“If you do not find the solution where you stand where else shall you find it?”

I came across this one on Twitter, and it immediately struck me as suspect. The question of what this “solution” is is rather troubling. The Buddha didn’t use language like that. And I don’t recall him using language like “where you stand,” either. There’s something incongruous about that language that had my FBQ-senses tingling.

The Twitter user, @AnAmericanMonk, is rather prone to posting Fake Buddha Quotes, incidentally, and most of the quotes he publishes are misattributed. Which leads me to wonder whether some people have an affinity for Fake Buddha Quotes. I’ve noticed that many people who post Buddha quotes are like @AnAmericanMonk, with the majority of their quotes turning out to be fake. This could be partly because much of what the Buddha says isn’t in sound-bites, and it often isn’t in a literary style that we find polished. This may be due to the oral tradition rather than the Buddha’s own choice of words… Couple that with a lack of familiarity with the Buddhist scriptures, and I can see how when these polished nuggets come along with a #Buddha hashtag attached, they catch the eye.

Anyway, my being suspicious of a quote doesn’t mean that it is actually fake. I plunged into researching and found that there weren’t many instances of this quote, and most of them seemed to lead back to @AnAmericanMonk. But when I tried searching for fragments of the quote, I turned up variants. Our old friend @AnAmericanMonk in fact has also posted the following version: “If you do not find truth where you stand where else will you find it?”

The quote with “truth” in it now sounds much more genuine, although the “where you stand” didn’t ring true.

Google Books brought up a book containing a variant of that variant: “If you can’t find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you will find it?” This time it was attributed to Eihei Dogen, which sounded more plausible. The book in which this quote was offered was Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing, edited by Larry Chang, and Chang kindly provided a citation: “The Practice of Meditation” in The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Sacred Prose, Stephen Mitchell, ed., 1991.

From here is was just another quick search on Google Books, and I had a source. The quote is right there on page 101.

I’m now confident that @AnAmericanMonk quote, “If you do not find the solution where you stand where else shall you find it?” is a mangling of Dogen (“truth” having been turned into “the solution”), misattributed to the Buddha. And so I’m therefore equally confident in saying that this is a Fake Buddha Quote.

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2 thoughts on ““If you do not find the solution where you stand where else shall you find it?””

  1. Hi, Thank you for this wonderful page and the service you provide. However, I am gonna wager that the source is a a paraphrase of this famous line from Fukanzazengi (a rhetorical question that Dogen answers with his “practice-enlightenment”) “It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice?” (https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.stanford.edu%2Fgroup%2Fscbs%2Fsztp3%2Ftranslations%2Fgongyo_seiten%2Ftranslations%2Fpart_3%2Ffukan_zazengi.html&h=ATMEfKvqfW_Wz-4Zz9pLGW7PMPD5hqsRLyHGcfVbc4wL5RfKrhhUVDN3fsWKIFE8N6-TxATiNo7QY89PjIgJc5PvXbe2meL6qzTU469DQLQ0vOmDYb-2uk59w2UsKcAL6bjq) Gassho, Jundo Cohen, Treeleaf Sangha

    1. Thank you. Yes, I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote this article. I should have at least included a screenshot of the book I’d tracked down on Google Books. The text by Dogen that I cited above, “The Practice of Meditation,” is presumably the same one as the “Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen” (Fukan zazengi), and the sentence you offer is an alternative translation. I think I’m going to have to order a copy of Mitchell’s “The Enlightened Mind” in order to find out what translation was used.

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