hell in one pocket and heaven in the other the choice is all mine i claim love and golden light This here today is heaven! (tanka 5-7-5-7-7)
A wise, old, loincloth-donning and cave-dwelling yogi in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, India once told a little girl a secret. “Heaven and hell” he explained, “are in my pockets!” Perhaps the eleven-year-old girl didn’t quite understand. I imagine she must have looked at him with a quizzical expression on her face. “Here!” he exclaimed. He had a very dynamic way of speaking and of being. Occasionally while walking on a hiking trail, he’d suddenly jump up in the air and yell, “Boom! Life is great!” and resume along the path light-footed and seemingly as light-hearted as can be.
Looking seriously at the little girl, her sister and her parents, Yogi continued. “Look, I want heaven? I take it out of my left pocket. I want hell? I take it out of my right pocket. I can have both! Anytime, I just take heaven or I just take hell out of my pockets!”
My eleven-year-old self did not understand Yogi’s story back then. But like a lucky charm or talisman in my pocket, it has given my life depth and texture—a sense of nuanced calm and komorebi*.
What do you carry in your pockets?
*komorebi: a Japanese word for sunlight shining through the trees; scattered or dappled sunlight; light filtering through the trees