THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Sutra:

Earth Store Bodhisattva told Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, “Humane One, such are the karmic responses of beings in Jambudvipa who commit evil deeds. The power of karma is extremely great. It rivals Mount Sumeru in its heights. It surpasses the great oceans in its depths. It obstructs the path leading to sagehood. For that reason, beings should never think that minor bad deeds are unimportant or assume that they do not count as offenses. After death, there will be retributions to undergo that reflect all those details. Fathers and sons have the closest relationship, but their roads diverge and each must go his own way. Even if they met, neither would consent to undergo suffering in the other’s place. Now, based on the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I will describe some of the retributions for offenses that take place in the hells. Please, Humane One, listen for a moment to what I am going to say.”

Universal Worthy replied, “I have long known of the retributions that come about in the Three Evil Paths. My hope in asking the Humane One to describe them is that when beings in the future Dharma-Ending Age who are committing evil deeds hear the Humane One’s descriptions, they will be moved to take refuge with the Buddha.”

Commentary:

Earth Store Bodhisattva told Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, “Humane and Virtuous One, such are the karmic responses of beings in southern Jambudvipa who commit evil deeds. The power of karma is extremely great. How great? It rivals Mount Sumeru in its heights. It surpasses the great oceans in its depths. It obstructs the path leading to sagehood. How come we do not yet fulfill our karma in the Way in our cultivation? It is because we are obstructed by the power of our karma; that is why we cannot realize the holy Way.

For that reason, beings should never think that minor bad deeds are unimportant. Do not look lightly on minor acts and deeds of evil, why? It is because numerous minor deeds of evil become great evil. Or assume that they do not count as offenses. After death, there will be retributions to undergo that reflect all those details. Evil deeds as numerous as hair or as tiny as dust particles will beget retribution. Fathers and sons have the closest relationship, but their roads diverge and each must go his own way. When it is time for the hells, fathers refuse to suffer on behalf of their sons. Even filial sons refuse to suffer in the hells for their parents. In this way, each takes his or her own path.

Even if they met in the hells, neither would consent to undergo suffering in the other’s place. Why? Although they were father and son in the human realm, once they are in the hells, they know that their relationship is a result of past karma. They may even have been enemies. This is why no one would be willing to substitute for someone else in the hells.

Now, based on the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I, Earth Store Bodhisattva says, will briefly and simply describe some of the retributions for offenses that take place in the hells. Please, Humane One, listen for a moment to what I am going to say.”

To Earth Store Bodhisattva, Universal Worthy replied, “I have long known of the retributions that come about in the Three Evil Paths. Whether you explain or not, I already know; however, no beings in the future do. My hope in asking the Humane One to describe them is that when beings in the future Dharma-Ending Age who are committing evil deeds hear the Humane One’s descriptions, they will be forewarned and cautious about not committing any evil. This is why I hope the Humane One will explain this to me. All beings will be moved to take refuge with the Buddha, part of the Triple Jewel and Buddhism.

Sutra:

Earth Store said, “Humane One, this is what happens during retributions in the hells. Offenders may go to a hell in which their tongues are stretched out and plowed through by cattle; or to a hell in which their hearts are pulled out and eaten by yakshas; or to a hell in which their bodies are cooked in cauldrons of boiling oil; or to a hell in which they are forced to embrace red-hot copper pillars; or to a hell in which they are burned by a fire that constantly pursues them; or to a hell in which cold and ice are all-pervasive; or to a hell in which excrement and urine are endless; or to a hell in which flying maces are unavoidable; or to a hell in which fiery spears stab them repeatedly; or to a hell in which they are constantly beaten on the chests and backs; or to a hell in which their hands and feet are burned; or to a hell in which they are bound by iron snakes that coil around them; or to a hell in which they are pursued by racing iron dogs; or to a hell in which their bodies are stretched stomped by iron mules.

Commentary:

Earth Store said to Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, “Humane One, this is what happens during retributions in the hells, as described in the above and in the following, either way. Offenders may go to a hell in which their tongues are stretched out and plowed through by cattle. The tongues of those who like to exaggerate, scold others, and lie will be hooked and stretched out. Oxen pulling plows will plow their tongues.

Or to a kind of hell in which their hearts are pulled out and eaten by yakshas such as bold ghosts and speedy ghosts. Or to a hell in which their bodies are cooked in cauldrons of boiling oil; offenders are cooked alive in these pots.

Or to a hell in which they are forced to embrace red-hot copper pillars; or to a hell in which they are burned by various types of fire a fire that constantly pursues them; or to a hell in which cold and ice are all-pervasive; or to a hell in which excrement and urine are endless; or to a hell in which flying maces are unavoidable. What are maces? Maces are shaped like apples or lemons but they have thorns or needles all around them. These things may be in the ground or come from the air. Although they are metal, they can fly and pierce you in the head, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, or anywhere. In fact, they hit you where you hurt.

Or to a hell in which fiery spears red-hot from a fire stab a hole in them repeatedly. They open up a road and burn a hole in your body so it is good for ventilation.

Or to a hell in which they are constantly beaten on the chests and backs; or to a hell in which their hands and feet are burned; or to a hell in which they are bound by iron snakes that coil around them and burn them. The iron snakes in this hell are a type of insect that spit out smaller snakes. These iron snakes have not just one mouth, but mouths all over their bodies. Each mouth can spit out a small insect or snake. Each small snake has twelve iron mouths that squirm from the offenders’ eyes into their bodies then exit from the genitalia. Their bites are so painful that they are impossible to bear. Why do hell-beings face this type of retribution? It is because these beings enjoyed lust when they were alive. They over-indulged in sexual desire. Women like men and men like women. They set no limit for themselves; hence they face this type of retribution of falling into the hells in the future. This is extremely dangerous.

Or to a hell in which they are pursued by racing iron dogs; or to a hell in which their bodies are stretched stomped by iron mules about the same size as horses and slightly larger than asses.

Sutra:

“Humane One, to inflict these retributions in each hell, hundreds of thousands of instruments made of copper, iron, stone, or fire arise from karmic forces. Those four materials come into being in response to the kinds of karma that offenders create. If I were to explain in detail what happens during retributions in the hells, then I would need to tell of the hundreds of thousands of sufferings that must be undergone in each specific hell. How much more would that be the case for the sufferings in all the many hells! Now, having based myself upon the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I have given a general answer to the Humane One’s question, for if I were to speak in detail, it would take eons.”

Commentary:

Earth Store Bodhisattva called out again, “Humane One, to inflict these retributions in each hell as I so explained above, hundreds of thousands of instruments made of copper, iron, stone, or fire arise from karmic forces. Do these copper, iron, stone, or fire really exist? No. Why? Those four materials come into being in response to the kinds of karma that offenders create. Living beings face the retribution for whatever causes they create. The karma you create manifests this type of retribution. Hells of copper appear when you create karma by which you deserve to be punished by copper implements. Hells of iron appear when you create karma by which you deserve to be punished by iron implements. The same applies to stone and fire.

If I were to explain in detail what happens during retributions in the hells, then I would need to tell of the hundreds of thousands of sufferings that must be undergone in each specific hell. There is not just one type of suffering in one hell, but hundreds of thousands of sufferings. How much more would that be the case for the sufferings in all the many hells! Now, having based myself upon the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I, Earth Store Bodhisattva says, have given a general answer like the brief and simple one above to the Humane One’s question, for if I were to speak in detail, it would take several great eons and I would still not finish.

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