Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hell - Part6

Proportions are also distinct in the two hells. Dante’s hell is a deep pit extending from a point under Jerusalem to the center of the earth. Purgatory is a mountain on the opposite side of the earth. Genshin's hell is also an abyss but a rather vast one. Entrance to this abyss begins a thousand leagues beneath the base of Mount Sumeru. To arrive completely into the eighth level, the infernal abyss called Hell of No Interval, the condemned must fall head first for two thousand years, reminded the entire way of what’s in store for them and why. Hugely vast when compared to the treck of Dante’s pilgrim.    Genshin's conception of time was similarly vast, often measured in ‘kalpas’, with one kalpa described as ‘approximately how long it would take to wear down a large granite mountain if a little bird should graze it with the tips of its wings once every three years or so’. Those who enter into Genshin's hell, however, do not have to abandon all hope. While those who enter Buddhist Paradise are forever saved, time spent in tortures in the lower realms, though excrutiatingly long, are not infinite. Like Dante, Genshin held that a person’s lot in the next world is determined not by the whimsical decrees of ecclesiastical authorities, but by what one is in his inner life in this world. While this belief was somewhat unusual in the Europe of Dante’s day, Genshin was but applying the Buddhist doctrine of  ood and evil Karma. In his Buddhist hell, when the evil karma has been exhausted by the measure of suffering it causes, even the lowest hell will give up its victims.

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