Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons

In Higashiosaka we found "The best theme park sim of Jigoku, the Buddhist Hell". This seemed an odd way to host a haunt, but hey.

Four of us went to the site, which seemed to be a large, open-gridwork platform of metal, held up by very large metal chains. An elevator was in the center of the platform; the doors opened and closed, but we could never figure out how to make it rise.

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We flew up.

Now, there are five or six "hell realms", or Naraka, in Buddhist theology. Of these, the worst is Avīci, which translates roughly to "endless suffering". But even Avīci can be escaped--in Buddhism, nothing is permanent but Nirvana, everything is predicate on our free choices as evolving beings to do good, or to do ill.

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Once you are in the hell realm, you must realize that you can die here. As visitors to hell, we were protected as long as we stayed in the center house, and only observed. Leaving the safety of the enclosure meant risking death, dissolution, and abandonment in the hell realms.

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A quote from the Hells webpage:
"The hells (Jap. Jigoku) are viewed as a creation of the mind, filled with self-deception and egocentrism. The first 4 in the descriptions that follow are consequences of physical actions, the 5th is the result of crimes of speech and the last 3, the result of mental faults or imperfections -- stains, really -- called the kleshas."


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In this understanding, the great demons, who overpower and overshadow the screaming bodies of the damned, do so as projections of their flaws and fears. They are not real, as we understand reality; and any time these tortured beings realize that these demons are projections of themselves, from their own failings as enlightened beings...they will then "leave" this place of suffering.

Sadly, it can take some people a nearly endless amount of time to realize they create their own suffering on this plane of Jigoku.

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Fawkes took to the height, held aloft by a huge black bird with human legs and arms, to get a better perspective on the tableau. I flew up to see things better and realized the peril he was in.

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The entire surface of the double roof of the center house was surmounted with curving thorns, thick and long enough to pierce completely through any avatar that fell from the birds' grasp.

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All around us were screams of torment and scenes of suffering--the damned dying, over and over, by crushing between stones, skulls cracked open by spiked clubs of gargantuan size, the unwary dead set in boxes of blood and flesh.

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This is what awaits the unwary who err in Buddhist belief: those who use their voices to seduce others, those who sell or consume drugs that deny the truth of this reality, those who deny that good and evil exist, those who kill for pleasure, those that kill animals.

As such, I think it's entirely appropriate that Jigoku is on the grid this year--advice from Buddhist faithful to mend our ways, if we are straying. It's a good--if excessively lurid--point to make.

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