“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”

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“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking” is found frequently on the web, Facebook, and on Twitter, and is usually cited as a “Buddhist proverb” or even an “ancient Buddhist proverb.”

One book, Paul Bowden’s Telling It Like It Is (2011) tells it like it isn’t and confidently declares that the quote is from the Buddha.

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking” is not from the Buddha, nor is it an ancient Buddhist proverb, unless you regard 1976 — the year of Jimmy Carter’s election, the Sex Pistol’s Anarchy In the UK, and the invention of the word “meme” — as ancient history. For the quote is from Joseph Goldstein’s The Experience of Insight, page 26:

Some progress quickly with a lot of pain, and others progress quickly with a lot of pleasure. It very much depends on our past accumulations of karma, how developed our spiritual faculties of mind already are. But if we’re facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. If it takes a year, or sixty years, or five lifetimes, as long as we’re heading towards light, that’s all that matters.

Jack Kornfield’s quotes have often been taken as Buddha Quotes, and I’m glad Joseph Goldstein is getting a turn!

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