I heard this wonderful story that I would like to share.
As soon as I heard it, it caused such a shift in my mind. It’s so beautiful, yet so profound.
One day the Buddha was sitting under a tree, teaching his students.
A man – who was there for the first time – walked right up to the Buddha, and spit in his face.
All the Buddha did, was remained sitting, and remained calm. and asked him what else he would like to say.
The man was shocked.
He didn’t expect that kind of reaction.
The Buddha’s disciples were outraged, and asked why he would allow that kind of behaviour. That if he tolerated it, that others would think it was acceptable.
Speaking to his disciple, the Buddha said –
“This gentleman is obviously upset, and has something he wants to say.
I’m not offended by his behaviour. But I am however upset by yours. You have known me for years – and you want me to react to that? To lash back at him? Do you think, after all the years I have taught you, that I would do something like that?
That I would yell at him, or correct him or embarass him?
This gentleman probably has some mistaken view of me. He has some mistaken concept of who and what I am.
He didn’t spit on “me”. He spit on his idea of me, because he didn’t know me. He spit on a notion of me.
If you consider it deeply, and take it a step further, he spit on his own mind.”
The gentleman that spit on him couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He had never received this reaction before – he was used to being yelled at, or retaliated against, but that wasn’t happening this time.
He went home, and couldn’t sleep – he thought about it all night.
He came back the next day, and he bowed deeply to the Buddha to show respect.
The Buddha looked at him – the same way as the last time – and asked him what else hw would like to say.
The man profusely apologised and asked for his forgiveness.
The Buddha said –
“I am not the same person you did that to.
You are not the same person you were 24 hours ago.
Everything is constantly changing. The man you spit on, is not longer sitting here.
So don’t worry so much about what happened yesterday.”
I loved this story. About our own ego’s and our ideas of “self”.
That the Buddha could recognise that it was not himself that was spat on, but an idea of himself.
And that he was able to remain equanimous and understanding.