four heavens, namely 皓庭霄度天、渊通元洞天、翰宠妙成天、秀乐禁上天.

十方 Ten Directions

Taking the earth in the human world as the center, the space is divided into: 东east, 西west, 南south, 北north, 东南southeast, 东北northeast , 西南southwest, 西北northwest, 上up, and 下down. These ten directions are called “Shi Fang十方”.

四生 Four Births

Four births refer to the four types of sentient beings can be born into the three worlds and the six realms, namely viviparous, oviparous, wet birth, and metaplasia.

胎生 Viviparous or womb birth, such as humans, dogs, cattle and horses, etc.

卵生 Oviparous or egg birth is common with birds, reptiles etc.

湿生 Wet birth like worms, gnats, some insects, etc.

化生 Metaplasia or transformational birth, such as butterflies & moths, etc.

六道 Six Realms

All living beings in the world have karmic retributions due to the way of living. One is reborn in one of six places called the six realms. The six realms are divided into: 天道Heaven,神道 God,人道 Human,畜生道 Animal,地狱道 Hell and 饿鬼道 Hungry Ghost.

Written by 玄門君XuanMenJun

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