If somebody verbally attacks you, criticizes you or humiliates you, how do you choose to react? Are you likely to react with anger, become furious and perhaps scold them? Act with self-restraint and calmly accept it? Or just simply leisurely ignore it?
This story of the Buddha is an example of the choice we all have when confronted with conflict, and a lesson on how to improve our behavior and become masters of our reactions, even in times of extreme provocation.
One day, when the Buddha was on his way to beg for food he passed by an unfamiliar village. Suddenly a gang of people surrounded him and began to humiliate him with very terribly and ugly insults. They mocked him for his begging bowl and holy robes.
Buddha just silently listened to them and didn’t say a word. After they had finished hurling their abuse, he calmly said, “Thank you for coming to see me, but I have to go now, the people in the neighboring village are waiting for me. Tomorrow when I finish my work, I will have free time, if you have anything else to say to me, we can meet again then, can’t we?”
Upon hearing what the Buddha had to say, they couldn’t believe their ears, they were all shocked.
“What happened to you?” one of them immediately asked Buddha.
“Did you not hear what we were saying?” asked another.
“We have humiliated you so badly, why are you not upset with us?” a third added.
The Buddha replied,
“If you want me to react, it is too late, you must turn back time to ten years ago to see me react. For the past ten years, I have not been controlled by others, I am no longer a slave, I am my master. I just believe in what I need to do and do not follow other people’s reactions or actions.”
At this moment, the Buddha displayed the highest level of self-control.
In life, we must all endeavor to do what is needed to be done, and nothing more. If someone gets angry with us or humiliates us, that’s their own business, we do not need to react or allow them to alter our own states. What they want to say or what they want to do reflects only on their own level of morality, what else can we be expected to do?
In your daily life, you will no doubt encounter unexpected things or endure ugly words directed at you from others. Your reaction in such conflicts is a mirror of your inner truth and inner strength.
In society, there will always be some people that are like the grass at the top of the wall. When the wind blows to the west, they turn to the west, but if the wind blows to the east, they immediately turn to the east. In other words, they are always controlled by the outside and are unable to control themselves. When confronted with contradictions or humiliation, they are unable to remain calm and immediately begin to fight against their opposition. Of course, their reaction is directly dependant on their oppositions action. Eventually, they unwittingly become slaves to the actions of others.
Never let external factors affect you but instead, choose to stay firm under the pressures of external factors and become the master of yourself. Is a long-term and life-long cultivation process, which cannot be achieved all at once, but once mastered it will grant you the ultimate freedom. If you focus on cultivating your mind, learning how to be tolerant, always thinking positively and being kind to others, you will be well on your way to mastering the self-control of your mind.
Then your mind is no longer like the blade of grass blowing in the wind, it is instead as strong as the mountain – Be unshakable whatever way the wind blows.