REPAYMENT INCENSE PAPER (HUAN ZHAI JIN)

Burns Everyday Brings Good Luck

The purpose of Repayment Incense Paper is meant for paying back debts. But it does not mean only people who owes could burn it. Whenever you feels that bad luck has befallen on you and nothing goes smooth, you can burn it in open air to get rid of the evil things. You could burn the Repayment Incense Paper anytime you deem fit to render goodness for your ancestors or saves that for your own use afterlife.

According to legend, during Tang Dynasty, the Dragon king of River Jin offended celestial law for betting on matter of raining with one fortune teller. The Emperor of the celestial palace ordered execution officer Wei-chen to behead Dragon king. The Dragon king asked Emperor Tang to save him, but unfortunately Emperor Tang did not know that Wei-chen's soul could escape from its body. So, Emperor Tang offered to play chess with Wei-chen. On playing chess, Wei-chen fell asleep, his soul went up celestial gate and beheaded the Dragon king. The Dragon king reckoned that Emperor Tang did not keep his promise, so he changed into a ghost and scared Emperor Tang to death. Wei-chen gave a letter to the dying Emperor Tang, told him to pass it to the judge in Hell, then he could be alive again. Emperor Tang received the letter and passed away. 

When Emperor Tang arrived at hall of the Hell king, he met judge Chui-yu and submitted the letter that Wei-chen gave. The judge read the letter as he lead Emperor Tang to meet with Hell king of the tenth hall. Emperor Tang related the incident. The Hell king asked the judge to take out Book of life and death to check the life span of Emperor Tang on earth. The judge stealthily adds two strokes making one to become three. The Hell king of the tenth hall saw that Emperor Tang still remained twenty years of earthly life, so he ordered the judge: to send him back to human world.

Emperor Lee-shi-min bade farewell to the Hell king. On the way back, he passed city of innocent death. Innocent ghosts came by asking for revenge, the judge had to act as guarantor for him and borrowed money deposited by shoemaker Xiang-liang, husband and wife, of Kai-feng province. He distributed the money to all those innocent ghosts and promised that he would organize a ritual to cleanse their souls. This "journey to Hell" had made Lee-shi-min accumulated with a lot of good deeds, and had let him lived and enjoyed for another twenty years as Emperor. Man died and becomes ghost. Ghost goes into life cycle and plunges into the six realms of reincarnation. This is the final stand for human life, and is also a starting point. How many people were born ignorantly' with unwillingness but only to be a glimpse back? Walking through the Nai-he-qiao (bridge of no avail), drinking Meng-po-tang (water of oblivion), and after rotating at the six paths of life cycle becomes the first born again, in the three lives stone were carved debts to be collected and debts to be paid...Because Emperor Tang did not drink Meng-po-tang, he could still remember what had happened in Hell. He needs to repay money he had borrowed. Emperor Tang immediately instructed a special pardon, summoned all the high monks to perform ritual and made gold and silver incense papers for repayment of debts. They also set down methods of burning.

Unfortunately, man had forgotten his ghost debts before his reincarnation. He repudiated on his debts, thus was being tangled with ghosts in human world and met with bad luck. Bad luck for whole life but never knew why? As we always says, Happy is having no debt. Never ever owe any debt to ghosts. Although we may have burnt a lot of incense papers for the dead, but our ghost debtors never receive so is in vain. Thus spreads gold, silver and repayment incense papers. As festive seasons of deities and ghosts arrive, we could see everywhere people burning gold and silver incense papers, also known as "Hell paper", for offering. This was how gold and silver incense papers were born. People burning candles and incense papers paying tribute to deities to communicate with them. Repayment incense papers is burnt in the ritual to settle debts owed before life or before reincarnation. Debts owed before life if paid back in present life would contribute to peace of mind. A creditor seeing his debtor had sincerely tried all means to compensate, even if he did not receive anything, would feels comfortable. People died and becomes ghost, when it sees its debtor settling the debt, would quench its enmity even if it did not get anything. When feeling of enmity is gone, the ghost can then feel relieved and proceed to reincarnation with peace.

Although man and ghost lives in separate world, their essence is the same. Like people's understanding of Buddhist teaching is different in recognition. Some people knows the ending from the beginning and could give various explanations. Some people had difficulties in comprehension and had to repeat and repeat again to make them understand. Like children in the kindergarten, when teacher says one plus one equals to two, some children immediately understood, but some must see the teacher holding two apples then they only realized.

Reason for burning gold, silver and repayment incense papers is the same. Its purpose is to let the dead one understand our heartiest respect to it. To let it know we are paying back debt due to it. Even if it did not receive, it will understand our intention to pay back in order for it to go reincarnation with peace.

Talking about reincarnation, we must first talk about death. People died means walking down the road of no return. How many people can be at ease and go away just like that? Human tends to be selfish, so does ghosts. Imagine someone being sent to a distance place suddenly, as time passes, he would starts missing his hometown. For a dead man who is going to a place of no return, how could he let go just like that?

People going for street loitering or sight-seeing would not possess or bring back the street or place of interest. It is merely for their satisfaction. Burning incense papers or performing ritual has similar significant, only difference is, the former satisfies living people while the latter satisfies dead souls.

Below is a true story. When a rich man died, his sons argued about the funeral ritual. Some prefers chanting by high monk, some insists burning items made of paper like bungalow, luxurious car, electrical goods, maids, gardener and credit cards and so on. The high monk arrived during their stalemate. One of the sons said, "let's ask the high monk."

After the question, the high monk replied, "Chanting for the deceased is good enough."

At this time, the son who suggested burning items said, "Master monk, may I ask do you charge chanting for my father?"

The high monk replied, "We do charge, but only 600 dollars."

"Master, as a high monk you still need to charge a fee, this means you are inseparable with material necessity. You know, my' father was a businessman who had owned so many things. If we don't give him a bit more, how could he rest in peace? Besides, the incense papers and items we burnt are meant to provide comfort for the dead soul." The son said. Everything we do, including chanting by high monk and burning paper items are for consoling the dead. Of course, high monks and priests have already enlightened in living. When they passed away, they do not need such deed to reach the world of Bodhisattva.

Further more, most people could not obtain materials they so pursued of during their lifetime, so when they die, they died in unwillingness. In order to dispel enmity of the dead, people would burn large amount of materials for the dead to enjoy and happily steps on the six paths of life cycle for reincarnation. Those people who had enjoyed rich and famous in life, once they passed away, they could not bring along their wealth with them. They would feel unwilling, would not let go until their souls rancour and became fierce ghosts. Burning gold and silver incense papers is to let man and ghost alike have peace in mind.

If there is no ghost debt tangling you, burning repayment incense papers can act as saving in Hell like those of the Shoemaker couple. Saves an amount of money in Hell could let you use them after you died, even in afterlife you could make use of them, You would not be a poor ghost after you died and in afterlife you might not be a rich man, but certainly not a "poor ghost". This is what Buddha termed as "to let go". If man could let go, he could go to Western Paradise with peace in mind. If ghost could let go, its enmity would vanish, then there would be no rancour ghost in loose. Once a man is dead, he could not bring with him any single thing except good deeds he had done. That could well act as a guide of faring in reincarnation. Repayment incense paper is the identity proving what you have done in human world.

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