JOURNEY NO 41   -   9th December 1977

Touring “Cheng Huang Miao” –
City Temple of Hades
How Souls of the Dead are brought there
JiGong: Today at 12 noon, Huang Wenda, the husband of Lai Sheng Kuan, passed away. This brings me to remark that human life-span is rather short. Human beings are prone to discuss in detail, however small it may be; so why bother about life? When the beating of the heart stops, everything is brought to an end, then where would the money and children and worldly property be after one is dead and gone? The dead man’s body will still be in the house for a couple of days after which it will be sent to the countryside for burial and so, what is now left of the man?
Yang Sheng: Dear Master, you have just said that Mr Huang has died, where then has he gone after death?
JiGong: The months and years are long but the roads to Hades are much longer. This will be the place where human beings after death will go to. The purpose of our Book, “Diyu Youji,” is to inform human beings what they will get when in Hades after death.
Yang Sheng: Very good! It is quite a big problem. Human beings know that after death, they will go to Hades but what awaits them there, they do not know. Therefore, dear Master will you please speak out so that people will know better.
JiGong: Alright. Quickly get up on the lotus flower platform and I’ll bring you there so that you can see for yourself.
Yang Sheng: I’m safely seated; we can start now….
JiGong: We have arrived, get down.
Yang Sheng: I seem to remember that we have already been here before.
JiGong: You are right. You see the body of Mr Huang is lying on the bed in his house. In front of the bed are some members of Sheng Xian Tang saying prayers and they are now about to finish their prayers. The family of Mr Huang is much grieved and the expression of emotion is clearly shown in their faces.
Yang Sheng: We can only see the body but not his spiritual soul.
JiGong: Quickly get up on the lotus flower platform again and I’ll bring you to “Cheng Huang Miao” (City Temple) to let you have a clearer view.
Yang Sheng: I’m safely seated; please start…
JiGong: We have arrived.
Yang Sheng: There are so many souls in Cheng Huang Miao – much movement of soldiers of Hades, and Horses, which is never seen on Earth.
JiGong: Let us go inside and pay our respects to Cheng Huang (God of the City).
Cheng Huang: Welcome JiGong and Yang Sheng. If you want any assistance, it is my pleasure.
JiGong: It is because the husband of Sheng Xian Tang’s Vice-Chairman has just died and also in connection with the writing of the Book, “Diyu Youji” by Sheng Xian Tang to let human beings know more about what they should expect to get after death, that we are here today to seek your assistance.
Cheng Huang: Welcome, welcome; please be seated. I will ask General to serve you tea.
General: Yes, Sir….May I invite both of you to drink tea?
Yang Sheng: Thank you very much. Can I ask Cheng Huang what kind of work you do here?
Cheng Huang: What I do here most human beings do not know. The work we do here is very much what the Police on Earth do. Fu De Zheng Shen Miao is like a branch of Police Station and comes under the jurisdiction of Cheng Huang. When the life-span of a human being is about to finish, the soldiers of Hades will bring the warrant for his arrest to his Office. A representative from this Office will accompany the soldier to Fu De Zheng Shen Miao and a representative from this Miao will follow both of them to Earth to bring the dead person’s soul to Hades.
Yang Sheng: I still have some more questions to ask Cheng Huang. By what means does the soldier of Hades bring a good man here and how does he bring a sinful man here?
Cheng Huang: Sometimes an Ox-head-horse-faced General is sent and sometimes Hei Bai Wu Chang is sent; when the soldier arrives at the home of a person whose life-span is about to end, he taps the man’s shoulder and he immediately dies and he leads the soul to Hades. If a person is sinful, the hands of the soul are tied up in chains and dragged to Hades, very much like the Police on Earth dragging a prisoner. On arrival, the soldier leads him to the Office of Cheng Huang to report. His earthly name is cancelled from the register here and then his name is inserted in the Ghost Register.
Yang Sheng: Is a good person or an ascetic practitioner given any preferential treatment?
Cheng Huang: Definitely yes! If the life-span of a human being who has done a lot of good deeds, thus gaining merits, is up, the soldier of Hades reports to my Office and Fu Shen (God of Happiness) is sent down to Earth to bring his soul here; however, in case of a very pious ascetic practitioner, his patron Saint (the one that he prays to for guidance) is sent to bring his soul here. In the case of those very pious ascetic practitioner who do not have patron Saints, some have to undergo the standard reporting procedure of Hades for good souls, while for others, they have to go to Jiu Yang Guan to be tested and if found satisfactory, will be sent to Heaven.
Yang Sheng: Is there any different procedure for bringing the souls of persons who embrace the various types of religions?
Cheng Huang: Although different people have different beliefs about other religions, the worship of Truth is the same. If such a person aspires to go to Heaven after death, he when alive; must lead or follow the “Middle Path,” always doing righteous and good deeds, not leaning towards the right side or the left side, or doing things according to his own whims and fancies. Otherwise there is little likelihood of his going to Heaven, irrespective of what religion he embraces.
JiGong: What Cheng Huang has just said is very true. Of unprincipled ascetic practitioners, there are four types who: a) hold fast to their own personal beliefs b) tend towards rivalry among themselves c) indulge in gossip d) self praise
These sort of ascetic practitioners tend to lose their temper quickly, and aspire to leadership. When they die, their souls will be sent to Hades to suffer and then to undergo further training.
Yang Sheng: May I ask Cheng Huang where has Mr Huang’s soul now gone to?
Cheng Huang: I can bring you inside to have a look…
Yang Sheng: Oh! Mr Huang is sitting inside a room, like a class room and there are 5 or 6 souls. He is sitting on a chair and nodding his head in my direction, Can I talk to him?
Cheng Huang: Yes, you can.
Yang Sheng: Mr Huang, how are you?
