The Mysterious Buddhist Robe
The short visit which the Emperor Li Shih-ming paid to the Land of Shadows had produced a profound impression on his mind. The pain and misery that men had to endure there, because of the evils they had committed in this life by their own voluntary action, had been brought before him in a most vivid manner. He had seen with his own eyes what he had always been unwilling to believe—namely, that wrong-doing is in every case followed by penalties, which have to be paid either in this world or the next.
He was now convinced that the doctrine of the sages on this point was true, for he had witnessed the horrors that criminals who had practically escaped punishment in this life had to suffer when they came under the jurisdiction of Yam-lo.
What distressed him most of all, however, was the grim thought which clung to him and refused to be silenced, that a large number of those in the Land of Shadows who were suffering from hunger and nakedness, were there as the result of his own cruelty and injustice, and that the cries of these men and women would reach to Heaven, and in due time bring down vengeance on himself.
With this fear of coming judgment there was at the same time mingled in his mind an element of compassion, for he was really sorry for the poor wretches whom he had seen in the "City of the Wronged Ones," and whose reproaches and threats of divine vengeance had entered into his very soul.
He therefore determined to institute a magnificent service for those spirits of the dead, who through the injustice of rulers, or the impotence of law, or private revenge, had lost their lives and were suffering untold hardships in the other world. He would have prayers said for their souls, that would flood their lives with plenty, and in course of time would open up the way for their being reborn into the world of men.
In this way he would propitiate those whom he had injured, and at the same time accumulate such an amount of merit for his benevolence, that the gods would make it easy for him when his time of reckoning came, and the accounts of his life were made up and balanced.