Monday, December 6, 2010

Hell - Part4

Not surprisingly, Genshin’s hell is a place of tortures, both numerous and  horrific. In a level called Receiving-Limitless-Suffering, wardens use iron  shears to cut out the victims’ tongues which, like Prometheus’s liver, grow  back repeatedly only to be cut out again and again. The tortures of Genshin’s hell are so awful, in fact, that “if anyone should describe it  thoroughly or listen to a full description of it, he would vomit blood and  die” (the punishment of child molesters is particularly disturbing and will  not be described here). Like Dante, Genshin used remarkable poetic imagery.  In Dark-Fire-Wind the souls of heretics are carried up into the sky by “an  evil wind,” twirled around like the wheel of a cart, “spinning so fast as to  be invisible,” then are cut into pieces “as small as grains of sand and  scattered in fragments in all directions,” only to reconstitute and go  through the process again and again. In some levels of hell iron mountains  tumble from the sky. Others are filled with “burning fire of such intense  heat that ordinary fire seems like snow,” causing the bodies of sinners to  “shrivel up as small as a mustard seed.” Occasionally “swords sharp enough  to split a hair…fall like a large waterfall from the sky.” In one level  sinners are immersed in a boiling river. To try to escape “is as vain as a  mantis fighting against an axe, or a monkey trying to grab the moon.”    The punishments in Genshin’s hell can also be quite poignant. One punishment  reminiscent of the tortures of Tantalus, has sinners parched by the heat  reaching for water which dries up and ceases to flow or suddenly turns into flames and burns them. In another, “those who partook in evil passion”  wander a forest of sword blades. They look up to the top branches and see  beautiful and well-dressed women, the faces of those whom they once loved.  They lacerate themselves as they climb the trees, but when they reach the  top the object of their desire appear below beckoning them to come down. The  swords then turn upwards as the sinners, slow learners, shimmy down. This goes on for ten trillion years.

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