“Lost in Quotation,” by Bhikkhu Thanissaro

buddhaMany people who don’t know much about old Buddhist texts often know one passage from the Pali Canon: the part of the Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65) stating that old texts can’t be trusted.

Quotes from this passage come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them are short sound bites, like the message that was rubber-stamped on the envelope of a letter I once received:

Follow your own sense of right and wrong.
— The Buddha

There’s also the desktop wallpaper:

Believe nothing, no matter who said it, not even if I said it, if it doesn’t fit



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Fake Madame de Staël quote spotted in the wild

I don’t want to wander too far from debunking Fake Buddha Quotes, but since I recently discussed a quote, “To understand everything is to forgive everything,” which is sometimes attributed to the Buddha but which has for a long time been attributed to Mme. de Staël (1766–1817) — even though she probably never said it — I was amused to see the following also attributed to her in an Indian newspaper article:

“Prayer is more than meditation. In meditation, the source of strength is one’s self. When one prays, he goes to a source of strength greater



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“Critical thinking vapourised”

To show how uncritical people are about what they read on the web, a company posts false information about Apple — which almost immediately develops a life of its own.

Stockholm production company Day4 fooled portions of the tech world last week into believing that Apple was working on an odd-shaped screw – an effort to show how quickly people are to believe anything they find online.

Day4, as the Swedish production company is called, said it was disturbed by how ready people were to believe anything they read on the web these days, especially because they can easily check



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“Because truth is better than bullshit”

Writer and humorist John Shanahan is, like me, bothered by the mis-information that circulates on the internet. He debunks a couple of internet memes, one of which I’d seen and one I hadn’t, and he talks about why he’s bothered:

There are people in my own circle of friends who do this kind of thing all the time, this spreading of disinformation via their own lack of information. What makes me nuts is that several of these people have jobs that are fact-dependent, that require critical thinking or enhanced deductive capabilities. In some cases, lives are in the balance and



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Fake Deepak Chopra quotes

Fabulous!

There’s now a site available that will generate random fake quotes in the style of Deepak Chopra. This pseudo-spiritual word-salad is cobbled together from words found in Chopra’s Twitter stream. One can generate gems such as:

“God is reborn in positive self-knowledge.”

“Imagination illuminates karmic space time events.”

“Good health is inside existential silence.”

“Evolution is in the midst of boundless choices.”

“Knowledge is the ground of cosmic silence.”

Not a bad first week

So the new Fake Buddha Quotes site has been up for a week and things seem to be going well. Yes, some of the posts date back several years, but that’s because when I launched this site I copied over Fake Buddha Quote posts from my personal blog, bodhipaksa.com.

In this first week we’ve had 1,000 visitors, which is not bad for a start.

Neville Evans asked on Facebook, “Why are you spending time with this work?” to which my reply was “Because it’s fun?” I don’t know if his question was meant to be a rebuke, although I suspect …

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Just observe the quotes, and then let them go

We just received the following comment on Wildmind’s Facebook page, regarding Fake Buddha Quotes:

Does it really matter if they are real or fake. And honestly, who really knows ?????
Just observe the quotes. And then let them go. We don’t need to have a strong opinion one way or the other. The fact that others thinking about the Buddha’s teaching should be encouraging.

I’m interested in this idea that we should “just observe” quotes and then “let them go.” Although I note that this particular person was not able simply to observe a Facebook post and let it go …

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“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.”

Fairly often I see quotes attributed to the Buddha that bear no little or no resemblance to anything that’s found in Buddhist scriptures. One example is from a Christian minister who holds meetings in prison at the same time I’m there leading my Buddhist study group. He informed me that the Buddha had said that a greater teacher than him would arise in 500 years, and that we should follow that guy instead. Guess who that would be? The pastor and I had an interesting conversation about the ethics of making up quotes to denigrate other religions and promote your …

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