A teaching story


The Samurai and the Monk

A long time ago in a Far Eastern country there lived a mighty Samurai.  His entire life was spent in warring and killing his enemies.  Now he has become too old for his previous lifestyle; in his old age he has become interested in questions about death and the meaning of heaven and hell.  He decides he had better find out the answers before he dies, so he asks around for someone to tell him the answers he seeks.

He hears of a very wise old Monk who lives alone in a desolate monastery.  The Samurai travels for several days until he comes upon the monastery; upon entering, he finds the old Monk deep in meditative prayer.

The Samurai strides boldly and noisily up to the Monk, who is obviously irritated to be so rudely disturbed.  The Monk tersely asks the Samurai, « why are you disturbing me in my prayers? »

The Samurai , not used to being confronted with such a display of disrespect, becomes furious with the Monk.  True to fashion, he pulls his sword out of its sheath and raises it over his head in order to strike the Monk dead.

Quietly the Monk looks at him and says, « That is hell. »

The shocked Samurai hesitates and thinks about what the Monk has just said.  Then he puts his sword down.

Once again the Monk speaks: « And that is heaven. »


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