“The conflict isn’t between good and evil but between wisdom and ignorance.”

Federico Weinstabl passed this one on to me, which he’d kindly translated from the Spanish, (“El conflicto no es entre el bien et el mal, sino entre el conocimiento y el ignorancia”) as “The conflict isn’t between good and evil but between wisdom and ignorance.”

Neither version sounds like something from the Buddhist scriptures.

The word pāpa is used for “evil” and there’s a whole chapter on the topic — the Papavagga — in the Dhammapada. Pāpa is often contrasted with puñña, which is most often translated not as “good” but as “merit.” Puñña and pāpa are very much a pair.

Here’s an essay on the topic, by Venerable Asabho, in which the author notes, “Asian Buddhists who have grown up in their religion … are quite often surprised to find out that the concepts of puñña and pāpa (meritorious and demeritorious action), which they see as self-evident, seem to play a considerably less important role in the lives of Western Buddhists.”

The contrast between puñña and pāpa is seen in the Dhammapada chapter I referred to, where the second and third verses parallel each other thus:

Pāpaṃ ce puriso kayirā na taṃ kayirā punappunaṃ
Na tamhi chandaṃ kayirātha dukkho pāpassa uccayo.

Should a person commit evil, let him not do it again and again. Let him not find pleasure therein, for painful is the accumulation of evil.

Puññaṃ ce puriso kayirā kayirāthetaṃ punappunaṃ
Tamhi chandaṃ kayirātha sukho puññassa uccayo.

Should a person do good, let him do it again and again. Let him find pleasure therein, for blissful is the accumulation of good.

It’s true that westerners are drawn to the more technically precise terms “skillful” and “unskillful” (kusala/akusala) and tend to be put off by mentions of good and evil. I much prefer them myself! Puñña and pāpa are often encountered in poetic contexts (the Dhammapada is in poetic form), while skillful and unskillful are more often found in detailed explanations of psychology and practice.

Anyway, what’s the origin of this quote? I suspect that the words are actually those of contemporary Buddhist teacher David Loy. For example, in an essay in “Poverty and Morality: Religious and Secular Perspectives,” (Ethikon Institute, 2010) he wrote “For Buddhism, the primary issue is a struggle not between good and evil but between ignorance and insight.”

In another essay, this time in “The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra” (Snow Lion, 2006) he wrote “The Eastern duality is not between good and evil but between ignorance and wisdom.”

And in “Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context, and Social Engagement” (Springer International, 2016) he wrote “For Buddhism, the fundamental axis is not between good and evil but between ignorance/delusion and awakening/wisdom.”

And again, we find “In Buddhism, the primary issue is not a struggle not between good and evil but progress from ignorance to insight” in “The World Market and Interreligious Dialogue” (Cascade Books, 2011).

Incidentally, I think David Loy is correct in pointing out that in Buddhism, the duality between good and evil is not primary or fundamental. In my opinion, for what that’s worth, the Buddha used the terms puñña and pāpa as a matter of cultural convenience (they were familiar to the laity) and (as I’ve noted) for metrical convenience as well. But Buddhist morality is better expressed in terms of skillfulness and unskillfulness.

The way I explain these terms is to say that skill is about being able to accomplish an aim. A skilled carpenter can aim to make a functional and beautiful coffee table and do so. An unskilled worker cannot. In life, we all have the aim of finding happiness and escaping suffering. A practitioner is able to accomplish this only if she or he can cultivate skillful (kusala) states of mind, which are those free from greed, hatred, and delusion. This works because greed, hatred, and delusion inherently and inevitably lead to suffering, while non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion inherently and inevitably free us from suffering.

The Buddha thus encouraged us to abandon what is unskillful not because it is “bad” or “evil” but because it doesn’t free us from suffering. This is made explicit in the Kusala Sutta:

If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, ‘Abandon what is unskillful.’ But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, ‘Abandon what is unskillful.’

How David Loy’s words got taken to be the word of the Buddha, I don’t know. But to compensate for my lack of knowledge, here’s a picture of me with the lovely David Loy! (Mr. Loy is, of course, the good-looking one!)

“The gift of food is the gift of life.”

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 to the narrowly inward focus of American Buddhism, which has been pursued to the neglect of the active dimension of Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement. Several of Ven. Bodhi’s students who read the essay felt a desire to follow up on his suggestions. After a few rounds of discussions, they resolved to form a Buddhist relief organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged in the developing world. At the initial meetings, seeking a point of focus, they decided to direct their relief efforts at the problem of global hunger, especially by supporting local efforts by those in developing countries to achieve self-sufficiency through improved food productivity. Contacts were made with leaders and members of other Buddhist communities in the greater New York area, and before long Buddhist Global Relief emerged as an inter-denominational organization comprising people of different Buddhist groups who share the vision of a Buddhism actively committed to the task of alleviating social and economic suffering.

