One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.”
Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.
If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.”
The young man listened closely to these wise words of the Buddha. “You are right, o Blessed One,” he said. “Please teach me the path of love. I wish to become your follower.”
The Buddha answered kindly, “Of course. I teach anyone who truly wants to learn. Come with me.”
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.
At any given moment in our lives, we all have the opportunity to choose how to respond to the external events taking place, and our response will ultimately determine our fate. How can this be? How can we learn to actually ‘control’ the way we respond to others, especially when they appear to be acting angry, deceitful, or indifferent towards us?
One of the acting coach would repeatedly tell that if we wanted to be good actors we needed to understand that you cannot negotiate human behavior. By this, she meant that people do what they do because that’s just what they do.
She would often joke, “the worm eats an apple because that’s just what they do, and the characters we play are just like worms.” What she was trying to teach was that if we wanted to be good actors, we could not judge the characters we played, for whenever we judged ourselves we stopped being one with the character.
The exact same thing applies to all of our relationships. Every time you judge someone because they are not acting the way we want them to, we lose our connection or oneness with them. It’s what Mother Teresa meant when she said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.”
Learning from the story A Rude Man: Drop Judgement
So what is the solution?
Let go of any expectations that people in your life should behave a certain way.
And what about all the feelings of anger and other emotions that arise when we’re not being treated the way we want to?
Sit with them and allow them to be. Treat them as a gift from life that is telling you that there’s a greater lesson to be learned, and something deeper within yourself waiting to be healed.
1. Given what just happened, what would I like to create instead?
2. What would be the most loving, assertive and compassionate way I can respond?
3. What is this person or situation teaching me about myself?
4. In what new ways am I being asked to grow, change or be different?
5. What new quality or virtue is seeking to be expressed?
The moment you release your judgment of others by releasing your expectations of them and allow yourself to truly sit with all those unwanted emotions that come up for you, you start to develop the capacity to start responding – instead of reacting – from a healthier, more loving part of your personality. This is the beginning of personal responsibility, the end of negative karma, and the first step towards Emotional Mastery.
Responding to life from a place of love, appreciation, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness is the fastest way to create deeper, more loving relationships in all areas of your life.
The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.