Hells should not exist in the Minds of Bodhisattvas.

Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon unite with the Dharma-Nature Body.
If I go towards the mountain of knives, the mountain of knives of itself breaks up;
If I go towards the boiling oil, the boiling oil of itself dries up;
If I go towards the hells, the hells of themselves disappear;
If I go towards the hungry ghosts, the hungry ghosts of themselves become full.
If I go towards the demons, their evil thoughts of themselves are tamed.
If I go towards the animals, they themselves attain great wisdom.

— Excerpt from the Maha Karuna Dharani,  the Great Compassion Mantra of Avalokitesvara 

Although the so-called Hell-worlds irrevocably exist as a natural result of the cosmic ecosystems’ bodily permutations (re-becoming, or punabbhava), as a Bodhisattva aspirant, acknowledging the Hells is a betrayal of our fundamental compassion.


Our mind cannot be pure if we believe in Hells, or that anyone could enter them. It is impossible. Consider that there is no abiding self (anatman), for we are all one ecosystem— how can any part of this ecosystem be allowed to transform into the realm of pain? How can this separation be possible so long as any one of us clings to the path of liberation?


Worlds are clusters of sentient beings, they are not space-times of their own. They do not really exist, just as sentient beings do not really exist. They abide in nowhere, within the sphere of experience of a single veridical awareness (a Buddha).


As such, categorically, the Hellworlds cannot exist for me. It hasn’t, for a long time. And all beings who die in my sphere of experience (which is itself, the sphere of experience of the Dharmakaya), I often imagine and visualize that I keep them aloft in a Pure Realm. I have a hazy, barely cognizant and unspoken vow, that our Buddha-field (for I cannot do it alone) will prevent all beings in my sphere of experience from ever transforming into Hell-worlds. And that the very concept of Hell should be abolished from our minds. For the Hells should be as valid an existence and as happy as the rest of the innumerable worlds. That from my point of view, that my awareness of the cosmos is luminous from world to world.


This is the rightful Bodhisattva mentality. This is the only mentality that is correct. For we can acknowledge that Hell is a real phenomena, but we refuse to entertain the notion that anyone “deserves” or “has entered” such a state; for in YOUR mind, the deceased are kept safe and rises together with you through Anumodana (the sympathetic joy of spectators witnessing the holy qualities practiced by you, thus attaining for themselves the same holy quality).

I have not yet uttered this vow, because it is too vast for me to do so. But the desire grows stronger day by day.

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Justin C. Hsu

Designer, Artist, and Consumer of Pop Culture.

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