Gautama Buddha used to go out with a begging bowl to collect a morsel of food for the day. As soon as he appeared in front of a house, the lady of the house would come out with some cooked food, and offer it, Buddha. Buddha would accept it, thank the lady and go away.
One day, Buddha was passing through a village he had never been to before. He knocked on the door of one of the houses. The lady of this house was a bitter person. She was furious to see a monk with a begging bowl standing at her doorstep.
She started abusing him. “Shirker! You want to eat food without working for it,” she shouted. Buddha stood without ǡ reply.
“You look fit enough to work. Why don’t you work, you fool?” she screamed.
The lady went on abusing Buddha, calling him names. Buddha stood listening without reacting, waiting for her to finish.
At last, she paused to catch her breath. Then she said, “Why are you standing like a stone? Why don’t you say something, monk?” she taunted.
“Mother, an offering has been made. But if it is not accepted, to whom does it belong?” Buddha asked.
“I offer you nothing, you lazy monk,” said the woman impatiently.
“Mother, ever since I came to your door, you have been offering me whatever you have,” said Buddha gently.
The lady was intelligent. She at once knew the monk was referring to the abuses she was heaping on him.
“And your question is, if the offering is not accepted ….”
“ … to whom does it belong?” Buddha completed the sentence for her.
The woman got the message. She fell at Buddha’s feet. She went inside and brought some food for him. Buddha thanked her and moved on.