When someone expresses his anger towards us, or speaks in a
belittling way, what should we do? The answers to such
questions can be found in this incident from the life of Buddha.
Once Buddha went to beg with his disciple Ananda. When they approached a house for food, the lady of the house, spoke harshly. ‘You lazy fellows! You are hale and healthy…why can’t you work for your food?’ she yelled and chased them away. The disciple was enraged at the woman she used such hostile words on his great Guru.
‘Please permit me to teach that woman a solid lesson…’ he pleaded with Buddha. But Buddha walked away in silence.
A little later, Buddha handed over his water container to Ananda and went to take rest.
Having rested for a couple of hours they resumed their journey. On the way, Buddha glanced at the water container and asked, ‘Whose is this?’ ‘It is yours, Guruji!’ said Ananda. Buddha took it and looked at it once and returned it to Ananda saying, ‘No, I gifted it to you a little while ago…it is yours.’
At night, Buddha pointed to the same water container and asked once again, ‘Whose is this?’ Now Ananda said, ‘Guruji, it is mine!’
Hearing this, Buddha said laughingly, ‘I asked you the same question earlier this evening and you said it was yours. Now you are saying, it is mine. How can the same container be yours and mine at the same time?’
Though Ananda was slightly confused, he replied calmly, ‘Guruji, you said that you have gifted this container to me and I accepted it. Hence, I said that it was mine. Initially, when you gave it to me I did not consider it as mine, because, even though you had handed over the container to me it was still yours!’
Buddha smiled at Ananda and said, ‘Similarly, I did not take the words the lady spoke harshly as mine; I did not accept them. So, even though the words were spoken at me, they still belong to the lady alone. That is the reason I said that there was no need to teach her a lesson.’
The advice from Buddha to his disciple expounds a very simple truth.
If someone calls us ‘lazy’ or ‘good for nothing’ we get affected by that word only when we take it to be ours. If we are clearly firmly and aware that we are not lazy or ‘good for nothing’, what that person says about us is just nonsense. ‘Nonsense’ would never affect us. In fact, we would not pay any heed to a person who speaks nonsense!
If someone calls us lazy and we are deeply affected, it only reflects on our true nature of being lazy. The quality in us is pointed out by others. This is the root cause for getting affected. This gives rise to blood pressure and rancor.
Now let us presume that a person is indeed very lazy. Would it be possible for him to change? Of course there, there would be a possibility! Take a look at the story…
There was a very successful businessman. He lived in plenty and prosperity. Unfortunately, his ship got caught in a storm and sank. His factory was closed due to labour trouble. His debts exceeded his assets and he lost everything in the process and became a pauper. For five long years, he worked very hard and gained back his lost status; constituted a bigger factory; acquired not one, but two ships; now he was richer than ever before! Learning about this turn of fortune, journalists came to interview him. They flooded him with questions about the secret of his success. His reply to them was, ‘I know that I failed in my business…but I never told myself that I am a failure…..that is the reason behind my regained success!’
Failing in an endeavour is one dimension and to treat oneself as a failure is yet another dimension.
This story could be an eye-opener to many.
You may feel lazy…lethargic and loose interest in work. But
for heaven’s sake do not label yourself ‘lazy’ or ‘good for
nothing.’ If you do that, you will become your own worst
enemy, and prevent yourself from becoming successful.