A reader called Sean sent this one to me yesterday.
It seems that although we thought ourselves permanent, we are not. Although we thought ourselves settled, we are not. Although we thought we would last forever, we will not.
He’d seen Jack Konfield attributing it to the Buddha, and wondered if it was Jack’s own paraphrasing of some statement on the three lakkhanas (Pali) or lakshanas (Sanskrit). These are statements that say that anything that’s fabricated is impermanent and unable to give lasting peace and happiness, and that all things whatsoever are not oneself.
“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded” is commonly found attributed to the Buddha. It’s also seen as “Nothing can harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts,” where the wording is more natural.
In fact there is a scriptural quotation that is very close. In the Anguttara Nikaya there’s:
I don’t envision a single thing that, when unguarded, leads to such great harm as the mind. The mind, when unguarded leads to great harm.
This is undoubtedly the prototype, and it’s a close enough paraphrase that it would be unfair to call it …
This one is more or less legitimate. It’s from a well-known passage in the Vinaya (the book of monastic conduct) about a monk who was sick. In the Access to Insight translation it’s “If you don’t tend to one another, who then will tend to you?”
Your version has been changed from second person to first, but otherwise it’s accurate, and it would seem excessively nit-picking to call it fake.
What happens in the story is that the Buddha comes across a sick monk, lying in his own urine and excrement, who isn’t being taken care of by the other …
This quote is often seen in books, and to some extent in social media and blog posts:
“It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see one’s own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.”
It’s a rendition of verse 252 of the Dhammapada, translated by Juan Mascaró, and published by Penguin Books. It happens to be the first Buddhist scripture I ever encountered, and so it has a place of fondness in my heart, even though …
A friend recently passed this on, thinking it sounded false. It’s actually a reasonably accurate translation of Dhammapada verse 223, which in Buddharakkhita’s translation is:
Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.
The only real difference is the choice of verb: “silence” in the suspect quote, versus “overcome” in Buddharakhita’s version.
In the Pali the verb used is “jine” which is definitely “conquer” or “overcome.” It’s what’s called the “third person singular optative,” which means that it’s “one should conquer.” It’s kind of an instruction.