“The only reason I didn’t kill you was for Geshtinanna, and your life means nothing to me! Dumuzid, you should know where I came from. I came from a very lowly miner’s family in Duc, and life was hard since I was a child, where even the leftovers have to be saved for the next meal, and things were never wasted. Right now, I’m keeping you alive for the same reason, it’s just putting the trash to good use.” This was what Amon said on the way while flying to the Underworld.
Dumuzid was furious, but he could not break free of the Entangling Ivy, so he could only reply in anger: “You can kill me, but you can’t insult me like this!”
Amon said plainly: “I am not insulting you, just speaking the truth, if this is a humiliation to you, then it would only prove how pathetic you are. Suffering in the Underworld may be an opportunity for you, otherwise, you will always remain in your current realm. No matter how many centuries pass and no matter how strong you become, you will not be able to comprehend more.
You have survived the test of endless arising and ceasing cycle, which is fortunate and remarkable. Have you witnessed countless living souls in the world during that test? I think all you could do was to watch them coldly from the sidelines and remain unmoved, but you did not think or even verify the possibility that those beings could be you, your past lives, your future lives! You managed to guard your own soul, but you still did not understand the meaning of the test. You are too lucky, but because of that, your luck is going to end here.”
Dumuzid was a little confused by his words, and only after a while did he shout in response: “What do you mean, are you trying to teach me? The one who guided me was Ea, the god of wisdom!”
Amon coldly replied: “Unfortunately, his wisdom is not your wisdom, and we have reached the place you should go to.” With a shake of his hand, Amon kept away the Entangling Ivy that bound Dumuzid and threw him down from above the clouds.
They were now located on a desolate plateau, where there was no sign of any green color and the ground was strewn with rough rocks, low and sparse shrubs, and occasionally, traces of snow. Just below, there was a narrow and deep valley, like a rift cleaved by an invisible giant axe, and on both sides of the rift were steep cliffs which extended to the depths of the earth, filled inexplicably with an eerie aura.
Amon threw Dumuzid into this valley, where the end of the abyss was the portal of Kur, the Underworld of Anunnaki. Back then, Amon had visited that place. He did not want to be too close to the Underworld, so he found a sheltered depression nearby and sat down to quietly wait. While waiting for Geshtinanna to come out, he gazed at the gloomy entrance to the Underworld, seemingly in thought.
This incident seemed a bit unbelievable, and people may find it hard to understand. Amon was also aware that Mourrin was not willing to go to Kella at first, but had reluctantly agreed to do so at Amon’s request. This was because she had to fulfill Amon’s wish before Amon would give her a promise. The reason why Kella became angry and detained Amon was that after Amon entered the Underworld, he did not just see his father, but also awakened the souls of the Duc miners, releasing them all in the process.
Kella asked Mourrin to exchange another man for Amon and deliberately emphasized that it had to be a man she once loved. On one hand, this was done to humiliate Mourrin because of her famous curse, but on the other hand, it was for a specific purpose. Amon originally did not understand, but now he knew. All the men Mourrin had loved in the past had achieved the ninth level, in other words, Kella needed a demigod to serve in the Underworld.
The Underworld was a very special place, with the characteristics of both a divine palace and a divine realm, but not quite the same as any other divine palace or realm. Amon already possessed a divine realm and was able to gather power from people’s prayers and sacrifices to repair the soul, but the Underworld was even more special, able to confine the souls of the dead within a space similar to a divine palace. The desires of these souls were the prayers to the god of the Underworld.
Amon had seen the “Book of the Dead” in Bastet’s spiritual imprint, from which Osiris had taught Bastet spiritual magic. From this spiritual magic, one could glimpse the structure of the Underworld. Although Osiris’s Underworld, Duat, and Kella’s Underworld, Kur, was not exactly the same, the crux of it was largely the same. An underworld was a magical spatial formation, constructed with the help of a very unique elemental energy, but just as a house needed someone to maintain, an underworld also required maintenance, which could only be done by someone who had achieved the ninth level or beyond.
