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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Buddha: Respond, don't react

Buddha was once passing through a village. 

The people of that village were against him and his philosophy, so they gathered around him to insult him. They used ugly, abusive words. Buddha listened. 

Ananda, Buddha’s disciple who was with him, got very angry, but he couldn’t say anything because Buddha was listening so silently, so patiently, as if he was enjoying the whole thing. Even the crowd became a little frustrated because he was not getting irritated and it seemed he was enjoying.

Then Buddha said, ”Now, if you are finished, I should move, because I have to reach the other village soon. People must be waiting for me just as you were waiting. If you have not finished with your abuses, I will be passing through your village again within a few days. You can finish it then.”

Somebody from the crowd said, ”But we have been insulting you, abusing you. Won’t you react? Won’t you say anything?”

Buddha said, “If you want reaction from me, then you are too late. You should have come at least ten years ago, when I used to react. But now I am no longer foolish. I see your anger, the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassion for you ...!”
Saying so Buddha started to leave the crowd.  Again he stopped and said, ”One thing more, in the previous village on my way, I met a huge crowd of villagers who had come to see me and they had brought many sweets for me, a gift from the village. But I told them that I don’t take sweets and they took the sweets back. Now I ask you, what will they do with those sweets?”

Somebody from the crowd replied, ”It is easy, they will distribute those sweets in the village and they will enjoy!”

Buddha smiled and said, ”Now you have brought only insults and abuses for me and I don’t take them. What will you do? You abused and insult me, it is up to you. But I refuse to take it, that is up to me!” He further said, ”I don’t take unnecessary, useless things. I don’t get unnecessarily burdened. I feel sorry for you!”

Moral of the Story ....

Friends, this is called ‘response’. When someone is angry with us and if we are present there without the past, we will always feel compassion for the person. Reaction becomes anger but response is always compassion.
We will be able to see through the person and it will become transparent that he is angry, he is suffering, he is in misery, he is ill. When someone gets a fever do we ask him, ”Why do you have a fever? Why does your body have a high temperature?” In fact, we serve him and help him to recover from the illness. Similarly Friends, an angry person is suffering from a psychological disease which is more dangerous than any physical disease.
If we can be in the present without any past, then the catharsis, the deep cleansing happens and we can attain to more clarity. We are without any wounds, hence no one can hurt us. Then it becomes easy to respond.

Friends, reaction is always from the past, response is here and now. 

Please reflect on this.