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Buddha And The Abusive Crowd – A Zen Buddhist Spiritual Story by Osho

Buddha StatueYou just watch yourself. Just watch your thoughts – and you will be amazed what kind of thoughts go on in your mind. Watch your actions, what kind of actions you go on doing. Are they actions or are they only reactions?

A sane man behaves differently. A Gautam Buddha is surrounded by a crowd which is abusing him, using ugly words, obscene words, because he is against the organized religion of the Hindus and he is against the Hindu holy scriptures, the VEDAS. He has criticized them as hard as it is possible, and they need it. It is not that he is wrong. He has condemned the whole priesthood, that these are the exploiters, parasites. Naturally, brahmins were enraged.

And this was a brahmin village through which he was passing. And the brahmins surrounded him and said every kind of bad thing that they could manage. He listened silently. His disciples became angry, but because Buddha was present it was not courteous to say anything before the master. The master was standing so silent, and listening as if they are saying very sweet things.

Finally Buddha said to them, “If your things that you wanted to say to me are finished, I would like to reach to the place where people must be waiting for me. But if your things are not finished, after a few days when I will be returning I will inform you. And I will have enough time to listen to all that you want to say.”

One man said, “Do you think we are saying something? We are condemning you. Do you understand or not? Because anybody else would become angry, and you are standing silently…”

The statement that Buddha made to these village people is immensely significant. He said, “You have come a little too late. If you had come ten years ago when I was as insane as you are, not a single person would have gone alive.”

Ten years ago he was a prince, a warrior, one of the best archers of his time, a great swordsman, and those brahmins… he could simply have removed their heads with a single blow, without any difficulty. Because those brahmins know nothing about swords or arrows or being a warrior. He would have just cut them – almost like vegetables.

He said, “You have come late. Ten years ago if you had come… but now I am no longer insane. I cannot react and I would like to ask you one question. In the last village people came with sweets and fruits and flowers to receive me, but we take food only one time a day, and we had already taken the food. And we don’t carry things, so we had to tell them, ‘You please forgive us, we cannot accept sweets, flowers. We accept your love, but these things you will have to take away.’ I want to ask you,” he said to this angry crowd, “what must they have done with their sweets and flowers that they had brought as presents to us.”

One man said, “What is the problem in it? They must have distributed the sweets in the village.”

Buddha said, “That makes me very sad. What will you do? – because I don’t accept what you have brought, just the same way as I did not accept the sweets and the flowers and other things that the people brought to me in the other village, if I don’t accept your obscenity, your ugly words, your dirty words, if I don’t accept, what can you do? What are you going to do with all this garbage that you have come with? You will have to take it back to your homes and give it to your wives, to your children, to your neighbors.

“You will have to distribute it, because I simply refuse to take it. And you cannot make me angry unless I accept your humiliation, your insult. Ten years ago I was not conscious; if somebody had insulted me he would have lost his life immediately. I had no idea that insulting me is his problem, and that I have nothing to do with it – I can simply listen and go on my way.”

This is what I call sanity. Do you think humanity is sane? It only appears… just superficial sanity, mannerism, etiquette, culture, civilization, just skin-deep. Scratch a little deeper and the barbarous comes out.

If you really want, Premnath, to be a sane being, sannyas is the way for sanity, for dropping all those unconscious layers of your mind which force you to behave unconsciously. And in your unconsciousness you are doing things for which you yourself will repent when you will become a little alert and aware, “What have I done?”

The insane person can only react. The sane person acts, the sane person responds – he never reacts.

The way is simple and you are at the right place where your mind can become calm and quiet, so much so, as if it is absent. You should be certain of your sanity only if you can attain a state of no-mind. Only then can you be certain that nothing can drive you mad, because the mind that was possible to become insane is no more – you have transcended it.

Spiritual story by Osho

If you liked this story, you'll love our community's favorite spiritual parables!

What Is the Spiritual Moral / Message of the “Buddha And The Abusive Crowd” Story?