Neti, the Gatekeeper of Kur, should have achieved the ninth level, and Kella herself was a god who had transcended eternal life, but why not have someone else do this hard labor? Dumuzid was sent by Mourrin, and he was just what Kella needed. Geshtinanna was willing to replace Dumuzid, and Kella would also agree. The Underworld was filled with infinite darkness and gloom, living inside was worse than death, and working here was more miserable than any hard labor on earth.
As Amon thought so, he suddenly sensed something and looked up to the opposite side. Across the valley, on the opposite mountain peak, in the coldest bitter wind, there was someone sitting silently, his clothes unmoving. It was Ksitigarbha, whom he had once met in the desert. As soon as Amon looked up, he heard Ksitigarbha’s voice: “We meet again, and just now, I saw you throwing someone down there.”
Amon replied: “Ksitigarbha, why are you here?”
Ksitigarbha: “May the Infinite Light shine upon all misery. I followed the Revered One and watched Kur here after I visited Duat. I have formulated my grand wish. I will turn my Realm of Soul into an afterworld and guide the dead to the in-between. I will be their light and complete the Cycle. The Revered One has thus given me the new name. Please call me Ksitigarbha the Vow.”
Amon: “The vow has been made, so why are you still sitting here?”
The Ksitigarbha smiled: “I wanted to speak with you before I undertake it.”
Amon frowned and pointed to the deep valley in front of him and said: “You also want to build such an underworld? I am not a god, but I roughly understand the rationale behind it. This is a way to continue training after transcending eternal life, but I do not like it. You can do something else, why bother to become a god of the underworld?”
Ksitigarbha replied with his palms placed together: “I don’t like it either. I need to see it to raise my compassion. If I had not done so, I would not have had the opportunity to formulate the vow.”
Amon narrowed his eyes and pursued with interest: “So did you get in?”
Ksitigarbha replied: “The hostess of this place, Kella, is an arrogant woman. She told me to come back after my death. However, I have already transcended life and death and built my body of truth, so I am not allowed to enter.”
Amon shook his head and said: “If you can’t go in then don’t go in. I’ve been there, and it’s not a good place.”
Ksitigarbha nodded and said: “I would like to hear more about it, please enlighten me.”
Amon was slightly taken aback and for a moment sat without answering, as if he was quietly experiencing something. Compared to the gods he had seen, this Ksitigarbha should already have eternal life, except he expressed it in a different way. He might have done the same path as Amon did, but certainly held a very different belief. He was seeking enlightenment from Amon at this moment, and while he spoke, he imparted a special message to Amon.
The two of them obviously weren’t shouting at the top of their voices across the valley but were directly communicating on a spiritual level. According to Amon’s experience, this was the combination of supreme message magic and detection magic. Ksitigarbha used a different technique, but the effect was the same. It was not some kind of magic, but transforming various information into a kind of thought to imprint directly onto the mind, as if freezing time and unfolding a non-existent space to display an event.
Amon could not use it as skilfully as Ksitigarbha, but for him, such a technique was not hard to learn. Ksitigarbha was asking a favor from Amon, so he taught him this technique in return. Once Amon understood the gist of it, it was not complicated to use it to carry simple messages.
Amon nodded towards Ksitigarbha and said: “This place is the Underworld of the Anunnaki. It can’t be observed, but its existence is real. Isolated from the world by the use of formations, it comprises seven layers of space. The first layer is an endless void that blocks the five senses; the second layer reflects man’s thoughts, it stores the prayers to the Underworld; the third layer is about man’s desire, what gives people the will to live; the fourth layer is about man’s remorse, regret, and resentment; the fifth layer is about the past, what happened that cannot be changed; the sixth layer is about loneliness, despair, and boredom, what kills the will to live; the seventh layer is the residence of the goddess of the underworld, where Kella’s throne is located.”
