The Warrior and the Monk

The following story was quoted to Conal in email recently. He shared it with me and I enjoyed it very much. The person who shared it with him had gotten it from the web page of John Greenfelder Sullivan, Powell Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Elon University in Maryland.

In a famous Zen story, a samurai warrior comes up to a little monk and says: Teach me about heaven and hell. “Teach you?” the little monk replies, “why you are a dirty, smelly, poor excuse for a samurai. Even your sword is rusty!” Insulted, the samurai, flush with anger, draws his sword and is about to cleave this insolent monk in two. A split second before he strikes, the monk says: “That’s Hell.” The samurai has a moment of insight. He realizes that this monk has gone to the very door of death to teach him. He fills with gratitude, his body relaxes and he sheaths his sword. At that precise moment, the monk says: “That’s Heaven.”

I was curious to see what this person was about, and I was even more inspired as I read over Dr. Sullivan’s writings. Wow. In a culture that places so much emphasis on “leadership” centered around making corporations bigger and more powerful, I’m grateful to know that there are beings such as Dr. Sullivan leading inspiring young people toward compassion, wholeness, and service.

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