To appreciate this statement, we need to start from the basic position that Buddha is not God. Buddhism rejects the idea of an almighty god or creator god or superior deities possessing power to make our life fortunate / misfortunate.
Therefore, a Buddhist do not pray to a higher power to make his life better. The idea that I am your holy father and I created you, therefore your life belongs to me and I have a right over your existence and how you should live your life is not Buddhism.
Neither is the concept that Buddha is a deity and he only bestow fortune on those whom he favored.
Therefore, we shouldn’t think that Buddhist teachers and the monastic communities are special people empowered with some mystical powers to lord over us. Or that people wearing special Buddhist costume are holy and infallible.
Buddha had been very clear about this during his lifetime. When asked to define what makes a religious person worthy of respect and gifts, he described a character that is well-disciplined in conduct, good hearted, diligent in practices that leads to removal of greed, hatred and ignorance.
In another word, we need to put on our thinking cap and discern who is worthy of our respect. Buddha taught that a person has to earn his respect through his actions. His family, lineages, teachers and etc has nothing to do with his nobleness in character. In short, we disregard their social status.
Along this line of logic, it will be ignorant of us to believe that a Buddhist teacher becomes worthier because
- he/she used to be a doctor or a scientist or a lawyer.
- Or their parents were presidents or royalty?
- Or their uncle or brother is a respectable monk
- Or that person was trained by a famous monk or from a famous temple.
- Or that person is wiser because they are elderly or had been a monk for sixty years. (well, Trump is 74?)
- Or that person must be better because he/she has a huge following of disciples (so too did Lady gaga)
- Or that person is a reincarnated monk or a reincarnated Buddha (says who and how would you know ? )
- Or that person can walk on water or float in the air? (so can a water skipper and a bird)
At the end of the day, a true Buddhist shouldn’t be superstitious and be easily enslaved by another human being and become a submissive, non-thinking servant. It is important to get this right. There is a reason why we do not address the Buddha as LORD BUDDHA.
Buddhist aspire to be freed and not to be enslaved. Buddha does not lord over us. Neither should any monks or nuns or teachers.
Imagine going to the University to study medicine and the lecturer taught you how to bake cake instead. Will you still stay? Or worse still, the lecturer exploited you or request your participation in illegal activities. Will you comply?
Once we understand that Buddha is not a god but a teacher, we achieve a dynamic relationship with Buddhist teachers and the monastic community. In the end, there is only good or bad teachers. And if you teach morality, compassion, loving-kindness, mindfulness etc, then it is reasonable that I observe your character and personality to decide if you are worthy to teach me those stuff. No?
If you do not teach but expect alms /donations from me to sponsor your practice so that I may participate in the merit of your enlightenment, then you better demonstrate to me that you are a serious practitioner. No?
Remember, Buddha did not teach us to fear the divine.
May all be well and happy.