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: waiting until his adversary made the first move and counterattacking with fulminating speed.

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. 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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