Vulnerability and the Buddha

by Paula Pant on · 5 comments

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
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{ 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. 😀 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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