On Heaven and Hell – A Zen Story

The Gates of Paradise

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.

“I am a samurai” the warrior replied.

“You, a soldier!” sneered Hakuin, “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar.”

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword.

Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably to dull to cut off my head.”

Nobushige drew his sword.

Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”

At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, put away his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise”, said Hakuin.




Zen Master Hakuin





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