“Do not learn how to react. Learn how to respond.”

do-not-learn-how-to-react-learn-how-to-respondI was rather astonished to see this one being presented as a quote from the Buddha, but hundreds of results come up on Google, many of them on Facebook and Twitter.

There’s no denying the usefulness of this as a teaching. It encapsulates a principle that’s been articulated in similar words by many modern teachers of Buddhism. But the language used is completely alien to the canonical scriptures.

Fortunately I haven’t seen this on any sites that are obviously run by Buddhists. You do get a lot of professed Buddhists who, it must be assumed, aren’t familiar with Buddhism’s scriptures and who are only familiar with the modern idiom of teachers like Jack Kornfield and Pema Chodron. And when they see Fake Buddha Quotes they don’t have the basis of knowledge to recognize that the quote couldn’t possibly be canonical. But perhaps this one is too obviously fake for most Buddhists to be fooled by. Or maybe it’s just too new. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Where does this come from? I don’t know for sure. I’ve found “Your job is to learn how to respond, not react” in Louie Andersen’s “The F Word: How to Survive Your Family.” And in “Faces of Compassion,” by Taigen Dan Leighton I found “…learn how to respond appropriately and helpfully, without feeling overwhelmed or compelled to react impulsively.” But these, I suspect are just reiterations of the same basic them rather than prototypes of our Fake Buddha Quote.

One thought on ““Do not learn how to react. Learn how to respond.””

  1. in jack kornfield’s little buddhist handbook he presents both sayings of the buddha as well as by various teachers. this quote is included, and is probably the source. at the end of his book he gives credit to various teachers for their various words however he does not give another teacher credit for this quote, so based on how the book is presented, it would seemingly be something the buddha said. i personally doubt the buddha said that, and have not found any citation. in fact, the reason why i looked this up is bc a friend has the quote at the end of her email, of course attributing it to the buddha, and i offered her $100 if the buddha actually said it, so i have an interest in finding where it came from. the fact that jack kornfield included it in his book challenges my certainty that the buddha couldn’t have said it – but i’m still fairly confident.

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