by Ven. Suvanno Mahathera
The suttas describe the 31 distinct "planes" or "realms" of existence into which beings can be reborn during their long wanderings through samsara. These range from the extraordinarily dark, grim, and painful hell realms all the way up to the most sublime, refined and exquisitely blissful heavenly realms. Existence in every realm is impermanent; in the cosmology taught by the Buddha there is no eternal heaven or hell. Beings are born into a particular realm according to both their past kamma and their kamma at the moment of death.