“I tell you once again, everything is as it should be.”
He searched their eyes for recognition and continued.
“Worry is wasted energy. Adhere to my teachings and all will be well.”
A man standing on the other side of the square with his arms folded across his chest called out to the crowd.
“Why do you listen to that charlatan? He’s laughing at all of you. Hear me!”
Many in the crowd turned and jeered him. The Enlightened One ignored the outburst and continued to pontificate.
“All that you need is inside you. I am the one who can unlock your treasures. Know that this is true.”
The crowd murmured its assent. Much nodding ensued.
The rival however was not daunted.
“I only speak the truth, unlike that one. Soon you will know this to be the case.”
One of the men in the crowd turned and lashed out.
“Get out of here, fool. We know who the real enlightened one is. We have faith. You can’t fool us.”
Applause broke out but The Enlightened One held his hand up for silence.
“There is no need of strife. No need of contention. Pay attention to my words and nothing more. Come, walk with me.”
He led them through a nearby park, all the while regaling them with wise words and reassurance of the righteousness of following in his footsteps. The rival followed occasionally calling out to them to beware of false prophets but the devoted heeded his advice to listen to only his words.
The rival grew more frustrated as time passed and continued to give vent to his anger.
“I tell you all that calamity is near! Turn away from the doomed one, listen to me people, I speak the truth.”
Still they ignored him. He was beside himself with rage now and caught up to them and pointed his finger at The Enlightened One.
“How can you believe this poser? Ask him to give you a sign. Ask him to show you a miracle. He can’t do it.”
Muttering broke out in the midst of the crowd and many looked to The Enlightened One for a response.
He shook his head and addressed them.
“Gimmicks. That’s all miracles are. Haven’t I told you? Faith will be rewarded. Come with me now. I will show you all you need to see to know the way.”
They came to a corner and waited at the light to cross the street. The rival stood at a discrete distance and continued to harangue them.
“See? He has nothing to show you. He can’t control anything. He is a false prophet. I tell you the end is near!”
The light changed and The Enlightened One began crossing as the crowd watched the rival, distracted by his constant barrage. A bus approached the intersection and as it neared a faulty tire blew and it careened toward the intersection out of control. The Enlightened One saw it coming too late and was run over. The bus crashed into a lamppost and the faithful gazed on in horror at the lifeless body in the crosswalk.
As chaos ensued the faithful began talking amongst themselves.
“Did you hear what he said? The end is near!”
“Yes, and earlier he said to turn away from the doomed one.”
The rival couldn’t believe his luck. He smiled upon them and lifted his arms beckoning to them.
As one the faithful moved toward him and he led them away from the scene of the carnage.
“Listen only to my words. I am the chosen. Follow me. Have faith.”