A burly samurai comes to a Zen master and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”
The Zen master looks at him and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, miserable slob like you?”
Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and threatens to cut off the master’s head.
The Zen master says, “That is hell.”
Instantly, the samurai understands that he has created his own hell-becoming so filled with hate, anger, and resentment that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together, bows to the master and with humility thanks him for the gift of this insight.
The Zen master says, “That is heaven.”
How we see the world is partly the way it actually exists and partly how we process it internally. Eastern wisdom traditions point out that none of us are aware of true reality because it is filtered though our senses, perceptions, emotions, and personalities. We never actually perceive the world as it truly is, but take it in with our senses and then construct our own personal reality in our minds. That observation is as old as the Hindu Upanishads and as current as modern Gestalt Psychology which has as one of its maxims “There is no immaculate perception.”