In my recent research for the origins of paper burning tradition, I came across an interesting note about Hell Money. You know those notes in tens of thousands and millions (a bit like rupiah) denominations and that you burn to offer cash to your ancestors or whoever got their hands on it.
Anyway, the story has it that when the Jesuits were preaching in China last time, they would keep telling the Chinese that they will go to hell if they don’t believe in you-know-who. But as we know it, the Chinese concept of hell is really the underworld. Whenever any dies, they will report to the underworld where they will be judged by the yama king there and its also in the underworld where one goes for rebirth.
So the Chinese thought that the Jesuits was talking about the underworld and hence called it hell.
Now given this insight, I think its really okay if some shouts at you, threaten you or writes in and say that you will go to hell. If you follow Chinese mythological thoughts than its really okay, because everyone must go to hell! So if you hear or read about that, just say: “Okay, see you there too!”, because they are actually making a statement rather than any threats. So don’t feel so bad if someone tells you to go to hell, we will all be there in time.
What about burning in hell? Well you see, hell is such a hot and dark place, I am sure that there will be lots of fire-lit lamps and a bit of fire pits occasionally, so getting burned due to you clumsiness or accidents in a fact of life in hell, don’t worry too much about it.
Now, from a Buddhist point of view hell is a place we create in our minds whenever we display fear, greed, anger, hatred, violence or any negative attitudes that causes ill intent to ourselves or others. So those who tell you to go to hell are already are living in a hell of their own created by their own hatred and ignorance. As Buddhist, we should not react to it, for we will surely follow them to hell if we do.
Why take someone else shit and smear it on ourselves and wear it like a badge of honor?
As Buddhist, we should instead display empathy, love and compassion to those poor tormented people.