The French have a saying: “Dis moi qui est ton ami, je te dirai qui tu es” which can be translated as “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”.
There was a cultivator in the Himalayas who came to the city during the rainy season for salt and vinegar.
Because of his awesome comportment, the city residents were most impressed and made a lot of offerings to him. They even built him a place of abode and asked him to be their teacher. He agreed and stayed on.
Then along came another cultivator who preached permanence. The people took a liking to him and asked him to their teacher.
Then along came a cultivator who preached nihilism. Not surprisingly, the city residents took a liking to him and took him as teacher.
Over time, many more cultivators came. The people venerated the newcomers, forsook their current teacher and took the newcomer as their “perhaps more fashionable” teacher.
Witnessing all this, the original cultivator became quite disenchanted, left the city and returned to the mountains. He paid a visit to his teacher and expressed his profound disappointment about the people. His teacher said: “The wise one would never stay in the company of those who cannot tell right from wrong. What were you thinking?”