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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Reflections of the Warrior of the Light

By Paulo Coelho

A warrior of the light does not put off his decisions.

He reflects properly before acting, considers his training, his responsibility, and his duty to the master. He seeks to maintain serenity, and analyzes each step as if it were the most important one.

But at the moment of making a decision, the warrior moves ahead: he no longer has any doubts about his choice, nor does he alter course should the circumstances be other than those he imagined.

If his decision was the correct one, he will win the combat – even if it takes longer than planned. If his decision is wrong, he will be defeated, and will have to start over again – with more wisdom.

But when he starts out, the warrior of the light follows through to the end.

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