This quote from Zen priestess Shundo Aoyama, delivered to my inbox last month via Tricycle magazine’s Daily Dharma, gave me a chuckle, but also caused me to contemplate how one’s perspective and attitude can shape his or her perception of something as basic as the divide between heaven and hell:
I once heard a story about a visit to heaven and hell. In both places the visitor saw many people seated at a table on which many delicious foods were laid out. In both places chopsticks over a meter long were tied to their right hands, while their left hands were tied to their chairs.
In hell, however much they stretched out their arms, the chopsticks were too long for them to get food into their mouths. They grew impatient and got their hands and chopsticks tangled with one another’s. The delicacies were scattered here and there.
In heaven, on the other hand, people happily used the long chopsticks to pick out someone else’s favorite food and feed it to him, and in turn they were being fed by others. They all enjoyed their meal in harmony.