For centuries, spiritual teachers have used Buddhist stories and tales to help students understand Buddhism principles, expand their consciousness, and become more mindful and self-aware.
Buddhist stories provide enlightening perspectives on a variety of topics and help you to find your own ways on how to deal with the problems of your daily life, how to handle this or that situation, event, or challenge, and how to create peace and balance in your everyday life.
In this article, we have collected 6 powerful buddhist stories that will help you to find answers to your daily life question and expand your perspective on life challenges.
6 Buddhist Stories
Here they are – 6 Buddhist stories to inspire your spiritual path.
#1: The Parable of Clinging and Letting Go
To illustrate the difference between letting go and giving up, Selje Rinpoche took his old bodhi tree seed mala in his left hand so that his palm looked down and his clenched fingers held the mala.
“Mala is an experience,” he said, “and the tighter you squeeze it, the fewer beads fall out of your clenched fingers. When you try to hold the beads, your hand tightens more and more, until finally, you get so tired that you refuse to fight and give up.” He unclenched his fist, and mala fell into his lap.
“However,” he continued, “letting go is not the same as giving up. Here is another example.” He turned his palm up, unclenching his fingers so that mala lay calmly on it. “This is letting go,” he explained.
Phenomena are normal. Wealth is normal. Money is normal. Perception is normal. The problem is clinging, it is attachment. This is an example of letting go. You don’t cling to mala, but it stays with you. The main difference between the palm pointing up and the palm pointing down is wisdom.
#2: Why Buddha Refused to Forgive
A businessman once came into Buddha’s assembly, and spat at Buddha. He was furious that his children who could have spent their time earning money, meditated with Buddha instead.
Buddha merely smiled at him. There was no word or reaction. The man walked away in a huff, shocked. He could not sleep all night. For the first time in his life, he met someone who smiled when he was spat at. His whole world had turned upside down.
The next day he went back to Buddha, fell at his feet and said, “Please forgive me! I didn’t know what I did.” But Buddha said, “No! I cannot forgive you!” Everyone in his assembly was taken aback! Buddha said, “Why should I forgive you when you have done nothing wrong?” The businessman reminded him of what he did on the previous day. Buddha simply replied, “Oh that person is not here now. If I ever meet the person you spat on, I’ll ask him to forgive you. To this person here, you’ve not done any wrong.”
#3: Enlightenment and Waiting
Buddha appeared before the gates of Heaven. He has been working towards achieving this goal all his life. But, looking back, he saw millions of souls in struggle and in agony, in fear and in an effort to reach the gates of Heaven and bliss. The gatekeepers opened the gates, came out to meet Buddha. “Come in, please. We are glad to welcome you! We’ve been waiting for you!” they invited Buddha.
But Buddha looked sad.
“I can’t go in,” he said, “Please close the gates. I see millions of sad faces, hearts full of tears, people who have never known joy. I will wait until all the people have entered these gates. It may take forever, but it doesn’t matter. Close the gates, I’ll be the last to enter.”
It is said that the Buddha is still waiting outside the gates of Heaven and illuminates the way for everyone who follows His path. He has to wait. Man is not an island. We all make up a continent. There is no individual enlightenment. Some can be just a little ahead of others. But we are all on the same path.
#4: Waiting For the Answer a Year
One day a young man joined the Buddha as a disciple. He had a very inquisitive mind and constantly had a lot of different questions. One day, when he came with another question, the Buddha listened to him and said: “I will answer you, but you have to wait a year. This is my condition and promise: in a year I will answer your question.”
But then Ananda, who was sitting next to him in the shade of a tree, burst out laughing. “What’s the matter?” The young disciple asked, “Why is he laughing?”
“Ask him yourself,” the Buddha replied.
“What are you laughing at?” the young man asked.
“I’m laughing at the fact that a year ago the Buddha told me the same thing, “Wait a year in silence, discard unnecessary thoughts, and then ask me again.” If you really want to ask, ask now, otherwise, you’ll never ask again!”
“This is my condition,” the Buddha repeated, “If you ask in a year, I will answer. If you don’t ask, I won’t answer.”
“All right,” the young man agreed.
A year later, the Buddha asked this man, “Well, a year passed by. Do you have a question to ask?”
“No,” the young man replied, “You said “wait a year.” I waited a year in silence and threw away all my thoughts. But when the thoughts disappeared, there were no questions left. Now I understand why Ananda was laughing! He was laughing at how I would ask when I didn’t have any questions!”
#5: Love and Compassion
One day a man came to the Buddha and spat in his face. The Buddha wiped his face and asked, “Is that all, or do you want something else?”
Ananda saw everything and naturally became enraged. He jumped up and, seething with anger, exclaimed, “Teacher, just let me and I’ll punish him!”
“Ananda, you have become a sannyasin, but you constantly forget about it,” the Buddha replied. “This poor man has suffered too much already. Just look at his face, at his tired eyes! Surely he had not slept all night and was tormented before deciding on such an act. And if you or I had lived his life, maybe we would have done the same thing, or maybe even worse. Spitting at me is the outcome of this madness and his miserable life. But it can also be a release. Be compassionate to him. You can kill him and then you will become just like him!”
The person heard this dialogue. He was confused. He wanted to insult and humiliate the Buddha, but for some reason he felt humiliated. The love and compassion shown by the Buddha was a complete surprise to him.
“Go home and rest,” Buddha said, “You don’t look well. You’ve punished yourself enough. Forget about this incident and don’t worry, it didn’t hurt me. This body is made of dust and sooner or later it will turn into dust again, and people will walk on it.”
The man got up wearily and left, hiding his tears. In the evening he came back and fell at the feet of the Buddha, and said, “Please forgive me!”
“There is nothing to forgive, because I was not angry,” the Buddha replied. “But I am happy to see that you have come to your senses and that the hell you lived in has been gone for you. Go in peace and never sink into such a state again!”
#6: The Story of the Angry Young Man and The Buddha
It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, saying all kinds of rude words.
The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead, he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”
We hope you enjoyed these Buddhist stories and feel inspired on your spiritual path.