Tag Archives: Lineages

Hell Realms


Genju, at 108 Zen Books, opened an interesting discussion with her post on sin, which also led to the topic of Hell.

You don’t hear to many things about Hell in Buddhism (probably because if you follow even the 5 basic precepts, Hell shouldn’t be a concern, and it’s not used to scare you into going to a temple on Sunday, and worshiping Buddha…) but it is there if you look. It seems to be presented in a very matter-of-fact way, too.

Traveling through South-East Asia, I saw many murals depicting the tortures of hell, butchers, thieves, murders, and other unfortunates, being strung up and impaled with hot pokers, tied up over fires like a pig on a spit, or dipped in a cauldron over a hot fire.

Just outside of Vientiane, in Laos, there is a Buddha Park with a very interesting dome. Inside, there are three levels, depicting the different realms of Hell.

I haven’t come across images like these in Korea (it’s not to say there aren’t any, but I not aware of them if there are…) but nearly every temple I’ve been to, and all the larger ones, have had an image or statue of JiJang Bosal, the green haired monk who vowed to save all the beings in Hell.

Zen Master Seung Sahn came from a Christian (Mormon, I think) background, and probably dealt with his share of opposition on his path. In one of the compilations of his teachings, I remember reading his response to those who told him he was going to Hell… “I’ll go to Hell, make a Zen Center over there!”

It’s nice to know that if I ever do end up in a Hell realm, there will be JiJang Bosal, Seung Sahn DaeSa, along with a few others, there waiting to get me back out!