Explore the tale of a monk's transgression, repentance, and punishment in the underworld, affecting a deep brotherly bond.
Once, there was a man surnamed Zhang who suddenly passed away. His soul followed the Grim Reaper to the underworld to meet King Yan. King Yan examined the Book of Life and Death and discovered that it was a mistake by the Grim Reaper that brought him here. Angrily, King Yan ordered the Grim Reaper to return him to the mortal realm. After this man surnamed Zhang left the hall of King Yan, he secretly pleaded with the Grim Reaper to take him on a tour of hell. The Grim Reaper then took him through the nine levels of hell, explaining everything, from the Mountain of Knives to the Forest of Swords. Finally, they arrived at a place where a monk had a rope threaded through both his thighs, hanging upside down and screaming in excruciating pain. Upon closer inspection, Zhang realized that this monk was his own brother. Shocked and saddened by his brother’s condition, Zhang asked the Grim Reaper, “What crime did this person commit to deserve such a severe punishment?” The Grim Reaper explained, “This person, as a monk, shamelessly collected money from others and used it for his own indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, and debauchery. That’s why he’s being punished like this. To be liberated from this punishment, he must sincerely repent.” After Zhang woke up from this experience, he suspected that his brother might have already passed away. His brother had been residing in Xingfu Temple, so he went to visit him. As soon as he entered the temple, he heard cries of pain. When he entered the room, he saw pus-filled sores between his brother’s thighs, oozing with blood, with his legs hanging upside down on the wall, just like the scene in hell. Zhang was horrified and asked his brother why he was hanging his legs in such a way. His brother replied, “By hanging my legs like this, the pain is somewhat alleviated; otherwise, it feels like my heart is being pierced and my flesh is being torn apart.” Hearing this, Zhang recounted everything he had seen and heard in hell to his brother. His brother was terrified and immediately gave up meat, stopped drinking alcohol, and began devoutly reciting scriptures and chanting Buddha. Half a month later, the sores on his legs gradually healed. From then on, he became a devout monk who strictly adhered to Buddhist precepts.
The chronicler of strange tales said: Hell is vast and unpredictable. Wicked individuals often use this to console themselves and seek relief, yet they do not realize that the calamities in the human world actually stem from the punishments of the underworld. Doesn’t this make one fearful?