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The Gates of Paradise

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The Gates of Paradise: A Zen Parable

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A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”


“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.


 “I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.


“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”


Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword

Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”

At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin. 


Reps, Paul. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection Of Zen And Pre-Zen Writings (pp. 80-81). Pickle Partners Publishing. Kindle Edition.