Heaven and hell

By Paulo Coelho

A violent samurai warrior with a reputation for provoking fights for no reason arrived at the gates of a Zen monastery and asked to speak to the master.
Without hesitating, Ryokan went to meet him.
‘They say that intelligence is more powerful than brute force,’ said the samurai. ‘Can you explain to me what heaven and hell are?’
Ryokan said nothing.
‘You see?’ bellowed the samurai. ‘I could explain quite easily: to show someone what hell is, you just have to punch them. To show them what heaven is, you just have threaten them with terrible violence and then let them go.’
‘I don’t talk to stupid people like you,’ said the Zen master.
The blood rushed to the samurai’s head. His brain became thick with hatred.
‘That is hell,’ said Ryokan, smiling. ‘Allowing yourself to be upset by silly remarks.’
Taken aback by the monk’s courage, the samurai warrior softened.
‘And that is heaven,’ said Ryokan, inviting him in. ‘Not reacting to foolish provocations.’

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  1. Jegan says:

    This Blog makes me understand the world better… I feel matured after reading this blog…

  2. Carmen Larisa says:

    I simply adore this story! :-) Thank you for reminding us about it, dear Paulo!
    I love its profound meanings; all of us can choose what we want for us to happen. Maybe sometimes it is difficult to believe in us, in our capacity to change things for the better because we are surrounded by pessimistic people who have more “experience” in life, but they have always expected the worst, who is to blame that what they have obessively thought about, really happened.
    It is not easy to be optimstic nowadays, but still, it is a great challenge! :-) It is also not easy to talk about Heaven and to believe in God inside your heart, because people refuse to accept that not everything is as they supposed to be all their lives, that no religion has the “certificate” of really owing God and no place which is considered saint really is like that…
    It’s a matter of attitude and of choice, of course, but the greatest fact is that when you feel and offer Love, you have found God and implicitely Heaven!
    Humility, generosity, joy and many more are the attributes of being on the right path, that of Light and Truth and the best part is that you don’t need a certificate to show off with all these gifts! God knows your merits and this is worth infinitely more than many other human recognitions!
    May God bless the whole world with Love and Peace of Mind!

    Many hugs and appreciation,
    Carmen Larisa

  3. Bushra says:

    [quote comment=””]Well,We all have some weaknesses and its quite difficult to get rid of them, so do the warriors so anger in itself not bad as it always motivates u and push u forward and also energizez u to take control of worse circumstances as we know that The importance of heaven cannot be understood without the existence of Hell…

  4. Tania says:

    Attitude adjustment in progress its heady stuff,but im sure you can adjust.Blessings Tania.

  5. wanbliska says:

    Ok! :) I understand better now.
    By vexing the violent samouraí¯, The Zen Master make him suffer hell…And proves quickly, than words could be like the cutting edge of a sword. Anyone use it as one likes.

  6. wanbliska says:

    I noticed that:
    ‘I don’t talk to stupid people like you,’ said the Zen master.

    Is this heaven? This typically my obsessive question. When do heaven come, and when do hell end?


  7. wanbliska says:

    Indeed, The two H are in and out us.

    It’s so simple, whereas our society is so much complicated.

    With Love.

  8. Paul F. says:

    This is not a bad thing, right? Being upset, getting angry, hatred – those are part of our emotions. We can’t push away those “bad ones” and stick close only to joy and love.

    The important thing is to not let them take control over us.

    Samurai warrior doesn’t have to leave anger behind. Instead, Ryokan must teach him when it is necessary to get upset, and when not to.

    This lesson is simple. True samurai warrior knows, that he could get upset only when he is not embarrassing himself by his anger.

  9. Karen says:

    Once again you knew who the remarks were coming from. That in itself is where weakness is in the coward that can’t speak to your face. Weak COWARDS.

  10. Kathleen says:

    I enjoy reading these short stories but I don’t always use them to reflect on – I definitely think though that I should learn from this one today. Its a difficult task, not to take things to heart, not to get upset by silly remarks and not to get provocated. That is something about myself I know I need to work on.
    Kathleen xx