People have different births, talents and positions. Mostly they differ in physical shape, some are beautiful and some are ugly. Why? In Buddha’s time a Brahmin named Subha the Youth asked fourteen questions to the Buddha regarding differences among human beings.
(1) Why do some live their lives within a short time?
In the past, some men and women used to killed living beings. They were lack of self-constraint and pity. Cruel killing acts, harmful deeds make them to live a short live in this existence. In consequence they have suffered in hell at death. When they escaped hellish sufferings and reborn in human world, their lives are short. Killing makes longevity impossible. They have to die young.
(2) Why do some live long lives?
In the past, some men and women have cultivated pity, compassion and sympathy. So they practiced self-control and empathy, avoiding harmful deeds, killing and murders. At death they were reborn in celestial worlds. If they do not reach divine planes, they become human beings with long life, up to old age.
(3) Why do some suffer full of diseases and illnesses?
In the past, some men and women used to do harm, torture, beating with arms, swords, sticks and stones. At death, they were reborn in hell. If they do not reach hell and become human beings, they frequently catch many diseases, illness and ill-health.
(4) Why do some have good health and are free from diseases?
In the past, some men and women used to avoid harming other living beings. They also shunned tortures. When they die they were reborn in celestial or divine states. If they do not reach highest realms, they become human beings with good health and live without serious, terminal diseases.
(5) Why some are ugly, have bad physical appearance?
In the past, some men and women used to indulge in hate, ill-will, grudge, and slander many times. When they died they reached hell. If not, they are born in human world as human beings with ugly features. Their faces are not good to look at.
(6) Why some are beautiful, lovely?
In the past, some men and women avoided anger, hatred, grudge, and slander. They did not blame others. They lived a life of composure and peace. When they died, they reached heavenly worlds. If not, they become human beings with beautiful, lovely faces. They have good form and are colored with many attractions.
(7) Why do some have few associates and helpers, little power?
In the past, some men and women used to indulge in envy. When they died they reached lower worlds, such as hell. If not, as human beings in this existence, they lack power, influence and authority.
(8) Why do some have many associates and helpers, great power?
In the past, some men and women avoided envy so that when they died, they reached heavenly worlds. If not, they become human beings with many followers, possessing great powers, authority and fame.
Note: “Issa”, “envy”, means envious state of mind wherein one does not like to see others living in wealth, fame, honor, and wisdom which are based on kamma, intelligence and effort. Envious persons do demerits of jealousy, downgrading, belittling others. They speak evil words and try to belittle others.
(9) Why some are poor?
In the past, some men and women did not practice alms-giving, charity, giving. They cultivated jealously, narrow-mindedness, selfishness. So when they died, they reached hell. If not, they become human beings with poverty. They live poorly without wealth.
(10) Why some are wealthy?
In the past, some men and women cultivated the meritorious deeds of alms-giving, charity, generosity, helpfulness and when they died, they reached higher realm of existence. If not, they become human beings with great wealth and property.
Note: “Macchera”, “jealousy”, means a bad person does not give offerings, does not do acts of giving, charities, etc., for fear of losing money, wealth and possessions. This state of evil mind is called “Macchera”.
(11) Why some are born in low-grade class?
In the past, some men and women indulged in pride, high-mindedness and conceit. They looked down upon others. They held self-esteem too much. They lack the virtues of respect and humility. As a result, at death they reached lower worlds like hell. If not, as human beings they belong to low-class or bad clan, low-born.
(12) Why some are born in high-grade class?
In the past, some men and women cultivated the virtues of respect, humility and considerateness. They pay homage and respect to others. At death, they reached celestial or heavenly existence. If not, as human beings they belong to high-class parents, high grade clan, or well born in upper-class of society.
(13) Why some are lack of intelligence, wisdom, thoughtfulness?
In the past, some men and women indulged in neglect of knowledge. So they did not ask questions regarding the distinction between merit and demerit (kusala and akusala) together with functions, natures and effects. They did not seek knowledge regarding blamable deeds and good deeds. They did not approach knowledgeable persons to get the insight of reliable deeds and unreliable deeds. They did not ask questions of samsaric good or samsaric bad effects in long-term view. So they did what they liked as their foolish minds dictated. Mostly they follow the path of evil ways, and at death they reached hell. If not, as human beings, become fools, idiots or ignoramuses.
(14) Why some are wise, intelligent and farsighted?
In contrast, in the past, some men and women indulged in asking questions of truth, associating with the wise and the intelligent to get clear knowledge of merit and demerit. At death, they reached high states. If not, as human beings, they become wise, intelligent and farsighted.