The second vow is to “Praise the ‘Thus Come One’.” Since, the first vow is “To respect all Buddhas” why don’t we rephrase them as one, “Praise and respect all Buddhas?” There is a profound meaning within these two vows. “Respect all Buddhas” applies to behavior. When considering the form, we are to show respect for everybody, regardless of whether they are good or bad. Also, we are to respect all laws whether they are accepted or heretical. “Praise the ‘Thus Come One’” applies to nature. So, there is a difference. We admire the good but not the bad, although we respect the latter as well. And therein lies the difference.
In the Flower Adornment Sutra, Sudhana understood this very well. He respected and praised nearly every one of the fifty-three spiritual guides he visited. However, three of them he respected but did not praise; Fasumiduo, Shengrepoluomen, and Ganluhuowang. The first was a prostitute and symbolized lust or greed. The second was a heretic and symbolized ignorance. The third was hot-tempered and symbolized anger, punishing those who caused him the slightest offense by plunging them into boiling oil or driving them into a hill of daggers. These three symbolized the Three Poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. To Sudhana, the three were to be respected but not praised. So, we see that praise is linked to virtue.
Only good characteristics and accepted laws deserve praise. But we still respect all beings and things because respect reflects purity of mind and the virtue of respecting other equally. We respect heretical beliefs while we praise accepted ones such as Christianity, which helps raise people to the heaven realms. This is not achieving the perfect, complete enlightenment, but is infinitely better than heretical beliefs that will lead people to fall into the three lower realms. So, we praise Christianity. However, we never praise cults for they encourage people to commit wrongdoings.
We can see that there is a big difference between the first and second vows although both come from a pure and perfect intention.