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“Do not overrate what you have received, or envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.”

Jacob Lewis, with a columbia.edu email address, wrote to me about this one:

“Do not overrate what you have received, or envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.”

He said he’d seen it silk-screened on a tapestry in Asheville, NC.

It’s a rather odd, and slighly inaccurate, translation of the 365th verse of the Dhammapada. I’m rating this one as “Fakeish” rather than “Fake” because it’s simple a case of bad translation.

Here’s Buddharakhita’s translation:

One should not despise what one has received, nor envy the gains of others. The monk who envies the



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“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

Today a non-Buddhist friend, trembling no doubt at the thought of incurring my wrath and scorn by posting a quotation erroneously attributed to the Buddha, asked me on Twitter whether “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” was a genuine Buddha quote.

This is an interesting one. I’ve seen it around a lot on quotes sites and in books, mostly attributed to the Buddha (but once to Confucius and another time to Colin Powell) and it’s never rung any alarm bells. My instant gut response was it sounded like something the Buddha might have …

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“Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts.”

Someone recently wrote and asked about a quote he obviously had his suspicions about:

I’ve tried to track down the source of the quote “Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts” which circulates on the internet, but was not able to. Do you have any clue?

Although this turns out to be a quotation from the Dhammapada, my correspondent was right to be suspicious. As I wrote in reply,

“Negative thoughts” is not an expression the Buddha would have used. It’s possible, though, that this is a paraphrase of “unskillful thoughts” or even “evil thoughts.”

It turns out that …

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“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”

This quote is suspect, seeming to have resulted from two separate statements having bee joined together. When I saw the first part I recognized it as stemming from the Dhammapada:

Enduring patience is the highest austerity.
“Nibbana is supreme,” say the Buddhas.
He is not a true monk who harms another,
nor a true renunciate who oppresses others.

So the first line more or less matches the start of the quote, but obviously there’s nothing in here about …

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“Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.”

This is one I see on Twitter all the time. It’s a pretty much a genuine Buddha quote. It’s not quite fake, and not 100% accurate. I’m classing this as “fakeish.”

This is yet another quote from Jack Kornfield’s lovely little volume, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book (page 89). I like Jack’s little book, which is described as a “distillation” and “adaptation” of Buddhist teachings. Many of the sayings in the book seem to be of Jack’s own coinage, …

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“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

This one struck me as suspicious, mainly because of the “no one can and no one may,” which doesn’t strike me as the kind of language the Buddha used. Actually, this turns out to be an example of a translation that is so liberal that the resemblance to the original becomes tenuous.

It’s part of a slightly longer verse passage recorded in an 1894 book, Karma: A Story of Buddhist Ethics, …

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“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Someone on Facebook asked me about this one today:

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

At first I thought this was a spurious quote, but it does in fact have a canonical origin, although it’s heavily modified. In a Chinese text known as the Sutra of 42 Sections, there’s the following passage:

10. The Buddha said, “Those who rejoice in seeing others observe the Way will obtain great blessing.” A Sramana asked the Buddha, “Would this blessing be



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