Story told by Ven. Ajahn Brahm, from this page, on how to respond to abuse, such as the destruction of Buddhist scriptures and statues:
There were riots in the streets some years ago after a guard at
Guantanamo Bay was accused of taking a holy book and flushing it down
The next day, I took a call from a local journalist who told me he was
writing an article about the outrage by asking leaders of all the
major religions in Australia the same question he was about to ask me.
“What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist holy book
and flushed it down your toilet?”
Without hesitation I answered, “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist holy
book and flushed it down my toilet, the first thing I would do is call
When the journalist finished laughing, he confided that that was the
first sensible answer he had received.
Then I went further.
I explained that someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn
down Buddhist temples, or kill Buddhist monks and nuns; they may
destroy all this, but I will never allow them to destroy Buddhism. You
may flush a holy book down the toilet, but I will never let you flush
forgiveness, peace, and compassion down the toilet.
The book is not the religion. Nor is the statue, the building, or the
priest. These are only the “containers.”
What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent?
The Buddha himself was never disturbed by abusive speech hurled at him and taught that if abuse is not accepted and reacted to, then it stays with the abuser. The Buddha taught us to respond calmly and not be provoked into anger.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near
Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then the
brahman Akkosaka Bharadvaja heard that a brahman of the Bharadvaja
clan had gone forth from the home life into homelessness in the
presence of the Blessed One. Angered & displeased, he went to the
Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh
When this was said, the Blessed One said to him: "What do you think,
brahman: Do friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to you as
"Yes, Master Gotama, sometimes friends & colleagues, relatives &
kinsmen come to me as guests."
"And what do you think: Do you serve them with staple & non-staple
foods & delicacies?"
"Yes, sometimes I serve them with staple & non-staple foods &
"And if they don't accept them, to whom do those foods belong?"
"If they don't accept them, Master Gotama, those foods are all mine."
"In the same way, brahman, that with which you have insulted me, who
is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not
taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating:
that I don't accept from you. It's all yours, brahman. It's all yours.
"Whoever returns insult to one who is insulting, returns taunts to one
who is taunting, returns a berating to one who is berating, is said to
be eating together, sharing company, with that person. But I am
neither eating together nor sharing your company, brahman. It's all
yours. It's all yours."
"The king together with his court know this of Master Gotama — 'Gotama
the contemplative is an arahant' — and yet still Master Gotama gets
Whence is there anger for one free from anger,
tamed, living in tune — one released through right knowing, calmed & Such.
You make things worse when you flare up at someone who's angry.
Whoever doesn't flare up at someone who's angry wins a battle hard
You live for the good of both — your own, the other's — when, knowing
the other's provoked, you mindfully grow calm.
When you work the cure of both — your own, the other's — those who
think you a fool know nothing of Dhamma.
When this was said, the brahman Akkosaka Bharadvaja said to the
Blessed One, "Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he
were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden,
to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark
so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master
Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear.