The Zen Series: The Gates Of Paradise

Parsi Times presents our readers ‘The Zen Series’ by PT Columnist, Kashmira Shaw Raj – a professional Taichi and Qigong practitioner and teacher, as also a sought-after clinical psychologist and healer. These Zen stories will resonate with you and help you connect within, at a deeper, inner level to encourage and empower you to reflect. These make for good reading across people of all ages and speak to the reader at several levels. If you’re looking to bring about a positive change in yourself, ‘The Zen Series’ will inspire, motivate and facilitate you in realizing truths about yourself and life, to ultimately set you on the path of growth, wisdom and happiness.

In the eighth episode of ‘The Zen Series’, we learn an important lesson based on the story – ‘The Gates of Paradise’.

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked, “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin. 

“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.

“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar!” 

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued, “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword, Hakuin remarked, “Here open the gates of hell!” 

At these words, the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.

[Courtesy: ‘Ten Very Best Zen Stories for Travelers’]

Heaven or Hell is not up there. It’s all here, and it’s all within. Different opportunities present themselves to us and how we react to them brings out the true character of man. Everyone faces hardships in life, only the degrees vary. Reactions to these differ. Some accept things positively and decide to work on themselves. Some find it difficult to accept and have mixed emotions. Others face denial and run away from the situation. 

So, what state do you possess and nurture within? Heaven or Hell?

There is the sense of experiencing Heaven within, when:

  1. There is a sense of inner peace and calmness
  2. You relate to others with harmony and humility
  3. Things go smoothly for you 
  4. Even when there is a challenging situation before you, you have the ability to face it without going through immense turmoil.
  5. There is love and compassion you feel for people around.
  6. You are able to understand the other person’s point of view without being judgmental.

However, there is a sense of experiencing Hell when:

  1. There is unrest, turmoil and unhappiness within.
  2. A sense of despair or hopelessness overcomes you.
  3. Anger, rage, pride, arrogance and other such extreme emotions seem to be ruling your life
  4. Nothing seems to be working.
  5. There is a disconnect with people. No one seems to understand you and vice versa.
  6. Everything seems futile and useless around you.

We all know only too well that it takes a long time to create or build something, while it takes next to no time at all to break or destroy. Our thoughts, actions, emotions and feelings – all make up our inner world, which in turn is reflected in our outer world. 

It is important to note that only inner peace and calmness will be able to contain outer storms. However, a disturbed inner state of mind will affect even the quietest of environments outside.

Therefore, wouldn’t you rather be in a situation where:

  1. We are the masters of our emotions, rather than being the slave.
  2. We think of the one life we have and work on making it better, rather than keeping it for later.
  3. We realise that humility makes magic. Greater the rise, the humbler you must remain!
  4. We avoid getting caught up in repetitive unwanted situations that seem to have set an unhealthy pattern in your life.
  5. We realise that life is meant to be enjoyed. Do not look upon it as a moral conduct book!

Remember always – it is entirely up to us to make a difference in our lives. Challenges will come in the lives of all, but they will go as well – nothing is permanent. It is what you do in the interim that governs whether you will choose to live in Heaven or Hell.

Kashmira Shaw Raj is a professional Taichi and Qigong practitioner and teacher. Also, a successful clinical psychologist, psychic and healer, Kashmira runs ‘The Tai-Qi Touch’ with her husband, Dr. Brijesh Raj, a healer and a Vet. Taichi practitioners for over fourteen years now, they are instructors in Sifu Carlton Hill’s Tao Taichi Qi Gong organization, and Shibashi Instructors under Sifu Wing Cheung from the Feng Shui and Taichi Institute, Hongkong & Canada. 

The Tai-Qi Touch offers classes for adults and children at ‘Infinite Studio’ (Opp. Starbucks Café, Chowpatty, Mumbai). To contact Kashmira, M: 9323874418 or Email:

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