Saturday, March 19, 2016

Heaven and Hell

There was once a samurai who wanted to learn the difference between heaven and hell. He searched until he found a master from whom he thought he could learn. He stood before the Master and asked, “ what is the difference between heaven and hell?” The Master pointed to the samurai’s sword. The samurai removed the sword from its scabbard and handed it to the Master. Turning the sword to the flat of the blade, the Master struck the samurai on the forehead. The samurai was surprised at this but chose to ignore it. He thought that the Master had failed to understand his question. He once again asked the Master about the difference between heaven and hell. Again the Master struck the samurai on the head. The samurai staggered back and puzzled over this. He knew such teachers were eccentric and the Master was very old and possibly hard of hearing. The samurai began asking his question for a third time and, before he could finish his question, the Master struck him a third time. Enraged at this behavior, the samurai grabbed his sword from the Master, raised it up and was prepared to bring it down on the Master’s head when the Master raised one finger and the samurai paused.

“That is hell,” said the Master.

The samurai was instantly overcome by the courage of this frail old man - to have risked his life for the sake of a stranger’s question - that he fell to his knees and bowed before the Master.

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