The attitude to adopt when we are praised or insulted

November 21st 2024
One day, a young man went to visit a Master, hoping to be accepted as his disciple. So the lesson began, and this was the Master’s first instruction: ‘Take a walk around the cemetery, hurl insults at the dead, listen carefully to what they reply, and then report back to me.’ The young man went to the cemetery and wandered round among the graves, giving voice to dreadful insults – corpses in a cemetery had never heard the like before! He soon ran dry of insults, so he stopped and listened: no reply. Returning to the Master, he had to admit that the dead had failed to react. ‘Ah’, said the Master, ‘perhaps they were offended. Go back again, but this time try praising them, and perhaps they will decide to respond to that.’ So the young man went back to the cemetery, and – change of tune – began singing their praises. Nothing. Silence. Utterly dejected, the young man returned to the Master and confessed, ‘They still haven’t answered me.’ ‘Well’, replied the Master, ‘now you must learn to be like them: whether you are insulted or praised, you must remain unmoved; you must not reply.’*
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