Bhikkhu Bodhi is of course the foremost translator of Buddhist texts in the modern world, so it would be ironic if a fake quote were to be associated with an organization whose founding he inspired. While this quote isn’t exactly fake, it’s also not a direct quotation from the scriptures but more like a paraphrase of part of this sutta:

“In giving a meal, the donor gives five things to the recipient. Which five?

“He gives life [or duration of life] (āyu). He gives beauty (vaṇṇa). He gives happiness (sukha). He gives strength (bala). He gives intelligence [or as Thanissaro has it, quick-wittedness] (paṭibhāna).”

It’s an accurate paraphrase, since it doesn’t distort what’s being said, but it’s not of course a quote. It’s possible that it does exists as a quote somewhere, but I think it’s unlikely. If you know of anything, please let me know. Until then I’m classifying this as “fakeish.”

And while I have your attention, why don’t you head over to Buddhist Global Relief’s website and make a donation?

“There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.”

Myoshin, of the Salt lake Buddhist Fellowship, was suspicious of this one: “There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.”

It’s also found as “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”

It’s certainly not the Buddha, but unfortunately I haven’t yet found the source. I’m posting this here in case someone with better search skills than I can help track it down.

The second, “small candle,” version seems to be the oldest. It’s mostly attributed to “Robert Alden,” who is most likely the Robert L. Alden who wrote a series of commentaries on the Psalms. Alden was Professor of Old Testament at Denver Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary.

The “Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations” attributes it to Robert Aitken, but no other source does.

Unfortunately none of the citations I’ve seen point to an original source, and I can’t find the quote in the two books of his that appear in Google Books.

For what it’s worth, the oldest attribution I’ve found in a book is in Andy Zubko’s “Treasury Of Spiritual Wisdom,” which was originally published in 1996.

It also appears, quoted by a Chamber of Commerce leader, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from January 12, 1995.

That’s a rather late attribution for the “Little House On the Prairie” Alden, who passed away in 1911, but would make more sense for Robert L. Alden, who was still writing in the 1970s.

“The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.”

Here’s a strange one!

The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.

Abhijit Ranade wrote to me with this quote, saying, “I don’t think the Buddha would use words like the ‘Muses,’ which come from Greek mythology. Your thoughts?”

Abhijit was entirely right. Based on the Greek concepts and classical English diction in this quote, this could not be from the Buddhist scriptures. And yet, incredibly, when I searched for this quote nine out of the first ten results on Google attributed it to the Buddha. Only one had the correct attribution.

This quote is in fact by Jane Porter, and comes from a commentary she wrote in a book called “Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney.”

Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney: With Remarks, Volume 2

The Buddha did talk about virtues in groups, as with the Five Spiritual Faculties of faith, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.

Moral virtue was seen as just the start of the spiritual path, with virtues associated with meditative attainment building on that ethical basis, and with insight arising in turn from meditative virtues. A good illustration of the way that these successive factors emerge organically is in the Cetana Sutta, which begins…

“For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May freedom from remorse arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue.

“For a person free from remorse, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May joy arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that joy arises in a person free from remorse.

“For a joyful person, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May rapture arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that rapture arises in a joyful person.

Follow this link for the remainder.

“What you are is what you have been. What you will be is what you do now.”

What you are is what you have been

This quote is often cited as being from the Buddha, and is found in several books:

What you are is what you have been. What you will be is what you do now.

The first instance I know of (thanks to a helpful reader) is in Sogyal Rinpoche’s “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” which was published in 1992. I’m not sure where Sogyal got it from, but it’s simply not the kind of thing that the Buddha said and it doesn’t come from the Buddhist scriptures. I suspect that Sogyal was simply paraphrasing the Buddhist teaching of karma and that he (or his editor) chose to present his paraphrase as a quote.

The quote is also internally inconsistent and incoherent. For consistency it should really say “What you are is what you have done. What you will be is what you do now.” The theme would then be that our actions shape who we are, which is a thoroughly Buddhist notion. Instead the first part of the quote is saying, in effect, what you were is what you are, which implies that you haven’t changed. The logical inference regarding the future would therefore be “what you are now is what you will be in the future.” That’s why I describe the quote as incoherent.

In fact, there are a couple of instances of the quote in the “what you have done” form, but the vast majority are “what you have been.”

The Buddha did stress that we create ourselves through our actions. He even, in an oft-repeated statement, metaphorically suggested that our actions give birth to who we are: “I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.”

