The dense, cool forest was filled with heavenly scents, chirping birds and quiet corners. Gautama Buddha strolled along, absorbing the peace outside which matched the peace he always carried within. He chose a leafy glade to sit awhile in meditation.
A king passed that way. Being a kshatriya (warrior) and filled with aggression and ambition, the calm sight of the monk in contemplation filled him with ire. Alighting from the horse, he rained abuse on the Buddha. He condemned all monks and sages as wastrels and parasites on society and he derided meditation as idleness. The Buddha silently watched the king till he had spent himself. Then he gestured to the king to sit down and gently told him ‘Please feel welcome, my son. You must be hot and tired. Would you like to taste the cool mountain water from a nearby stream?’
A hush fell in the glade. The king was taken aback by this calm and loving response to his vitriolic outburst. Intense regret followed and the king prostrated before the Enlightened One, seeking pardon. He said, ‘You must be a great person! Could you, by any chance, be the Buddha? How could you return my abuse with such love?’
‘Dear One’, replied the Buddha, ‘If you give someone a gift and he does not take it, what happens to the gift?’ The king replied, ‘Of course it remains with me.’ The Buddha smiled, ‘Then, where is the question of my getting angry now. I did not receive the gift (of harsh words) that you just presented me. So these words remained with you. When I did not take it at all, how can it trouble or hurt me?’
The king, in that profound moment, realized that here was a whole new way of looking at life. He pressed the Buddha to speak more about this message of harmony. The Buddha responded, ‘Indian scriptures speak of six enemies of man’s happiness. They are desire, anger, greed, delusion, pride and jealousy. The only way to drive them away is to learn to enjoy greater love and peace. Such a one is the greatest king of life as he alone knows total and true happiness.’