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Chapter 3: The Gates of Heaven and Hell

So this simple warrior came to Hakuin to ask where is heaven and where is hell. He has not come to learn any doctrine, he wants to know where the gate is, “so I can avoid hell and enter heaven.” And Hakuin replied in a way only a warrior can understand. If a brahmin had been there, scriptures would have been needed; he would have quoted the Vedas, the Upanishads, The Bible, the Koran, then a brahmin would have understood. All that exists for a brahmin is in the scriptures; scriptures are the world. A brahmin lives in the word, in the verbal. If a businessman had been there he would not have understood the answer that Hakuin has given, the response, the way he acted with this warrior. A businessman always asks, “What is the price of your heaven? What is the cost? How can I attain it? What should I do? How virtuous should I be? What are the coins? What should I do so heaven can be attained?” He always asks for the price.

I have heard one beautiful story - it happened in the beginning when God created the world. God came on earth and asked different races.. He came with ten commandments, the ten rules of life. The Jews have given so much significance to those ten rules - and the Christians also, the Mohammedans also, because these religions are Jewish, the source is the Jew, and the Jew is the perfect businessman.

So God came to ask, he came to the Hindus and asked, “Would you like to have ten commandments?”

The Hindus said, “What is the first? We must have a sample. We don’t know what these ten commandments are.”

God said, “Thou shalt not kill.”

The Hindus said, “It will be difficult. Life is complex, killing is involved. It is a great cosmic play: there is birth, death, fighting, competition. If all the competition is taken away the whole thing will become flat, dull. We don’t like these commandments - they will destroy the whole game.”

So he went to the Mohammedans and said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” He also gave them one example - they had also asked for a sample.

The Mohammedans said, “This will be difficult. Life will lose all beauty. At least four wives are needed. You call it adultery, but this is all that life can give; this is all that a virtuous man should have. Who knows of the other world? This is the world; you have given it to us to enjoy and now you have come with these commandments? This is contradictory.”

God went around and around. Then he came to Moses, the leader of the Jews. Moses never asked for a sample. The moment God said, “I have ten commandments..” And God was afraid: if Moses says no, nobody is left. He has asked everybody and nobody is ready, so this is the last hope. When God asked, “Would you like to have these ten commandments?” what did Moses reply? He said, “How much do they cost?” This is how a perfect businessman thinks: the first thing to know is the cost.

God said, “Nothing.”

And Moses said, “Then I will have ten. If they cost nothing, there is no problem.” That’s how the ten commandments were born.

But this samurai was not a Jew; he was not a businessman, he was a warrior. He had come with a simple question. He was not interested in scriptures, he was not interested in cost, he was not interested really in any verbal answer. He was interested in reality.

And what did Hakuin do? He said, “Who are you?”

And the warrior replied, “I am a samurai.”

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