He also, however, flatly contradicted that our entire experience is defined by our past:

So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong.

The point is that our present moment represents the confluence of what we have created in the past, with our present actions. To suggest that we are entirely “what we have done” is to ignore the possibility of our choosing, right now, how to relate to experiences that arise from the past.

“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.”

suffering is not holding youI’ve seen this one in a few places purporting to be from the Buddha. It’s definitely not something the Buddha said. Mostly this is attributed to Osho/Rajneesh, and that’s correct

It’s usually included as part of this longer quotation:

Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival, because when you are unhappy, you also throw unhappiness all around.

The actual source is his book, “The Voice of Silence,” and there it’s a little different:

I say to you that suffering is not holding onto you, you are holding onto suffering. And if you can agree to look into what I am saying, you will come to understand it for yourself. Not only will you come to understand it, but you will experience a letting go – and you will come to know how suffering can be dropped. And when you become good at the art of letting go of suffering, then one day you will realize that you were dragging it around with you – and no one except you was responsible for this. Whatever suffering you experienced, nobody else was to blame. It was your wish, you wanted to suffer.

The Buddha of course had a lot to say about suffering, since his Dhamma (teaching) was aimed at liberating us from suffering. For example, he said:

Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha (suffering): Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.

“May all that have life be delivered from suffering.”


When this one was passed onto me I thought that it might well be scriptural — possibly from the Karaniya Metta Sutta. But even though it’s very much in line with Buddhist teachings it doesn’t seem to be Buddhist at all.

The origins of this particular form of words seem to be in the works of the 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. He said “I know of no more beautiful prayer than that which the Hindus of old used in closing their public spectacles (just as the English of today end with a prayer for their king). They said, ‘May all that have life be delivered from suffering.'”

I believe that what he was referring to is the fourth line (“May no one suffer”) from the following mantra:

Om, Sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
Sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
Sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
Mā kashchit duḥkha bhāgbhavet
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ

This means:

May all be prosperous and happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is spiritually uplifting
May no one suffer
Om peace, peace, peace [source]

As far as I’m aware there’s nothing exactly like “May all that have life be delivered from suffering” in the Buddhist scriptures.

The Karaniya Metta Sutta does say:

May all be well and secure,
May all beings be happy!

But that’s not quite the same. Oddly, I haven’t so far found anything in the Pali canon that expresses a direct wish that beings be free from suffering, which strikes me as very odd indeed! If you know of anything, please let me know.

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”


This quote was passed on to me by Joseph Young, who intended to use it but wanted to be sure that the attribution he’d seen—to the Buddha—was correct. I have to say it’s heartening whenever I hear that someone is interested in accurate citations!

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now,” is not a quote from the Buddha. It’s actually from Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book,” where it can be found on page 33. BLIB is not a collection of sayings by the Buddha, but of contemporary expressions, adapted by Kornfield. Unfortunately the title misleads people into thinking it’s a book of scriptural sayings, which is understandable, especially if people are unfamiliar with the Buddhist scriptures.

Once a Fake Buddha Quote has appeared, however, it will tend to be passed on uncritically and to spread. This quote is found, attributed to the Buddha, in many books, including “Compassionate Coaching” (2011), “Zen and the Art of the Monologue” (2002), and “Awakening the Spirit Within” (2001), which is the oldest use of this Fake Buddha Quote that I’ve found. It’s always a bad sign when a quote from someone who lived centuries ago only appeared recently!

This quote is very similar to “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” and “The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live.” Neither of these is a genuine scriptural quote, although they’re often attributed to the Buddha.

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now,” doesn’t sound like something from the Buddhist scriptures. When the Buddha talked about awakening, it was as a process unfolding over time — sometimes a considerable period of time. So when awakening was talked about, it was as something that would happen in the future, or sometimes as something that had happened in the past. As far as I know, the concept of some continuous NOW in which we perpetually live didn’t exist.

There is one lovely passage about time:

You shouldn’t chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past
is left behind.
The future
is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there,
right there.

This passage is unusually poetic for the Buddhist scriptures, which were originally passed down orally and are often rather clunky and repetitive.

There’s one term that’s often translated as “here-and-now” and could easily be rendered as “the present moment” or simply as “now,” and that’s sandiṭṭhika. It’s found in a common pericope outlining the major qualities of the Dharma, which means “the teachings” or “the Buddhist path,” but which in this case could be rendered as “reality.”

So the Buddha says things like:

“The fact that when greed is present within you, you discern that greed is present within you; and when greed is not present within you, you discern that greed is not present within you: that is one way in which the Dhamma is visible in the here-and-now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.”

