Voyages to Hell

translated by

Nguyen Khang & Bui H.Huu



Buddha Tse Kong who manifested on the 6th day of 2nd month.  Year of the snake

The backbiting saliva flows as billows
A wicked tongue brags to hurt other fellows
Flattery once showers, then fades
Falsehood too, will soon die below.

Buddha Tse Kong:      Human life is a combination of joy, sadness, anger, and pleasure that takes shape, then vanishes. The religious man finds it hard to educate the people because of such constant change of things. In order that his speech influences men’s hearts, he has to practice contemplative meditation and possess a serene spirit and great virtues serving as the basis for his cause. For want of such conditions, his words are nothing but withered flowers floating on the rivers currents. Good! It’s time. Be hasty. We’re to go. 

Yang Ts’ien:     Master, I just caught you sighing. You don’t seem happy tonight either. What’s amiss? 

TK:      Well, it’s because the men’s hearts are not in perfect harmony, the religious tongues are not agreeable. To one, a prune is bitter to the taste, to the other it is sweet. In the long run, religion is discussed in vague terms, which sows confusion among the adepts who don’t know which way to turn. 

YT:      I think that a regenerated man should keep his heart flawless. Even if the outside ambiance can be upsetting, he should remain calm and peaceful. 

TK     Well said. You’re pretty smart as you are. With only one single erroneous thought we can fall into a maze. The great religion, I mean to say the universal religion, is unique, it is always clear and radiant. Now, no more discussions. Climb on the lotus. 

YT:      Yes. Master... 

TK:     Look! We’ve arrived. Get down the lotus. 

YT:      Here are the Mandarin-Governor and his officers coming to welcome us. This is my Master, the Venerable Tse Kong, and I am Yang Ts’ien, a disciple of the Temple of the Sages. Tonight we pay a visit to your prison. We wish to be given detailed information. 

The Mandarin:     Certainly, with pleasure. Our prison, named “Throat-Staving” is placed under the administration of the 4th Palace. The King of Palace has instructed me of your visit. Please forgive us for any deficiencies. 

TK:      Your welcome is thorough, Excellency. Our visits to hell enable us to acquire facts for writing a book on hell. We will be deeply grateful if you can lend us your assistance. 

The Mandarin:     Very good, Venerable Buddha Tse Kong. Please follow me to witness the torment and listen to the accounts of the sinful souls. 

YT:      The signboard “Throat-Staving” really turns me head over heels. I am truly at a loss for words. As we advance nearer, the moans, cries and howls of pains are deafening. The demons are rushing ferociously upon the stakes where sinful souls are fastened, and staving their mouths with iron stilettos. The victims yell frightfully. The spectacle is identical with the sight of cutting hogs’ throats in a slaughter-house. May I ask what crimes the sinners have committed? 

The Mandarin:     Tell us your criminal acts. 

The soul:     My mouth and throat are heavily injured, so I can’t speak. Besides, I already made my confessions to the king. Why do I have to repeat them again? 

TK:      We are here, by order of GOD, to communicate with you. Why do you refuse to tell us the misdeeds of your life? 

The Mandarin:     We are in the presence of the Venerable Living Buddha Tse Kong. He is carrying out a divine mission that consists of writing the book “Voyages to Hell”. If you refuse to talk, you oppose God’s will. Do you think you can endure the torments of the Eternal Prison? In other words, do you want to go there? 

The soul:     I have been impertinent, and I humbly apologize, Venerable Buddha Tse Kong. I had heard of you in my life, and my lack of respect deserves a death penalty. Now, I’m going to relate the bad karma of my life. I was gifted with an excellent voice and the talent of singing. I gave frequent performances at the opera in renowned restaurants. The drugstores often invited me to sing for the publicity of their drugs... In my activities as a singer, I tried to satisfy the vulgar taste of the audience with lewd songs composed by myself, and performed interludes with obscene gestures. I was warmly applauded by the spectators. After my death, the King of Hell let me know that my songs were neither patriotic, nor educational. They were incapable of evoking noble and sublime feelings in mankind. Their lyrics were shocking, harmful to society, and corruptive to the ways and customs. He condemned me to ten years of torment in the Prison of “Throat-Staving”. The Mandarin-Governor also told me that I led a depraved life and committed other sins. I will have to undergo other punishment in another palace. I am greatly remorseful now, but I think it’s too late for remorse. I propose that the singers be on their guard not to follow my example. They should participate in charity work and sing educational songs. Otherwise, their mouths and tongues will taste something bitter and painful. 

The Mandarin:     What she said is true. The evolution of mankind needs the songs that raise the youth’s morale, and inspire courage and beauty. Whimpering and romantic lyrics are good only for weakening men’s good will, creating a karma of the mouth and entailing corresponding punishment. Good. Now, the second soul. We are all ears. 

The soul:     O! My mouth is still suffering from bloody wounds. In my life, I was a housewife. Instead of caring for my household, I preferred to meddle in other’s affairs. I picked frequent quarrels with my husband and my neighbors. I cursed heaven and earth. I libeled the people of my neighborhood and sowed discord in their families. I had a next-door neighbor with whom I was in constant conflict. One time, to revenge the wrong done me, I gave him the hint that his wife had a lover, and that I had seen the two together. The rumor spread fast, multiplied by ten, by the hundreds, and a storm took place in the spouse’s family. I had also disrupted the engagement of many other couples, I said the false for the true and reversely. After my death on earth, I was condemned to eight years of imprisonment in the “Throat-Staving” Prison. I also committed other misdeeds which I prefer not to discuss. 

The Mandarin:      As a matter of fact, your venomous tongue has created a lot of bad karmas. 

TK:      Do you have any more questions to ask? 

YT:      I would like to hear from another soul before we go. 

The Mandarin:     Very fine. Go ahead, the next soul. 

The soul:     My father was an oriental physician and a pharmacist of Chinese medicine. I used to watch him do his job, noticing the methods of preparation, the dosage utilized, also the way he treated the patients. Little by little, I acquired much experience in the treatment of various diseases. After my father’s death, I replaced him. Then, I busied myself with diluting my drugs rather than thinking of my professional conscience. I over charged my clients instead of treating them. I raised the cost of my medicines, asserting that they were rare and difficult to find. I charged extravagant amounts to my clients for my medical care, pretending a high cost of living. I kept secret the formulas of drug-preparation and only made them available for large sums of money. As you can guess, I got rich rapidly and never did I think that, after my death, this punishment would be reserved for me. 

The Mandarin:     The present punishment is the consequences of your selfishness, misuse of confidence, lack of professional improvement, and excessive publicity. The fact that you did charitable deeds has partly reduced the gravity of your sins. 

TK:     It’s growing late. Yang Ts’ien, be ready for the homebound-trip. Excellency and General, my deep appreciation and goodbye. 

YT:      We are grateful, Excellency. 

The Mandarin:    In case you need something else, just come back. You are always welcome. 

YT:      I’m ready, Master. Shall we go?

TK:     The people who like to pretend, falsify stories to libel others, whose words do harm to others’ matrimonial peace, and was show little respect toward superiors, should improve their conduct. Otherwise, the torment of throat-staving is waiting for them. If they know to repent, they will obtain happiness instead of misfortune. We’ve arrived. Get down, Yang Ts’ien, enter your body.

Back ] Next ]




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