“All human unhappiness comes from not facing reality squarely, exactly as it is”

This quote is most certainly not from the Buddha: “All human unhappiness comes from not facing reality squarely, exactly as it is.”

This one was emailed to me last year, but I dropped the ball. Recently someone else asked me about it, and although I still don’t know its origins or how a large number of people came to associate it with the Buddha, I thought I’d at least flag it as being fake.

It may possibly be a paraphrase of a saying from Pascal’s Pensées:

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

It’s not that this quote is untrue: It’s simply misattributed in being put in the mouth of the Buddha. The phrasing is far too contemporary to be from texts that are more than two millennia old. It’s as incongruous as claiming that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a quote from Shakespeare.

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