He answered the question asked by the Ksitigarbha and then used the thought-evolving technique he just learned to directly transform his experience in the Underworld into a continuum of thought to be unfolded before imprinting it into Ksitigarbha’s mind. It contains all the information that cannot be reproduced with words or message magic.
Amon finally said: “This Underworld imprisoned the souls of the deceased. The souls are trapped in timeless emptiness, not knowing that they have died. They are locked in their past lives, past desires, and past remorse. They have no relief. They are used to fuel the formation that supports this divine realm. This is what it is, the underworld of Kella. I hate this place because my people’s souls were imprisoned in it after they were killed. You see the man I tossed a while ago? It doesn’t need to happen. But the rules of this place make it what it is. I used to plan to tear this place down. You don’t seem to be an evil god, so why do you wish to build an abominable thing like this?”
Amon also told Ksitigarbha about his release of the souls of the Ducians and the subsequent series of disputes. The communications between them are purely for confirmation. Honest, wholehearted expression of one’s mind, without any materialistic calculation.
Ksitigarbha nodded repeatedly and said: “That’s very kind of you. You have already demolished this underworld in your heart. Therefore you will not be trapped by this underworld, whether you succeed or fail in your path. The afterworld I want to build is not the same as what you see here. It will not be a divine palace or a divine realm, but a world created and evolved from my Realm of Soul. According to what you said, it is the unfolding of my soul.
It does not imprison anyone but only allows the deceased to witness what they were trapped by in their life. The moment they die, they will enter the realm of in-between, and they will be shown everything done in their life. Instead of experiencing their own life again, they will experience what they have brought to this world in their whole life. It is in this way that they will understand themselves and truly repent. What is the Cycle? The Cycle is there when you need to live but not as yourself, but a new, different one. The Cycle repeats to not to be repeated. This should be what the afterworld is for!”
After answering these words, Ksitigarbha vanished into thin air, but his words seemed to stay in the same place. It was like the flesh body was replaced by a spirit, a quality, an ideal, through which Amon caught a glimpse of a new world. It was different from anything that he had ever seen. It was neither a divine palace nor a divine realm. He saw all kinds of scenes, the flashing thoughts of countless people on their deathbeds, all the experiences of their lives, all incomparably clear.
Amon had seen something similar in Kur, but what he saw now was different in a subtle way when he continued to feel more. Man belongs to society. A man’s life makes sense by interacting with society, with other people, with nature, with this world. Human beings have the concept of self, which differentiates them from the other species. But this concept of self also hinders them from feeling themselves as someone else, or as a part of the world. This new world was like a lens specially designed, which made one see his own past from someone else’s eyes as if he was every person and everything that had interacted with him.
These are the traces left by the deceased in this world in this life, such as the love, hatred, sorrow, and joy brought to others, and at this moment they have turned into their own feelings. This thought only lasts for an instant, and then the soul will dissipate and go to the unknown. But if one cannot settle with his own life, this instant will be like an eternity to him, as if he was trapped in an endless arising and ceasing cycle. Then one will think through and understand the meaning of the next life.
There are too many unfulfilled desires and regrets in one’s life, and too many injustices in the world. The regret, the remorse, the things that you can’t put down… And you will finally reconcile with the past life, which will be the reason you enter the next one.
This is the Cycle. Ksitigarbha explained the concept to Amon before he disappeared, and Amon himself comprehended it. It was just like the words that he had said before he threw Dumuzid into the Underworld, only with a different perspective of reasoning.
In this world, what the souls of the deceased have to face is somehow similar to the “judgment of fate”. If a soul was unable to get through it, the Cycle is the only choice. However, if a soul could pass the test, the person would have already acquired eternal life. In a sense, the Cycle is what this world needs, and Ksitigarbha only completes it.
