A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk. “Monk,” he barked, in a voice accustomed to
instant obedience, “teach me about heaven and hell!”
The monk looked up at this mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain. “Teach you about
heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace,
an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The samurai got furious. He shook, all red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his
sword, preparing to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly, “That’s hell.”
The samurai froze. The compassion of this monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put
down his sword and fell to his knees filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly, “And that’s heaven.”
A special thanks to Joe Choi for telling me the story.