One day, a very rich man who was not a Buddhist came to see the Buddha and told him that he wanted to become a Buddhist.
He said, “I have heard your teaching is very good, therefore I have decided to become a Buddhist.”
“Have you heard my teaching?” the Buddha asked.
He replied, “No!”
“Do you know whether you can practice my teaching?”
He said “No!”
“That is not the way to embrace a religion!” said the Buddha. “First, you must observe whether you can practice this new religion.”
Then this man said, “I think this advice itself is more than enough for me to understand the nature of your teaching. If I approach another religious teacher, he would at once have pounced on me and announced this to the others. Instead, you advised me to wait, study, observe and decide carefully. I am satisfied. Now I am convinced. I want to be a Buddhist!”
Then he asked another question, “ I have been supporting the priests of my former religion, now as a Buddhist, can I support them?”
The Buddha said, “You can support any living being, it is a meritorious deed.”
See how different this attitude is from that of some religions we find today. When followers of our religion ask for some donation from the followers of another religion, they say, “Sorry we cannot give donation from the followers of another religion, it is against our religion; and it is a sin.” In contrast to this attitude it is a fact that the largest number of donors to non-Buddhist charitable organizations in Malaysia are Buddhists! This is just one reason why intelligent people say Buddhism is a religion of freedom and reason.