Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Macabre Images of Buddhist Hell(s)

Stephanie Mee
Buddhism describes infernal planes of existence, a Great Waste, perdition.

These correspond to very weighty karma (deeds) willed and carried out. Once performed deeds wait for the opportunity to bear their result. There is not an absolute necessity of a result. But there is a remarkably strong tendency for them to bear fruit. See more in WQ's continuing coverage.

Many Christian over-simplifications and consequent misunderstandings of "hell" are based on ancient sutras that have become Eastern lore.

But there are also direct mystical visions available to rishis (seers) and contemplatives [anyone who develops profound wholesome states, meditative serenity, and the third-eye (dibba-cakkhu), which is able to directly glimpse these realms].

In the absence of direct visions, there are interpretative scenes like those surrounding Wat Kuk.

(4/22/09, The Phnom Penh Post)

"Wat [Temple] Kuk's macabre images invoke Buddhist hell"

Just outside Koh Kong City towards the Cambodian-Thai border stands Wat Mondul Seyma, a seemingly pleasant place that harbors a macabre lesson to all those who stray off the narrow path.

Wat Mondul Seyma, or Wat Kuk for short, lies among shady trees and fluttering prayer flags, a peaceful setting to gaze over the bright frescoes illustrating the life and teachings of the Buddha.

Behind the temple there is a short, unmarked path that leads down to the sea and is open to all visitors. It is beyond this path where one cannot help but feel disconnected from the peaceful surrounds of Wat Kuk.

At first glance...what looks like a lively scene of stone and concrete statues emanating from the cliff's edge.

But on further inspection, this is no ordinary scene. This is a macabre, Dante-esque vision of what will happen to those unfortunate beings whose unskilful karma leads them to be reborn in Buddhist hell. The first scene at the bottom of the path is of a group of three terrified and naked people scrambling up a tree, while a maniacally grinning demon and his barking dog wait at the bottom... More>>

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