Heaven and Hell
There was once a powerful samurai warrior in Japan, he was a leader of men and very faithful to his country. He would think nothing of giving his own life if it meant helping his emperor or country.
This warrior was used to battle and he had killed many men and so he was beginning to wonder if there was a heaven and a hell and if so how could he get to heaven and stay clear of hell.
He was concerned that he may not be allowed into heaven due to the fact that he had killed so many men this lifetime.
He had heard of the famous Zen master Hakuin and was told he could show him how to get to heaven. He decided to go and meet him and traveled long and far to find him.
After many days of gruesome travel over mountains and rough terrain he finally found the master. The warrior was doubtful when he met master Hakuin, he looked just like a simple peasant and the warrior really wondered if this simple man could authentically answer his question.
After all this travel it would be pointless to go back without asking the question and so the strong warrior asked Hakuin if indeed there was a heaven and a hell, and if so how could he get to heaven and avoid hell?
Master Hakuin being a very wise man, answered the question in a way the warrior would never forget.
Master Hakuin replied, "Who are you?" to which the warrior replied, "I am the chief samurai warrior of Japan and I work directly with the emperor. I am the leader of all samurai in Japan."
Hakuin laughed and said, "You a warrior? You are nothing but talk. You could not save yourself, never mind our emperor. Don't waste my time. Go!
At this the warrior was deeply offended and was immediately angry, he drew his sword ready to kill this peasant man in front of him, but just before he made the strike, Hakuin shouted. "Stop!" and continued, "This is hell." The warrior stopped and put his sword back in its sheath and Hakuin smiled as he said "And this is heaven."
The samurai got the message; the master had shown him how his anger was his own hell and his alert consciousness was his own heaven.
He realized that heaven and hell exist within us, it is always a choice as to how we respond to life.