Huang’s soul: Thank you, I’m O.K. Ah…..(crying)
Yang Sheng: Mr Huang is still crying and cannot speak.
JiGong: Wenda (Mr Huang), do not feel so sad at departing from your family. Your children are grown up; your wife is so capable, and your children are also filial. Therefore, you can set your mind at rest.
Yang Sheng: Mr Huang cried more and louder.
JiGong: Be more realistic. Human beings are like visitors – they come and go from place to place. Therefore do not think too much of your family.
Huang’s Soul: Thank you very much for your kind advice. I hope you will kindly guide and instruct my children and grandchildren to do good deeds and take up ascetic practice, to go to Sheng Xian Tang more often and give assistance. Now that I have departed from Earth, the treatment I receive from Fu Shen and Cheng Huang is due solely to the meritorious deeds of my wife. I do not think there is anything to feel sorry about but my heart is grieved…
Yang Sheng: Mr Huang, don’t worry unduly. JiGong has spoken to console you. You had already walked the roads of Earth and now you have to traverse the roads of Sacred Doctrine. There is no need to worry.
Huang’s Soul: I regret very much that I did not devote much of my time in the affairs of Sheng Xian Tang. Ah…(crying). Thank you and the members of Sheng Xian Tang for your kind assistance when I was alive.
JiGong: As we do not have much time to spare, please do not talk too long. Let us return to the Office for a short rest.
Cheng Huang: I invite both of you to come to the Office….Sit down. Yang Sheng, have you any more questions to ask?
Yang Sheng: Many people have asked me what happens after death and I don’t know. May I ask Cheng Huang to kindly enlighten me on this matter?
Cheng Huang: Don’t stand on ceremony; you can ask any question you like. With JiGong with us, he too, can help to clear any doubts.
Yang Sheng: What takes place when a person dies and his soul departs from his earthly body?
Cheng Huang: When a person is due to die, there is always an omen which generally comes in the form of sickness. Why sickness? It is because of age, which is like an old tree about to fall down. Firstly, the roots and leaves decay and then when a strong gust of wind blows, the tree topples down. Let us trace the various sequences – immediately a baby is born, a Record Book is made out and also a tree, an Individual Personality Tree, is planted in Hades; what a person does or how he conducts himself during his lifetime on Earth, every item of his behaviour is endorsed in his Record Book. If there is any sign of change in his tree’s growth, it is an indication that the life of the person concerned is coming to an end. Then an Officer of Hades quickly refers to his Birth and Death Record Book. If his time to die has come, Wu Chang is instructed to go down to Earth with an Order to bring the person’s soul to Hades. When his soul arrives, his Individual Personality Tree falls down. This is called Death. A person’s soul will stay in his body only during his whole lifetime. It is like grafting a tree; the person grows older and the tree grows bigger. When the soul is about to leave the body, it is like the branch of a tree snapping but the bark of the tree still remaining attached to the tree, very much like the skin of a tortoise shell peeling off – very painful. You will observe that there is material change in a person’s look when he is dead; some dead person will gnash his teeth in anger, his face will look fierce, not like what he used to look when he is alive; this indicates that when he was about to die, he was fearful, angry, and so he gnashed his teeth. This is an indication that either, it was a retribution in this life for the sins of a previous existence or unnatural death. If a dead person’s face looks peaceful and cheerful, like sleeping, this shows that his soul is tranquil and fearless, his journey to Hades is uneventful – such is an indication that the dead person has morality and not sinful.
JiGong: When a person’s breath stops, it does not usually mean that he is dead. Take for example, a torchlight which does not emit light when the switch is on – it does not usually mean that the battery is run down. There may still be some juice left in the battery but not powerful enough to light the bulb up. Therefore, when a person’s breathing stops it may be that he is a state of shock. At this time his soul has not yet completely left his earthly body. We can say that although he is said to be dead, yet his heart is not dead and still has consciousness left, just that the mouth cannot express. At this time, the children and close relatives of the deceased should go to the ears and console him by speaking in low tones (whisper) “Set your mind at rest, we have arranged everything. There is no need to worry.” This assurance will tend to make the deceased’s soul have a care-free journey to Hades. If he is of the Buddhist faith, the children, etc can chant “Amitabha” if he is a Taoist, the chant will be “Tai Yi Jiu Ku Tian Zun.” Such prayers or chanting will have the effect of making the Fairies in Heaven help the dead person’s soul have no fear on his journey to Hades. Because at this time the soul is like one groping in the dark and the soul’s heart is in a haze. With such chanting, the Fairies in Heaven will help to make the soul’s heart steadier on the journey. When a person dies, his family should take vegetarian dishes, wear plain and simple clothes, must not drink liquor, entertain, enjoy or make merry, because such unbecoming actions will influence the Cheng Huang of the place the soul is going to. This Cheng Huang will be able to report favourably to Bian Cheng Wang who can mitigate the sins which the dead person had committed when he was alive. By mourning in this way, the children, etc, by their self-restraint, will help to lessen what sins the dead had committed when he was alive and also they can repay their gratitude. It is now time for us to return.
Yang Sheng: Wait a moment please. I don’t know where is the next place Mr Huang Wenda’s soul will go?
Cheng Huang: We have received a letter of recommendation from Wen Heng Sheng Di of Sheng Xian Tang. However, this soul must first come to Hades and then his previous actions, behaviour and sins on Earth will be judged.
JiGong: Yang Sheng, do not ask any more questions regarding this matter; we will know what happens, later on. Prepare to return.
Cheng Huang: All Generals, line up and bid goodbye.
Yang Sheng: Thank you very much, Cheng Huang. Dear Master, we can start…
JiGong: We have arrived at Sheng Xian Tang. Yang Sheng, get down. Soul, return to your body.
End of Journey No 41