Monday, February 7, 2011

Heaven and Hell

Oooh, with a title like that, some people will be confused about this post's purpose.  This is a puzzle.

There once was a man who saw heaven and hell, but found they were nearly the same.  Each one consisted of a group of people sitting at a round table with food.  But their chopsticks were way too long to eat with!  The difference was that people in heaven were always full and happy, while the people in hell were always hungry and unhappy.  Why?

This puzzle comes from Stories to Solve, which is the other book I found from my childhood.  However, the book takes this story from an older tradition, so I don't feel I am stealing it.  Some people might categorize this as a lateral thinking puzzle.  I generally don't like lateral thinking puzzles, but I like this one.


Jeffrey Ellis said...

The chopsticks are too long to eat with yourself, but presumably you could feed someone across the table with them. The people in heaven feed each other, the people in hell do not.

SlightlyMetaphysical said...

I remember being told this story as a moralistic story about sharing quite often as a child.

It always really, really annoyed me as an oversimplification of morality. Because almost all of the evil people WOULD feed each other, being evil doesn't make you stupid, and nastiness doesn't stop compromise- that's how things like mafias work.

Quintopia said...

I don't think I'm talented enough to use fifteen-foot-long chopsticks to feed someone else.