Buddha Or Psychopath

There is a Buddha parable that goes like this:

One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.”

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 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 is yours to deal with.”

At that moment, the angry young man awoke and became a lifelong disciple of Buddha.


This story is reminiscent of my relationship with my father. From the time I was 13 until I went to college, my father was often angry with me; frustrated that I questioned his authority and mocked his core social and political beliefs. He screamed at me and on occasion hit me (not to hurt me but to vent his frustration). One time he said: “I wish you were never born.” To which I replied: “That’s your problem.”

Was my reply reflective of a Buddha nature or a psychopathic mental disorder? My father would likely say the latter (he at times called me a “sadist”) as my reply didn’t bring him to see the light; it just made him more angry.

After my father’s untimely transition from life at 60 years old, I was once overwhelmed by sadness and tears; reflecting on not having awakened father to experience life as it is and not solely as he was.