This was the world created by the soul of Ksitigarbha. When was it created? It was created the moment he spoke the last word to Amon, in no time. Amon’s mind was unable to reach the end of this newborn world, and he could not follow the souls to see where they had gone. He had to stop only before hearing the voice of Ksitigarbha again: “If there isn’t an afterworld, I will be it! Thank you!”
Everything disappeared, and it was as if Ksitigarbha had never come. Amon was deeply shocked, he understood that this person had broken through to a great achievement right before his eyes. It was an even higher achievement than becoming a god and getting eternal life. He could feel it but could not understand it. Even if he thought he understood something out of it, he couldn’t verify it. He sat there in silence for a long time. Lowering his head to gaze at the valley, he mumbled: “I’m going to build Eden on earth, and if I become a god that transcends eternal life one day, not only will I see heaven, but also hell. Where does the road in Eden lead to? That is the question.”
“Lead what? I was the one who voluntarily exchanged Dumuzid out of Kur, so why do you have to do more than that! Do not think that this is saving me, by going against my will, I will not be grateful!” Suddenly a woman’s voice was heard, a clear and pleasant voice but with a clear sense of rebuke, Geshtinanna floated up from the valley of the Underworld and flew into mid-air.
She was her usual self, barefoot in a pale white dress, wearing a wreath of twigs on her head, but the five-petaled roses on the wreath looked haggard and wilted, apparently, she did not have a good time in the Underworld.
Amon stood up and replied: “I don’t need your gratitude, I just sent Dumuzid to where he should go.” At the same time as he spoke, he evolved the cause and effect of the matter into a mental thought with the magic he had just comprehended, which was directly imprinted into Geshtinanna’s mind, explaining everything clearly in an instant.
The look of reproach and resentment in Geshtinanna’s eyes disappeared and she sighed helplessly. “So that’s how it is, thank you for not killing him. But you do not relieve me by doing so, I have my responsibilities, and I will still go to the Underworld to exchange him out. Kella is waiting for me to return, but this time I will make a request to Dumuzid, and tell him that not to do that again.”
Amon also sighed. “I didn’t kill him because of you, I understand why you did it, but understanding is not the same as agreeing. It is natural that you are responsible for Dumuzid becoming what he is today. You made it too easy for him to get everything, and you made him so proud that he became resentful when he couldn’t get what he wanted, but the luck you could give him has now come to an end.
He is your brother and you love and care for him, but the gods and the world are not obligated to give him anything. It would be pointless for you to exchange him out like this again! Have you ever thought of letting him suffer what he deserves? Serving hard labor in the Underworld is exactly the experience he needs, not the price you should have to pay.”
Geshtinanna bowed her head and said: “I know very well what you said, but if I really do that, he will never have a chance to be freed. I can’t stand by and watch him trapped in the Underworld suffering endlessly, not to mention that you have pointed out my mistake.”
As Amon looked at Geshtinanna, his expression became very gentle, and he gradually revealed a smile. “I know very well that if you leave Dumuzid in the Underworld and just leave on your own, you will never find peace in your heart. Can I give you a suggestion? It may lead to the path of liberation. You should know that I come from Ejypt, and this advice is a legend passed down in Ejypt.”
Geshtinanna floated down before Amon, raised her eyes, and asked: “When you did not Before you became a god you sounded like one, and today you speak as if you were the god of gods. What advice can you give to me, Dumuzid, and Kella?”
Amon replied unhurriedly: “The father of the gods of Ennead in Ejypt is called Ra, and coincidentally, Ra is also one of the names given to me by my father. It means “day and night” in our language, like a cycle. Legend has it that Ra experiences the suffering of the mortals in the night and brings light and hope to people in the day.
If you must exchange Dumuzid with yourself, no one can stop you, but you should understand what I mean. Let him experience suffering before feeling the light and hope. Suffering in the Underworld is not without end, and joy in the light is not eternal. If one day he or you can become a god who transcends eternal life, the Underworld will no longer be able to bind the both of you. If not, what will be the meaning of everything you have given him when the judgment of fate finally arrives?”