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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Two punishments shall be remitted him


This

account of man's wickedness on the earth and the punishments in store for him was written in language intelligible to every man and woman, and was submitted for the approval of P'u-sa, the intention being to wait the return[349] of some virtuous soul among the sons of men, and by these means publish it all over the earth. When P'u-sa saw what had been done, he said it was good; and on the 3rd of 8th moon proceeded with the ten Judges of Purgatory to lay this book before God.[350]

Then God said, "Good indeed! Good indeed! henceforth let all spirits take note of any mortal who vows to lead a virtuous life and, repenting, promises to sin no more. Two punishments shall be remitted him. And if, in addition to this, he succeeds in doing five virtuous acts, then he shall escape all punishment and be born again in some happy state--if a woman she shall be born as a man. But more than five virtuous acts shall enable such a soul to obtain the salvation of others, and redeem wife and family from the tortures of hell. Let these regulations be published in the _Divine Panorama_ and circulated on earth by the spirits of the City Guardian.[351] In fear and trembling obey this decree and carry it reverently into effect."

THE FIRST COURT.

His Infernal Majesty Ch'in Kuang is specially in charge of the register of life and death both for old and young, and presides at the judgment-seat in the

lower regions. His court is situated in the great Ocean, away beyond the Wu-chiao rock,[352] far to the west near the murky road which leads to the Yellow Springs.[353] Every man and woman dying in old age whose fate it is to be born again into the world, if their tale of good and evil works is equally balanced, are sent to the First Court, and thence transferred back to Life, male becoming female, female male, rich poor, and poor rich, according to their several deserts. But those whose good deeds are outnumbered by their bad are sent to a terrace on the right of the Court, called the Terrace of the Mirror of Sin, ten feet in height. The mirror is about fifty feet[354] in circumference and hangs towards the east. Above are seven characters written horizontally:--"Sin Mirror Terrace upon no good men." There the wicked souls are able to see the naughtiness of their own hearts while they were among the living, and the danger of death and hell. Then do they realize the proverb,--

"Ten thousand taels of yellow gold cannot be brought away: But every crime will tell its tale upon the judgment day."

When the souls have been to the Terrace and seen their wickednesses, they are forwarded into the Second Court, where they are tortured and dismissed to the proper hell.

Should there be any one enjoying life without reflecting that Heaven and Earth produce mortals, that father and mother bring the child to maturity--truly no easy matter; and, ignoring the four obligations,[355] before receiving the summons, lightly sever the thread of their own existence by cutting their throats, hanging, poisoning, or drowning themselves:--then such suicides, if the deed was not done out of loyalty, filial piety, chastity, or friendship, for which they would go to Heaven, but in a trivial burst of rage, or fearing the consequences of a crime which would not amount to death, or in the hope of falsely injuring a fellow-creature--then such suicides, when the last breath has left their bodies, shall be escorted to this Court by the Spirits of the Threshold and of the Hearth. They shall be placed in the Hunger and Thirst Section, and every day from 7 till 11 o'clock they will resume their mortal coil, and suffer again the pain and bitterness of death. After seventy days, or one or two years as the case may be, they will be conducted back to the scene of their suicide, but will not be permitted to taste the funeral meats, or avail themselves of the usual offerings to the dead. Bitterly will they repent, unable as they will be to render themselves visible and frighten people,[356] vainly striving to procure a substitute.[357] For when the substitute shall have been harmlessly entrapped, the Spirits of the Threshold and Hearth will reconduct the erring soul back to this Court, whence it will be sent on to the Second Court, where its balance of good and evil will be struck, and dreadful tortures applied, being finally passed on through the various Courts to the utter misery of hell. Should any one have such intention of suicide and thus threaten a fellow creature, even though he does not commit the act but continues to live not without virtue, yet shall it not be permitted in any way to remit his punishment. Any soul which after suicide shall not remain invisible, but shall frighten people to death, will be seized by black-faced long-tusked devils and tortured in the various hells, to be finally thrust into the great Gehenna, for ever to remain hung up in chains, and not permitted to be born again.


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