Voyages to Hell

translated by

Nguyen Khang & Bui H.Huu



Tse Kong who manifested on the 19th day of 10th month.  Leap year of the Dragon (1976) 

The chilly Styx River makes one quiver
In hell there are hideous howls of pain
Karma of mind can direct one to the sea of miseries
O man, be prudent and keep yourself upright.

Buddha Tse Kong:      Winter is coming around. The cold is bitter, but the disciples of the Temple of the Sages have their hearts wrapped well. The cold means nothing to them. Once the book “Voyages to Hell” is finished, it will be handed down to posterity, other disciples will continue with the task. It will be an uninterrupted mission. Yang Ts’ien, this is our promenade day. Don’t you remember? 

Yang Ts’ien:   It’s icy today. The paths in hell are all the more dismal and deserted. Can’t you give me one of your miracle-pills to raise my vital energy? 

TK:      All right. I’m going to give you three warming-pills that will increase your vitality and help you perform your task to perfection. 

YT:      A thousand thanks, Master… I have taken them and now I’m all warmed up. I am on the lotus dais. 

TK:      We have arrived. 

YT:      Where are we? Here are some generals, in civilian clothing, climbing the flights of steps to the palace. 

TK:      On that verandah, is the Third Palace, administered by the King of Palace. A bit higher is a long row of prisons and cells. Go ahead and greet the Generals. 

YT:      My greetings to you, Generals. My Master and I have been ordered to come here to help write a book for educating mankind. We hope to receive instructions from you. 

One of the Generals:            I am delighted. Would you mind coming into the hall for a little rest? This hall looks after all affairs pertaining to the prisons of the palace. Behind it, are the prisons. 

TK:      Our time is quite short so we can dispense with rest. It is good enough to have Yang Ts’ien inspect the prisons. 

The General:  So much the better! We are aware of your Temple’s mission. Now the living Buddha himself expresses his desire to visit the prison. The honor is ours. Therefore, come this way, please. To the left. 

YT:      My word! This plot of ground is huge. All prisons and cells are constructed of wood. Resounding screams and cries of pain come from somewhere. In front of us is a prison with a board written “Eyeball Wrenching”. 

The General:      I’m going to have you visit the Eyeball Wrenching Prison. First of all, I must go to warn the Mandarin Governor. 

The Mandarin:      Welcome to our honourable visitors. I invite you to come in for a look. If anything worries you, just ask me, Mr. Yang Ts’ien. 

YT:      The inmates of this prison all have their eyeballs extracted from their sockets and blood is streaming out. One after another, they cry and howl bitterly, closing the hollows of their orbits with their hands. But that’s cruelty! To the left, a guard, with his spear, is perforating the orbit of a middle- aged man and wrenching out his eyeball. The victim tries to dodge aside vainly, and the eyeball of his left eye is extracted and drops on the ground. He utters a muffled shriek, his soul in delirium, his body sagging, his head bent forward. He faints but can’t fall down, being tied fast to a stake. The guard, impassively, is preparing to extract his other eyeball. I feel out of breath at this sight! That’s barbaric. 

TK:      Careful, watch what you are saying, my son. This is the law of cause and effect in the world of darkness. You have no right to be disrespectful. 

The General:  We are not surprised in the least. Mr. Yang Ts’ien, please act naturally, and ask me what you want to know. 

YT:      Words slipped away from me. I beg your pardon, Excellency and General. Now, can you enlighten me on the situation of this prison? 

The Mandarin:     Willingly. When a soul is judged and condemned to our prison, it is first tied to a stake upon its arrival. Then, it has the two eyeballs extracted. The pain is beyond expression. The torment is repeated three times a day. Before repeating the process, the eyeballs are re-adjusted in the orbits and washed with resuscitative water. After that, the torment is to start again. This is the only way to make the guilty suffer. 

YT:      What crimes did they commit to suffer such torment? 

The Mandarin:      Some sinful souls will be led here to tell you the truth. General, have three sinful souls brought here. They have their eyeballs readjusted and washed. Their stories will be greatly helpful to the contents of your divine book. 

The General:  Your order is carried out, Excellency. This one will narrate his crime for our visitor from the terrestrial world. He will also express what it is like to be tormented. Mr. Yang Ts’ien will relate his story to teach mankind. 

The Mandarin:      General, make use of your water to pacify him. 

