Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Monk and the Samurai

A Zen tale

There was once a samurai warrior who had a question that had been bothering him for some time.
He finally decided to travel to the home of an old monk.
Upon arriving, the samurai pushed through the door and without so much as a hello, shouted, "You must tell me. What is the difference between heaven and hell?"
The monk, who had not moved from his seated position on the floor, closed his eyes in thought for a moment. He then lifted his head and looked at the samurai.
"Ha!" he said. "Do you think yourself a samurai? Why, are barely more than a boy much less a great samurai warrior!"
The samurai was stunned. Too angry to speak, his hand reflexively reached for his sword.
"So, you have a sword" said the old monk, scathingly. " I doubt a boy in your condition could do much harm to anyone."
By now, the samurai was beside himself with rage. He pulled his sword from it's sheath and with both hands lifted it over his head.
His eyes and his mind were full of anger as he prepared to cut off the old monks head.
At that moment, the old monk looked into the samurai's eyes and said "There lies the path to hell."
Hearing these words, the samurai realized the the risk the monk had taken in order to teach him a lesson. He sheathed his sword and bowed to the old monk.
"And there" said the monk "lies the path to heaven."

retold by LLL,Storysinger/Storyteller