Thank you Lianne for a great story of the power and beauty of service.
There is a Buddhist story of a boy who wants to learn more about Heaven and Hell.
Then suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, hungry ghosts and spirits from the world of hell began to gather. They were all restless and making a big fuss. When all the spirits were finally seated, they began fighting for the chopsticks.
Then something strange happened. The chopsticks started to grow, becoming longer and longer, and longer, until they were all three feet long. The hungry ghosts tried to eat with their long chopsticks. But they couldn’t. Even if they could pick something up, they couldn’t put it into their mouths. After some time had passed, the red doors of the dining room opened, and a large, black gaping hole appeared. Mealtime was over. The hungry ghosts, still hungry, threw down their long chopsticks and slowly got up from the table.
Then he was taken to the dining room in Heaven. He noticed that everything looked exactly like the dining room in hell. “What’s the difference?” he wondered. The boy looked closely and noticed that the pairs of chopsticks were already three feet long. Then quietly and with grace, happy-looking people started to gather around the table. “How are they going to eat with those long chopsticks?” the boy thought.
After sitting down, the people began picking up the food with their very long chopsticks and, instead of trying to feed themselves, they began putting it into the mouths of the people sitting on the other side of the table. They took turns feeding each other, giving the other person whatever they wanted to eat.
The boy was very touched. He then understood the difference between the two worlds – that caring about each other, not just your own self, is what made the dining room in heaven so wonderful and different from the one in hell.
Prepared by Shinnyo-en Foundation, 2006