Chapter 11-21
Chapter 12

                                                             CHAPTER 12                                                                                                                         VISIT TO THE PRISON OF HUNGER AND THIRST                             Buddha Tse Kong who manifested on September 9th, 1976                                                                      Leap year of the Dragon (1976)                                                                                                           POEM                                                                                                                                                                   In the soft breeze of incense breathing spring                                                                                             He capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth                                                                                                   The civilized earthly-world has decadent roads                                                                                           Damned souls are trapped in the celestial net.                                                                                              Buddha Tse Kong: Until this day, we have had much pain writing the book. For whose happiness have we endure all this pain and care? For whose sake have we consecrated our attention and anxiety? On roads heading in different directions, men and vehicles are rushing and rumbling in full animation and turbulence. This is a sign of material progress and of civilization. However, morality declines from day to day, ways and customs degenerate in depravation. Wails and laments from the souls in the World of Darkness are shaking mountains and valley in hell. Obeying to the order of God, the Temple of Sages has undertaken the mission of writing the book ďVoyages to HellĒ. By depicting the chastisement and the mournful scenes of hell, this book is for the purpose of explaining the truth and showing men the harbour of illusions in which they live. This book is not at all a fictitious-novel written for men to read as pastime. They must be aware of its real significance. Yang Tsíien! Another trip to hell. Make yourself ready.                                                                                                                                                  YT : I am ready, Master. Shall we go?                                                                                                           TK: Remember this. For a profane man like you, it is a providential privilege to get seated on a dais of lotus. You should respect and cherish such a favor... Here we are! Letís go down. Tonight, weíre going to visit the Prison of Hunger and Thirst.                                                                 YT: This place looks like a waste land. Itís so deserted. Which direction are we taking, Master?     TK: Not far from here, beyond this stretch of bumpy road is the Prison of Hunger and Thirst. YT : This place is totally deserted. How can the souls enter the prison?                                                TK : Look to your left. Youíll see.                                                                                                                   YT: Thatís it. I see a small path. Two or three buffalo-headed and horse-faced demons are escorting sinful souls. TK : Letís go to the right and take that path to follow them.                           A buffalo-headed guard: These profane folk! Who permits you to come directly here?             TK : Open wide your eyes, and look before itís too late.                                                                          YT: This buffalo-headed guard appears ugly and ferocious. He has a spear and a steel net in hand. He seems aggressive. Is he going to attack us?                                                                                 TK : Do not fear. Iím going to box his ears.                                                                                                  The guard: Who are you? Say it quickly or Iíll bind you up like faggots and bring you to the Governorís judgement.                                                                                                                                    TK : How long have you been enlisted as a guard of hell? You donít seem to know who I am.   The Guard: Over two months I carry out orders to the letter. Iím proud of myself. Every living soul without an authorization is arrested. This is my responsibility.                                                    TK: Iím the living Buddha Tse Kong. This gentleman, a disciple of Saint Kwan-Yu, is appointed by the Temple of Sages to visit hell, and write a book for menís education. We are on our way to the prison of hunger and thirst. If you must know, we are bearers of the Celestial Edict, and here it is. Donít try to block our way. Otherwise, heavy punishment is waiting for you.                             The Guard: Well, well, this is correct! Itís Godís order. Let me kneel down to salute the divine order. So you are the very living buddha people used to call the Mad Monk. I quit the living world not long ago, and didnít have the honor of encountering the Great Buddha. I ask for your pardon, both you and Mr. Yang Tsíien. If you want to go to the Prison of Hunger and Thirst, you will find it beyond those hills. Iíll be your guide.                                                                             TK : Perfect. Letís follow him.                                                                                                                         YT: Yes. This small road is covered with crushed stones and its surface is full of puddles. A real torment to walk on! The soles of my feet are pierced through by thousands of penetrating needles. Before us, two guards are escorting a woman. One would say she is a rich woman considering her attire. But her feet are chained. What crime led her here?                                           TK: The well-to-do people in the terrestial world who enjoyed too good a living, wasting cereal grains and leftovers, and overate during their lives. Now, they are here to learn the anguish of hunger and thirst, and the importance of a morsel of food.                                                                     YT: That hill is not too high. It has leafy trees, reeds and climbing plants, similar to earth. On the slope I see a path only wide enough for three persons.                                                                           TK: When you come down the slope on the other side, you will see the Prison of Hunger and Thirst at the bottom of it.                                                                                                                                YT: I see the prison. Its four walls of cast-iron are painted black, with bolted doors. Now, we are at the foot of the hill.                                                                                                                                       The guard : Please wait here, gentleman. Iím going to announce your arrivals.                                  