Some people perform meritorious deeds such as almsgiving, hoping that the future life will be better than the present one. In Buddhism, we call this "practice with a mind to accrue'. The objective is to secure good merits and good karma for the future life, so as to be reborn in heaven. Although this may be expedient in Buddhism, it does not aim at attaining Buddhahood. A point to clarify here is that this does not mean that when one practises Buddhism one does not seek to improve one's future life. Before one attains Buddhahood, one will of course hope to be reborn in a heaven or human realm, but this should not be the ultimate aim of following the Buddha. Everyone should aim at attaining Buddhahood. If we practise according to the Teaching of the Buddha, we should have the long term ambition of carrying out the Buddha's advice diligently and accurately, our aim will then undoubtedly be achieved.
One may ask why is it not satisfactory to be reborn as a human or a heavenly being? This is because it is not perfect, nor ultimate. It is imperfect to be born in the human realm, because in this realm one's wealth, life-span, status, and personal relationships are in constant change.
To be born in heaven is equally imperfect. Even beings in the realm of heaven experience constant changes in their lives, and will one day fall again from heaven. Those who believe in heavenly beings will certainly disagree with this point, but in actual fact, heavenly beings are not completely emancipated. Take the Mahabrahman, an Indian God, for instance. He claimed that all things, including human beings were created by him and were born from him. Let us ask, was there a heaven and earth before heaven and earth were created? Were there human beings before human beings were created? If not, then why should heaven, earth and human beings be created? The Brahman's answer is; "For the sake of having fun." That is to say, all the creations are just a show of ego-freedom and self-satisfaction for the Mahabrahman. This is like a new but vacant house that gives one a feeling of hollowness and dissatisfaction. Thus it must be decorated by furniture and vases etc. Therefore, to say that human beings and all other things are created by God implies that this God does not like to be lonely. He feels loneliness in himself, and therefore his mind is not at peace. For example, when a person is very busy, he feels impatient and hopes that he can be left alone to rest quietly, but when he is actually given a quiet rest, he feels lonely and wants to be around someone again. In other words, in order to fulfil his self-satisfaction and enjoyment, the Mahabrahmin wanted heaven and earth, human beings, and all things. As a result of that, he created endless suffering for all. He is in fact looking for trouble for himself.
A person who possesses a discontented and demanding mind is still not at peace, and is not perfectly emancipated. When a follower of Buddha talks about the cultivation of mind and the emancipation from life and death, his aim is to feel contented anywhere he dwells, whether amidst a buzzing crowd or in an utterly deserted place. It is practitioner who is peaceful and free from attachment everywhere. The Gods in theistic religions are not free from desires, their minds are not yet at peace and this is the most important cause for their falling from heaven in the future. Therefore we cannot adopt this way as our right path.
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