Heaven and Hell

A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk. In a voice accustomed to meeting with obedience, the samurai said, “Monk, teach me about heaven and hell.”

The monk looked up at this mighty warrior and replied in a voice of utter contempt, “Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You are filthy. You stink. Your sword is rusty. You’re a disgrace to the samurai class! Get out of my sight!”

The samurai was speechless with rage. His muscles bulged. His face got red. He swung his sword high above his head, preparing to slay the monk.

“That is hell,” the monk said softly.

The samurai froze. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by the compassion of this tiny, defenseless man who had just risked death to give this teaching. As he slowly lowered his sword, he was filled with gratitude and wonder.

“That is heaven,” the monk said softly.


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