"A warrior, a samurai, a great soldier, came to a Zen master and he asked "Is there any hell, is there any heaven? If there is hell and heaven, where are the gates? Where do I enter from? How can I avoid hell and choose heaven?"
He was a simple warrior. He had not come to learn any doctrine. He wanted to know where the gate was so he could avoid hell and enter heaven. And Hakuin replied in a way only a warrior could understand.
What did Hakuin do? He said, "Who are you?" And the warrior replied, "I am a samurai."
It is a thing of much pride to be a samurai in Japan. It means being a perfect warrior. He said, "I am a samurai, I am a leader of samurais. Even the emperor pays respect to me."
Hakuin laughed and said, " You, a samurai? You look like a beggar."
The samurai's pride was hurt, his ego hammered. He forgot what he had come for. He took out his sword and was just about to kill Hakuin. He forgot that he had come to this master to ask where is the gate of heaven, to ask where is the gate of hell.
Hakuin laughed and said, "This is the gate of hell. With this sword, this anger, this ego, here opens the gate." This is what a warrior can understand. Immediately he understood: This is the gate. He put his sword back in its sheath. And Hakuin said, "Here opens the gate of heaven."
Hell and heaven are within you, both gates are within you. When you are behaving unconsciously there is the gate of hell; when you become alert and conscious, there is the gate of heaven.
Silence is the door. Inner peace is the door. Nonviolence is the door. Love and compassion are the doors."
- (quoted by ZahretElNur)