An undated blog post by Steven Bancarz, the creator of a website called ‘Spirit Science and Metaphysics’ purports to offer “25 Quotes From Buddha That Will Change Your Life.” Unfortunately, many of the 25 are Fake Buddha Quotes. But which ones?
So far Bancarz’s blog post has been liked or shared over half a million times on Facebook. That means it’s been read by roughly half as many people as visited this entire site last year. Oy, oy, oy! As Mark Twain never said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”
Let’s take a look at the quotes:
1) “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”
This one’s more-or-less genuine. Not a bad start for Mr. Bancarz! Go, Steve!
2) “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”
3) “A jug fills drop by drop.”
This one is genuine, although truncated. Not bad going so far! Can Steve keep it up?
4) “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”
5) “To understand everything is to forgive everything.”
6) “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”
Keep going. There’s more on the other side of this cartoon!
7) “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
8) “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
Oh, so close! The middle sentence is kind of fake.
9) “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”
10) “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
11) “Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”
12) “Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”
Yes! A genuine quote from the Buddha. The original doesn’t mention “love,” but that’s kind of OK.
13) “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”
14) “It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see one’s own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.”
Yay! Another genuine quote! Yay!
15) “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”
Ooooo! Not even close. I bet you can’t guess who actually wrote this.
16) “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
17) “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”
Oh, boy. Mr. Bancarz isn’t doing very well, is he?
If you need a rest from reading, check out the Facebook Buddha video below.
18) “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
This one is problematic in exactly the same way as “The mind is everything. What you think, you become,” above. In fact they’re the same freaking quote!
19) “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”
Nope. These words are a mangled version of a New Testament quotation, forced into a Buddhist context and then further mangled.
20) “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
21) “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”
22) “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”
23) “To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.”
This one’s close to being a quotation, but it’s really a paraphrase.
24) “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
It’s not a million miles off, but it’s another paraphrase rather than a quotation.
25) “Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”
He’s on a roll, but can Mr. Bancarz end on a genuine quote? Can he? Can he? Oh, no! It’s a really, really terrible fake!
Does it matter?
An inspiring quote is inspiring whoever said it. That’s true. But if you believe that factual accuracy is unimportant, then I have to disagree with you. Truth is better than bullshit.
Falsely attributed quotes may be a small matter, but as Einstein said: “Whoever is careless with truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”
So, what’s Mr. Bancarz’s final score? Of his 25 Buddha quotes, three are straight-up genuine, five are paraphrases or thereabouts, and fully 17 are bogus. Even awarded half marks for the paraphrases, he earns a grade of 22% — a solid F.
I think this confirms my long-held suspicion that many people are preferentially drawn to Fake Buddha Quotes. It’s unfortunate that those are the people whose blog posts get shared half a million times on Facebook.
Why not share this one instead!