This traditional Zen koan, or story, is known as The Gift of Insults. It offers a refreshing perspective on dealing with insults.
There was once an old man known for being able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended throughout the land and many gathered to study under him.
One day a young warrior arrived at the old man’s village. He was determined to be the first to defeat the great master, since he had both physical strength and the ability to notice and exploit an opponent’s weakness.
The old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two faced one another, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. The verbal insults went on for hours, yet the old master merely stood there motionless and calm.
Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Defeated, he left.
The great master’s students gathered around the old man. “How could you endure such an indignity?” they wondered. “And how were you able to drive him away?”
“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”
Ting: The Chinese character for “listen”
Have you ever seen the Chinese character ting, to listen? Many of you will have seen this already, I’m sure. For those of you seeing it for the first time, I hope you enjoy it and save a copy for yourself.Read the article
This article was first published in 2008.