THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

L1 At the end of one's life one sees one's own fall.

Sutra:

The third is the retribution of smelling, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of smelling intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a poisonous smoke that permeates the atmosphere near and far. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness wells up out of the earth and enters the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


"The nose doesn't do anything but smell," you protest. "What karma can it create?" However, smelling can also create karma. That's because there is greed involved in the smelling. Because of its greed for fragrances, the nose sometimes ends up doing improper things, like pursuing the fragrances of women. With this kind of deviant view, all kinds of evil karma can be created. Then there are various kinds of interconnected evil retributions which must be borne. Therefore, the third is the retribution of smelling, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of smelling intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a poisonous smoke that permeates the atmosphere near and far. When the person was alive he liked to smell fragrances, but now everything has turned into a poisonous vapor. You should realize that the fragrant things of this world, when inhaled to the ultimate, become poisonous vapors. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness wells up out of the earth and enters the Relentless Hell. When it sees that everything is permeated with poison, it tries to leap out of it, to bound up above the earth and escape it. Little does it realize that with that single bound it will end up in the Relentless Hell.

L2 The fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is unobstructed smelling, in which it is thoroughly infused with the evil vapors and its mind becomes distressed. The other is obstructed smelling, in which its breath is cut off and there is no passage, and it lies stifled and suffocating on the ground.

Commentary:


There, the intermediate skandha body, is aware of two sensations. One is unobstructed smelling, in which it is thoroughly infused with the evil vapors and its mind becomes distressed. His mind is in total chaos and turmoil. The other is obstructed smelling, in which its breath is cut off and there is no passage. He can't breathe. It lies stifled and suffocating on the ground. He's in total despair and on the verge of death.

L3 A detailed explanation of the intermingled retributions.

Sutra:

When the vapor of smelling invades the breath, it becomes cross-examination and bearing witness. When it invades the seeing, it becomes fire and torches. When it invades the hearing, it becomes sinking and drowning, oceans, and bubbling cauldrons. When it invades the sense of taste, it becomes putrid or rancid foods. When it invades the sense of touch, it becomes ripping apart and beating to a pulp. It also becomes a huge mountain of flesh which has a hundred thousand eyes and which is sucked and fed upon by numberless worms. When it invades the mind, it becomes ashes, pestilent airs, and flying sand and gravel which cut the body to ribbons.

Commentary:


When the vapor of smelling invades the breath, it becomes cross-examination and bearing witness. One undergoes constant questioning. Or one is obligated to do certain things. When it invades the seeing, it becomes fire and torches. This is the Hell of Fire and Torches. When it invades the hearing, it becomes sinking and drowning. There is a hell of sinking and drowning which contains blood and urine. Or it becomes oceans, and bubbling cauldrons. These are other hells. When it invades the sense of taste, it becomes putrid or rancid foods. "Putrid" describes rotten fish-flesh. "Rancid" describes spoiled candy. In general it means having to eat food that's gone bad. When it invades the sense of touch, it becomes ripping apart and beating to a pulp. It also becomes a huge mountain of flesh which has a hundred thousand eyes and which is sucked and fed upon by numberless worms. They devour one's flesh and blood. When it invades the mind, it becomes ashes, pestilent airs, and flying sand and gravel which cut the body to ribbons. When the vapors of the smelling invade the mind, one is saturated with foul air, with ashes and vapors carrying disease-ridden organisms. Or stones and clods of earth come hurtling at one unexpectedly and totally riddle one's body.

K4 Retribution of tasting.
L1 At the end of one's life one sees one's own fall.


Sutra:

The fourth is the retribution of tasting, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. This karma of tasting intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees an iron net ablaze with a raging fire that covers over the entire world. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness passes down through this hanging net, and suspended upside down it enters the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


When people nourish their own bodies with animal flesh, they become greedy for meat and investigate flavors. They are always investigating ways to come up with new and different combinations to make superb delicacies. Because of this, they end up creating a lot of bad karma. How do they make bad karma? In the study of flavors, Chinese people have decided that the most nourishment lies in living flesh. They have taken to eating live creatures, the "freshest" meat. Westerners put their meat in refrigerators for a while before they eat it. But Chinese people feel that cooling the meat robs it of its nutrients. They prefer to cut the flesh off living animals and eat that. For instance, there's one technique in which the cook sets a hog to running and forces it to run for a couple of hours by beating it. Eventually its heart is racing, and its circulation increases to the point that its flesh swells. At the strategic moment the cook slices off a big piece of flesh from the pig's hindquarters and roasts it. This is considered to be the tastiest meat.

