Seventh Heaven or Seventh Hell
There is a beautiful story of a disciple of Mahavira. He was a great king, he renounced and became a disciple of Mahavira. He was very ascetic, austere, and did whatever Mahavira said to the very extreme. His name spread all over the country — it was Prasannachandra. Even kings started coming to pay homage to him. One king, Bimbasar, who had been a friend of Prasannachandra when he was also a king, came to the cave where he was standing naked under the sun, with his eyes closed. Bimbasar bowed down before Prasannachandra and thought, “When will the time come when I will also become so peaceful, so silent, blissful? This man has achieved!” Then he went to Mahavira, Prasannachandra’s master — he was near, somewhere in the same forest. He said to Mahavira, “Bhagwan, just before coming to you I went to Prasannachandra. He was standing with his eyes closed, so blissful, so heavenly. He has achieved. When will the moment come for me? I am not so fortunate — I feel jealous. I have another question: If Prasannachandra had died that very moment when I was there, paying my respects to him, where would he reach? Which heaven would he attain?” Jainas say there are seven heavens and seven hells.
Mahavira said, “He will fall to the seventh hell.” Bimbasar couldn’t understand, he was puzzled and confused. He said, “What are you saying, the seventh hell? Prasannachandra was standing so silently, so peacefully, so meditatively; he was in such ecstasy. If he falls to the seventh hell what will happen to me? Are there more hells beyond the seventh? No, you must be joking, tell me the truth.”
Mahavira said, “This is the truth. Just before you a few people had passed by; they also went to pay homage to Prasannachandra. They started gossiping around him; he heard, and the doors of hell opened. Those people were coming from his capital where he had been king. They said, “This fool has renounced all! The prime minister, to whom he has given the whole responsibility for running the kingdom, is a thief. He is looting, he is destroying. When Prasannachandra’s son comes of age, when he comes to be king, there will be nothing left. And this fool is standing here with his eyes closed.”
Prasannachandra heard this. Suddenly the door of hell opened. He forgot. He was also a samurai, a warrior, a kshatriya. He completely forgot that he had renounced, he forgot that there was no sword; he completely forgot that he was now a monk. The samurai who had gone to Hakuin had a sword. Prasannachandra had none, he was standing naked. He pulled out his sword — the sword was not there, it was just an illusion — and completely forgot that he was a sannyasin. The whole thing was so burdensome, so much anxiety was created by the news, that he pulled his sword out of the sheath and said, “I am alive! What does that prime minister think? I will go and cut off his head. I am still here!”
Whenever he used to become angry in the old days he would always touch his crown, so he touched his crown. There was no crown, just a shaven head. Suddenly he remembered, “What am I doing? There is no sword; I am a sannyasin and have renounced all.”
Mahavira said, “If he had died at the very moment he realized this he would have achieved the seventh heaven. Prasannachandra realized what he had been imagining. Just through imagination the door of hell was opened, now it had closed. If he had died at this moment, he would have achieved the seventh heaven.”
Hell and heaven are within you. The doors are very close: with the right hand you can open one, with the left hand you can open another. With just a change of your mind, your being is transformed — from heaven to hell and from hell to heaven. This goes on continuously. What is the secret? The secret is whenever you are unconscious, whenever you act unconsciously, without awareness, you are in hell; whenever you are conscious, whenever you act with full awareness, you are in heaven. If this awareness becomes so integrated, so consolidated, that you never lose it, there is no hell for you; if unconsciousness becomes so consolidated, so integrated, that you never lose it, there is no heaven.Fortunately unconsciousness can never become so consolidated; a part always remains conscious.
-A Bird On The wing, OSHO