Ram Dass – “Heaven and Hell”

A story from Ram Dass’ “How can I Help?”

A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk.  “Monk,” he said, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience; “teach me about heaven and hell!”

The monk looked up at this mighty warrior and replied  with utter disdain, “Teach you about heaven and hell?  I couldn’t teach you about anything.  You’re dirty.  You smell.  Your blade is rusty.  You’re a disgrace, and embarrassment to the samurai class.  Get out of my sight.  I can’t stand you.”

The samurai was furious.  He shook, got all red in the face, was speechless with rage.  He pulled out his sword and raised it above him, preparing to slay the monk.

“That’s hell,” said the monk softly.

The samurai was overwhelmed.  The compassion and surrender of this little man who had offered his life to give this teaching to show him hell!  He slowly put down his sword, filled with gratitude, and suddenly peaceful.

“And that’s heaven,” said the monk softly.



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