Vulnerability and the Buddha

by Paula Pant on · 5 comments

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There was once a man who con­stantly hurled insults at the Bud­dha. Every day he’d taunt and tease the Bud­dha. But the Bud­dha never seemed fazed.

Some­one asked the Bud­dha why the man’s insults never caused him offense. The Bud­dha replied:

When some­one offers you a gift, and you refuse to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?”

***

When I started writ­ing arti­cles online, I had no idea how much crit­i­cism I’d be open­ing myself up to.

I had no idea how vicious and cruel peo­ple can be when they’re cloaked under the guise of Inter­net anonymity.

I had no idea that hon­esty and open­ness would be rewarded with attacks and insults.

I had no idea that I would spend hours pour­ing myself into an arti­cle intended to help oth­ers, only to hear them respond by telling me to “go to hell” or worse.

Beware the Trolls

Writ­ing arti­cles for the web seems like such a straight­for­ward task. And it is — until the com­ments come in.

Some com­ments are pos­i­tive and affirm­ing. Some com­ments are curi­ous and filled with eager, intel­li­gent ques­tions. And some are posted by peo­ple who troll the Inter­net, wait­ing for a chance to attack.

I announce a new invest­ing project, and the trolls tell me they can’t wait to read about my impend­ing fail­ure. I pro­pose an idea that seems orig­i­nal or cre­ative, and the trolls tell me I’m an idiot.

It’s not just me. This hap­pens to every­one who posts online, espe­cially as his or her audi­ence grows. Just read any com­ment thread under a highly-watched YouTube video or a pop­u­lar blog.

Who knew that shar­ing your life, your thoughts and your expe­ri­ences on the Web could open you up to such vulnerability?

Reject the Gift

Of course, there’s a ying to every yang, a sil­ver lin­ing to every cloud. Shar­ing your life with anony­mous strangers makes you more vul­ner­a­ble than expected, but it also teaches you an impor­tant lesson:

Vul­ner­a­bil­ity cre­ates strength.

We’re taught to view vul­ner­a­bil­ity as a sign of weak­ness. It’s equated with fragility, with being soft and meek.

But once we put our­selves in a posi­tion in which we’re vul­ner­a­ble, we learn to morph that into power and confidence.

We learn that we can’t be shaken. We learn to tune out the nay-sayers. We learn to pay deeper atten­tion to the peo­ple who really mat­ter: our fam­ily, friends and authen­tic fans.

We learn to reject neg­a­tive ideas that oth­ers try to bring into our lives. We learn to prove them wrong. We learn to view our­selves as strong.

We learn to “reject the gift,” as the Bud­dha did. We learn to stay true to ourselves.


by Paula Pant

Thanks to wise money man­ag­ing, Paula Pant has trav­eled to 27 coun­tries, pur­chased a 99-year-old Vic­to­rian home near cen­tral Atlanta’s most beau­ti­ful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Any­thing, is based on one rad­i­cal idea: money should never hin­der your dreams.
Paula Pant
View all posts by Paula Pant

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

marquita herald June 16, 2012 at 9:40 am

Valuable lesson that you’ve shared here. I often more fascinated by comments to an article than by the article itself. If you want to read mean, visit the CNN website! Even the feel-good TED Talk site – you have a presenter talking about some wonderful, positive, even change the world for the better subject … and the comment section will be filled with people picking it apart of finding some way to be personally insulted. I don’t know or follow Buddha, but I definitely agree with his approach. Thanks!
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Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) June 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I’m more like the Buddha with my writing and most like the vulnerable child/adult with my family…interesting!
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Jody - Fit at 54 June 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

LOve this! I have not got a lot of troll comments as I am not that big but the few – well, these people – it says something about them & their own internal self. You are so right about “We learn to prove them wrong. We learn to view our­selves as strong. We learn to “reject the gift,” as the Bud­dha did. We learn to stay true to ourselves.”
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Deeone Higgs June 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

This was a very great point you made, Paula. To be honest with you, I have never thought about it that way – it’s very true though. In today’s society, it seems people are seeking more and more the negative things in the world. If they run across something positive or that can impact a positive change within themselves or the world – they take off running to the hills – right after they leave their venomous poison behind. :D I think we all could learn from this approach – I have yet to study Buddha, but I have run across many of his life-changing quotes that have helped me on my self-transformation. This one is no different from the others, it is just as amazing. Thanks for sharing this powerful lesson with us. Blessings.
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Glori | Crazy Introvert June 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I definitely agree with the horrible trolls.
I once had an experience like that. I think i fair better when I do not put myself to the troll’s level by being defensive as well. Actually, I became so sickly sweet and kind with my responses that the troll ended up wanting to be my friend. Needless to say, I didn’t reply after that. LOL.
I can’t be friends with mean people.
I think trolls are also the reason why I love the personal development community. We encourage each other rather than hate. That is so rare online nowadays…
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