We try to go to yoga at our rock climbing gym on Tuesday nights because the instructor, Chuck, is amazing. He recently started doing readings at the end of class and I love it!
This week after a beautiful and challenging class, Chuck read us a version of this story. I’m not sure who it should be attributed to but I found this version here, and it goes a little something like this:
A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the wise man looks him in the face and says:
“Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?”
The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the wise man won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the wise man. Then the wise man says, “That’s hell.”
The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill the samurai’s eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the wise man says, “That’s heaven.”
This is so powerful for me. Being agnostic, I don’t believe in heaven and hell as actual places or things. But conceptually, this story is such a great reminder that while I can’t control everything around me, I CAN control how things affect me.
I can choose to be annoyed that I seem to be developing seasonal allergies, or stressed about a big deadline at work, OR I can choose to be grateful for my wonderful family, a job that I love and the beautiful world around me.
At any given moment I can choose misery and negativity or joy, and I choose joy!**
**Disclaimer: these happy sentiments may have been somewhat influenced by Eleanor sleeping through the night for the first time in weeks! 🙂