The Chinese have another ingenious method: first they cut a hole in the center of the table and stick the monkey's head up through the hole, the monkey is still alive at this point. Then they smash the skull with a club and the people sit around and eat the monkey's brains. They say this is a most nutritious food. These are examples of creating karmic offenses because of the sense of taste. Because of a greed for fine flavors, people will go to all kinds of extremes and invent various strange methods of creating karmic offenses.

The fourth is the retribution of tasting, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. This karma of tasting intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees an iron net ablaze with a raging fire that covers over the entire world. The karma of tasting intermingles with the experiences of the other five sense organs. When the person is about to die, he sees a conflagration in an iron net that extends over the whole world. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness passes down through this hanging net, and suspended upside down it enters the Relentless Hell. His soul falls and gets hung up in the net. Head-first, upside down, he enters the Unspaced Hell.

L2 Two fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is a sucking air which congeals into ice so that it freezes the flesh of his body. The other is a spitting blast of air which spews out a raging fire that roasts his bones and marrow to a pulp.

Commentary:


There, it is aware of two sensations. One is a sucking air which congeals into ice so that it freezes the flesh of his body. The sucking is an intake of breath, and it is cold. It becomes ice, bitter cold. It freezes the flesh of the body. The other is a spitting blast of air which spews out a raging fire that roasts his bones and marrow to a pulp. This is the exhalation. It's a spitting fire which burns up his bones and marrow.

L3 A detailed explanation of the intermingled retributions.

Sutra:

When the tasting of flavors passes through the sense of taste, it becomes what must be acknowledged and what must be endured. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning
metal and stones. When it passes through the hearing, it becomes sharp weapons and knives. When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes a vast iron cage that encloses the entire land. When it passes through the sense of touch, it becomes bows and arrows, crossbows, and darts. When it passes through the mind, it becomes flying pieces of molten iron that rain down from out of space.

Commentary:


When the tasting of flavors and the evil karma it creates passes through the sense of taste, it becomes what must be acknowledged and what must be endured. "What must be acknowledged" means that, however unwilling, you are forced to admit to the evil karma you have created. "What must be endured" means that you must undergo what is basically unendurable. You can't evade your responsibility. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning metal and stones. There's a hell where the fire gets so hot that it melts the metal and rocks. When it passes through the hearing, it becomes sharp weapons and knives. In this hell a lot of keen weapons pierce your body. When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes a vast iron cage that encloses the entire land. It extends over an area as large as an entire country. When it passes through the sense of touch, it becomes bows and arrows, crossbows, and darts. Arrows and darts pierce the offender's body. When it passes through the mind, it becomes flying pieces of molten iron that rain down from out of space. These red-hot bits of metal fall out of the sky and burn the body.

K5 Retribution of touching.
L1 At the end of one's life one sees one's own fall.


Sutra:

The fifth is the retribution of touching, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of touching intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees huge mountains closing in on one from four sides, leaving no path of escape. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness then sees a vast iron city. Fiery snakes and fiery dogs, wolves, lions, ox-headed jail keepers, and horse-headed rakshasas brandishing spears and lances drive it into the iron city toward the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


The fifth is the retribution of touching, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. If one is greedy for objects of touch, one gets drawn into an evil retribution. The karma of touching intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees huge mountains closing in on one from four sides, leaving no path of escape. The karma created from the sensation of touch combines with the karma of the other five sense organs. A person with this kind of karma will experience the karmic response of seeing gigantic mountains surrounding him and pushing in on him to crush him. There is no way for him to escape the position he's in. No road is open to him. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness then sees a vast iron city. At that point, when he's caught in the midst of these mountains that are moving in on him, he spies a big iron city.

Fiery snakes and fiery dogs, wolves, lions, ox-headed jail keepers, and horse-headed rakshasas brandishing spears and lances drive it into the iron city toward the Relentless Hell. These beasts are alive, but they are composed of fire. The oxheaded jail keepers are responsible for looking after the iron city. The horse-headed rakshasa ghosts and the jailers are heavily armed with various sorts of spears and other terrifying weapons. This vicious entourage compels the offender to enter the vast iron city. As soon as he gets inside the city, he falls into the Relentless Hells.

L2 Two fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is touch that involves coming together, in which mountains come together to squeeze its body until its flesh, bones, and blood are totally dispersed. The other is touch that involves separation, in which knives and swords attack the body, ripping the heart and liver to shreds.

Commentary:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is touch that involves coming together, in which mountains come together to squeeze its body until its flesh, bones, and blood are totally dispersed. From four sides, huge mountains close in to press one's body. Every part of the body is smashed to smithereens. The mountains squeeze one into a meat patty. At that point one dies, of course, but then the "clever wind" revives one. Replete with a new body, one has to go through the same experience again. In this way one gets squeezed to death and revived, again and again, birth after birth and death after death. This is touch that involves contact. The other is touch that involves separation, in which knives and swords attack the body, ripping the heart and liver to shreds. Knives, swords, lances and the like assault the body, and the internal organs are completely destroyed.

L3 A detailed explanation of the intermingled retributions.

Sutra:

When this touching passes through the sensation of touch, it becomes striking, binding, stabbing, and piercing. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning and scorching. When it passes through the hearing, it becomes questioning, investigating, court examinations, and interrogation. When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes enclosures, bags, beating, and binding up. When it passes through the sense of taste, it becomes plowing, pinching, chopping, and severing. When it passes through the mind, it becomes falling, flying, frying, and broiling.

Commentary:


When this touching passes through the sensation of touch, it becomes striking, binding, stabbing, and piercing. The text actually reads "questioning, investigating, court examinations, and interrogation" but these are more appropriate to the retribution for hearing, whereas "striking, binding, stabbing, and piercing," which appear in the text under hearing, are more appropriate to the sense of touch. "Striking" occurs when two things are hit together, "binding" is being tied up. "Stabbing" is being cut by knives, and "piercing" is what happens when arrows are shot at one. When it passes through the seeing, it becomes burning and scorching. When the sense of touch is influenced by seeing, then the retribution is burning and intense heat, like the hell of fiery soup and charcoals and the like. When it passes through the hearing, it becomes questioning, investigating, court examinations, and interrogation. "Questioning" means being brought before the courts of hell. "Investigating" means being examined by officials before passing through the gates. "Court examinations" are designed to cross-examine you about the offenses you have created.

When it passes through the sense of smell, it becomes enclosures, bags, beating, and binding up. "Enclosures" means one is put inside something and contained. "Bags" refers to being tied in a bag. "Beating" means that besides being contained, you are beaten up. "Binding" up means that you are tied down and restricted. When it passes through the sense of taste, it becomes plowing, pinching, chopping, and severing. "Plowing" refers to having one's tongue plowed through. First it is hooked and pulled out, and then it is plowed through. "Pinching" means that the tongue is seized with pincers and pulled out. "Cutting" refers to having the tongue cut through. "Severing" means chopping the tongue clear off. When it passes through the mind, it becomes falling, flying, frying, and broiling. "Falling" is when one is tossed into space and left to drop as one will. "Flying" also refers to being hurtled into space and then allowed to crash down to earth. "Frying" means the application of intense heat to burn one to a crisp, as if one were an oil cake. "Broiling" is another way one's body is burned.

K6 Retribution of thinking.
L1 At the end of one's life one sees one's own fall.


Sutra:

The sixth is the retribution of thinking, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of thinking intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a foul wind which devastates the land. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness is blown up into space, and then, spiraling downward, it rides that wind straight into the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


The sixth is the retribution of thinking, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The bad retribution which thinking can create is extremely severe, and the evil karma it calls up is enormous. The karma of thinking intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees a foul wind which devastates the land. The karma of thinking intermingles with the karma of the other sense organs. It accumulates so that at the time of death all one sees is a horrendous wind which is blowing everything in the world to bits. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness is blown up into space, and then, spiraling downward, it rides that wind straight into the Relentless Hell. The dead person's soul is blown up into empty space, but then it takes a dive and spins into the unspaced hell.

L2 Two fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is extreme confusion, which causes it to be frantic and to race about ceaselessly. The other is not confusion, but rather an acute awareness which causes it to suffer from endless roasting and burning, the extreme pain of which is difficult to bear.

Commentary:


There, it is aware of two sensations. One is extreme confusion, which causes it to be frantic and to race about ceaselessly. The first is a lack of awareness. One doesn't understand anything at all at that time. One is sunk into a stupor, like an idiot. In that deep confusion, one becomes incoherent and races about senselessly. One never stops to rest. Wouldn't you say that is a lot of suffering? The other is not confusion, but rather an acute awareness which causes it to suffer from endless roasting and burning, the extreme pain of which is difficult to bear. The other alternative is not to be confused, but to be clearly aware of what is going on. But this awareness allows one to experience intense suffering. Although one is not confused, everything one experiences is suffering. The suffering comes from the raging blaze that burns one. The pain is the worst one could know. It's like when our bodies itch; pretty soon we can't bear the itch, so we have to scratch. It's that way here, but what is felt is pain, ultimately intense and ceaseless pain.

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