“For your foolishness, I cannot punish myself… It is for you to decide to insult or not, but it is my freedom to take it or not,” said Buddha – as told by Osho.
Buddha was passing a village. A few people, who were against him, gathered and they insulted him very deeply. He listened silently, very patiently. In fact, because of his patience, the people started becoming restless. They started feeling uncomfortable, because if you insult a man and he listens as if it is music, something is wrong. What is happening? They started looking at each other. Then one person asked Buddha: ‘What is the matter? Don’t you understand what we are saying?’
Buddha said: ‘Because I can understand, that’s why I am so silent. Had you come ten years before, then I would have jumped on you. Then there was no understanding. Now I understand. And for your foolishness I cannot punish myself. It is for you to decide to insult or not, but it is my freedom to take it or not. You cannot force your insults on me. I simply refuse them; they are not worth it. You can take them back home; I refuse to take them.’
The people were bewildered. They couldn’t understand what the matter was. They said: ‘Please explain to us.’
He said: ‘Sit down and listen to me. In the last village I just passed, people had come with sweets and garlands, but my stomach was full, so I told them: “I won’t be able to eat anything. Please take your gifts back and give them to the other people in the town as prasad – my gift to the people of the town.” What do you think they did?’
Somebody said: ‘They would have gone into the village and distributed the sweets.’
Buddha said: ‘Now listen – what will you do? You come with insults and I say that my stomach is full and I am not going to take these… Once I take your insult, I start punishing myself.’
Osho, The True Sage – Talks on Hassidism, Ch 3 (excerpt)