Wednesday, June 6, 2012

States of Rebirth

Today I was wandering through the streets of Cabramatta when I spied, in a big pile on a shelf of free Buddhist literature outside a vegetarian supermarket, this laminated leaflet:







It transported me instantly back to Vietnam, where this particular poster is very commonly encountered, particularly in the guest rooms at temples and on the walls of vegetarian restaurants.
It is a chart of the various states of rebirth we might hope to attain.
Now of course, some of those staes of rebirth are in hell, where the wicked must pay for their torments.
This used to be a decorative motif much beloved of Buddhist temples, though it seems to have become unfashionable in recent years, and many temples have painted over their vivid wall murals depicting the various torments of hell.
I found some intact, however, at the Vietnamese Buddhist temple in Phnom Penh.




And while in Siem Reap I visited the truly ghastly Cambodian Culture Village, where the only thing even mildly amusing was the "Tunnel of Judgement" featuring 3D renderings of the punishments infliced on the evil in the hell realms.
These dioramas were a kind of torture porn, and of all the photos I took this is the ony one I can show safely on a PG rated blog:

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