Voyages to Hell

translated by

Nguyen Khang & Bui H.Huu

CHAPTER 45

VISIT TO THE PRISON OF STONE-LOAD CARRYING

Buddha Tse Kong who manifested on December 9th, 1977 Year of the Snake (1977) 

Respect toward your master is a path to virtue
Fallen, then revolving, nature return to its cause
To know your source is to know your genuine nature
But infidelity, ingratitude have no excuse.

Buddha Tse Kong:    The year of the snake is drawing to an end. Everyone expects to see the year of the horse bring forth success and change. Being anxious for success, people hope that the horse will not slow its pace but will endeavor to advance. I also hope that people know how to make good use of the new year for spurring their horses to a gallop, or else these beasts will remain slow, in spite of the gee up and haws of their riders which leave the horses as indifferent to them as towards the wind blowing past their ears. When a man wants to be renewed, he must possess the qualities of a horse, that is, an undaunted and fearless spirit despite difficulties and obstacles. On the contrary, if he relaxes his efforts and only sails with the wind, one fine morning his old age is at hand, he will have no time to catch up, even with a team of four horses. Tonight, weíre to take a trip to hell, Yang Tsíien. Come quickly to the dais. 

Yang Tsíien:     Iím ready, Master. We can start. Which prison are we going to visit? 

TK:      The prison of the 7th Palace where the sinners are forced to carry a heavy load of stones on their heads. Weíve arrived. Come down. 

YT:      How marvelous! We come to our destination in the twinkling of an eye. I climb on the dais at the Temple. I close my eyes. I have the impression of being aboard a jet plane. And whoopee! Here I arrive. 

TK:      Man is comparable to an obstacle. For the slightest imprudence, he drops from an altitude of thousands of meters and is reduced to crumbs before disappearing completely. The calmer he is, the lighter he becomes, and the higher he rises. Therefore, the ascent and descent depend entirely upon his perseverance that allows him to reach the most sublime serenity. The one who adopts the Spiritual Way doesnít get distracted easily in the face of danger. But if he neglects to cultivate himself toward spiritual perfection, then he can easily fall into temptation and be condemned to hell within a fraction of a second. Therefore, human beings are advised to keep their spirits as calm as possible, in order to be on the right path. They may go astray on a foggy day, or in a maze, but their hearts will serve as a compass. If they can control themselves, then they will succeed in every enterprise. When seated on a lotus flower in the middle of mire and turbid water, they must meditate to attain the fixation of mind and tranquility of the soul. If they donít, the slightest imprudence may push them down to bottomless depths. Yang Tsíien, you wouldnít be able to sit steadfastly on this dais of lotus if you werenít granted a special blessing. Make sure to preserve that favor. Quick! Letís go salute His Excellency the Governor. 

YT:      At your request, I present my respectful greetings to His Excellency and to the Generals. I am     Yang Tsíien of the Temple of the Sages. Tonight, my Master and I are coming here by divine             order to collect information. We count greatly on your assistance. 

The Mandarin:    You are welcome, Venerable Buddha Tse Kong and Mr. Yang Tsíien. It is a glorious mission of yours to write a book on hell. I invite you to step inside. 

YT:      Thank you, Excellency. We are inside. The sinners, sturdy and frail, are doing their work. They are carrying big blocks of stone on their heads. Are these intended for the construction of new prison-cells? 

The Mandarin:    Far from it! They are forced to carry the blocks of stone for punishment. 

YT:      With such heavy blocks of stone on their heads, they are lamenting so loudly. The loads bend their backs while they hold the stones securely with their arms. Painfully, they advance with staggering short steps. Some of them are exhausted. They sink down and get crushed or have their legs fractured by the blocks of stone. The guards hurriedly sprinkle resuscitative water on them and exhort them to put the blocks back on their heads and continue to walk. This kind of chastisement was adopted in old times and is still efficient as a torment inflicted on sinful souls. 

The Mandarin:    These sinners are punished with the iron-head exercise, because in their life, they were obstinate and arrogant people. They liked to play the professor over their fellowmen. They detested everything noble and virtuous and disdained the holy doctrines as well as their masters. Because of these defects, they have to come here for reform. 

YT:      If possible, I would like to have some of them come to talk. 

The Mandarin:    As you see fit. Iíll have them come. Their declarations will serve as examples and warnings for humans. Here they are. You can ask them questions. 

YT:      What had you done in your life to be condemned to this prison? 

