Heaven and hell
by Paulo Coelho on February 11, 2008
A violent samurai warrior with a reputation for p
rovoking 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
`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.'