The part of the passage from “visible in the here-and-now” onwards is found scores of times in the scriptures.

The late Maurice Walsh translated sandiṭṭhika as “the present moment” in a lovely little discourse that portrays an encounter between a deva (god) and a monk called Samiddhi. I take this to be a representation of Samiddhi’s inner struggle, where some part of his mind tried to tempt him to abandon his monastic path and to embrace sensuality. The deva says to Samiddhi:

“Get your fill, monk, of human pleasures. Don’t reject the present moment (sandiṭṭhika) to pursue what time will bring.”

Samiddhi’s answer turns this around:

“I, friend, do not reject the present moment to pursue what time will bring. I reject what time will bring to pursue the present moment.”

What a lovely insight! Incidentally, this is a figure of speech known as a chiasmus, where terms are inverted. A chiasmus can have the effect of demolishing one proposition and presenting another as preferable. Probably the most famous is JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

With regard to awakening “now,” both Thanissaro and Walsh use “here and now” to translate “diṭṭhe dhamme,” which literally means something like “in (or among) visible things.” For example in the Mahānidāna Sutta the Buddha outlines a list of eight emancipations, and says that when a practitioner knows them back-to-front and has broken the last vestiges of craving and delusion, then “having directly known it and realized it in the here and now, he is said to be a monk released in both ways.”

That’s about as close as we’re going to get to Jack Kornfield’s quote, and it’s not at all similar.

The purpose of Jack’s quote is very worthy. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t continually assume that awakening is going to happen in the distant future. In fact being overly focused on the future can become a serious spiritual problem since it makes us think that the future is where happiness is going to happen, and that the present moment is rather dull and unsatisfying in comparison. When we have that perspective, we want to escape our present-moment experience rather than accept it and look deeply into it. And yet acceptance of and close observation of our present-moment experience is the only way we can wake up to reality.

Jack’s quote is wonderful, and spiritually valuable: it’s just not something the Buddha said.

“Don’t be attached to my philosophy and doctrine. Attachment to any religion is simply another form of mental illness.”

This is a quote that Lama Yeshe has used in his books and articles, for example in this piece:

Don’t be attached to my philosophy and doctrine. Attachment to any religion is simply another form of mental illness.

It’s crept into a couple of publications (such as a “quote of the day” ebook), but otherwise isn’t very widespread at the moment. In fact this quote — of this exact form of words — seems to originate with Lama Yeshe. That’s not necessarily evidence of it being fake; after all, he might have translated some Buddhist verse himself, and so these exact phrases might be unique to him. But they don’t strike me as being genuine. Pema Yangchen, who passed this quote on to me, was concerned about the phrase “mental illness,” which the Buddha, of course, wasn’t likely to have used.

I was struck more, however, by the first part: “Don’t be attached to my philosophy and doctrine.” Although there’s a tendency for modern teachers to emphasize this and to claim it’s what the Buddha taught, it actually boils down to a kind of pandering to our modern fear of dogmatic religion. Most of us who come to Buddhism in the west are put off by, and critical of, the way, first, that theistic religions demand that we “believe” certain propositions that can’t be empirically verified and thus have to be taken on faith, and, second, the way in which those same religions insist on the “rightness” of their own belief and the “wrongness” of any others. When westerners come to Buddhism, they bring those fears with them, and they’re relieved to be told that the Buddha said not to be attached to his teachings, and that we need to test them in our own experience.

Those statements aren’t exactly false, but there’s a bit of spin involved. The Buddha did point out, in the Kalama sutta, that the truth of a teaching was to be seen in whether it increased or reduced attachment, ill will, and aversion. But he was talking there about teachings in general, not his own. I don’t recall him ever specifically saying that his teachings were to be tested.

Of course saying that teachings, in general, are not to be clung to implies not clinging to the Buddha’s Dharma, but that isn’t something, to the best of my knowledge, that he emphasized. He wanted people to practice his teachings, not to be constantly doubting them.

Here’s one way that the Buddha talked about not clinging to views:

A person who associates himself with certain views, considering them as best and making them supreme in the world, he says, because of that, that all other views are inferior; therefore he is not free from contention (with others).

In fact he sometimes talked about the need to correctly grasp his teachings:

There are here, O monks, some foolish men who study the Teaching; having studied it, they do not wisely examine the purpose of those teachings. To those who do not wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will not yield insight. They study the Teaching only to use it for criticizing or for refuting others in disputation. They do not experience the (true) purpose for which they (ought to) study the Teaching. To them these teachings wrongly grasped, will bring harm and suffering for a long time. And why? Because of their wrong grasp of the teachings.

