This is the fourth in a series of installments from the book by Delog Dawa Drolma called Delog: Journey to Realms beyond Death. Published here (with the kind permission of Padma Publishing, PO Box 279, Junction City, California 96048, USA) is part of the third chapter, in which Delog describes visits to the lower realms.
Delog Dawa Drolma – “this girl,” as she refers to herself – continues her account of her visits to other realms of existence. Her son, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, writes in the introduction (Sep-Oct 99 Mandala): “Dawa Drolma’s chilling descriptions of the horrible consequences of killing and harming others clearly caution one to avoid such actions. On the other hand, her captivating descriptions of the pure realms inspire one to practice deity meditation and to realize the qualities of mind’s pure nature.”
This is my story of dying and journeying to hell.
Revered lamas of high station,
Rulers with great power and influence,
seated on their thrones,
And wealthy guardians of fortunes, who
manipulate happiness and hoard
material wealth –
When they die and go to the realms of hell,
There are no multitudes of monks gathered
in pomp and splendor,
No parades of soldiers with swords and weapons,
No great stores of food or wealth for
making secret bribes.
Lofty status, ruthless might and power, the wealth
of the rich, the lovely bodies of the beautiful,
artful wit, and clever explanations cannot
beguile or fool the lord of death.
Has anyone in this human realm
not died but stayed on?
Has anyone not been separated from family and
Have anyone’s acquisitions not been left behind?
Has anyone not fallen from a lofty height?
Better for you all if there were such people!
Though we speak of hell as somewhere far away,
it is not.
Though we speak of the bardo as somewhere
else to go, it is not.
Death haunts us like our shadow follows
If you are mindful of you inevitable death,
You’re the cleverest of all.
When the time comes to die, do parents and
children, spouse, relatives and friends,
wealth and possessions alike offer the
slightest benefit or refuge?
Look and see!
They do the greatest harm in sending you to
What, then, is of benefit? The infallible
If you maintain a noble, virtuous mind and
recite the six-syllable mani mantra,
You will not enter the path to lower rebirths
in cyclic existence,
But gain a state of unsurpassable, complete
Om mani padme hung hri.
Looking around, I beheld a daughter named Bilima from the region of Zurpa. A black snake as thick as the trunk of a pine tree was coiled around her body from head to foot, as though she were wrapped in a blanket. Minions of Yama shouted and bellowed, “Ha, ha! Ho, ho!” making an ear-shattering din. Her copious tears swirled like an ocean, and I heard her cry, “O father, father, help me!”
This was the end result of her having killed a snake while reaping barley in the fields. Her old mother had been afraid of the consequences of this act and had said to her, “You demoness, don’t cry – confess this act!” The daughter had burst into laughter, and this rebirth was the result.
There was also a girl named Palkyid from the district of Nyagrong. Yama’s minions had placed an iron sieve above her, through which they poured red-hot boiling molten meal from one end of her body to the other. With the sounds of sizzling, her flesh and bones were seared and burned. She whimpered, unable to cry aloud. The minions shouted, “O wicked girl, in the ordinary human world you dawdled on the periphery of a gathering of ordained monks, and began smiling and flirting with them. Your hem, the edge of your garment, stirred up dust. One monk said, ‘Don’t behave like that – don’t accumulate bad karma!’ But you didn’t listen to him and what is happening to you now is the end result of your having upset these members of the sangha. There will be no chance of being freed for a thousand eons.”
The compassionate mother of the victorious ones waved a silk-beribboned arrow; I, the girl, recited the mani mantra to a melody. Freed from that low state, Palkyid took rebirth in the realm of her prayers, but it seems she still had to experience some of the results of her actions.
Om mani padme hung hri.
Then I saw an old woman from the region of Tro, Anag by name. As boiling molten metal was poured into her mouth, her body burst asunder from head to foot. I saw her undergo this kind of suffering over and over. This, I was told, was due to her having poisoned a lama.
Dingla of the region of Aso, and Khargya and others – most of the people of that region, in fact – were wandering in the bardo. Rinchlen Dargyay was also wandering there. One Nyima Holeb had been reborn in the Reviving Hell. There were also about ten people from Aji. Some had been reborn in hell realms, some in preta realms.
Among them, one named Abo had a head as large as a clay pot and a horribly deformed body. His mouth was as small as the eye of a needle and his esophagus the width of a horsehair, while his stomach was as large as a whole city. His fingernails pierced through his clenched fists three times. He found nothing to eat; tongues of flame poured out of his mouth. He was experiencing unimaginable suffering.
I asked, “What action led to this man’s suffering?” I was told that he had never made offerings to the Three Jewels as his superiors and had given little charity to beings in lower states of existence as his inferiors. He had never offered more than a small amount and then only with avarice for fear of running out of food.
