In Buddhas Words … NOT in Buddha’s Words Series. About 50 Percent of Online Quotes Attributed to Buddha are Actual

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    In Buddhas Words … NOT in Buddha’s Words.

    We all love inspirational quotes. They’re especially nice as visual memes or illustrated quotes online, especially in Facebook posts. But how many are real. Our initial run at the top nine quotes indicates only about 50 percent.

    Great leaders and teachers are often misquoted, none more so than Shakyamuni Buddha, the Enlightened One. Although his words are recorded in thousands of sutras, online he is often misquoted.

    Watch the video — fun, funny and educational (note: loud sound FX on the True/Fake declarations):


    In fact, 2500 years ago, the Buddha warned that this would happen in the Anguttara Nikaya 2:20, where he said,

    “When the words and phrases are misplaced, the meaning is misinterpreted. These two things lead to the decline and disappearance of the true teaching.”

    Join us, in the first of our series.

    In Buddhas Words… NOT in Buddha’s Words

    Top Quotes Online

    A quick search online reveals Buddha’s top quotes — but did he actually say these things? Let’s find out, with proper citations to verify the sources and the wording.


    Quote 1: “Radiate boundless love towards the entire world.”


    Sounds beautiful, certainly, but did Buddha put it this way?

    We can happily report he did say this in the Metta Sutta. The full context was:

    “Radiate boundless love towards the the entire world — above, below and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.



    Quote 2: “A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.”


    Sounds pretty good. Actually, it’s a mishmash of various discourses all mushed together, so basically it’s “true in spirit” but Fake as a quote.



    Quote 3: “A disciplined mind brings happiness”

    This certainly sounds like something Buddha would say. Is this an actual quote? Certainly, he did, in the Dhammapada, verse 35!



    Quote 4: “All things are perfect exactly as they are.”


    Sounds very Zen and wonderful — but no — there appears to be nothing discoverable in Buddha’s recorded suttas and teachings to support this quote. It is recorded as attributed to Buddha in a book The Joy of Sects, but there is no citation or support. So — our first FAKE! If you can cite a source, or correct our research, please comment below.



    Quote 5 : ” Conquer anger with non-anger. Conquer badness with goodness. Conquer meanness with generosity. Conquer dishonesty with truth.”

    Totally sounds like the Buddha, right? In  this case, it is, quoted from the Dhammapada, verse 223!



    Quote 6: “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are there.”

    Sorry, sounds lovely, but this one is Fake!



    Quote 7: “A true friend is one who stands by you in need.”


    This totally sounds like a greeting card, so it must be fake, right? No, actually, this is from the poetic verses in the Sigalovada Sutta, teachings given to the householder Sigalaka.



    Quote 8: “As candle cannot burn without fire, so men cannot live without a spiritual life.”


    This sounds very spiritual — but actually, it’s not something the Buddha said. 



    Quote 9: “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”


    This is too good to be true. But no, this is a true quote. Verse 122 of the Dhammapada.



    If you enjoyed these quotes, and “non quotes” please join us for the next in this series of IN BUDDHA’S WORDS, NOT IN BUDDHA’S WORDS.

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    Lee Kane

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
    Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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