A samurai warrior, seeking enlightenment, called upon a Zen master.
‘What is the essence of Heaven and of Hell?’ asked the samurai.
The Zen master looked at the warrior keenly and then laughed. ‘How can a great oaf of a samurai like yourself expect to understand the essence of Heaven and Hell?’
The samurai’s brow furrowed into well-worn grooves of anger, as the Zen master continued to laugh. He reached instinctively for his sword to cut off the Zen master’s head.
‘This,’ said the Zen master, holding up a finger, ‘is Hell.’
The samurai stopped. The furrows disappeared, as the samurai was filled with the liberating truth of this insight. He composed himself and bowed humbly to the Zen master.
‘And this… is Heaven,’ said the Zen master, bowing in return.