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The First Court of Hell

The First Court of Hell

C023/9545

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Credit

SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Chinese beliefs “Naraka” is the Buddhist concept of hell. In the afterlife the soul must pass through ten stages, in the form of the ten Courts of Hell. Depending on its evil deeds, the degree and duration of punishment is determined. In the first of the ten courts, governed by Ts'in-kwang-wang, is where the soul is weighed. It is known as the mirror tower (because it reflects the evil committed in the sinner's life), and includes the prison of the Bonzes (Buddhist monks), and the Turnstile of Hunger and Thirst. After receiving the punishments, the soul is prepared for reincarnation by the process of metempsychosis, involving the taking of the “elixir of forgetfulness” to remove all previous memories. The reborn souls enter Nirvana after crossing the “Bridge of Helplessness”. From “Recherche sur les Superstitions en Chine” by Henri Doré, Shanghai, 1914.

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