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Hell is Other People?

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  • NamoAmituofo
    TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 01/07/05 Get this newsletter | TDE-Weekly Archive __________________________________________ Realisation: Hell is Other People?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1 3:05 AM
      TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 01/07/05

      Get this newsletter | TDE-Weekly Archive
      Realisation: Hell is Other People?

       Hell is not understanding that it was created by you. -stonepeace

      In Sartre's famous play, "No Exit", two women and a man find themselves trapped within a sealed room in the afterlife of hell. While they anticipated instruments of torture, they were puzzled to find no red-hot pokers. Unable to really do anything else, not even sleep, they begin talking to each other. Only then did they realise they were there to torture each other, effectively doing so by probing each other's misgivings. Each ended up torturing the other two via inducing guilt, craving, anger and jealousy in their interactions. When ignoring each other doesn't work, they decide to bare their "souls", admitting the probable reasons for their damnation in the hope of getting redemption. Even so, they sustain illusions by perceiving each other in deluded ways. Each seeked trust, empathy and even love from each other, with little success, as they bicker to win each other to their side. Becoming increasingly aware of their personal failures through each other, the man exclaims that "Hell is - other people!"

      Though disturbingly "declared" that "Hell is other people", hell is actually more an extremely negative state of mind than the encounter of any unpleasant person or situation. Only we ourselves can only live our personal hells, even when we go through "inter-personal" hellish experiences. We are existentially tormented not by any instrument - other than our mind - through self-inflicted spiritual wounds of attachment, aversion and delusion. Hell is the state of being always awake to these pains. In this condition, there is nothing wiser to do than to reflect on one's misgivings that deemed such karmic punishment. The trio did not realise that they could help each other out of hell. As long as we cannot forgive others, we burn in our hell of hatred. As long as we do not repent and forgive ourselves, we burn in our hell of self-consuming guilt. Initially reluctant to admit their mistakes, even thinking they were in hell by mistake, the real mistake was not being honest to themselves. In striving to keep up with appearances of being innocent and holier-than-thou, we see warped reflections of ourselves through others' distorted perception of us. Even when we see an accurate reflection, we sometimes reject it. Only when we are honest to the world do we see a clear and unflattering reflection of ourselves in it.  

      What is the realm of hell in Buddhism? "Hell is a horrible dimension of intense constant pain and torment where its beings are subjected to the most excruciating tortures inflicted by vengeful demons and beasts. The fiery heat of the hot hells corresponds to the passionate intensity of hatred and fear while the freezing coldness of the cold hells corresponds to the cold cruelty of hard-heartedness and apathy. Hell consists of subplanes, each of which 'specialises' in a particular kind of karmic punishment appropriate to an unwholesome action. Beings in hell either burn with rage or are tortured by anxiety. They do not see that their torturers are manifestations of their own guilty minds. The duration of life in hell also feels unbearably long.

      "A world war can be the equivalent of hell (in our world) where violence, hatred and fear is 'everywhere'. Being forced to face strong personal phobias such as flying in a plane or entering an unknown place can also be hellish experiences. The 'human hell-being' lives life habitually seeing the world full of dangerous strangers out to get take their advantage - everyone seems to be constantly threatening. Their prime motivation is to eliminate or evade their menaces, and are in a state of open enmity with everyone they encounter. They suffer agonies of insecurity and feel the pain and humiliation of imagined wrongs. Because of how they behave towards others, they bring into being the enemies they imagine. Hell-beings are dominated by the mental state of hatred (aversion), fear and/or even violence. They live in hell in this world as they make every situation a place of torment for themselves. If one is to die turned to his mindstate, one is likely to be reborn in hell." (from "Be a Lamp Upon Yourself") But enough said - for there is hope as yet. As Zen master Shunryu Suzuki once taught, "Hell is not punishment; it's training!" "No Exit"? There is! Start exiting by realising hell is not other people but youself!
      -Shen Shi'an

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