Buddha and the Abusive Crowd is not merely an anecdote of a revered figure amidst an onslaught of verbal abuse, but a parable that resonates with the profound depths of spiritual understanding—a tale that illuminates the path to transcending negativity.

Imagine a luminary, surrounded not by reverence but by a tempest of scornful words and disdainful gestures. Why? Because of his stance against established norms and structures, a critique that rendered him an adversary in the eyes of those clinging fiercely to tradition.

Amidst this chaotic display of emotions, the figure at the center remained a bastion of serenity—a beacon of unwavering calmness amid a storm of hostility. His response wasn’t a mirror reflecting the venom hurled at him, but a testament to an elevated state of consciousness—a state where listening transcends mere hearing.

He didn’t counter the onslaught with retaliation, but with a profound inquiry. He beckoned those hurling insults to ponder the fate of their words—words discarded like unaccepted offerings, unclaimed by the intended recipient. “If I don't accept your ugliness, your words,” he emphasized, “what shall you do with this burden of bitterness you carry? You'll carry it back, disseminating it within your homes and communities.”

The Buddha and the Abusive Crowd parable isn’t solely about an individual's divine tolerance or unwavering composure; it’s a reflection of the human capacity to navigate through the storms of emotions without being engulfed by their fury. It's a mirror reflecting the immense power of non-reaction and the ability to transcend negativity.

The tale of Buddha and the Abused Crowd underscores a poignant truth: insult and humiliation need not be embraced. They are choices one can refuse to accept, unloading the weight of their impact. It teaches us that our reactions are within our realm of control. We possess the power to determine what we allow into the sanctuary of our souls.

At its core, this story invites us to embrace a higher consciousness—a realm where insults dissipate like mist, leaving our spirits untarnished and our souls free to soar. It urges us not to clutch the stones hurled at us, but to let them fall, untouched by our essence, as we continue our journey unencumbered by the burdens we choose not to carry.

In essence, this parable illuminates the art of non-reaction, the alchemy of transmuting negativity into a non-existent force. It beckons us to cultivate an inner sanctum where insults hold no power, where our spirits remain unscathed by the storms raging outside.

It reminds us that within the tapestry of our lives, we wield the brush to paint the colors of our reactions. We possess the ability to decline what doesn't resonate with our higher selves, allowing our essence to shine forth, unblemished by the shadows others attempt to cast upon us.

Ultimately, this story serves as a beacon of spiritual guidance—an invitation to embrace a consciousness where insults, much like unaccepted offerings, hold no weight. It illuminates the path to liberation—a realm where our spirits soar free, untouched by the negativity swirling around us.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflecting on Buddha's response to the angry crowd, how does his ability to remain calm and composed in the face of insults challenge our understanding of true inner peace and spiritual maturity?
  2. Contemplating the significance of Buddha's comparison between his past state of mind and his present state of enlightenment, what insights can we gain about the transformative power of spiritual awakening and self-awareness?
  3. Considering the villagers' reaction to Buddha's refusal to engage with their insults, how does this story invite us to examine our own tendencies towards reaction versus response in challenging situations?
  4. Reflecting on Buddha's question to the villagers about the fate of the gifts brought by the previous village, how does this inquiry prompt us to reconsider the consequences of our own actions and words?
  5. Contemplating Buddha's assertion that sanity lies in the ability to act rather than react, what personal truths emerge about the importance of cultivating mindfulness and conscious awareness in our daily lives?
  6. Reflecting on the notion of unconscious behavior and its potential for causing regret, how does this story inspire us to strive for greater self-awareness and mindful living?
  7. Considering Buddha's invitation to embrace sannyas as a path to sanity, how does this offer insights into the transformative power of spiritual practice and the pursuit of inner peace?
  8. Contemplating the idea of transcending the mind to attain a state of no-mind, how does this concept challenge our conventional understanding of mental health and well-being?
  9. Reflecting on the idea that true sanity is found in the absence of the mind, what personal reflections emerge about the nature of inner stillness and tranquility?
  10. Considering the overarching message of the story, how can we apply its teachings to our own lives to cultivate greater peace, compassion, and spiritual maturity?