The Sword of Wisdom 188

These stories symbolize two important points in Buddhism. First, listen to the Buddha's words. Second, do not have so much faith in yourself that you think you can be your own master. It is all right to trust yourself, but you need somebody else to verify your practice. Measure your practice and attainment against the standard of the Buddha's teachings. Your own experience and knowledge is unreliable. If you have doubts, ask a master for guidance. If you read the sutras without guidance, you may misinterpret their meaning and endanger yourself. This is why it is important to study with a master.

Remember, if a person is having problems with his practice, help him out; but you must be careful what you say. Buddhist remedies may hurt, rather than help, certain people. Furthermore, do not try to convert Jews, Christians, Muslims, or anyone else who believe strongly in something else. They will not listen to you. You will only rile them, and they will defame Buddhism. If your words or actions cause someone else to slander Buddhism, it is your responsibility.

Before you are enlightened, it is best that you concentrate on your own practice. You might think someone is doing something incorrect, but you could be wrong. He may be at another level of practice, or working from a different standpoint. If you follow your own practice as you should, you will not have time to judge others' practice anyway.