I bring you another Zen story today. It is a very beautiful, practical and powerful story that’ll help us understand the concept of Heaven and Hell.
Let’s read the story first –
A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin. “I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!” At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.
Let us understand the story now–
What is Hell and Heaven?
Contemplation for 2 minutes…
You can even close your eyes and think and visualize all that you know about them…
Many of us must have read or heard that hell and heaven are places somewhere far and outside where we would be deported after this Life ends, based on our Karmas, good or bad. Hell, you’ll be punished for your bad deeds and Heavens, you’ll be served with all sorts of comforts and luxuries. Some of us might even believe this is true. Do you?
Heaven and Hell, as Master Hakuin (Zen Master) indicates are not the places far outside. Heaven and Hell are the states of Mind. When you are in anger, seething your teeth, full of hatred and ego, you are in hell. On the contrary, when you find yourself happy, loving, compassionate towards beings and forgiving, you are in Heaven. Mind agitated, de-tuned creates Hell and Mind tuned with the Source gives birth to Paradise. The story hints further that with the magic of Forgiveness, with Understanding, with Love, you open the gates of Paradise. Your mind becomes happy and flowering and you experience happiness in your whole being. This symbolizes Heaven.
Most of us would agree that we have experienced states like these at different times in our Life. How does Life feel when you are angry or remorseful or full of guilt and hatred. It feels like Hell. Doesn’t it? Most naturally, this is Hell.
Do you want to live in Hell or Do you want to be in Paradise?… The choice is yours.
Whenever you find yourself in Hell and you recognize it, immediately take a pause (Deep breath and stopping all ongoing activities of the body and the mind) and ask, do I want to live like this?
What should I do then?
Practice the power of Acceptance, the Magic of Forgiveness and Meditation to open the gates of Paradise.
Have a Heavenly Life!