“There are those who discover they can leave behind confused reactions and become patient as the earth; unmoved by anger, unshaken as a pillar, unperturbed as a clear and quiet pool.”
I was asked about this one earlier today, after a reader spotted it on the Facebook feed of Spirit Rock retreat center, who seem to have created a graphic of it (which has since been deleted, although I managed to retrieve it from my browser cache) attributing the quote to the Buddha, and giving Dhammapada verse 49 as the source.
Practice the dhamma to perfection. Do not practice it in a faulty manner. He who follows the teaching in the proper manner will live in peace and comfort both in this world and in the next.
My correspondent was suspicious of the “next life” reference, but that’s actually fine. In fact there wasn’t anything that flagged this one up as being “off” for me. I can well imagine the Buddha of the Pali scriptures using these words.
It turns out, though, that these are not quite the Buddha’s words. I feel like I’m …
This one was brought to my attention recently as a quote I haven’t written up. My correspondent was very suspicious of it, and in a way he was right: it’s not at all typical of how the early scriptures quote the Buddha.
It was however from a sutta (Buddhist scriptural discourse) that I know very well, although I’d characterize it as a good paraphrase rather than an actual quote.
It’s from the Karaniya Metta Sutta:
Just as with her own life
A mother shields from hurt
Her own son, her only child,
Let all-embracing thoughts
For all beings be yours.
This quote, “The gift of food is the gift of life,” was passed on to me by a reader called Ilya. He was suspicious because he thought “the gift of life” didn’t sound like the kind of thing the Buddha would say. Also, it was very closely tied to just one source: the Buddhist Global Relief website.
As it happens, Buddhist Global Relief is a wonderful organization. Here’s something of their history:
In 2007 the American Buddhist scholar-monk, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, was invited to write an editorial essay for the Buddhist magazine Buddhadharma. In his essay, he called attention
“However many holy words you speak however many you read, what good will they do you if you do not act on them?”
This popular quote is a paraphrase of verses 19 and 20 from the Dhammapada. It’s not very literal, but it more or less makes the same point as the original, so I’ve classed it as “Fakeish” rather than “Fake.”
This one was passed on to me this morning by a reader who had spotted it on Facebook.
It’s all over the web, and in several books as well.
The earliest occurrence of it that I’ve seen in a book is from 1992, in Tarot of the Spirit, by Pamela Eakins, page 314. Rather handily, Eakins gives a reference, and points us toward the late Roshi Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen. The page she gives as a reference (294) doesn’t contain the quote, but the glossary at the end of the book contains the following in …
Adrian Rush sent me this quote, along with the comment following it:
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.”
Sounds suspect to me. So many of these fake quotes going around make the Buddha sound like a 2,500-year-old version of Oprah. The Buddha’s philosophy merits more than being reduced to feel-good, new-age, fortune-cookie philosophy.
Anyway, I’ve been an armchair Buddhist for about a decade, and I’ve never run across this quote in my studies.
I think Adrian was right to be suspicious. I’m 99.9% sure this isn’t a canonical quote, and that at best it’s …