An acquaintance of mine, one Atar of the Tanpa family of T’hromt’hog, was there. His message to his mother and close relations was, “Do not give up on your practice of virtue, of reciting mani mantras and the ritual of Akshobhya, and of making donations to large assemblies of monks.”
Tashi Dondrub of the Nag family had also taken rebirth there and was suffering unimaginably. I asked my companion Tata, “What action did this man commit that led to this result?”
She replied, “Not guarding his samaya commitments and acting with arrogant selfishness, thinking, “‘Will I get this?’ and ‘Will I get that?’“
He gave me the following message for his household: “Please, for my sake recite seventy million mani mantras and the Sutra of Liberation, confess your harmful actions and offer prayers in dedication in large gatherings.”
Gyashod Atsang had been reborn in a preta realm. An inconceivable number of others, both known to me and unknown, had also been reborn there. This realm was horrifying. The beings were extremely demoralized, because they could never find anything to eat or drink. Their hair bristled upward, their bodies were emaciated, their mouths were like the eyes of needles, their throats like horsehairs, their bellies like whole countries, and their limbs like stalks of grass. Their nails were very long, piercing through their hands nine times.
The majority of pretas had in their hands some spittle dedicated to them by Jamyang Khyentsei Wangpo, but they would have to suffer for hundreds of thousands of years before they could open their mouths and lick a bit of it up. They would not find any comfort beyond this brief respite. In their suffering, they all cried, “What shall I eat? What shall I drink? I’m hungry! I’m thirsty! Alas, alas! Alack!”
The guardians of the preta realms set out various articles of food and wealth, then took sharp swords in hand and glared balefully. Driven by hunger, the pretas came to steal this food and drink, only to have their bodies hacked with these swords as they cried out in shock.
Demigods were experiencing the intense suffering of strife on the slopes of Mount Sumeru. They were unbearably envious of the splendor and wealth in the god realms and of the flirtatious play of goddesses singing and dancing, but they only suffered the unimaginable pain of defeat at the hands of the gods. The gods threw discuses with sharp spikes, as well as arrows and tridents, and employed drunk elephants with wheel-shape weapons mounted on the ends of their trunks. The demigods experience the inconceivable suffering of being killed and maimed. They also battled among themselves, with the ear-splitting sounds of “Kill, kill!” and “Strike, strike!” resounding like the roar of a thousand dragons. Even I myself was terrified by what I witnessed in that realm. For having dashed a bird’s egg on the ground it was necessary for me to pass under all the weapons; but I supplicated the bodhisattva of supreme compassion and the venerable goddess one-pointedly, and sang the six-syllable mantra three times, whereupon it seemed to me that the sounds gradually became softer.
About five thousand people of the region of Chamtring and an indeterminate number of Chinese people had also taken rebirth in this same realm. There also seemed to be many aristocrats, foremost among them Lozang Tenzin, a general of Chamtring. An inconceivable number of people had been reborn there, among them the Wanggyal family and the Dugtza clan, the majority of whom had died by the knife.
Further on, in a part full of flowers, I found an extremely old god, suffering nothing but pain. Some companions approached and cast flower garlands at him, saying, “As soon as you discard your physical body, may you be reborn in the human realm, practice the ten kinds of virtuous actions, and be born once again in the god realm.” With this, they scattered blossoms. He experienced unimaginable suffering, as though his heart had burst and his body had melted into the sand.
The length of a god’s life can be calculated from the fact that about seven thousand of our human years is a single week for the gods. In the week before their death, they suffer agonies far worse than those of the worst hell of ceaseless torment. As their karma is exhausted, due to thoughts tainted by emotions such as pride, they actually see the place of their future rebirth in a lower state of existence. That causes them more severe suffering than committing suicide by hurling oneself into an open pit of fire.
Om mani padme hung hri
I continued on and met Kardo of the Getsay clan in a hell realm. There, inside a huge iron house of enormous dimensions, he was gathering earth, rock, grass and wood (though I questioned the necessity of his actions), and especially turquoise, coral, crystal, lapis, gold and silver. Then the hordes of minions of Yama piled all the wealth and the earth and rocks on top of his body. He cried out in pain. Whenever he tried to escape, he was stopped. Afterward, he had to watch the precious stones and metals being scattered ike feathers in the wind, and once more his mental suffering intensified. Then, as before, he amassed wealth and food, and again was crushed by them, and so he spent every moment experiencing these alternating forms of pain.
I asked, “What action is this the result of?”
Tara told me, “This is the result of his having coveted everything he laid his eyes on, of having had ill-will for everyone he heard, of having had nothing but wrong views about everything he thought of. This is the result of not practicing virtue, but of engaging in non-virtuous and harmful actions, including carrying an ornamented mala while being distracted by gossip-mongering and idle talk.”
