This morning, I’d like to paraphrase a story that I read that helped me to deal with all the chaos in my life, in which I’d gotten a bit caught up.  This isn’t such an enjoyable way to live.  It goes a little something like this:

The was a great samurai who went to visit a meditation master in a cave high on a mountain.  He approached the man on his cushion and said, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell”.

The teacher looked up at him and said, “Why should I ever tell you, you dirty, miserable slob?”

The samurai grew red in the face and angrily insisted that the master deliver his teaching.  The master said, “Why would anyone ever teach anything to such an ugly brute as yourself?”

The samurai, caught up in great anger, drew his sword, and was about to strike the teacher’s head from his body when the teacher looked up at him and said,

“This is hell”.

The samurai, being actually quite sensitive and perceptive, immediately understood.  He fell to his knees and began to weep, pressing his palms together in thankfulness.

The master said, “This is Heaven”.

Hell is the state in which we are so absorbed with ourselves and our problems that we close up in our emotions and can do terrible things, because we see ourselves in opposition to our world and have to defend ourselves and our sense of self from its insults.

Heaven is the moment when something jars us, breaks our shell, and makes it possible for us to take a more expansive view.  This is because our perspective governs how we treat ourselves and others in every situation.  Gentleness, space, and wonder can coexist with our negative emotions if we don’t let ourselves fall blindly into our own stories.

I hope that this will be helpful to some of you.  Enjoy the weekend, and if you can, get outside for all of us who are in the PNW, where it will be raining all weekend.

p.s. this is a bit goofy, but illustrative nonetheless: