(To the mods: I don’t know where to post this so I’ll first post it here. If there’s a more appropriate place for this thread, please kindly move this there.)
There’s this rather nice Hindu tale I’ve heard, which I kind of like.
There was once a holy man who lived in a temple. Now this temple happened to be situated just in front of a prostitute’s house. Everyday, while the man performs his religious duties, he catches sight of the prostitute escorting customers in and out of her house. The Brahmin, of course, felt annoyance and anger at this wretched sinner.
One day, the prostitute went to the temple to worship. As she went out, she was confronted by the holy man. He told her strictly and to the point.
“You whore, don’t you realize that everyday you are committing a grave sin? You are going to Hell!”
The woman was shocked - she had never realized just how grave her offense was. In tears, she promised to repent.
The very next day, the holy man was surprised to find the prostitute. There she goes again, escorting men in and out of her house! The holy man was fed up at the sinner. It seems that this prostitute lied to him. He needed to find a way to make her realize the gravity of the situation - that was when he had an idea: he will take a stone, one for each of the woman’s customers, and place it where the woman can see it.
The holy man inspected the woman everyday: soon he had amassed a huge pile of stones. He called the woman and pointed to her this heap.
“Do you see this pile of stones? One stone for every man who went into your bed. You vile woman, didn’t you say you repented of your sins? I’ve watched you - I’ve seen your conduct. You will most certainly go to Hell.”
The prostitute was utterly devastated. She broke down in remorse. Consumed by the fire of repentance, the woman died on the spot.
Some time after, the holy man also died. He found himself in the courtroom of Yama, god of the dead, where the souls of the deceased are judged.
In front of him was the prostitute. The holy man was sure; she will be sentenced to Hell. Guess just how surprised he was when Yama finally laid down his verdict and ordered his guards.
“Send this lady up to Heaven!”
The holy man was flabbergasted. How could this be? Much more his antonishment was when it was finally his turn. After reviewing his deeds in life, Yama barked: “Send this man to Hell at once!”
The man protested. Throughout his life he had prayed and meditated; he was pious; he avoided any sin or impurity whatsoever. But the woman was clearly sinful; why should she be sent to Heaven and he to Hell? Yama answered him.
“The woman’s body was polluted, but her soul was pure. When you confronted her and warned her of her sins, she sincerely repented. Apparently you are not aware why this woman could not give up prostituting in the first place - it was all she had. On the outside, it may seem to you as if she was wretched. But this very same woman used to look at you through her window, and saw the holy man in you. Wanting to be holy herself she focused only on the Divine; that is what made her worthy to attain Heaven.”
“You, on the other hand, despite acting holy on the outside, was full of pollution on the inside. On the outside you may have prayed and meditated, but in your heart, you only focused on this woman and her sinfulness. You have thus made yourself impure in your thoughts; that is why you will be sent to Hell.”
Would this story also be applicable from a Christian/Catholic perspective? What would be the similarities and the differences?