Tagged with: zen

Heaven or Hell: Your Choice

A big, burly samurai comes to a Zen master and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?”

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master’s head.

The Zen master says, “That’s hell.”

Instantly, the samurai understands that he has created his own hell—black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, “That’s heaven.”

Heaven or Hell: Your Choice

A big, burly samurai comes to a Zen master and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?”

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master’s head.

The Zen master says, “That’s hell.”

Instantly, the samurai understands that he has created his own hell—black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, “That’s heaven.”

Our difficulties are not obstacles to the path; they are the path itself. They are opportunities to awaken. Can we learn what it means to welcome an unwanted situation, with its sense of groundlessness, as a wake-up call? Can we look at it as a signal that there is something here to be learned? Can we allow it to penetrate our hearts? By learning to do this, we are taking the first basic step toward learning what it means to be open with whatever life presents us. Even when we don’t like it, we understand that this difficulty is our practice, our path, our life.

Our difficulties are not obstacles to the path; they are the path itself. They are opportunities to awaken. Can we learn what it means to welcome an unwanted situation, with its sense of groundlessness, as a wake-up call? Can we look at it as a signal that there is something here to be learned? Can we allow it to penetrate our hearts? By learning to do this, we are taking the first basic step toward learning what it means to be open with whatever life presents us. Even when we don’t like it, we understand that this difficulty is our practice, our path, our life.

When the petty ego appears, do not be concerned with it. Simply ignore it. When a negative thought strikes you, acknowledge it, then drop it.

The Zen saying goes, “The occurrence of an evil thought is an affliction; not to continue it is the remedy.

When the petty ego appears, do not be concerned with it. Simply ignore it. When a negative thought strikes you, acknowledge it, then drop it.

The Zen saying goes, “The occurrence of an evil thought is an affliction; not to continue it is the remedy.

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A New Instinct

We human beings have regularly been faced with overwhelming crises ever since we first stood up on two legs. Survival-as an attitude, as an inner posture, as a natural reflex-is a highly developed capacity within our species. Why? Because we’ve been completely consumed by the necessity to survive for a very long time, since the first single-celled life form emerged around 3 billion years ago.

Slowly but surely, however, something new is beginning to emerge at the leading edge of the development of human consciousness-a new posture, a new attitude, a new reflex, and a new instinct. And that is…

- Andrew Cohen

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