PERHAPS NOTHING IS CERTAIN EXCEPT CHANGE
A man once came and spat on Buddhaâ€™s face.
His disciples were enraged.
Red hot with anger, Ananda said, â€œThis is too much!
Permit me to show this man what heâ€™s done!â€™
But Buddha simply wiped his face and said, â€œThank you, sir. You created a context in which I could see whether I can still be angry or not. And Iâ€™m not, and Iâ€™m tremendously happy. You also created a context for Ananda. Now, he can see that he can still be angry. Many thanks, we are grateful! Whenever you can have the urge to spit on someone, you can come to us.â€
This was such a shock to the man that he couldnâ€™t believe his ears!
Heâ€™d expected to anger Buddha, and failed.
He couldnâ€™t sleep the entire night.
Tossed and turned.
The idea haunted him --- his spitting on Buddha remaining as calm as heâ€™d been earlier, as if nothing had happened, wiping his face and thanking him...
He remembered the incident again and again.
That calm and quiet face, those compassionate eyes.
And when Buddha had said thank you, it had not been just a formality, heâ€™d been really grateful with his entire being.
So cool, so loving, so compassionate.
The man couldnâ€™t forgive himself.
What had he done? Spitting on a man like Buddha!
Early the next morning, he rushed back, fell down at Buddhaâ€™s feet and said, â€œForgive me, sir. I couldnâ€™t sleep the whole night.â€
Buddha said â€œForget it. There is no need to beg forgiveness for something thatâ€™s already passed.â€
Buddha was sitting on the bank of the Ganges.
He said to the man, â€œLook, each moment so much water is flowing down! I am not the same which was yesterday. Twenty-four hours have passedâ€¦ Why are you still carrying something that no longer exists? Forget it.â€
Then Buddha added â€œAnd I cannot forgive you because I wasnâ€™t angry with you in the first place. If I had been angry with you in the first place I would have forgiven. If you really need forgiveness, ask Ananda. Fall at his feetâ€”he will enjoy it!â€