One thing I find myself doing more and more often lately is to re-examine a lot of the Buddhist concepts in my head, finding out whether they are really valid and most of all, whether the are logical.
The past few days, I've been thinking about the concept of reincarnation.
The basic concept of reincarnation is simple, there are six paths (or six realms) that made the wheel of life: hell realm (torture and aggression), hungry ghost realm (eternal starvation, unsatisfaction), animal realm (lack of wisdom or foolish), Asura realm (jealousy and wrath), human realm (desires) and deva (heaven-like but pride). After death, you will reincarnate according to how you live your life (karma) and might go into a different realm. The only way to end this cycle of suffering (samsara) is to break away through enlightenment.
The problem I have right now is the word "suffering".
Since I was very little, I have always been told that coming back as an animal is suffering because animals are lack of wisdom and are a lower form. However, if animals don't have wisdom, who is to judge whether they are suffering or not? Some might suggest that their suffering is having to go through the cycle of life and death (along with the pain we deal with in between); however, the universe is full of (if not just about) birth, death and reborn - That is the true cycle of life. In this case, why is this cycle such a bad thing? Whose perspective is that life and death is suffering when it is part of nature? I find this contradicting to Buddhist concept of the universe, especially when we are talking about a religion which promotes reuniting with the universe itself.
As Buddhism is full of symbolic metaphor, I start to doubt that the six realms listed above are actual "destinations" of reincarnation.
Could it be that the six realms of suffering is really referring to the six types of emotions that we all have? Then reincarnation itself will simply be the cycle of unsettling feelings in us that we never seem to be able to get away from: one day we are angry about one thing, then the next day it manifest into jealousy. According to Buddha, the only way to break through the reincarnation cycle is through enlightenment and understand the true meaning of life; isn't it also true that the only way to stop internal "suffering" is through acceptance of who we are and appreciating life?
Am I trying too hard to find an answer that I lost my focus on the importance, or this is already the answer?
Note: I always find that the six realm is very close to the seven deadly sins in Christianity. As a matter of fact, I found many concepts between the two religions are the same... which is why I never have a strong feeling against the core teachings of Christianity.