The Art of Life|Aug 3, 2006 5:42 AM| by:

Heaven and Hell

A famous soldier came to the Master Hakuin and asked: “Master, tell me: is there really a heaven and a hell?”

“Who are you?” asked Hakuin.

“I am a soldier of the great Emperor’s personal guard.”

“Nonsense!” said Hakuin. “What kind of emperor would have you around him? To me you look like a beggar!” At this, the soldier started to rattle his big sword in anger. “Oho!” said Hakuin.

“So you have a sword! I’ll wager it’s much too dull to cut my head off!”

At this the soldier could not hold himself back.

He drew his sword and threatened the Master, who said: “Now you know half the answer! You are opening the gates of hell!”

The soldier drew back, sheathed his sword, and bowed. “Now you know the other half,” said the Master. “You have opened the gates of heaven.”

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