Kardo gave me this message to bring back: “To Tsagdi, the daughter-in-law of my household, I say, ‘though you are adorned with agates and corals, this does me no good. Have you no compassion for me? You have not asked a single lama to make some connection with me by dedicating your wealth on my behalf. Nothing would be of benefit for me except the cleansing ritual of Akshobhya, the deity in the southern gate of the mandala of Vairochana.’“
I recited the mani mantra, and for a short while he was at least able to rest. But, as before, he began experiencing his confused perceptions.
As well, there were many people of the Gyashod clan. Gonpo Dargyay was chained, without hope of release, in the middle of the six-arched bridge over the fordless brown river of the dead. Smoke arose from his flesh as it burned, and he suffered unimaginable pain. The minions of the hells, with the heads of tigers and stags, were guarding him. He said that recitation of the mani mantra would be a means to purify his suffering and faults, and that it would be of great benefit if others confessed his harmful actions on his behalf.
I asked Tara what actions had led to this result. She replied, “When this man was the ruler of his region he did not distribute wealth or food or dispense justice properly, and he acted with ill-will.”
The deer hunger Tsewang Gonpo was in the Reviving Hell. He said that he would be liberated if others carved in stone the Sutra of Liberation, which purifies the effects of harmful actions. I asked what actions had led to this result, and Tara replied, “The slaying of harmless deer.”
Tashi Wangkhyug was suffering in the Black Thread hell. He gave me a message to bring back: If a hundred million recitations each of the hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva, the mani mantra, and the siddhi mantra were performed on his behalf, he would attain an excellent human rebirth.
Tsewang Gonpo was suffering on top of Shangma Mountain. He said that if a hundred or thousand Nyung Nä fasting rituals were practiced strenuously on his behalf, he would attain an excellent human rebirth.
Among the people of Gyashod, a number of those with virtuous minds – lamas, monks and laypersons – were in pure realms, including the old monk Padma Kalzang, Tsering Dondrub, Dontse, as well as one called Barchhung Dragho, who said that he had been reborn in a pure realm out of the compassion of the venerable Drimed Khadyod Wangpo Rinpoche.
The majority of those from the Nat’har clan who had practiced Dharma diligently had been reborn on Potala Mountain, while those without connection to holy persons, who had spent their lives engaging in harmful acts, were undergoing rebirth after rebirth in lower states. A monk named Hulay Buchhung was suffering in the bardo. One named Natar Alug Chhodzin had taken a fortunate rebirth. The monk Lodro Zangpo was in Tara’s pure realm of Yulokod.
Lhari Yontan, although he had practiced virtue and given up harmful acts, had entertained very serious wrong views and had been reborn in a realm where he was imprisoned in a house watched over by four denizens. When I asked Yonten whether I should request that virtue be practiced on his behalf in the human realm, the old monk replied that I should leave him to experience the effects of his actions until his karma was played out. He said that after suffering like this for three years, he would be reborn on Potala Mountain.
Kunzang and Tendzin Wanggyal had been reborn on Potala Mountain. Samyay Monlam of the Khamtay family was in this pure realm. He said, “I have a message for my younger son. Tell him, ‘Do not kill stags, wild sheep, or antelopes. Do not lead the life of a thief or bandit. Do not tell lies or swear oaths. Do not steal from or fight with your older brothers. Practice what virtue you can with the mani mantra and the Nyung Nä fasting ritual!’“
Eight thousand leagues beyond this realm I came to a huge and fearsome cliff face of dark red rock, equal in height to the three-thousand-fold universe. In the midst of myriad weapons, beside a terrible fortress of skulls, was the lord of death, Yama, sucking the life and breath out of the three realms of existence in his belly. With his consuming maw gaping, his twitching tongue curled back, his sharp biting fangs bared, his hands reaching out to clutch, he was horrifying. He had a man’s body with the head of a red bull, piercing horns of iron, and two staring eyes shining like the sun and the moon. Tongues of scorching fire shot from him. He had the speed and agility of the wind, and shook heaven and earth with his terrifying bellows of laughter. When I laid eyes on this fierce vision of unbridled wrath and heard his deafening roar, I felt as though I would faint.
Holding the southern continent of this world of sorrow in his mouth (a mouth that seemed to encompass heaven and earth) he could make the world tremble with the sound of his tongue hitting his palate. Whereas once there had been a swirling ocean of dark red blood when he clamped his mouth shut, this year there were only a few drops of blood-like dew. This was because Khakyod of the Tromge family, Dza Konchhog, and other holy individuals had passed away, and thus in that year many beings had not had to die. Although many horrifying things happened to me, through my supplication to the venerable goddess I was able to take a firm stand without fear.Tags: delog dawa drolma