“My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.”

I came across this one on Google+, where I’ve now encountered a couple of Fake Buddha Quotes, both of which were posted by the same person, interestingly enough:

“My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.”

This isn’t from the Buddha, of course. It’s actually from Osho (Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh). Bhagwan was an Indian teacher who had a huge following in the west. He started a massive commune in Oregon, which ran into planning troubles with the local authorities because the ranch they owned, if I remember correctly, wasn’t zoned for the high density population that was living there. Bizarrely, the community decided to launch a biological terror attack on the local town (the first in the modern history of the US) by sprinkling salmonella in cafeterias and restaurants.

Not surprisingly, Osho was deported from the United States, and the commune collapsed.

The quote is from Osho’s commentary on the Buddhist Diamond Sutra. This of course brings up its own questions of whether Mahayana sutras constitute Fake Buddha Quotes. While we’ve no way of knowing whether the Buddha actually uttered anything that’s recorded in the Pali canon, we can be almost absolutely sure that he didn’t compose the Mahayana Sutras, although they were in many cases elaborations of his original teachings in literary form.

Here’s the part of the Sutra Osho comments on:

Subhuti, in these bodhisattvas no perception of a self takes place, no perception of a being, no perception of a soul, no perception of a person. Nor do these bodhisattvas have a perception of a dharma, or a perception of a no-dharma. No perception or non-perception takes place in them.

And why? If, Subhuti, these bodhisattvas, should have a perception of either a dharma, or a no-dharma, they would thereby seize on a self, on a being, on a soul, on a person.

And why? Because a bodhisattva should not seize on either a dharma or a no-dharma. Therefore this saying has been taught by the Tathagata with a hidden meaning: “By those who know the discourse on dharma as like unto a raft, dharmas should be forsaken, still more so, no-dharmas.”

The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has fully known as “the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment,” or is there any dharma which the Tathagata has demonstrated?

Subhuti replied: No, not as I understand what the Lord has said. And why? This dharma which the Tathagata has fully known or demonstrated – it cannot be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why? Because an absolute exalts the holy persons.

That’s rather lovely, and mysterious, as the Perfection of Wisdom texts (of which this is an example) tend to be.

Here’s Osho’s commentary:

A few things to be understood, then it will be easy to enter into today’s sutra. First, the good doctrine, the dharma. Buddha calls a doctrine good if it is not a doctrine. If it is a doctrine it is not a good doctrine. Buddha calls a philosophy good philosophy if it is not a philosophy. If it is a philosophy then it is not good philosophy.

A doctrine is a set, fixed phenomenon. The universe is in flux; no doctrine can contain it. No doctrine can be just to it, no doctrine can do justice to existence. All doctrines fall short.

So Buddha says: “My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.” He says: “I have only given you an approach towards reality. I have only given you the keys to open the door. I have not said anything about what you will see when you open the door. Nothing can be said about it.”

Just think of a man who has lived always in a dark cave, who knows nothing of light, who knows nothing of color, who has never seen the sun or the moon. How can you tell him about the rainbows? How can you talk to him about stars? How can you describe roses to him? It is impossible. And whatsoever you say to him, if he understands it, it will be wrong. He will create a doctrine and that will be wrong.

It’s clear here that this is Osho’s paraphrase of what he believes the Buddha to have been saying, and not the actual words of the Buddha himself. It’s easy to see how someone glancing at the page might think that these words were being presented as a verbatim quote from the Buddha.

This one so far hasn’t made it into any books, as far as I can see, but it is in some of the more popular quotes sites, and I guess it’s only a matter of time.

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