Would the Buddha shelter one from being offended by people? If so, how would he shelter one? If not, then why not?

  • What do you mean by shelter someone from being offended?, I don't quite understand the precise meaning of these words.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Nov 10, 2017 at 11:24

5 Answers 5


Being offended is the very opposite of Buddhist practice. In the Assalāyana Sutta, the story is told about the seer Asita Devala, who was of dark skin, where the more the seer Asita Devala was insulted & reviled by others, the more radiant & beautiful his complexion became.

Being offended requires attachment of ego. No ego or no attachment = no being offended. The goal of Buddhism is to end "I making", "my making" & egoism.

Therefore, Buddhism does not offer us shelter from being offended but, instead, offers shelter to those who try to offend us.

For example, in the Angulimala Sutta, the Buddha exhorted a monk who was attacked by insults & rocks to: "Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it!".

Then, Assalāyana, the seven brahman seers put a curse on the seer Asita Devala, saying: ‘Become a vile cinder.’ But, Assalāyana, the more the seven brahman seers cursed the seer Asita Devala, the more lovely became the seer Asita Devala, the more good to look upon and the more charming. Then, Assalāyana, it occurred to the seven brahman seers: ‘Vain is austerity for us, fruitless the Brahma-faring. Formerly when we put a curse on anyone, saying: Become a vile cinder, he became as a cinder; but the more we put a curse on this one the more lovely he becomes, the more good to look upon, the more charming.’

Also, MN 2:

And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating.

And MN 21:

Neither will our minds become perverted nor will we utter an evil speech, but kindly and compassionate will we dwell, with a mind of friendliness, void of hatred; and we will dwell having suffused that person with a mind of friendliness; and, beginning with him, we will dwell having suffused the whole world with a mind of friendliness that is far-reaching, widespread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence.’

This is how you must train yourselves, monks.

Monks, as low-down thieves might carve one limb from limb with a double-handled saw, yet even then whoever sets his mind at enmity, he, for this reason, is not a doer of my teaching. Herein, monks, you should train yourselves thus:

‘Neither will our minds become perverted nor will we utter an evil speech, but kindly and compassionate will we dwell, with a mind of friendliness, void of hatred; and we will dwell having suffused that person with a mind of friendliness; and, beginning with him, we will dwell having suffused the whole world with a mind of friendliness that is far-reaching, widespread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence.’

This is how you must train yourselves, monks.

If you, monks, were to attend repeatedly to this exhortation on the Parable of the Saw, would you, monks, see any way of speech, subtle or gross, that you could not endure?”

“No, Lord.”

“Wherefore, monks, consider repeatedly this exhortation on the Parable of the Saw; for a long time it will be for your welfare and happiness.”

Thus spoke the Lord. Delighted, these monks rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


Do you mean the historical Buddha? Maybe not, maybe he wouldn't: "not very active at participating in conflicts" is my impression of him -- the Akkosa Sutta: Insult maybe explains why.

I think instead he instructs people to "take refuge" and "be islands" for themselves.

He also taught "right speech" and the benefits of being harmless (which helps to shelter everyone).

Maybe too (I don't know) the Vinaya helps to regulate the sangha to make it an inoffensive society.

  • 3
    that's right. In another sutta he directly said if he sees bhikhus quarreling he tends to avoid them.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Nov 9, 2017 at 12:11
  • 1
    Nice! see also SN 47.19 on protecting oneself and others.
    – user382
    Nov 9, 2017 at 15:17
  • Yes the historical Buddha... but I wouldn't mind hearing about other Buddhas too.
    – Lowbrow
    Nov 9, 2017 at 17:15

Have you ever noticed the common phrase pairing:

"No offence meant." ... "None taken."

Also that you take offence with/at something?

Offence is only ever taken, never given.

In other words, it is your choice to be offended by something or someone.

Most offence is "taken" when someone talks about something about yourself that you aren't comfortable with or disparages a view our belief that you hold and aren't necessarily OK with and you feel the need to violently defend it.

The offence comes from your own insecurities, not the malice of the other person. That's not to say they may not have intended malice, but the offence you take comes from you not them.

If you truly accept who and what you are it is impossible for anyone to offend you.

It is often said it is impossible to offend a Buddhist. And it's true. Not through any great stoicism, but because they know exactly who and what they are. And they choose not to take offence.

People say I'm fat, and I am. I know that, and I accept that. I have tried losing weight, but it hasn't worked. Many times. But that's fine. I am what I am, and no one can offend or upset me by calling me fat. They're just stating the obvious.

