A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concepts of heaven and hell. But the monk replied with scorn, "You're nothing but a lout - I can't waste my time with the likes of you!"
His very honour attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled, "I could kill you for your impertinence!"
"That," the monk calmly replied, "is hell."
Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.
"And that," said the monk, "is heaven."
[excerpted from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman]