The Gift of Insult

gratitude-Samurai-insultA great Samurai warrior, now old, had decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. Despite his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.

One afternoon, a young 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 then swiftly counterattacked, skillfully taking advantage of any slightest mistake his adversary made. He had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, to increase his fame. All the students were against the idea, but the old master 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 kept smiling and remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the young warrior left.

Disappointed 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 if you might lose the fight, instead of displaying such cowardice in front of us all?”

“If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” asked the Samurai. “To the one 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 brought them.”

Be Well.
The Gratitude Guru


  1. RaeAnn Douglas on June 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you Paul

  2. Neeta on June 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Oh God!.. this thought is so very refreshing!.. only one thing is it should immediately come to one’s mind, when one is being insulted, that if the insult is not accepted, it goes back to the person who gave it in the 1st place!.. Thank you for this wonderful post!.. it just changes our perception of looking at any unpleasantness, we may experience!

    • Paul on June 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Neeta – Funny how the simple things always work out best, huh?

  3. Neeta on June 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Yes Paul! Its funny & very pre-ordained, if I may say so! Simple things pave the way our lives turn!.. Shall I take this opportunity to also introduce you to another web site, which is also refreshing like yours, with lovely teachings, that have the capacity to change one’s thought process & bring a lot of improvement in leading one’s life! You may have come across it. !

  4. Ina on August 30, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Thank you! What a great lesson!

    • Paul on September 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

      You are welcome, Ina.

  5. Shirley on November 7, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Wonderful share Paul. Thank you! A lesson well taught and taken to heart. I needed this. A lesson well learned. I cannot get the smile off my face.

    • Paul on October 7, 2020 at 9:13 pm

      Keep smiling, Shirley!

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