JOURNEY NO 17  -  19th December 1976
Touring “Copper/Iron Knife Face-Scraping Prison”
JiGong: Those who are ascetic practitioners are constantly encountering all sorts of difficulties and obstacles but they are advised to persevere and in the end they will be amply rewarded. Yang Sheng; get ready to visit Hades.
Yang Sheng: Thank you, dear Master, for your good advice. I am aware that those who do not have determination cannot succeed especially in ascetic practices because they have to surmount all sorts of hardships and obstacles. Nevertheless, dear Master, set your mind at rest about me. I am now safely seated on the lotus flower platform, so we can proceed.
JiGong: We have now arrived; you can get down. Today we are visiting the place called “Copper/Iron Knife Face-Scraping Prison”.
Yang Sheng: Oh! The Officer and General are coming. I will go and pay respects to them. I am a disciple of Sheng Xian Tang. Today JiGong has brought me here to tour your Prison so that when I return, I can write a Book to urge human beings to do good deeds. Officer and General, please help me.
Officer: Please rise; there is no need to stand on ceremony. I am very happy to receive JiGong and you, so please follow me to see the inside of this place.
General: The name of this place is “Copper/Iron Knife Face-Scraping Prison” where souls who do not understand the meaning of modesty, or those who do not care for their face-skin are sent for punishment. Please do come in.
Yang Sheng: In this Prison, the Ox-head-horse-faced soldier of Hades are herding a great number of souls, male and female, young and old, everyone looking downcast, frightened and ashamed. All of them have to report at the door before being allowed to enter.
JiGong: No need to look around so much; just follow the General inside.
Yang Sheng: Ouch! Ouch! There is a lot of agony sound coming from inside; all the sinful souls being bound hand and foot to iron pillars and the soldiers of Hades are using copper/iron knives to scrape their face skin – just like the abattoirs scraping the skin of animals. All the souls are yelling; their faces, without the face skin, are bloody and unrecognizable. The patches where the face skins are scraped off reveal the flesh. May I ask Officer for what kind of sins are these souls sent here to receive this punishment?
Officer: It is quite difficult to explain but it would be better if the various souls were to tell their individual stories to you.
Yang Sheng: This is a good idea because this will be abundant evidence for each type of sin.
General: Here, Male Soul, quickly step forward and relate your sinful story to this good man from Earth.
Yang Sheng: Can I ask Mister, why you are being punished in this Prison?
First Male Soul: When I was alive, my parents died early hence I did not have the benefit of a good education. Therefore, by force of circumstances, I had to work when quite young and because all work was hard, I did not like working. I thought that it would be better to become a beggar, going from house to house, thereby not necessary to work hard for a living. I imagined I could pass the day by begging but because of my good physique, I was afraid people would not be too willing to give me alms. So, at the beginning, I began to eat in lesser quantities for two months, just eating broth with plenty of gruel so that my body could become reduced in size and weaken. I smeared mud on my face, wore torn clothes, pretended to be lame and then went out begging from house to house. I explained to the householders that I was an orphan, no one to take care of me and that I was lame. Therefore, those good people took pity on me and gave me money. In this way, I was able to collect a few hundred dollars a month. Everyday on returning home from begging, I stealthily became happy and satisfy inside myself over this achievement of getting easy money without great effort whatsoever. At night, I changed over to good clothes, went to the market place for good eating and then to womanizing. As time went by, I became more avaricious and asked the good people to give more instead of the usual few cents. They began scolding me but I did not care about their scolding. When I died eventually, Song Di Wang sentenced my soul to this Prison for punishment, scraping off my face skin – very painful indeed! It is already too late for me to repent for my past misdeeds.
Officer: You are like swine. When you were alive, you did not follow the correct path, that’s why your soul will have to suffer now. When still young, you pretended to be lame and being thick-skinned, went about begging. Any young man with ambition, unless forced by circumstances of extreme poverty, will not stoop so low and sell his face to go begging. Not only going begging for money, you squandered your ill-gotten money on good food, good dresses, dancing and womanizing. You are really repellent; when alive you did not care to save your skin, and so when dead, you will now be without your face skin, that’s why your face skin is being scraped out. Therefore, those human beings now alive should realize the necessity and honor of saving face skin. Quickly go inside, and I will summon another soul for Yang Sheng to hear his story.
Yang Sheng: Thank you very much, Officer. I wish to ask this Mister, why at this age of about 30, you are dead so early and why is your soul sent to this Prison?
Second Male Soul: When I talk about it, I feel very ashamed. When I was alive, I disgraced my ancestors. When I was about 17 years old, I studied up to Secondary School. I associated with bad company and followed friends to enjoy ourselves at the park. On seeing young girls, I tried to become fresh with them, spoke vulgar language; they scolded me, calling me “short lived urchin, uneducated and not saving face skin”. In spite of such abuses, I was very happy inside. I liked to walk in dark alleys and took advantage to molest girls usually embracing them from behind; or when riding bicycle, I would go near girls and touch their bodies. Once I raped a girl. In neither of these exploits was I ever caught by the police, but, once when I was riding a bicycle I rode close to a girl and extended my arm and molested her, the girl gave a loud scream. I got frightened and both the bicycle and myself fell into the drain and I got drowned. When my soul was brought before Ming Wang he was very angry and punished me to a premature death, earlier by 10 years, thereby sending me to this Prison. I have been here for more than 5 years and I have to serve another 13 years. For my other sins, I have to be sentenced to other Prisons; I don’t know where, how and for how long. Can I request you, good man to speak to Song Di Wang on my behalf for a lesser sentence?
Officer: No need to talk so much. Who asked you, when you were alive to be so filthy? You did not know the meaning of courtesy, modesty, righteousness, - all these you did not know at all. All these failures of yours arose from the obscenity of your nature. You are now given a well-deserved punishment. After you have served your sentence here for your obscene behaviour, you will have to appear before other Tribunals to be sentenced for your other sins for raping girls. General, quickly send this second soul back to Prison.
General: Yes, Sir.
JiGong: We are running out of time and so we have to return to Sheng Xian Tang.
Officer: If we happened not to have entertained JiGong and Yang Sheng sufficiently well, we beg to be excused.
Yang Sheng: How can you say that? I have to thank Officer and General for your kind assistance.
JiGong: Quickly step on the lotus flower platform.
Yang Sheng: I am safely seated; we can now return.
JiGong: We have arrived at Sheng Xian Tang. Yang Sheng, you can get down and soul, return to his body.
End of Journey No 17