Once Buddha was passing through a village. The people of that village were against him and his philosophy, so they gathered around him to insult him. They used ugly and vulgar words. Buddha listened. Ananda, Buddha's disciple who was with him, got very angry, but he couldn't say anything because Buddha was listening so silently, so patiently, rather as if he was enjoying the whole thing.
Then even the crowd become a little frustrated because he was not getting irritated and it seemed he was enjoying. Buddha said, 'Now, if you are finished, I should move because I have to reach the other village soon. They must be waiting just as you were waiting for me. If you have not told me all the things that you thought to tell me, I will be coming back within a few days, then you can finish it.' Somebody from the crowd said, 'But we have been insulting you. Won't you react? Won't you say something?'
Buddha said, 'That is difficult. If you want reaction from me, then you are too late. You should have come at least ten years ago, because then I used to react. But I am now no longer a person reacting to situations. I can see your anger, the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassionate for you. This is my response. Unnecessarily you are troubled. Even if I am wrong, why should you get so irritated? That is not your business. If I am wrong, I am going to hell, you will not go with me. If am wrong I will suffer for it, you will not suffer for it. But it seems you love me so much and you think about me, consider me that have left your work in the fields and you have come just to say a few things to me. I am thankful.'
Just when he was leaving he said, 'One thing more I would like to say to you. In the other village, I left behind, a great crowd just like you had come there and they had brought many sweets just as a present for me, a gift from the village. But I told them that I don't take sweets. They took the sweets back. I ask you, what will they do with those sweets?' Somebody from the crowd said, 'What will they do! It is easy; there is no need to answer. They will distribute them in the village and they will enjoy.' Then Buddha said, 'Now what will you do? You have brought insults and I say I don't take them. What will you do? I feel so sorry for you. You can insult me, that is up to you. But I don't take it, which is up to me because I don't take useless things. I don't get unnecessarily burdened.' This is response. If a person is angry and you are present there, not with your past, you will always feel compassion. To be angry is reaction, to response is always compassion. When someone is in fever you don't start beating him and asking why are you having a fever? Rather you serve the man and help him come out of it. Similarly when somebody is angry he is also a feverish. Why get so angry about it? He is in a mental disease which is more dangerous than any bodily disease, more fatal. So if the wife is angry the husband would feel compassion, he would try in every way to help her to be out of it. This is just mad, that she is angry and he also gets angry. This is insane.
You will look at the person, you will feel the misery she is in or he is in, and you will help. But if the past comes in then everything goes wrong. And it can happen only if you go deep in meditation. Just intellectual understanding won't help. If you go deep in meditation more and more clarity is attained and you become like a mirror. You don’t have any wounds really, so no one can hit them. You can really look at the person and then you can respond. Response is always good, reaction is always bad. Response is always beautiful, reaction is always ugly. Avoid reactions and allow responses. Reaction is from the past, response is here and now.