Voyages to Hell

translated by

Nguyen Khang & Bui H.Huu

CHAPTER 59

VISIT TO THE POPULAR QUARTER OF HELL

Buddha Tse Kong who manifested on June 9th, 1978. Year of the Horse 

Thereís competition in earthís multitude of trade
The Popular Quarter of Hell also does it late
Donít ignore your body, the possible sower of fate
In hell, souls are heavy, spurned and alienated

Buddha Tse Kong:    In the world, the people carry on hundred of trade, and they compete among themselves quite ludicrously. In hell, under the sinister starry vault of the sky, also prevails much activity created by the souls exercising their trades. Lao Tzu had said: ďIf we attract misfortunes and woe, it is because we possess a physical body. Once the body exists no more, misfortunes disappearĒ. It is strange to see the souls in hell become so attached to their illusory bodies (false and temporary). Yang Tsíien, Iím going to have you visit the Popular Quarter of Hell tonight so you can attest to what Iíve just said. 

Yang Tsíien:    Thank you, Master. I am ready. 

TK:      We arrive. Down. 

YT:      This citadel has much activity, with groups of souls going back and forth. They look content and free, unescorted by the infernal guards. On the wall of the citadel, I read the inscription ďPopular QuarterĒ. I would like to know what is happening inside. 

TK:      This is the Popular Quarter, which are the residential quarters of ordinary souls whose merits and sins are balanced. After their death, these souls come here if they are not forced to reincarnate for settlement of accounts with their enemies or their benefactors. The quarter is named ďPopularĒ because the souls are free to exercise their trades here. A farmer or a merchant can do the job they did on earth to make a living in hell. The only difference is that here in hell; they have to work hard for a mouthful. They canít enjoy an agreeable existence with little work because they canít use any mechanized equipment. Letís enter the citadel for a better view of things. 

The Officer on guard:    Which region are you from, deities? 

TK:      I am Buddha Tse Kong. By order of God, I take a terrestrial man to visit your citadel to get information for writing a book on hell to educate mankind. 

The officer:    I regret that it is impossible for me to disclose the situation of the citadel to strangers. 

TK:      Here is Godís edict. Please announce me to your superior. 

The officer:   I humbly apologize for my impertinence. Let me announce you right away. 

The Mandarin - Administrator of the Citadel:   I present my apology to Buddha Tse Kong and Mr. Yang Tsíien for the rudeness of my guard-officer. Also, forgive my delay in receiving you. 

TK:      Donít worry, Excellency. The fault is ours for not having informed you of our visit. 

The Administrator:   You are invited to come inside. 

YT:      Thank you for your kindness. Do the functions of an administrator here differ from an administratorís in the terrestrial world? 

TK:      How inquisitive of you, Yang Tsíien. He is called an administrator just for the sake of distinction, but he is in reality the Mandarin-Governor of the Quarter of Ordinary Souls. 

YT:      All lodgings here are made of wood. There are no storied houses like the living world. 

The Administrator:  They are the living quarters of the souls. Wooden houses suit them better, because the spirit of wood and that of earth always go together. 

YT:      One could almost say this is a replica of the terrestrial world. I see inns, shops, groceries, and crowds of souls congregating. Why do some of them wear long, long hair, with clothes of ancient style? 

The Administrator:  O, yes. Some of the souls belonged to very ancient dynasties, and they preserve their traditions and customs, which are different from the contemporary soulsí. Let me take you to the fields so you can observe the way they till the earth. 

TK:      The world of the living and that of the dead are two, but menís psychology is always the same. When in life, they didnít travel on the right path; when in death, they donít forget the profession of their life. Thence, this dictum: ďOne carries along his trade to the graveĒ. The fact is true. In this quarter, the souls like to exercise the trades of their lifetime. None of them renounce their occupation. 

YT:      I see men working everywhere in the fields. But what labor! Not a shadow of a buffalo, a mule or a tractor. Just work, pure manual work! 

The Administrator:   No comparison is possible between hell and the living world, which is much better off. Here, the souls rely wholly on their strength and labor to make a living. 

YT:      Can you describe their way of living in hell? 

