27. The Suffering of the Ephemeral Hells
Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 27
Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.
Meditate on the sufferings of the ephemeral hell: This ephemeral hell exists in all sorts of diverse locations, giving rise to equally diverse sufferings. Beings may be trapped inside mountain rocks, frozen in ice and snow, cooked in boiling water, chilled in the frigid winter water, burnt in blazing fire, and so on.
Some beings identify trees or logs of wood as their own bodies, and feel the pain of their limbs being chopped off when people cut the trees or wood. Others are imprisoned in objects that are constantly put to use, such as beams, doors, floors, bridges, roads, stoves, cushions, and are tormented by their private woes.
A thing may appear like a plant or an inanimate object, but it probably is a sentient being of the ephemeral hell. For instance, an ephemeral hell being took the form of a doorsill; it looks like a wood plank or a block of concrete only, but when the doorsill gets stepped on constantly, the being caught in it will experience extreme pain, which is the effect of karma ripening.
All beings reborn in the ephemeral hell are tortured by many sufferings. Therefore, resolve: I must strive in the practice of Dharma to ensure that no one is ever reborn in this or other hell realms.
Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.
Hence, we should be aware that around us, many ephemeral hell beings are tormented by sufferings, even though we cannot perceive them with our naked eye. Of the realms other than the human realm, we can witness only part of the animal realm and the sufferings therein. One example is the circus, where elephants, monkeys, and so forth are disciplined to please human spectators. During training, these animals are often beaten severely until their bodies turn black and blue, which is utterly miserable and awful to behold. However, these animals may harbor a mentality of revenge. A report I read told the story of an elephant that had been abused cruelly by hooks and whips during daily training. Later, unable to contain its rage any longer, this elephant went crazy and trampled many people to death. When gunned down finally, it refused to die for a long time.
The miseries of the animal realm are visible to us, but not so for the ephemeral hell. In cases when beings of the ephemeral hell identify common tools or utensils as their own bodies and suffer when these items are put to use, their woes are beyond our perception. Therefore, resolve: In order to rid myself from such agonies, I must begin my Dharma practice; in the meantime, I will generate compassion toward the many beings who are suffering now.