“Suppose, monks, a man wants a snake, looks for a snake, goes in search of a snake. He then sees a large snake, and when he is grasping its body or its tail, the snake turns back on him and bites his hand or arm or some other limb of his. And because of that he suffers death or deadly pain. And why? Because of his wrong grasp of the snake.

He goes on to say that “these teachings, being rightly grasped, will bring welfare and happiness for a long time.”

His emphasis in this teaching is that we should recognize and apply the spiritual purpose of the teachings, which is personal transformation leading to awakening, rather than seeing them as being a set of “correct” teachings that we can use in debate in order to feel superior. Of course that’s pretty much what we’d mean by “not grasping” after the Dharma! The word “grasping” here is being used in a way different from how we’d understand “attachment” or “clinging.”

Slightly further on in the same sutta I’ve just quoted, the Buddha uses the famous simile of the Dharma as a raft. He explains how a raft is used to get from point A to point B, and that having arrived at the destination we don’t then carry the raft around with us.

In the same way, monks, have I shown to you the Teaching’s similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to.

“You, O monks, who understand the Teaching’s similitude to a raft, you should let go even (good) teachings, how much more false ones!

Of course on the way to the further shore, we need to rely upon and even “correctly grasp” the raft, even if we don’t cling to it in the sense of using it as a way to aggrandize our sense of self by using it as a basis for disputation.

My point isn’t that the Buddha thought we shouldn’t be attached to, or cling to his teachings. It’s just that he didn’t, in any neat way, seem to have articulated the kind of message that Lama Yeshe attributes to him.

As for madness, the Buddha did say:

…beings, destroyed by wrong-view,
go mad [khittacitta], out of their minds [visañña].

The quote as a whole is fine as a paraphrase of the Buddha’s teaching, but it’s not something he said. I suspect that Lama Yeshe has coined such a paraphrase, and that he has come to see it as a direct quote, when in fact it isn’t. It’s not uncommon for paraphrases to turn into quotes in this way.

In fact, in his “Freedom Through Understanding,” he says the following:

Lord Buddha said that we should not be attached to even the realizations of Nirvana or enlightenment. He also said that it’s wrong for his followers to be dogmatically attached to his doctrine, that that’s another type of psychological sickness or disease.

It may be that this was the original, and that Lama Yeshe mistakenly turned his own words into a quote.

“Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning … If I don’t long for meaning, then what is meaningless?”

This rather long quote was passed on to me by Christopher Leibow (Myoshin) of the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship:

Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning. Life is not meaningless; it becomes meaningless, it looks meaningless, because of my longing for meaning. The problem is my longing for meaning, not the meaninglessness of life. If I don’t long for meaning, then what is meaningless? Then great joy is released.

Sometimes the words “All is as it is” are added to the end.

Myoshin kindly pointed out that this (including the extra “All is as it is”) comes from a talk by Osho, who put these words in the Buddha’s mouth as having been said by him at the dawning of his Awakening. These words are presented as a direct quotation rather than as a paraphrase. There’s a reference to “the last star disappearing into the [morning] sky,” which suggests that Osho had in mind the Zen account of the Buddha’s awakening, which is of course much later than the Pali account. The latter runs like this, in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Ariyapariyesana Sutta:

“Still in search, bhikkhus, of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I wandered by stages through the Magadhan country until eventually I arrived at Senānigama near Uruvelā. There I saw an agreeable piece of ground, a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. I considered: ‘This is an agreeable piece of ground, this is a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. This will serve for the striving of a clansman intent on striving.’ And I sat down there thinking: ‘This will serve for striving.’

“Then, bhikkhus, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to ageing, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, seeking the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, seeking the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, seeking the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, seeking the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, seeking the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My deliverance is unshakeable; this is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being.’

According to the commentary on the Dhammapada, the following verse represents his first words upon awakening:

O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.

The later Chan/Zen tradition seems to have added the morning star reference, and says that his first words were:

When the morning star appeared, I and the sentient beings of earth simultaneously attained enlightenment.

Osho’s version doesn’t match any Buddhist rendition that I’ve come across. Osho, incidentally, was something of a scoundrel, to put it mildly. His community is renowned for having launched the first biological warfare attack on US soil (apart from those “smallpox on the blankets” allegations regarding the US Army and Native Americans). This was part of a plan to cripple a town on the eve of an election, since Osho’s community was in violation of planning laws.

Not long after, Osho was deported from the US. He then changed his name, which had formerly been Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. You can imagine why.

Osho’s Fake Buddha quote isn’t very widespread. So far I’ve found it in a few articles but not on social media.