Jack Maguire...

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  • Adam
    • Oct 2009
    • 127

    Jack Maguire...

    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently reading Jack Maguire's book, Essential Buddhism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs and Practices, that I bought some time ago, but have never read. I recommend this book because it covers a lot of information, but I was especially struck by an old zen story that he recounts in the book:

    A big tough samurai once went to see a little monk. In a voice accustomed to meeting with obedience, the samurai said, "Monk, teach me about heaven and hell."
    The monk looked up at this mighty warrior and replied in a voice of utter contempt, "Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn't teach you about anything. You're filthy. You stink. Your sword is rusty. You're a disgrace to the samurai class! Get out of my sight!"
    The samurai was speechless with rage. His muscles bulged. His face got red. He swung his sword high above his head, preparing to slay the monk.
    "That is hell," the monk said softly.
    The samurai froze. Suddenly he was overwhelmed by the compassion for this tiny, defenseless man who had just risked death to give his teaching. As he slowly lowered his sword, he was filled with gratitude and wonder.
    "That is heaven," the monk said softly.

    This, to me, explains one of the most important teachings in zen. We create our own heaven and hells here in this life. I thought that I would share this story with the sangha because there have been many times when I felt just like the samurai in this story. I have been so angry with others that I ended up living in my own personal hell, while at other times, I have felt so much compassion, gratitude, and wonder over daily life, that I have felt like I was walking in my own personal heaven. Every time that I feel the seeds of anger swelling up in my body, I will use this story and remember that I am the one causing these feelings; I choose to act this way, no matter what another may say or do, I make the ultimate choice of how to react. I am the one that chooses heaven or hell.


    "Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment." - Lao Tzu
  • Jinyu
    • May 2009
    • 768

    Re: Jack Maguire...

    That's a great reminder!
    Thank you Adam! :wink:

    Jinyu aka Luis aka Silly guy from Brussels


    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39419

      Re: Jack Maguire...

      Thank you, Adam.

      Wonderful story, and I am fully with you on the "hells" and "heavens" that folks make for themself, and those around them, in this life.

      I am skeptical of many excessively detailed, mechanical models of "rebirth". But I believe that, how we act now, has effects certainly in this life ... for us, the people around us, this world, generations to come. And, if there is some future rebirth dependent on our volitional actions, well, all the more reason to act right here and now too.

      I do not know if there are literal "heavens" and "hells" which await us after we die, but I have seen people create real bits of heaven and hell in this life, for themselves and those near them, by their actions.

      If you would like a little discussion of Karma, and some traditional Buddhist images of "heaven and hell" (some of which would be familiar to Dante) ... it was one of the "Big Questions" awhile back ...


      Gassho, J

      PS - Oh, and if you would like to see some grotesque images of so-called "Buddhist Hell" from an amusement park in Singapore (although I have seen similar images even in some temples in China, Japan and Korea) ... images that would make any Fire & Brimstone preacher in the Bible Belt faint ... here are some. Just like in the West, images of "hell" like this were often used by Buddhist preachers to get people to "be good". WARNING: 18 and OVER



      • Shohei
        • Oct 2007
        • 2854

        Re: Jack Maguire...

        Thank you!
        great reminder ops: