If Someone Doesn’t Accept Your Gift, To Whom Does The Gift Belong?

The Story of the Angry Young Man and The Buddha

It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, saying all kind of rude words.

The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

I wanted to bring this story here because I’ve recently had the occasion to experience something that proved me this is a very true and practical tool to apply in everyday life, not only a nice story. More on that, in a second.

Apparently the text above is a modern version of a real Buddha story, a fake “but not so fake Buddha quote” according to Bodhipaksa from fakebuddhaquotes.com, where I took it from. Sometimes we need to rephrase the original texts to make them more appealing to present day readers. But the authenticity of the exact Buddha story is not so important for the purpose of this post.

If Someone Is Angry and Rude He Must Be Suffering

The story I want to share with you next, happened in the same day that I was experiencing with the “How does it get any better than this” mantra. If you’ve read it you remember I was in a kind of a joyous flow, moving about with my day, experiencing little miracles along the way. In the middle of all those beautiful synchronicities,  something dissonant and puzzling happened.

I just got out of that nice lady’s car and I had about 10 more minutes to walk to my next meeting. My inner state was good, joyful, I was grateful for her giving me a lift.

I was just walking by an administrative building when I saw a man in his thirties dressed in a suit and a long, black coat. I noticed he was starring at me. I looked at him briefly trying to figure out if I knew him from somewhere. He didn’t seem familiar, and I just continued walking in spite of him starring. The moment I passed by him and I couldn’t see him anymore I heard a very rude, sexual swearing.

We, Romanians, have a very colourful and rich vocabulary when it comes to swearing.  I am not a prude, I like making jokes about that, but this one was really strong, out of the blue and the tone of his voice was very determined. He was not joking.

I didn’t stop or even look back. The first thoughts that came to my mind were : “He must be really troubled or nuts….he must be in a deep suffering if he just did that… God, please help him, cause he is obviously in great need.” And I admit, for a few seconds I was afraid he might follow me. But he didn’t.

As I continued walking I was wondering what was it in my energy that attracted this “gift”. He didn’t seem like a poor, drunk or drugged homeless person that you sometimes see in the streets yelling and swearing at everyone. He seemed like what we usual accept as “normal” working, person. But who knows? I will never know what his problem was. And I don’t intend to find out.

The thing I want to stress here is that , just like in the story of the Buddha, I didn’t accept his “gift”. I actually felt sorry for him. I didn’t feel like his words had anything to do with me, although he was looking at me and he addressed them to me.

And looking back he actually gave me something precious: he gave me the opportunity to experience for a tiny bit, what that Buddha story said. And I felt great noticing that I didn’t allow that to change my vibe, to change the joyous state I was in. I continued going about with my day, asking the Universe “How does it get any better than this” and I continued enjoying the little miracles that kept appearing in my way.

I feel that every day we have so many people around us, bringing us gifts that are sometimes hidden in an ugly package. Or some are nicely packed, but inside, there are rotten apples.

If it’s one thing I would like you to take out of this, is to remember that you always have  a choice. You can accept or not accept these gifts. As simple as that.

14 thoughts on “If Someone Doesn’t Accept Your Gift, To Whom Does The Gift Belong?”

  1. I’m not in the habit of agreeing with you ( 😛 ), but this time you’ve managed to hit the nail square on. Especially with your example, because, as women, when we’re targeted with that kind of “gifts”, we tend to think it has something to do with us (maybe I dressed too provocatively, maybe I have the wrong attitude walking down the street, maybe my hairstyle should be more humble and the whole lot of self-deprecating stuff we say to ourselves). But you’ve pointed out the obvious: it’s not us. It’s poor, misguided people that have nothing better to do than be jerks.
    The only difference is I, for one, don’t pity them. I don’t get angry at them either. I try to simply pretend they’ve exploded into pink stardust the moment they uttered those hateful words. (Sorry, I’m destructive like that 😛 ).
    Hugs hugs hugs…

    • Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your comment (I also appreciate it when you do not agree with me, I love a good debate:) and find it enriching for the purpose of this post. Thank you. Loads of hugs! 🙂

  2. My former husband was angry a lot of times. Very emotional and verbally abusive. We were together for a long time, off and on. Recently, I found out that he was suffering, just as you have mentioned here. His childhood was not very pleasant, causing him to develop “NPD.” Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I used to wonder what was wrong. Someone suggested to me that I read an article or google NPD. When I did, it described him, he had or has all of the characteristics of that disorder.

