Now as they gathered around the Buddha in the park, they began to voice their criticism, saying: 'he is simply a person seeking fame and name with the masses'; 'he sits silently there trying to impress others'; 'one who is enlightened should give enlightenment and he is doing nothing', and so on.
At first they spoke in whispers and then as Buddha continued to take no notice, they spoke more loudly and their criticism and rejection became stronger. The volume of their voices increased and they began to openly abuse him. They abused and abused and abused until they grew tired, and finally having exhausted themselves, they turned to depart.
Just then the Buddha spoke for the first time: 'Stop awhile, and pay heed. When a friend, a long-lost friend, returns to your midst, you wish to give him presents. But suppose your friend does not accept your gifts, to whom do they belong? What happens to them?' The crowd laughed and said: 'The presents are still ours and we keep them accordingly.'
'What you have said is correct,' agreed the Buddha. 'And so it is with your presents. The words you have used and the expressions you have displayed, I do not accept and I return them to you. You have wasted your breath and energy, and you will now carry them back with you.'
That story made a strong impression. When the abuse, or the filth you could say, that can gush forth from a person is not accepted by the other, then the filth is reflected back to the abuser. So Buddha's first teaching was, 'Beware of what you say.'
IT SO HAPPENED, pp. 84-85, ed William Le Page
1978 © Meher Baba Foundation (Australia)