YT: I see indistinct characters engraved on a wooden board: ďPrison of Hunger and ThirstĒ. It is securely guarded by demons on both sides. The woman we just saw is entering the prison.    The guard : I have notified the Mandarin-Governor. Follow me please.                                               The Mandarin-Governor: Welcome to Buddha Tse Kong and Mr. Yang Tsíien. Your visit honors me greatly. I have been tardly in my reception. Please accept my humble apology.                         TK: I pray you, Excellency. We ourselves are intrusive visitors. As you must have guessed, the Temple of the Sages received the celestial order to write a book entitled ďVoyages to HellĒ. I was entrusted the task of leading Yang Tsíienís soul to hell, to observe and collect information for the book. Its aim is to educate mankind. We rely greatly upon your assistance, Excellency.           The Mandarin: Our prison, named ďHunger and ThirstĒ is a sub-section of the 2nd Palace. I propose to take Mr. Yang Tsíien for a visit. Buddha Tse Kong, please take a rest and have some tea.                                                                                                                                                                       YT: Shall we go right away, Excellency? This prison is composed of three meter-wide cells. The detainees, though quite decently dressed, look unhealthy, unhappy and pale. They are famished people who are crying and lamenting to the extreme.                                                             The Mandarin: Most of these people were important businessmen in their lifetime. They possessed too much clothing, spent their money just as though it was pebbles without any twinge of conscience. They were completely unfeeling and merciless to needly persons and beggars. After their death, they came to this place. Let me call some of them for you to question.   YT : May I know the reason why you are detained in this prison?                                                         The soul: When alive, I was the proprietor of a big factory. My business went smoothly and I earned a great deal of money. In my business transactions, I associated with wealthy people. I spent most of my days in hotels, restaurants and pleasure-places. For some feasts, I paid thousands of dollars without any bad feeling about the cost. Nevertheless, things were different when I was dealing with the welfare of my employees. I was as hard as a rock. I was stingy. I counted my coins, which caused much rancour among my personnel. If charitable organizations asked for a donation, I disbursed at most 500 dollars, just to get rid of them. Such words as charity, mercy, and sympathy had no meaning to me. To the beggars, needy friends or kinfolks who came to my door, I had my servants chase them away, feigning an absence. When at home, I allowed myself to enjoy the rarest, most exquisite dishes, no matter what they cost. Moreover, I maintained many concubines, affording each of them a separate house with all comforts. In this way, I spent tens of thousands of dollars monthly, viewing the fact as quite natural. Two years ago, I died of hypertension and was condemned to this prison of hunger and thirst. Although I still have my western clothing, I have no more chance to relish the delicacies of yore. Each week, I am tossed a bowl of vegetables or of porridge instead of rice. Three days without food leaves me exhausted and unconscious. The buffalo-headed and horse-faced demons bring water to resuscitate me and then the torment resumes. Now, I have an empty stomach, my bowels get twisted in unbearable fits. Gentlemen, I pray you to tose me anything to eat. Iím starving!              The Mandarin : You, brute! Come here. Donít disturb people. You donít have to moan, since you had profited too much from your life. Now, do confess your crimes to Mr. Yang Tsíien.                The soul: I was the wife of a rich man. My husband was an owner of a building enterprise and we prospered quite rapidly. We changed our houses frequently, shifting to larger ones each time. Possessing too much money and not knowing what to do, I began to play cards day and night, totally neglecting my duty as a wife. I made appointments with my male and female friends in night-clubs, and was on a spree all night long, incapable of restraining myself. As far as relief to the wretched and charity activities are concerned, I was cold and completely heedless. After a lifetime of amusement and debauchery, I died, and the Mandarin-Governor was merciless to me. He condemned me to this prison. I am terribly hungry and am dying of thirst. Itís beyond my endurance.                                                                                                                            YT: The face of this woman shows pain and suffering. She is chewing her fingers. Hunger and thirst must be tormenting her terribly.                                                                                                        The Mandarin : Back to your cell!                                                                                                                 YT: One thing I canít understand, Excellency. All these detainees, men and women in different cells, wear fine clothing. Why do they behave just like beggars on the roadside, with dishevelled hair, crying and moaning, chewing their fingers to appease hunger?                             The Mandarin: All those people who destroy the properties of God, waste nutritious foods, and foolishly lavish their money; all those who seek to enjoy themselves, giving no alms to the poor or donating no shares to charity organizations; the man who forsakes his legitimate wife to live in a nice home with his concubine or his lover; the woman who unexpectedly becomes a popular singer, as we find in many places, and who despises and drops her husband to freely enjoy ephemeral fame; and all those who change their hearts and behavior as they get richer, will come down to hell to endure painful punishment. This will serve as a warning to men in the living world. The people endowed with wealth and honor are advised to share a little of their riches to assist other people. They should not lavish their money only for personal enjoyment. If they deal passionately in pleasures, their happiness will end and it will be followed by woe. The present-day wealth and honor of theirs are the fruit of their former lives, during which they had been known to regenerate and accumulate merit. Let them be aware of that. If they know how to behave in this life, avoiding lust, helping other people from danger, rescuing the wretched or printing canonical books for educating mankind, they not only will enjoy a good reputation but their souls will also rise to the kingdom of happiness, or they will be worshipped in a temple by large numbers of people.                                                                        TK : Well, I think itís enough for tonight, Yang Tsíien. How about going home?                              The Mandarin : In fact, itís growing late. Again, I hope you forget my shortcomings.                      YT : We are grateful for your explanations. They are quite clear. We have to take leave now.        TK : Quickly to the lotus dais. Here it is, the Temple. Come down regain your body.