Is blindly accepting other’s words, the root cause of all upsets in life?
What do we do when someone expresses their anger towards us or speaks to us in a belittling way? The answer to this question can be found in this incident from the life of the 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 hearty, why can’t you work for your food?” she yelled as she chased them away. Ananda was enraged that the woman used such hostile words for his great Guru.
“Please permit me to teach that woman a 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 rest. After resting 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?” Ananda now said, “Guruji, it is mine!”
Hearing this, Buddha said laughingly, “I asked you the same question earlier this evening and you said it belonged to me. Now you are saying, it is yours. 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 had gifted this container to me, and I accepted it. Hence, I called it mine now. When you gave it to me earlier, I did not consider it as mine because I thought you had just handed it over to me for safekeeping. In my mind it was still yours. That is why I said it was yours!”
Buddha smiled at Ananda and said, “Similarly, I did not take the harsh words of the lady as mine. I did not accept them. So, even though the words were spoken at me, they still belonged to the lady alone. They were not mine. That is the reason I said that there was no need to teach her a lesson.”
This advice from Buddha to his disciple, Ananda expounds a very simple truth. If someone calls us lazy, we get affected by that word only when we take it to be ours. If we are clearly and firmly aware that we are not lazy, what that person says about us is just treated as nonsense. And ‘nonsense’ never affects us. In fact, we would not pay any heed to a person who speaks nonsense!
If someone calls me lazy and I am deeply affected, it only reflects on my true nature of being lazy. When this quality of mine is pointed out by others, it affects me. But if I don’t have this quality, I do not need to accept it and I do not need to respond.
The blind acceptance of other’s words is the root cause of all upsets in life. It is time we check what words do we want to accept into our minds and what we can say no to. Check, do you normally accept other people’s words and react, or do you think before you act? A wise person will learn from this story of Buddha on what you are accepting into your minds.
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