React or Respond … opens the Gates of Heaven or Hell!

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Stories of the Way

heaven and hell cards

Zen Story#1

A samurai visited the Zen monk Hakuin for instruction and asked: “Is there really a heaven and a hell?”

“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin. “I am a samurai”, the warrior replied.

“You, a soldier!” sneered Hakuin, “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar”.

The samurai immediately became enraged and he  drew his sword to cut off the priest’s head.

Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!

At these words the samurai became aware of his own angry reaction and perceived the zen master’s insight. The samurai responded thoughtfully, he put away his sword and bowed.

Here open the gates of heaven“, said Hakuin.


With reference to Zen flesh, Zen bones compiled by Paul Reps.