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Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Heaven and Hell

--by Zen Parable (Mar 02, 1998)


A great and powerful warrior came to the head monk of a monastery. He asked the monk to show him the difference between heaven and hell. The monk sneered at the monk and said, "One as arrogant and small minded as you would never be able to learn the difference between heaven and hell." After more such abuse, the warrior lost his temper and yelled, "I will show you death then!" and began to draw his sword out of its scabbard. The monk smiled and calmly said, "That is hell." The warrior at once understood and pushed his sword back down into its scabbard. Again, the monk smiled and said, "That is heaven."

Our negativities confine us in a prison where there is nothing but misery. Only with the passing of these negativities can we be free from this prison and reunite with the love and peace that this world is made up of. With some thought, we can see that the root of all these negative emotions is continuous reaction to our own desires. When we meditate, we witness the arising and falling of these emotions and as we continue to accept and not just blindly react, the grasp of these negativities withers; we control our minds and experience unity in every step of life.




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