The Administrator:   It somewhat duplicates the one on earth. Three meals a day, a regular schedule for working and resting. Being imbued with their infatuation from the terrestrial world, they keep intact their passions and anxieties. Marriages have been taking place. Their hardworking, painful existences have become a custom. 

YT:      Will they have to work this hard forever? 

The Administrator:   No! Everyone has a different length of time to be in this place. When reaching the end, he or she will be granted a period of relaxation while awaiting reincarnation onto the earth. 

YT:      The living people on earth have the custom of burning gold-colored paper, imitation banknotes and checks...and give offerings to the soul. Could these souls profit from all that? 

The Administrator:    Iím going to explain your question this way: the souls of the humansí ascendants by no means can profit from the offerings, because they are sinners waiting for punishment in hell. As a dictum has it: ďWhen luck arrives, the earth is changed to goldĒ. In the terrestrial world, this phenomenon may occur and become reality because earth may produce gold according to the law of creation and destruction governing the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth) but those golden papers, imitation banknotes, once burned, become ashes and return to the soil. Gold is indestructible but ashes become earth that absorbs water to generate energy. The souls receive this energy to nourish their five viscera. In other words, that energy of the five elements which comes indirectly from the paper burned by their descendants, will feed the souls, the way human beings eat food for their maintenance of life. 

YT:      I have heard that in the dreams, some descendants have seen the souls of their ancestors come back asking for alms. What does that mean? 

The Administrator:    On the earth, people used to offer food to their ancestors during the annual memorial ceremony. The offered food remains intact because the souls only feed themselves on the vital breath energy of the food. Because of the work they did in hell, also following the punishment they endured, the soulsí vital breath energy became exhausted. Sometimes, they must come back to the earth to ask for energy support from their descendants. Members of their families may burn paper money or offer a meal in the form of the offerings, when seeing them come back in the dreams. A simple offering is sufficient to prove oneís filial piety towards his ancestors. Terrestrial wealth is meaningless to the dead; therefore there is no need to offer a great quantity that will be a waste if the souls cannot receive it. The offerings or the memorial ceremonies serve to soothe the pains of the dying person, and preserve the morality toward manís predecessors. Isnít the filial piety a form of loving energy too? And the ritual ceremonies are the means to express manís filial piety towards his ancestors. When the papers are burned, they will be converted to energy that can soothe the dying person. However, itís not necessary to burn a large quantity of papers. Few are sufficient to warm the soul of dying person. Human beings should not underestimate this fact. Filial piety is essential, and the offerings are the means of extending your love toward the defunct person. Souls can only receive energy provided from the fact of burning paper money, but they cannot use that money for trade in hell. Here in hell, we use a different kind of money for trade. 

TK:      These burnt papers are only useful for the ordinary souls. For the souls whom done charitable actions on earth or followed the way of Tao, their vital energy is pure and their halo is bright. So, they donít need profane monetary means. Humans should know about this. 

YT:      You are perfectly right, Master. Now, other things: since the imitation banknotes of the world are all different in sizes as well as in quality, I wonder how the souls will make their exchange in hellís bank? 

TK:      Ha! Ha! Hellís banknotes are printed in great quantities on the earth. Therefore, sometimes it becomes a mere business for profits. If the printer doesnít have a clear conscience, he may create also a bad karma for himself. Isnít it true that hell has had to return to earth a lot of things that fail to meet the required norm? (Implying reincarnations). 

YT:      What is the difference between the souls living in the Popular Quarter and the sinful souls being in condemnation? 

The Administrator:   The souls in the Popular Quarter enjoy freedom. They can obtain a permit to go out of the quarter, whereas the souls with heavy sins arenít allowed to go out, except for special cases. The souls with slight sins can get a permit to go out of their respective prisons during the month of July. 

YT:      Now I understand. 

TK:      I advise humans to engage in regeneration, and learn the Tao so they can acquire knowledge of the truth, and realize that their bodies are all but illusory. They should not hold on to life after death. If they do not mend their ways and lead a path toward spiritual perfection, they will never escape from the cycle of birth and death. They will be entangled in the vicious circle without end. Time is short; letís go home, Yang Tsíien.  

YT:      We thank you for your information, Excellency. 

TK:      See the temple? Your body is over there. Go, sonny.

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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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