The Monk and The Samurai
Once an old monk sat in deep meditation in Japan, when, suddenly, his meditation was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”
At first, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But gradually he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing second.
“You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk at last. “You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is all rusty and neglected. You who are ugly and whose mother dresses you funnily. You, of all people, wish to ask me of heaven and hell?’
The samurai uttered a curse, drew his sword and raised it high over his head. His face turned to crimson, and the veins of his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk’s head from his shoulders.
“That is hell,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent.
In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.
“And that,” said the monk, “is heaven.”
Source: Zen Fable
Heaven and hell are here, within us first! Anger, ego, jealousy, hatred are roads that lead us to hell, whilst compassion, love, humility are paths that lead us to heaven. We choose to make it a life of heaven or hell for ourselves. Choose heaven at all times.