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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

And subdivided into sixteen wards


Every

Buddhist or Taoist priest who receives money for prayers and liturgies, but skips over words and misses out sentences, on arriving at this, the First Court, will be sent to the section for the Completion of Prayer, and there in a small dark room he shall pick out such passages as he has omitted, and make good the deficiency as best he can, by the uncertain light of an infinitesimal wick burning in a gallon of oil. Even good and virtuous priests must also repair any omissions they may have (accidentally) made, and so must every man or woman who in private devotion may have omitted or wrongly repeated any part of the sacred writings from over-earnestness, their attention not being properly fixed on the actual words they repeat. The same applies to female priests. A dispensation from Buddha to remit such punishment is put in force on the first day of each month when the names are entered in the register of the virtuous.

O ye dwellers upon earth, on the 1st day of the 2nd moon, fasting turn to the north and make oath to abstain from evil and fix your thoughts on good, that ye may escape hell! The precepts of Buddha are circulated over the whole world to warn mankind to believe and repent, that when the last hour comes their spirits may be escorted by dark-robed boys to realms of bliss and happiness in the west.

THE SECOND COURT.

His Infernal Majesty, Ch'u Ching, reigns at the

bottom of the great Ocean. Away to the south, below the Wu-chiao rocks, he has a vast hell, many leagues in extent, and subdivided into sixteen wards, as follows:--

In the first, nothing but black clouds and constant sand-storms. In the second, mud and filth. In the third, _chevaux de frise_. In the fourth, gnawing hunger. In the fifth, burning thirst. In the sixth, blood and pus. In the seventh, the shades are plunged into a brazen cauldron (of boiling water). In the eighth, the same punishment is repeated many times. In the ninth, they are put into iron clothes. In the tenth, they are stretched on a rack to regulation length. In the eleventh, they are pecked by fowls. In the twelfth, they have only rivers of lime to drink. In the thirteenth, they are hacked to pieces. In the fourteenth, the leaves of the trees are as sharp as sword-points. In the fifteenth they are pursued by foxes and wolves. In the sixteenth, all is ice and snow.

Those who lead astray young boys and girls, and then escape punishment by cutting off their hair and entering the priesthood;[358] those who filch letters, pictures, books, etc. entrusted to their care, and then pretend to have lost them; those who injure a fellow-creature's ear, eye, hand, foot, fingers, or toes; those who practise as doctors without any knowledge of the medical art; those who will not ransom grown-up slave-girls;[359] those who, contracting marriage for the sake of gain, falsely state their ages; or those who in cases of betrothal, before actual marriage, find out that one of the contracting parties is a bad character, and yet do not come forward to say so, but inflict an irreparable wrong on the innocent one;--such offenders, when their quota of crime has been cast up, their youth or age and the consequences of their acts taken into consideration, will be seized by horrid red-faced devils and thrust into the great Hell, and thence despatched to the particular ward in which they are to be tormented. When their time of suffering there has expired, they will be moved into the Third Hall, there to be tortured and passed on to Gehenna.


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