Friday, December 3, 2010

Hell - Part2

  Though horrible, Ashura is not hell, but one of the six migratory states of  existence. It is directly below the Realm of Humankind, where we are now.  Above us is the highest state of existence, the Realm of Heavenly Beings, a  sort of earthly paradise. Genshin, like Dante, attempted to paint the glories of Paradise in all the attractiveness that his imagination could conjure up. Genshin’s vision of Paradise, however, is based on tenth century Kyoto, a luxury-loving culture that had succeeded in blending the works of  Chinese art with the natural beauty of Japan. With its lotus ponds and  artistic pavilions made of “the Seven Precious Treasures,” Paradise is  described by Genshin with startling beauty and originality.  

The Realm of Human life, meanwhile, is a cesspool of perdition and  corruption, a land without peace. Below us, things only get worse. In  descending order, there is the Realm of Beasts, then the Realm of Hungry  Spirits, and finally Hell. Like Dante, Genshin gives hell an elaborate  architecture with many levels. Hell itself has eight divisions, with such  ominous-sounding names as the Hell of Repetition, the Hell of Black Rope and  the Hell of the Great Scorching Heat. The tortures of hell increase as you  descend, with the first level of hell set aside for anyone committing even  the slightest evil, such as the killing of fish or chickens. The eighth  level, meanwhile, is reserved for those who have killed their mother and  father. Each of the eight divisions has its sixteen minor hells. With such a  great variety of hells, there is a place for every sinner, with every sinner  in his or her place.

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