TK:      Leave him to my care. With my divine power, I will get him steady. Look here! 

The Soul:       I feel much better. My sincere thanks to the Venerable Monk. When alive, I was a very haughty man. After graduating from university, I got married and lived as a man of high society. I scorned the people in misery and those who did not attend a university. I looked at the world with half an eye, immersed myself in wealth and honors, associated with aristocrats and fashionable people. I had an abominable and scornful eye for all that was below my level. After I died the Pontiff of Hell judged me, accusing me of having a supercilious view of things, despising the ordinary people, and possessing a pair of eyes that kept looking only toward power and gain. I have been in this prison for two years, and three months or more. I will have two more years, and three months or more. I will have two more years to go, because I committed other sins too. I know after my discharge here, other inauspicious things will be waiting for me. I pray you, virtuous men, to advise people on earth not to show contempt for other people, even if they are rich and powerful. Their scorn for others will bring them to a fate like mine. I implore you, gentlemen, to intercede with the King of Palace to mitigate my penalty. 

YT:      General, this sinful soul has been frank in confessing his past crimes, and he also wishes to warn the living people of his fate. He has thus acquired some merit, and an amnesty would be favorable for him. 

The General:      I just can’t act as I wish. All this is beyond my power. 

The Mandarin:       I will report this affair to the King of the Palace. The sinful soul might be granted some leniency. Now, take him back to the prison, and send two other souls to talk of their crimes. 

The General:  Here are two souls whose eyes are washed with resuscitative water and whose bodies are recovered. First, that soul on the right. 

The soul:     My crime in life was my passion for feminine beauty, which is quite common in the living world. I had the mania of peeping at women and girls in the neighborhood when they were bathing. I also went with friends to dark rooms to watch pornographic films. My passion increased day after day, I couldn’t help looking for exciting amusement, so I followed my friends to a hotel where dancers performed strip-tease acts to entertain spectators. A year ago, I was killed in a traffic accident. Arriving in hell, I learned that I had not yet attained the fullness of my longevity, but it was curtailed by the laws of hell. The Pontiff of Hell ordered my detention in the “Eyeball Wrenching Prison”. My children and grandchildren know nothing of all this. I regret my actions but it is too late. I wish Mr. Yang Ts’ien to relate my story to the living world, upon his return. Please tell them this: all acts we do in privacy, thinking they are neither seen nor heard, will be revealed, down to the last detail, when we stand before the Mirror-Revelator of Past Crimes. 

The General:     This soul, elderly in age, did not know how to behave properly. With quite sufficient money, he failed to enjoy his old age and complete his longevity. He contented himself with unsound amusement and found pleasure in peeping at nude bathers. His two eyes are wicked, therefore hell helps him wrench them out to cleanse them. Now, to you the soul on the left, confess. 

The soul:     I was condemned to this prison, because while I was a student, I peeped at the test paper of a candidate in an exam. I also glanced at my text-book to copy the answer. Moreover, I used to read pornographic books, collected photos of naked bodies, and saw erotic films. Upon my death, I was sent to this prison. I have endured pain for six months and have three more years to go. 

YT:      But that’s frightening! When I was a student I peeped at the test paper of a neighboring candidate. Fortunately, I was not caught in the act by the examiner. Do I come here, after my death? 

TK:      You have cheated in the exam. That’s a shame! But don’t panick. God is merciful. He forgives the man who repents. You have already been baptized as an adept of the Temple of the Sages, you have taken His place, and have served as His messenger. You acquire merits to compensate for your wrongs. You won’t come here, for sure! 

The Mandarin:      Take them back to the prison, General. Please excuse our mistakes, if there were any. 

YT:      Don’t mention it, Excellency. 

The Mandarin:      Anyone with wicked eye, who loves to contemplate feminine beauty, reads pornographic novels or looks down on others, will be condemned to this prison, after their death.

TK:      Time is getting short and we have to take leave. I appreciate your assistance, Excellency and General. Yang Ts’ien, we have to go! 

YT:      I thank you sincerely for your help, gentleman. 

The Mandarin:     Let me accompany you to the dais. 

TK:      Are you seated? Well, here we go. 

YT:      I am readly… 

TK:     Here is the Temple! Your body awaits you.

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 57
Chapter 58
Chapter 59
Chapter 60
Chapter 61
Celestial Edict