    • What about times when someone has ‘actually’ wronged you? Should we not advocate for those people to be accountable for their actions? i.e. when a partner cheats on their partner, could be the cause of a ‘gift’ of anger? Guess I feel that this concept may allow some people to claim moral superiority in not accepting responsibility? Where do we draw the line? What about with criminals?

  3. My wife and I got into a quick verbal exchange on my way to the office. It ended with her calling me “horrible.” I was startled. I was trying to decide how to handle it. I goggled, “what to do when your wife calls you horrible.” That’s when I stubble upon your post. I read, digested and decided that the Buddha “story” presented the right course of action. The Buddha saved me, like $500 bucks. I was going to take a few days off and do some me stuff. But if someone offers you a “gift” and you refuse to take it, whose “gift” is it?

    • Hi, Dee, sorry about your argument with your wife. Glad to hear the Buddha story saved you and gave you a different course of action. Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” is also a very helpful tool to deal with arguments and difficult moments that appear in our lives. Keep up working on yourself, it’s the only sane way to live. Thanks for sharing your story here.

  4. I think this only pertains to people who you have had no prior connect with and who you have not transgressed in anyways.

    This is NOT, However, a post letting insensitive spouses, friends, and family members off the hook for their messed up ways! If one of them insults you.. It’s your right to be angry. And if a loved one is angry with you and insults you, then you should take a look at yourself because in those situations, the anger is not unjustified.

    • Thanks for bringing this up. There is a lot to debate about anger, in general, and in relationships, in particular. What I understood from some Buddhist teachings I’ve been studying lately, if a dear one steps on my toes and I get upset it is my choice to get angry or not. It might be justified, but in the Buddhist way, allowing myself to get angry only plants a new seed in my mind that will make me get angry again in the near future. So the only way to protect myself from experiencing the same situation again is to not get angry, even if “I have all the right” to do so. And when someone close gets angry on me, yes, that’s a pointer to look at myself and at my behaviour and make the necessary changes on the inside. If I did something wrong towards that person I should apologise and try to make a mens. In other words, I see “anger” as an expression of deep suffering, that we are trying to hide. This way, I can look with compassion at myself and at the other person when anger kicks in either one of us.

  5. Today my daughter got angry with me for something i deliberately did not do any wrong thing to her but she misunderstood what someone told her and she shouted at me and did not want to have any ties with me any longer.
    I felt sad and tried to explain to her but she was very angry at me.
    I am living alone and i googled up what lord Buddha has said about anger as i have read books and i know anger cannot be subsided by anger.
    I feel very sorry for her for believing and not trusting me in this occasion.
    I felt very isolated as i did not want to disturb other people with this situation as there will be more problems and the bad name will come upon her ultimately.
    so i decided to have patience and send some of Buddha quotes to her relevant to anger.

    • Sorry to hear about your difficult experience with your daughter. Although it’s difficult in the moment, the best way is indeed to have patience. One can’t convince an angry person of anything. Only after they calm down, will they be able to see the truth. Sending you good vibes and loving thoughts.

  6. I was in a Supermarket with my son and my wifes sister’s boyfriend was very rude and shouting trying to act very tough and big infront of my wife’s sister. He Tried to dominate the conversation my over talking and butting in and getting very aggresive and I had my son with me. My wife was abused as a little girl and they are gutless weak people and still talk to the child abuser and they call my wife a liar this is why me and my Wife Ignore them .They were both saying things to me like you are scared of us and you are this and that but the truth is I just walked away into my car with my boy and ignored them and drove of and this frustrated them as they were shouting louder and louder as I drove away thinking whats the point they are stressed not me . I later remeber the story of the Buddha and this made me very happy

  7. This quote is the best thing to not only share with your self but with others. It brings a peace and plants a seed that is worthy of sprouting and flourishing. I personally think everyone goes through times that are challenging and sometimes questionable, there exist proper ways to either face, extinguish, or redirect into a positive situation that can , even in the worst situations help someone become better whether it’s instantaneous or later recognized.

  8. As an abuse survivor and the son of a father who is an abusive alcoholic, I recieved tons of these so called “gifts” from my father. I got tons of practice in this area


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