“The inclination to accept unverified opinion simply because of currency or familiarity is a dangerous human weakness that is instrumental in self-deception, and easily exploited for the deception of others.”

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Goodness gracious. Sometimes I see a quote like this one:

The inclination to accept unverified opinion simply because of currency or familiarity is a dangerous human weakness that is instrumental in self-deception, and easily exploited for the deception of others

and I’m simply staggered that anyone would think it was uttered by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. The language and syntax is just so very, very modern that this just has to be 20th century.

The Buddha did give advice about not believing something simply because of its “currency” or “familiarity,” and perhaps the true author of this quote had that in mind:

Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.”

You’ll notice that the language is much more down to earth, and doesn’t get lost in heady latinate formations.

But who is the author? It’s definitely not the Buddha, but is Thomas Cleary, in the introduction to his No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan, published in 1993.

Fortunately this misattribution doesn’t seem to have spread much yet, and hopefully we can keep it that way!

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