“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

I came across this one in the feed of someone who started following me on Twitter. Here’s a link to the original status update.

When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~ Buddha

This of course bears no resemblance to anything the Buddha’s recorded as having said.

With some Fake Buddha Quotes it’s possible to trace the origins to a bad translation or some other obvious misattribution (for example a quote appears in a book called “The Teaching of the Buddha,” is subsequently quoted and attributed “The Teaching of the Buddha,” and is then requoted as attributed to “the Buddha”). But this one’s rather mysterious. It simply starts appearing on the web about 2005 2004. The first mention I have found so far is on Nov 29, 2005 on a blog on a forum post dated November 30, 2004, as a signature. In 2007 it appears in “A Year of Questions,” by Fiona Robyn, and (in a slightly different form) in “Hell in the Hallway,” by Sandi Bachom. This of course lends the quote a false air of legitimacy, and it’s now found in most of the appalling quotes sites that litter the web.

If you come across any references to this quote earlier than November 2004, please let me know.

PS George Draffan wrote, saying:

Sounds like a stanza from a Tibetan Dzoghcen text:

thams cad mnyam rdzogs sgyu ma’i rang bzhin la//
bzang ngan blang dor med pas dgod re bro//

Since everything is but an illusion,
Perfect in being what it is,
Having nothing to do with good or bad,
Acceptance or rejection,
One might as well burst out laughing!

from chapter 1 of The Great Perfection’s Self-Liberation in the Nature of Mind, by Longchenpa (1308-1364)

That sounds like a good candidate for the origins of this quote.

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8 thoughts on ““When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.””

  1. Just came across this quote on a computer game – namely, Civilization 5. It links the quote to Buddha. Are you sure this is fake? Judging by the popularity and the quality of the game, I can hardly imagine it making a mistake as such.

    1. I’ve heard the argument “It must be true, I saw it on the internet,” but this is the first time I’ve come across “It must be true, I saw it on a video game” :)

      Anyway, to answer your question, I’m sure this is a fake quote.

  2. I first heard this saying while listening to old Alan Watt’s lectures – He died in 1973 and although it’s been a while it was one of his younger lectures I think, so for the sake of avoiding semantics let’s just say he said it in the 50’s or 60’s somewhere. Definitely an old quote, perhaps it was or perhaps it wasn’t said by the Buddha but it’s been around quite longer than this article implies (2004).

    1. I’d love to know what lecture that was from, Sam. Presumably this was on a recording you heard someplace. Do you happen to remember where?

  3. What do I know for sure. I’ve been working as a healthcare professional with Thai forest monks for the last 15 years. My client base is the Who’s Who of senior monks in Thailand. Eight years in Asia now, Ladahk, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. The last year and a half have been spent at a monastery on the border of Burma. Literally nothing that I have learned from the monks through the original teachings, The Theravada Book, are very well understood in the West. People often take their lens of perception. and put their twist on what was said. I heard a variation of this quote long ago from a senior monk in Thailand who doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer or use a cell phone for that matter.


  4. It may not have been said by the Buddha, but it’s a wonderful observation. I don’t recall hearing this quoted by Alan Watts, and I’ve heard most of his lectures many times. I admit, however, there’s a LOT of material there…so it’s just possible I could have forgotten. It has a definite Zen style to it, and whatever the origin, it certainly rings true.

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