In Dhammapada 10:140, it says that the unwise can fall into Hell. What is the outline on Buddhist Hell? When / what does one do to no longer qualify for rebirth? Is Hell eternal in Buddhism? Thank you.
Thank you for asking me.
The Buddha revealed that in the vast universe, there were numerous spheres where beings existed. In our own universe, there exists 31 planes where beings occupy. Two of these are the human sphere and the animal sphere. These two are discerned by us through our senses especially the eyes. However, there the other spheres where we cannot see because they do not exist in 3 dimensional form. It may be 4th or more dimension, beyond our sense faculties to know, let alone see. The Buddhist concepts of kamma and rebirth only can explain this cosmology of the 31 planes of existence.
The Buddhist perspective of life is that this "being" consists of the physical body and the mind. The existence of this being is the result of the energy of the mind taking existence in this physical body. The nature of life-form that this mind energy affixes to, will depend on the nature of the accumulated "kammic" store-house which the being had generated throughout its numerous life existences. If the kammic storehouse has a greater portion of evil and unwholesome kammic energy, this mental energy will seek a rebirth in the appropriate existence such that the evil and unwholesome energies will actualize in that life, causing agony and suffering for the being. In this sense, you can consider that evil mental energies will seek out conditions that favour such existence. The result will be rebirth in the hell plane. There is no such thing as Buddhist hell. Hell is hell.
There are 8 hells in the hell plane. The worst is called the Avicci Hell. The lowest of hells and the highest of heavens may have unimaginable long life span; but ultimately it will also end. Life in hells and heavens is not permanent, not eternal. Once the effective kammic energy is depleted, the being will expire and be reborn in another sphere.
So long as we have the 3 roots of greed, hatred and delusion, we will be reborn again and again....the cycle of birth and death will grind on until we can eliminate completely these 3 roots. Then we will be pure energies with no more attachment to the conditions of existence...no more rebirth...Nibbana.