“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

There’s nothing at all unBuddhist about this quote, or the sentiment it expresses, but as far as I’m aware “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” isn’t found in the Buddhist scriptures.

It sounds like someone has tried to distill the Buddha’s teaching into a nice maxim, and hit on a saying that was already popular.

This probable Fake Buddha Quote seems to have been around for some time. According to Google Books, it’s found attributed to the Buddha in Distilled Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Wisdom in Condensed Form, by Alfred Armand Montapert, from 1964, although it has to be said that Google Books’ dating is sometimes off. And Google also says it’s found in a 1959 book by George Francis Allen, with the splendid title of Words of Wisdom: The Buddhist Companion Book; Containing 365 Maxims and Utterances Attributed to Gotama Buddha for Each Day and Night of the Year.

Something very similar is found in an 1873 book, A Twofold Life, by Wilhelmine von Hillern:

“There is also a heaven upon earth in our own breasts. Do not seek it without, but within your heart ; then you will not come into heaven for the first time when you die, but remain in it always.”

The saying was around in 1907 as “For the spirit of contentment and peace comes from within, not from without.” (Library Journal, December, 1907), and in 1908’s Country Life magazine as “Peace comes from within, not from without,” where it is described as “the message of Marcus Aurelius.”

I haven’t found any instances before the 20th century, but in “The Complete Words of W. E. Channing,” I’ve found the following:

“There can be no peace without, but through peace within. Society must be an expression of the souls of its members.”

This is from a lecture, “On War,” delivered in 1838. The general idea is no doubt much older, but the expression “peace comes from within” seems not to be much more than a century old.

13 thoughts on ““Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.””

  1. There can be no peace without, but through peace within. Society must be an expression of the souls of its members.

    can you give me full reference of this sentence ?! in which line and page ? with original sours? thanks

    picture of this ? its important for me .. any thing regarding peace as a human nature …
    The saying was around in 1907 as “For the spirit of contentment and peace comes from within, not from without.” (Library Journal, December, 1907), and in 1908’s Country Life magazine as “Peace comes from within, not from without,” where it is described as “the message of Marcus Aurelius.

    1. The only point I’m making is that it’s not a quote from the Buddha, any more than it’s a quote from Jesus, Albert Einstein, or your own good self.

    1. Because truth is better than bullshit? Because, as Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs”?

      1. Can you please give me an example of a buddha quote that is not fake? It seems that most of the buddha quotes I’m run into is fake, according to this website. Remember, buddha is originated from southeast asia. I’m sure there’s something along the line of these fake buddha quotes in its original form. Perhaps, it’s not fake but rather lost in translation?

        1. Hi, Tom. You’re correct that the majority of “Buddha quotes” in circulation are fake. In many of the articles on this site I do include quotes from the Buddhist scriptures, but you can always check out Real Buddha Quotes or visit Access to Insight, where there’s a large selection of scriptural translations.

          Where there’s a problem with a quirky translation, I always note this in the article. The main problems are misattributed quotes and people just making stuff up and sticking the Buddha’s name on the end.

    1. Other Buddhas are legendary or mythical. Such Buddhas put in an appearance in the early scriptures and also in the Mahayana Sutras, but I’m fairly certain that this quote is not to be found in any of those sources.

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