What is Heaven? What is Hell?
One day, a mighty warrior set out to find an aged monk who was known to be very wise.
When he arrived at the monastery, he flung open the door and demanded of the old man, “Tell me, you who are learned in spiritual matters, what is heaven and what is hell?”
The monk, surprised at the warrior’s entrance and interest, sat still for a moment. After a while he looked up at the warrior and recognizing his attire the monk said; “I suppose you believe yourself to be a great specimen of manhood? You’re nothing but a mere sliver of a man! I doubt you could cut off the head of a fly with your sword.”
For a moment, the warrior could not believe what he was hearing! No one talked to a him like that! His face, turning blood red, contorted in rage, he bellowed, “How dare you! I won’t let you get away with such an insult.”
Pulling his huge sword from its sheath, he raised it high above his head, ready to kill the elderly monk. Unperturbed, the wise Father looked directly into the eyes of the furious warrior and said, “You asked what hell is? *This* is hell.”
The giant of a man froze, his sword still raised, as the hatred and anger which consumed him drained away. He looked at the old monk in amazement, realizing that this small, frail man had risked his life to answer his question.
Lowering his weapon, the once proud warrior bowed to the monk, as tears of gratitude appeared in his eyes. “Thank you for your teaching,” he said humbly, his heart filled with love and appreciation for the monk’s gift.
The monk smiled and said, “And this, my brother and friend, is heaven.”
A simple wisdom parable with a great truth. The difference between heaven and hell, love and hate, grace and judgement, contentment and suffering is humility and thankfulness.
It is the realization that life, each breath is a gift. To receive everything we encounter on life’s path, what we might perceive and label as “good” or “bad”, with open heart and open hand.
Humility and acceptance; learn them and live well.