Let us begin with the cycle of life and death of the unbelievers. After dying, a person is taken away by an attendant from the spiritual world. Exactly what of a person is taken away? Not one’s flesh, but one’s soul. When one’s soul is taken away, one arrives at a place that is an agency of the spiritual world that specially receives the souls of people who have just died. (Note: The first place anyone goes after dying is strange to the soul.) When they are taken to this place, an official carries out the first checks, confirming their name, address, age, and all their experiences. Everything they did while they were alive is recorded in a book and verified for accuracy. After it has all been checked, the person’s behavior and actions throughout their life are used to determine whether they will be punished or continue being reincarnated as a human, which is the first stage. Is this first stage frightening? It is not too frightening, because the only thing that has happened is the person has arrived at a dark and unfamiliar place.
In the second stage, if this person has done a lot of bad things throughout their life and committed many wicked deeds, then they will be taken to a place of punishment to be dealt with. That will be the place expressly used for the punishment of people. The specifics of how they are punished depend on the sins they have committed, as well as on how many wicked things they did before they died—this is the first situation that occurs in this second stage. Because of the bad things they did and the evil they committed before they died, when they are reincarnated after their punishment—when they are once more born into the material world—some people will continue to be human, while others will become animals. That is to say, after a person returns to the spiritual world, they are punished because of the evil they have committed; moreover, because of the wicked things they have done, in their next reincarnation they probably will not return as a human, but as an animal. The range of animals that they might become includes cows, horses, pigs, and dogs. Some people could be reborn as birds, or ducks or geese…. After they have been reincarnated as animals, when they die again, they will return to the spiritual world. There, as before, based on their behavior prior to their deaths, the spiritual world will decide whether or not they are reincarnated as humans. Most people commit too much evil, and their sins are too grievous, so they have to incarnate as animals seven to twelve times. Seven to twelve times—is that not frightful? (It’s frightful.) What frightens you? A person becoming an animal—that is terrifying. And for a person, what are the most painful things about becoming an animal? Having no language, having only simple thoughts, only being able to do the things that animals do and eat the food that animals eat, having the simple mindset and body language of an animal, not being able to walk upright, not being able to communicate with humans, and the fact that none of the behavior or activities of humans bear any relation to animals. That is, among all things, being an animal makes you the lowest of all living beings and involves a great deal more suffering than does being a human. This is one aspect of the spiritual world’s punishment of those who have done much evil and committed great sins. When it comes to the severity of their punishment, this is decided depending on whatever kind of animal they become. For example, is being a pig better than being a dog? Does a pig live better or worse than a dog? Worse, right? If people become cows or horses, will they live better or worse than they would as pigs? (Better.) Will a person be more comfortable being reborn as a cat? He would be an animal just the same, and being a cat would be much easier than being a cow or horse, because cats get to laze away most of their time in slumber. Becoming a cow or horse is more laborious. Therefore, if a person is reincarnated as a cow or horse, they have to work hard—which is akin to harsh punishment. Becoming a dog would be a little better than becoming a cow or horse, because a dog has a closer relationship with its master. Some dogs, after being pets for several years, are able to understand a lot of what their masters say. Sometimes, a dog can adapt to its master’s mood and requirements and the master treats the dog better, and the dog eats and drinks better, and when it is in pain, it is looked after more. Does the dog not then enjoy a happy life? Thus, being a dog is better than being a cow or horse. In this, the severity of a person’s punishment determines how many times one is reincarnated as an animal, as well as which type.
Because they committed so many sins while they were alive, some people are punished by being reincarnated as animals seven to twelve lifetimes. Having been punished enough times, upon returning to the spiritual world, they are taken somewhere else—a place in which the various souls have already been punished and are of the type who are preparing to be reincarnated as humans. In this location, each soul is categorized by type according to what kind of family they will be born into, what sort of role they will play once they have been reincarnated, and so on. For example, some people will become singers when they come to this world, so are placed among singers; some will become businesspeople when they come to this world, and so they are placed among businesspeople; and if someone is to become a scientific researcher after becoming human, then they are placed among scientific researchers. After they are classified, each is sent out according to a different time and appointed date, just as people send e-mails today. In this will be completed one cycle of life and death. From the day that a person arrives in the spiritual world up until the end of their punishment, or until they have been reincarnated as an animal many times and are preparing to be reincarnated as a human, this process is complete.
As for those who are done being punished and are not reincarnated as animals, will they quickly be sent to the material world to incarnate as humans? Or, how long will it be before they can arrive among humans? What is the frequency with which this can happen? There are temporal restrictions to it. Everything that happens in the spiritual world is subject to the precise temporal restrictions and rules—which, if I explain with numbers, you will understand. For those who are reincarnated within a short period of time, when they die, preparations will already have been made for them to reincarnate as humans. The shortest time in which this can happen is three days. For some people, it takes three months, for some it takes three years, for some it takes thirty years, for some it takes three hundred years, and so on. So, what can be said about these temporal rules, and what are their specifics? They are based on what the material world—the world of man—needs from a soul, and on the role that this soul is meant to play in this world. When people are reincarnated as ordinary humans, most of them are reincarnated very quickly, because the world of man has a pressing need for such ordinary people—and so, three days later, they are sent out again to a family that is completely different from the one they were in before they died. However, there are some who play a special role in this world. “Special” means that there is not a great demand for these people in the world of man; not many people are needed to play such a role, so it may take three hundred years. In other words, this soul will only come once every three hundred years, or even just once every three thousand years. Why is this? It is due to the fact that for either three hundred or three thousand years, such a role is not required in the world of man, so they are kept somewhere in the spiritual world. Take Confucius, for example: He had a profound impact on traditional Chinese culture, and his arrival deeply affected the culture, knowledge, tradition, and ideology of the people of that time. However, a person such as this is not needed in every era, so he had to remain in the spiritual world, waiting there for three hundred or three thousand years before being reincarnated. Because the world of man was not in need of someone like this, he had to wait idly, for there were very few roles such as his, and very little for him to do. As such, he had to be kept somewhere in the spiritual world for most of that time, idle, to be sent out once the world of man had need of him. Such are the spiritual realm’s temporal rules for the frequency with which most people are reincarnated. Whether people are ordinary or special, the spiritual world has appropriate rules and correct practices for processing their reincarnations, and these rules and practices are sent down from God, not decided or controlled by any attendant or being of the spiritual world. You understand this now, right?