The present – a zen story

Once upon a time, there lived a passionate painter. His name was Leo. Leo had been painting for the past 30 years and he was well respected for his unique perspectives.

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Picture Courtesy: Parish Joshi

Leo’s reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study the art of painting under him.

“It is your point of view that makes you unique, not just the physical piece of art that you create,” Leo used to say to his students.

One day a young artist namely Lisa arrived in the town.

Lisa was an ordinary artist but she was on her way to conquering the world of art through techniques and so-called smartness (read: manipulative actions).

She would visit different towns, invite the most popular artist of the town to participate in a competition and would defeat the artist.

She wanted to prove that she is the smartest artist in the whole country.

Manipulation or smartness, fueled with good intent and married with right actions, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of an actor’s misery.

Lisa’s art…her paintings; were okay at their best but she used to trick her opponents¬†by effectively using humiliating words and playing with the emotions of the artists. As soon as the competition begins, she’d use humiliating words by criticizing the artist’s style, approach, perspectives and made the artist feel down and embarrassed.

Artists are sensitive beings so when they hear such disgracing words in front of the public, they feel upset and their emotional disturbance would be reflected in the piece of art they create at that time.

Since the artist would not able to concentrate, Lisa’s ordinary art would stand out as a better one in the comparison.

Lisa had traveled to over 50 cities and won all the competitions using humiliation as a chief tool!

Enter Leo

Much against the advice of his concerned students, Leo gladly accepted Lisa’s challenge.

As the competition began, Lisa started insulting Leo with her humiliation technique.

For hours, she verbally assaulted Leo with every curse and insult known to mankind. Leo merely stood there quiet and calm. Leo had faith in his ability to lead his emotions and this was the time to exhibit calmness.

“Calmness is the cradle of power.” ~ Josiah Gillbert Holland

Finally, Lisa felt exhausted. Quietly, Leo started painting and invited Lisa also to do the same. As Leo started painting, he forgot that there was anyone other than him and his creation at that moment.

Lisa also started drawing but she could not concentrate. After looking at the art she created within the first 10 minutes, she felt ashamed and left.

The students gathered around Leo and questioned him, “How could you endure such an indignity? How could you stay calm when Lisa was using so many humiliating words about your capabilities?”

“If someone gives you a present and you do not accept it,” Leo asked, “to whom does the present belong?”