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The gift of insults By Paulo Coelho

A blog by Paulo Coelho…

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai warrior, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. In spite of his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.

One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. He was famous for using techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary made the first move and, being gifted with an enviable intelligence in order to repair any mistakes made, he counterattacked with fulminating speed.

The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.

All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:
– How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?

– If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.
– He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.
– The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master. – When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.

By Paulo Coelho


  1. saloniz
    December 16, 2009 at 06:35

    This is what I believe in with full faith… insult, humiliation, anger, guilt all of them can manifest in us only if we let them to… if we don’t take them in they cant come to us and we remain unaffected by them!

    I remember reading something similar, to the blog above, about a year back … somewhere on the net or in some book… and it stayed with me so much so that I have even practiced it many times in the past one year and it helped tremendously!

    In the past year many things happened which I wouldn’t really consider to be pleasant or aesthetically satisfying … like being asked to leave a job at an hour’s notice without any reasons, or sitting at home with no job, or being compared with married friends over and over again … but I just decided to not let them affect me whatsoever.

    I decided nothing in this world has the power to kick my confidence and make me falter.
    I decided that it’s not me who is at fault and hence no guilt and no frustration.
    I decided nothing lasts forever and it’s all a phase which would pass and thus no need brooding over it.
    I decided that the person in front is just letting his/her insecurities fall off him/her and I wouldn’t help by retaliating and showing that I have been put off balance.
    I decided that I will take ownership of MY actions… ONLY.
    I decided not to accept any insult or humiliation because it’s not for me and I will not take it.

    And believe me it helps … it helps when we decide that nothing from outside will affect us …. That we and only we have the power to decide what we let in our life.

    It has to be a conscious decision to accept or not accept what ever is being offered – love or hatred… humiliation or praise… happiness or sadness… poker face or smiley face… guilt or ownership!!!

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