Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living
Christ, Part 4
Many years ago, I recognized that by understanding your own tradition
better, you also develop increased respect, consideration, and
understanding for others. I had had a naive thought, a kind of prejudice
inherited from my ancestors. I thought that because Buddha had taught for
forty-five years and Jesus for only two or three, that Buddha must have
been a more accomplished teacher. I had that thought because I did not
know the teachings of the Buddha well enough.
One day when he was thirty-eight years old, the Buddha met King
Prasenajit of Kosala. The king said, "Reverend, you are young, yet
people call you ‘The Highest Enlightened One.’ There are holy men in
our country eighty and ninety years old, venerated by many people, yet
none of them claims to be the highest enlightened one. How can a young an
like you make such a claim?"
The Buddha replied, "Your majesty, enlightenment is not a matter
of age. A tiny spark of fire has the power to burn down a whole city. A
small poisonous snake can kill you in an instant. A baby prince has the
potentiality of a king. And a young monk has the capability of becoming
enlightened and changing the world."
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