A Subtle Flaw
A Zen Koan.
In a Zen monastery, the disciples had gathered around the master. "Please listen to the story I am going to tell you attentively," said the master and started his story.
"Once when the Buddha was sitting with his eyes closed, he heard someone screaming ‘Help! Help!’ He realized that it was the voice of a man who had fallen into the pits of hell and was suffering there. The Buddha realized that this punishment was given to him because he had committed many murders and thefts when he was living. He felt compassion and wanted to help him out.
He looked for a good deed the man had performed when he was living. The man had once carefully avoided stepping on a spider while he was walking. Buddha asked that spider to help the man. The spider sent a long thread into the pit, the type that it uses to spin its web. The man caught hold of the thread and started climbing up.
When the others who were suffering their punishments tried to climb up using the same thread, the man got anxious.
"This thread has been sent for me. If so many people try to climb on this, the thread will break!" he shouted angrily.
That very moment the thread broke and he fell into the pit again.
The man started screaming, "Help, Help!" again, but this time Buddha did not pay attention to his cries.
The master stopped the story here and asked — "What is wrong with this story?"
One disciple said — "The thread of a spider does not have the strength to carry a man."
"There is no such thing as heaven and hell" — said another.
Another disciple said — "When Buddha was sitting with his eyes closed and meditating he must have heard some other sound."
"All of you have missed the important thing" — said the master with a smile and got up and walked away.