23. Words Of Praise
Soon Buddha had a great number of followers, or disciples, who followedhim from place to place. One day one of them came up to him and said, "OBlessed One, you are certainly the greatest of all teachers who ever lived!"
Buddha was not flattered by this praise. Instead he asked the disciple,"Tell me, have you met all the great teachers who have appeared in theworld?"
"No, of course not," he answered.
"And do you know all the teachers who are alive now or will be born inthe future?"
"No, I do not," he answered again.
And so the Buddha said, "Then it is foolish to say that I am the greatestof all teachers. You have no way of knowing if this is true or not."
"But I only wanted to praise you because your teachings are so excellentand helpful," the disciple replied.
Then Buddha said, "If you find my teachings helpful, the best thing todo is practice them. Do not waste your energy praising me. The only reasonI have come into the world is to teach others. If you want to please me,follow the teachings.
Thiswill please me much more than praise."
At another time Buddha asked a disciple, "If you want to buy some preciousgold, will you pay for it without testing it first?"
"No, of course not", was the answer. "It might be fake, and then I wouldbe wasting my money."
"It is exactly the same way with my teachings," Buddha replied. "You shouldnever accept what I say as true simply because I have said it. Rather,you should test the teachings yourself to see if they are true or not.If you find that they are true and helpful, then practice them. But donot do so merely out of respect for me.
"Also, do not criticize the teachings of others and say they are no good.There are many other great teachers in the world and they all have theirown way of helping people. So do not insult any of them. This is not yourbusiness. Your only business is to find happiness and help others findit, too."
In such ways, then, Buddha taught his followers to think for themselves,to be kind to others and to respect everyone.