The best way, if someone intends malice, of completely removing that malice is to turn it into a joke and completely reverse it. If you accept yourself for who you are you can laugh at yourself with impunity. And in laughing at yourself any malice intended is instantly gone.

So much suffering in this world is caused by people's insecurities. Mostly their religious insecurities. Wars are fought over inconsequentialities. And all because religious views are so tenuous and fragile and easy to offend.

That's why there has never been a holy war in the name of Buddhism. We are comfortable with what we are. You can't threaten our beliefs because they aren't based on faith in some beard in the sky.

And that's what sets Buddhism apart from every other religion in the world. Buddha basically said (and I'm paraphrasing here):

Don't believe what I tell you. Try it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

You don't have to defend Buddhism. There is no deity to offend. Sure, pay your respects to Buddha as a great teacher, but you should do the same for everyone anyway.

But I digress.

So to sum it up: No, Buddha doesn't shelter you from offence. Offence doesn't exist, only your perception of it. If you choose that something will be offensive it will be offensive. Only you have the control over that, never the person "being" offensive.

Buddha doesn't shelter you. He handed us the tools and an instruction manual. It is up to us to use them to the best of our abilities. "Taking refuge" in the Buddha doesn't mean hiding under his arm. It means trying what he taught and discovering reality for the first time.


Being offended requires attachment to ones' ego. No ego or no attachment = no being offended.


No, not for the case of taking side, not in a wordily sense. He would nevertheless speak of what is good, explain cause and effect but never making a favor, never "playing" world empire king or judge. Mara often tried to bring him to become a leader, a judge in wordly views.

Knowing kamma, knowing that beings are heir of their deeds, wise don't do such, letting beings chose their deeds and defent or shelter, devote only to the Dhamma.

For more to understand, read:

Yes, in regard of real help, if posdible, not easy to understand it as such.

Worthy to note: If still aspecting your self to be helped, itjs you duty to help. Only if one does no more aspect to be helped, one is rightous free of helping others. And of course, aside helping onself first to get ride of desire, aversion and delution, one who helps others at the same time is more sublime. Yet such is not a inherent duty of the path but of course a duty to be able to reach the path. That is why having helped those who one owes service is one of the highest blessings.

Support for one's parents, assistance to one's wife and children, consistency in one's work: This is the highest protection.

Giving, living in rectitude, assistance to one's relatives, deeds that are blameless: This is the highest protection.

And about the highest help, less are willing to take on but just act for own objectives:

§98 This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "There are these two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things & a gift of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a gift of the Dhamma. There are these two kinds of sharing: sharing of material things & sharing of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: sharing of the Dhamma. There are these two kinds of assistance: assistance with material things & assistance with the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: help with the Dhamma."

The gift he describes as foremost & unsurpassed, the sharing the Blessed One has extolled: who — confident in the supreme field of merit, wise, discerning — wouldn't give it at appropriate times? Both for those who proclaim it and those who listen, confident in the message of the One Well-gone: it purifies their foremost benefit — those heeding the message of the One Well-gone.

And who does not simply help his defiöements, to identify him/herself to gain, sacrify pointless and does not keep Silas, doing his obligations? Do you?

Watch out the worthy guṇa for your sacrifies!

Render help and assistance, doing ones duties, is a factor of the merits of virtue and is called Veyyāvacca

One who is not devoted to anything suffers, the Awakened saw, and that is why he devoted all lasting fuel in service for the truth, the Dhamma, yet free of any duty at all.

See also The Arrows of Thinking Papañca & the path to end conflict

I will tell of how I experienced samvega. Seeing people floundering like fish in small puddles, competing with one another–

as I saw this, fear came into me.

The world was entirely without substance. All the directions were knocked out of line. Wanting a haven for myself, I saw nothing that wasn’t laid claim to. Seeing nothing in the end but competition, I felt discontent.

Rather than trying to solve the problem by looking for a larger puddle for himself or his fellow fish, he looked inside to see why people would want to be fish in the first place. What he found was an arrow embedded in his own heart:

And then I saw an arrow here, so very hard to see, embedded in the heart. Overcome by this arrow you run in all directions. But simply on pulling it out you don’t run, you don’t sink.

This arrow has many names in the Pali Canon–the oldest extant record of the Buddha’s teachings–and one of them is papañca. Papañca is a type of thinking that causes conflict within those who think it, and leads them into conflict with people outside.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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