The soul:    Iím really embarrassed when I have to discuss my misdoings. I was a high school teacher in my life. I took advantage of my position to seduce pretty students and entice them to sexual impropriety. My bad actions were not revealed when I was alive, but they were easily disclosed by the 3rd eye of the King of Hell. Upon my arrival in hell, the King of Palaces ordered the guards to whip me unmercifully before they transferred me to the 7th Palace where the King of the High-Mountain called me a beast. He accused me furiously of having lost the dignity of a master when leading my students astray. I was therefore inflicted the chastisement of carrying a load of stones which forces me to bend my head in shame. 

The Mandarin:     Arenít you ashamed of what you have done by getting involved in illicit relations with your girl students? Your sin is very grave and you have to endure this torment which prevents you from holding high your head before the people. I advise every master, whether they are school teachers, religious masters, or technical institute instructors, to preserve their dignity and professional conscience. Master and students are like father and child. They owe each other adequate respect and should not surpass the limits of morality, if they want to avoid the punishment of God. Mr. Yang Tsíien, go on with your interrogation. 

YT:      You look like a Buddhist monk with a close-shaven head. Why are you detained here and get punished with an iron head exercise? 

The soul:    Donít make fun of me, please. I had to shave my head because my hair hurts me terribly while I carried a block of stone. When in life, I was a disciple of the Spiritual Way. Prior to attending the clerical school, I had read a good number of canonical books, and prided myself on my knowledge of truth and the Way. When in school, I considered my teacher as having an inferior level of religious instruction, and used to criticize him in the presence of the other seminarians. After my death, the infernal guards arrested me and led me to hell. The King of Hell condemned me for having learned the holy teachings from my master, but betraying him with an offence to his virtuous prestige. It is normal to teach oneís fellowmen the knowledge one acquires from canonical books, but one should avoid displaying vanity and pretending to act as a haughty and pedantic teacher. If this piece of advice is neglected, one will be forced to suffer the torment of carrying a block of stone in hell in order to purge oneís bad karma. 

TK:     A student should do his best to improve and develop his knowledge. From time immemorial, there have been a good number of students excelling their masters, but they are not vainglorious and they continue to respect their masters. Good instructors are needed in every trade. Without his or her guidance, no one can succeed alone. Nowadays, there are many people following the learning program halfway, then drop it to look for a job. They neglect and ignore their former teachers. This is ingratitude! The spiritual disciples should have respect toward their Masters. If they betray their Masters and the religious teachings, then they must repent right away in order to avoid carrying the heavy stone. 

YT:      Now, to the third soul. Tell me what you have done in your life. 

The soul:     I was a rich man gifted with great eloquence in oration. Each time I spoke in public, I liked to disparage the poor people, and overwhelm others with my grandiloquence. In my conversations, I insulted this one, scolded that one, uttering rude words without reserve. Now, I think that itís so unfair to condemn me in this place, because what I did before was not so serious. May I implore you, O Buddha Tse Kong to plead for me in the name of justice. 

TK:      Good, good. But first of all, you have to pay me my stipends, or else I will not plead for you. Without money, my words would be weightless, and no one would hear me. With money, I shall whisper in the Governorís ears to lessen your pains. 

The soul:    I feel grateful for your intercession, but right now, I have no penny left. I left all my fortune to my children who are wasting it. How could I pay your fees now? 

TK:      Whatís an illusion! ďMan must lower his head in front of those with money and power. But when deprived of money and power, in return he must lower his head.Ē So, why were you so proud and haughty before? Do money and power follow you after death? Alone, you must now carry heavy stones to pay back for your sins. 

The Mandarin:    How paltry of you! In moments like these, you still seek to overcome other people with power. You can never corrupt the iron-faced king. Donít you realize that Buddha Tse Kong wanted to tease you? So, donít speak nonsense or your pains will be aggravated. 

TK:      We should always cede three fourths of a passage to other people and should not occupy the entire passage for ourselves. A man canít always maintain a high position; when misfortune happens, he may loose his power, and influence on others. If he despises his fellowmen and holds his head too high, then after death, he certainly must lower his head to hide his face. Thatís what you are doing now. Well, itís time to return. May we thank you, and goodbye.  

The Mandarin:     I order the officers to stand on ceremony to greet the guests. 

TK:      The dais, Yang Tsíien. 

YT:      Iím seated, Master. 

TK:      Here is the Temple. Go back to your body, son.

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CONTENTS

Forward
Introduction
Preface
Summary
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
Postface

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