“Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world.”

Just a little too late for Easter comes this egg-themed Fake Buddha Quote:

“Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world.”

This is very fake. The image of a check pecking its way through a shell is one the Buddha used, but this sentence isn’t even close, and the language of “the eternal” is totally foreign and Hindu-sounding.

The “theories of the eternal” quote seems to come from a 1946 book by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, called Gautama the Buddha. The words are Radhakrishnan’s, not the Buddha’s. On page 31 he says:

“To use an image employed by him — our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world. In this he resembles some of the greatest thinkers of the world.”

Radakrishnana the first Vice President of India and Indian’s second President. He was a statesman, a philosopher, and a Hindu, of course, so the “theories of the eternal” part of the quote is a reflection of his own religious beliefs rather than anything the Buddha might have said.

The image of breaking out of a shell is an analogy the Buddha used, although there was no reference to “the eternal.” For example, the Buddha described himself (in the Vinaya Pitaka) as being like a chick, first-hatched from a clutch of eggs:

“I having pierced through the shell of ignorance for the sake of creatures wrapped in ignorance, egg-born (as it were), am unique in the world, utterly enlightened with unsurpassed enlightenment. I myself am the world’s eldest and highest.”

So the Buddha’s awakening was a metaphorical breaking out of a shell of ignorance, but not in the context of “theories of the eternal,” unless it’s to suggest that the Buddha left behind any such theories when he broke through the shell of ignorance. But he certainly didn’t say “Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world.”

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