As soon as he came near Buddha, all his other thoughts disappeared, but his anger was still there. He was shaking and he could not speak. No words would come out of his mouth, so he spat on Buddha’s face. Buddha simply smiled. All the other disciples around, were gripped with anger. They were all so angry, but they couldn’t react because Buddha was there. So everybody was holding their lips and fists tight. And this man could not stay longer. He spat and a few moments later, he thought, “If I stay longer, I will burst out.” So he ran away.
When Buddha did not react or say anything, and just smiled, this man could not sleep the whole night. It was the first time in his life he met somebody who would just smile when he spat on his face. He underwent such a transformation. The next day he came and fell at Buddha’s feet and said, “Please pardon me, I don’t know what I did.”
Buddha said, “I cannot excuse you.” Now the disciples were shocked! Buddha was so compassionate, he always excused everybody. Now he said he cannot excuse him? Not possible! Buddha had to explain, because everybody was in a state of shock!
Buddha said, “Well, why? You didn’t do anything so how can I excuse you? What did you do? What wrong you have done?”
The man replied, “Yesterday, I spat in your face. I am the same person.”
Buddha replied, “That person is not here now. If I ever meet that person on whom you spat, I will tell him to excuse you. So to me right now, to this person who is here, you are wonderful. You have never done anything wrong.”
That is compassion. Compassion is not making somebody a culprit! and then saying, “Okay, I forgive you.” That’s not compassion. Your forgiveness should be such that the person who is being forgiven does not even know that you are forgiving them. They shouldn’t even feel guilty for a mistake. That is the right type of forgiveness.
That guilt itself is a punishment. It’s good enough.