Today I wanted to share with you a Buddhist story that I was told regarding anger and resentment. You have heard the quote “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” This story illustrates that when someone gives you a gift, you don’t have to accept it. If someone gives you the gift of anger, resentment, or frustration, it is really up to you to decide whether or not to accept that gift. Along the journey call “life” or “the human drama,” we may find it easy to accept people’s gifts for whatever reason or excuse that we do. But after all, this IS your journey, so what will you choose?
We are always a work in progress and we are never going to be perfect in our attempts at happiness or freedom or success. But there are definitely some tools along the way that if you implement, will help you get there a little faster.
I know that you will enjoy this Buddhist analogy as much as I did.
“One day, the Buddha and a large following of monks and nuns were passing through a village. The Buddha chose a large shade tree to sit beneath so the group could rest awhile out of the heat. He often chose times like these to teach, and so he began to speak. Soon, villagers heard about the visiting teacher and many gathered around to hear him.
One surly young man stood to the side, watching, as the crowd grew larger and larger. To him, it seemed that there were too many people traveling from the city to his village, and each had something to sell or teach. Impatient with the bulging crowd of monks and villagers, he shouted at the Buddha, “Go away! You just want to take advantage of us! You teachers come here to say a few pretty words and then ask for food and money!”
But the Buddha was unruffled by these insults. He remained calm, exuding a feeling of loving-kindness. He politely requested that the man come forward. Then he asked, “Young sir, if you purchased a lovely gift for someone, but that person did not accept the gift, to whom does the gift then belong?”
The odd question took the young man by surprise. “I guess the gift would still be mine because I was the one who bought it.”
“Exactly so,” replied the Buddha. “Now, you have just cursed me and been angry with me. But if I do not accept your curses, if I do not get insulted and angry in return, these curses will fall back upon you―the same as the gift returning to its owner.”
The young man clasped his hands together and slowly bowed to the Buddha. It was an acknowledgment that a valuable lesson had been learned. And so the Buddha concluded for all to hear, “As a mirror reflects an object, as a still lake reflects the sky: take care that what you speak or act is for good. For goodness will always cast back goodness and harm will always cast back harm.”
So remember, when someone gives you a gift of anger, or negativity, you have the unique opportunity to CHOOSE whether or not you are going to experience the world in that way. Don’t give away your power, don’t let others live rent-free in your head, don’t retaliate with criticism or judgment. Simply brush it off, know that what was said had NOTHING to do with you and keep on going through life. Nobody has the power to change your vibe, but YOU.
These little miracles are just little reminders that on the path of growth, there is always an opportunity to learn and evolve.
There are so many people in this world that bring us gifts and some are disguised, some are nicely packaged and some are just down right rotten. But if you remember that you are in control and take 100% responsibility for your life, you can accept or NOT accept these gifts. It IS really that simple.
From Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents (Condra Enterprises, 2005), collected and adapted by Sarah Conover.