Layman Atula, who has 500 followers, brought them all to the monastery to hear the Dharma.
They first met with Ven. Revata who delighted in solitude. Ven. Revata did not even utter a single word.
Extremely disappointed, Atula and his entourage went to see Ven. Shariputra and complained. As a result, the wise Shariputra immediately expounded in great detail the Abhidharma for them. Unfortunately, Atula could not quite grasp the profound principles.
Extremely disappointed, he complained to Ven. Ananda. The erudite Ananda then spoke the Dharma briefly for them.
Still crossed, Atula went to see the World Honored One who asked: “Lay disciples, why did you come?” Atula responded: “To hear the Dharma.”
“But you have heard the Dharma!”
“Your Reverence, we first went to Ven. Revata who said nothing. Crossed, we went to Ven. Shariputra who expounded the teachings at great length but we were unable to understand. So we approached Ven. Ananda who only expounded the Dharma briefly. We are so disappointed and that is why we came to see you.”
The Buddha replied: “Since the days of old until the present time, men have always blamed him who said nothing, him who said too much, and him who said little. Actually, there is no one who deserves exclusive blame and none who deserves unqualified praise. Even kings are praised by some and blamed by others. Even Buddhas are praised by some and blamed by others. For praise and blame by simpletons is irrelevant. But if the wise praise a man after careful observation then he is praised or blamed indeed.”
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The ignorant like to praise or blame others perhaps out of jealousy or because it makes them feel superior or important. That is why we should be astute and ignore them instead of helping spread the gossip.
The wise praise or blame others in order to help them cultivate. Therefore, we should show gratitude by correcting our flaws and doing even more good.