Tales of Zen wisdom – The gift of insults

By Paulo Coelho

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai warrior, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. In spite of his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.

One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. He was famous for using techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary made the first move and, being gifted with an enviable intelligence in order to repair any mistakes made, he counterattacked with fulminating speed.

The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.

All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:

- How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?

- If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.

- He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.

- The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master. – When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.

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Comments

  1. leigh says:

    Oh so super awesome!! Come to South √Āfrica, we MUST have coffee :) :) :)

  2. Tania says:

    Its that old saying “sticks and stones will brake my bones but names will never hurt me “>
    Its whether you let these type of people make you feel these things ,its up to you ,Know one can make you without your permission .
    Love and Light Tania

  3. Carolina Gleason says:

    Isn’t anger a selfish emotion? You innately know your purpose is to hurt anyone whom the anger is directed to. Someone who has love in their heart and believes that love always wins, should have enough control over the words that come out of their being as well as enough empathy for human nature to avoid escalated personal conflict.

  4. Carolina Gleason says:

    Isn’t anger a selfish emotion? You innately know your purpose is to hurt anyone to whom it is directed to. Whether you accomplish it or not it made that angry person feel somewhat satisfied that he/she was able to verbalize their feelings thus self fulfilling the selfishness involved. Someone who has love in their heart and believes that love always wins, should and would have enough control over the words that come out of their mouths as well as enough empathy for human nature to avoid escalated personal conflict.

  5. Beth says:

    I love this tale!
    I posted on my blog awhile back about ‘the purpose of a spiritual friend is to insult us (Pema Chodron)…

    http://www.virtualteahouse.com/blogs/beth/archive/2007/09/30/the-real-purpose-of-a-spiritual-friend-is-to-insult-you-pema-chodron.aspx

  6. Dessislava says:

    the power is within you.. it is your decision to react and allow hurt to enter you or not. what the other speaks of is usually about him…not about you

  7. Diana says:

    Maybe those insults didnt hurt the master because he was secure of his abilities. Insults can only hurt if you feel that they reveal some truth about yourself. The more you respond to insults the more you show your weaknesses.

  8. Tania says:

    Its that old saying “sticks and stones will brake my bones but names will never hurt me “>
    Its whether you let these type of people make you feel these things ,its up to you ,Know one can make you without your permission .
    Love and Light Tania

  9. Agnieszka says:

    That’s a wise and …sad story at the same time.
    Insults, anger, envy..?
    Someone who carries those, and use it, how can he ever have peace, how can he ever love?

    What you have inside is what you give.

    When you have love inside, you give love.

    And yes..whatever you have to give if not accepted will stay with you, except for love…love will flow like a river..

    love
    Agnieszka

  10. aditya says:

    great tecahings, but quite useless if the ‘other side’ is like say

    1. instead of insults alone, the chap decides to use a a whip or worse still maybe drives a daggar down the mastres throat.

    2. he is like hitler, no use talking, just put a bullet.

    cann’t say an unaccepted whiplash remains with the giver, or can we.

    love
    aditya