Words of Praise

Soon Buddha had a great number of followers, or disciples, who followed him from place to place. One day one of them came up to him and said, "O Blessed, 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 the world?" "No, of course not," he answered. "And do you know all the teachers who are alive now or will be born in the future ?" "No, I do not," he answered again. And so the Buddha said, "then it is foolish to say that I am the greatest of 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 excellent and helpful, " the disciple replied.

Then Buddha said, "If you find my teachings helpful, the best thing to do is practice them. Do not waste your energy praising me. The only reason I have come into the world is to teach others. If you want to please me, follow the teachings. This will please me much more than praise." At another time Buddha asked a disciple, "If you want to buy some precious gold, will you pay for it without testing it first ?"

"No, of course not," was the answer. "It might be fake, and then I would be wasting my money." "It is exactly the same way with my teachings," Buddha replied. "You should never 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 do not 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 their own way of helping people. So do not insult any of them. This is not your business. Your only business is to find happiness and help others find it, too."

In such ways, then, Buddha taught his followers to think for themselves, to be kind to others and to respect everyone.