How Hot Is Hell?
Dear old and new friends,
Hot as hell is a common summer remark, yet how hot actually is it? Does it feel like a scorching hot July day in Kansas or is it like the sweltering and stifling heat of a crowded stalled elevator? Atheists of hell denounce such questions as being ridiculous since it just doesn’t exist. In this age of air conditioned, comfortable churches, unlike previous times, sermons about hell are rare. Other than its use as a metaphor for an unbearable temperature, most today hardly ever give hell any serious thought. Yet there are some who often do wonder if Hell and Heaven really exist?
Such a person was a Samurai warrior who came to visit the spiritual Master Hakuin and began asking, “Master, is there really a heaven and hell?”
“Who are you?” demanded Hakuin.
“I am a Samurai warrior of the Shogun’s Imperial personal guard,” proudly stated the warrior. “Nonsense,” replied Hakuin. “I think under those fine robes you are more likely some village idiot! Or you’re a highway robber who stole those clothes off a wealthy merchant.”
Like pot of tea, the warrior began to be boiling hot. “You are too fat to really be a true Samurai,” said Haukin, “and too dumb!” At that the Samurai angrily rattled his large sword. “Oho,” laughed Hakuin. “Look, he has a toy sword. I wager it’s so dull it couldn’t cut through a piece of soft tofu.”
Insulted, the warrior could no longer restrain himself and drew his sword threatening the master. “Now you know half the answer!” smiled the master. “You have just opened the gates of hell.”
Hearing that, the Samurai drew back, sheathed his sword and bowed. “Now you know the other half,” said Hakuin. “You have just opened the gates of heaven.”
Just as Hell or Heaven were within the power of that Samurai, so they are within ours regardless the temperature. Hell isn’t a place of torture where we are sent, it is rather easily self-constructed. Whenever you feel hatred, jealousy, anger or feelings of envy, suspicion, rejection and revenge, realize these are the doors of hell. Whenever you feel the touch of any of them realize your hand is on its doorknob…then instantly pull it away and wash it thoroughly.
I cannot conclude this reflection about Heaven and Hell without speaking about the reality of Heaven but that would take more space than is remaining. So I will conclude with one of my favorite quotations of Mark Twain: “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”