“It doesn’t matter who said it, as long as it’s inspiring.”

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One of the most common comments I receive from people who object to the notion of accurate citations is that it doesn’t matter who said a quote, as long as it’s inspiring.

So there should be no problem with the quote above, then?

This is from Matthew Inman, author of The Oatmeal cartoon, which I generally find hilarious. Of course I rarely take attributions on the web at face value, and so I dug into the origins of the quote. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Hitler at all, but is adapted from a prize-winning poem by …

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The Buddha was not a “Hindu prince”

At least one of the quotes sites that perpetuates Fake Buddha Quotes refers to the Buddha as a “Hindu prince.” This term is doubly misleading, since the Buddha was definitely not a “Hindu” (even in his early life), and neither was he a prince in any real sense.

One of the main religious groupings that the Buddha debated was the hereditary Brahmin caste, who studied the Vedas and Upanishads. They didn’t appear to have a name for their religion, which had a philosophical side but mainly seemed to emphasize ritual and sacrifice—often animal sacrifice—and were very concerned about maintaining the …

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Please excuse the mess

We had a bit of a hacking incident, and I’ve just finished putting the site back together again. The database was destroyed beyond repair and my backups turned out to be corrupted and unusable, so I had to manually copy posts over from Google’s cache. I was able to retrieve most, but not all, of the posts. Unfortunately all the comments have been irretrievably lost, along with some of the images.

This has been an interesting test of my equanimity!

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

“I wish people would stop using my face whenever they feel like they need a smart person to endorse their stupid ideas.” Albert Einstein (not!)

My attention was recently drawn to the following.

I was reminded of it when I saw a debate on Google+ over the veracity of a supposed Einstein quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Einstein, they tell me, was a smart guy. I doubt very much he believed that fish suffer from low self-esteem if we judge them on the basis of their ability to thrive in an arboreal environment. And in fact, after much consideration, I’ve come …

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The hate mail is getting more polite

Well, perhaps this is better termed “passive-aggressive mail,” rather than “hate mail,” but in a comment, Tharindu wrote:

Buddha was the most greatest person in the world. what he was say is so true..! some things you will never understand my friend. you are just a little kid who try to find write and wrong in the world dear Bodhipaksa. so please don’t put this kind of post unless you don’t know what your are talking. just observe the Buddhist and then say some thing. this is the most friendly advice i can give to you.

See? “Dear Bodhipaksa” …

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Fake Buddha Quotes in the Buddhist Scriptures

I’ve made the point repeatedly that we can never know for sure what the Buddha actually said. All we have to go on are scriptures that were at first passed on orally for two centuries or more, and then were committed to writing. If a quote attributed to the Buddha isn’t in the scriptures, or can be reliably attributed to someone else, then we can be fairly confident in saying that it’s fake. But we can never say with 100% certainly that any given quote from the scriptures is genuine.

It’s a convention that what’s in the scriptures is Buddha-vacana …

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Hate mail, part one

I would suggest you stop inferring that your views and your views alone are correct! Buddha teaches and taught, that everyone can become enlightened and awakened, therefore a Buddha! As one who has studied Buddhist scripture, from all branches of Buddhism, and has practiced Buddhism for 40 years of his life, I would not have the audacity nor arrogance to believe that Canonical text alone, as you call it, can be the only quotes attributed to Buddha! You have three a branches of Buddhism, all inspired by the desire for the attainment of enlightenment, all reflective of Buddhist teachings! I …

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Hate mail, part two

Let me put this in a way you will understand!

“‘Worthless man, it is unseemly, out of line, unsuitable, and unworthy of a contemplative; improper and not to be done… Haven’t I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the sake of dispassion and not for passion; for unfettering and not for fettering; for freedom from clinging and not for clinging? Yet here, while I have taught the Dhamma for dispassion, you set your heart on passion; while I have taught the Dhamma for unfettering, you set your heart on being fettered; while I have taught the Dhamma for freedom …

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Debunking Fake Albert Einstein Quotes

There’s a pressing need for a “Fake Dalai Lama Quote” website and perhaps even more of a need for fakeeinsteinquotes.com. In the meantime, we have this post, “Debunking Fake Einstein Quotes,” by someone calling themselves “Borna” on the (now defunct) site, Skeptica Esoterica. (The link now takes you to the archive.org archive of the blog post.)

Presumably Fake Einstein Quotes appear for the same kinds of reasons that Fake Buddha quotes appear: things like people wanting a quote to seem more substantial by attaching the name of a great man, simple errors, wishful thinking, etc.

One of the …

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