The following is a continuation in the series which began with: Whose Proverbs Covered a Broader Range of Topics: Buddha or Solomon? (What About Women?)
When Solomon taught on something, an amazing 48% of the time the Buddha was silent! Interestingly, those topics on which the Buddha was silent are totally predictable and expected. The Buddha was raised as a prince and totally renounced his wealth, status and family to give up everything in search of wisdom. So on what matters was the Buddha nearly silent? All the things he renounced: wealth, government, power, business, women, family, and children!
Let’s look at some topics on which the Buddha was silent, or nearly so. In the 423 proverbs of the Buddha, he does not refer to servants at all. Since he lived as a prince before he left on his search for enlightenment, he would have had experience with servants, so it is astonishing that he doesn’t mention them once.
Solomon was a king, therefore he had extensive experience with servants. Consider these proverbs of Solomon:
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food. (Proverbs 12:9, NIV)
Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise. (Proverbs 11:29, NIV)
A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family. (Proverbs 17:2, NIV)
Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond. (Proverbs 29:19, NIV)
A servant pampered from youth will turn out to be insolent. (Proverbs 29:21, NIV)
Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—(Ecclesiastes 7:21, NIV)
A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury. (Proverbs 14:35, NIV)
Solomon discouraged pretense with the example that it’s better to be a nobody and have a servant, than to pretend to be someone important yet have no servant. He taught that a foolish person will be the servant to a wise one, and a prudent servant will rise in importance in a family, ruling over a disgraceful son, and perhaps even sharing in an inheritance. A servant would be corrected merely with words, yet a pampered servant would become disrespectful and arrogant (insolent). He also encouraged not listening to gossip, or you might hear that your servant cursed you. And again, probably from his experience, he taught that a wise servant would elicit the king’s delight, and a shameful one, his fury.
Why was the Buddha silent on this topic? Perhaps because he had forsaken his role as prince, and the opportunity of one day being king. He chose the opposite extreme of a solitary, non-materialistic life. Perhaps, he put having servants completely out of his mind.