Heaven and Hell- a story about compassion

A story about compassion:

A samurai comes to see 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 warm 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 – 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 the insight.


‘And that’s heaven.’  says the Zen master.


from Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top