I’m reading a wonderful little book by Japanese Billionaire and Buddhist Priest Kazuo Inamori, A Compass to Fulfillment: Passion and Spirituality in Life and Business, and he tells a simple and powerful story. I'll retell it briefly in my own words.
A young Buddhist comes up to his priest and says, “Can you explain to me the difference between heaven and hell?”
The priest says, “Well, both places are a lot alike, as places. It’s the people that are different.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well in hell, people have all their meals at large round tables seating eight. They discover on arrival, to their surprise, that all the chopsticks are three or four feet long, and must be held in the proportionately normal place. When they dip into the big pot in the middle of the table to get their noodles, and try to eat, they find to their great frustration that the sticks are far too long and they can’t get the food to their mouths. They keep trying and failing, and it goes on and on. Everyone is starving and irritated and angry.”
“Yes. Then, in heaven, the setup is the same, but the actions are quite different. Realizing what they’re confronted with, everyone there uses the long chopsticks to pick up the noodles and offer them to the person directly across the table, for their enjoyment. And that person does the same. Everyone feeds his neighbor and is fed by him, and a great and wonderful feast is enjoyed by all.”