“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.”

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.

As it happens however, this is …

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“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, And you will be filled with joy.”

I was asked about this quote this morning, and thought I’d do a quick write-up in case anyone else was in doubt about it:

“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, And you will be filled with joy.”

This immediately made me think of a Dhammapada verse, which in Buddharakkhita’s translation on Access to Insight is:

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

So you’ll see that our suspect quote has the same essential meaning, even if …

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“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”

“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 …

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“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance.”

A reader brought this one to my attention today:

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know what leads you forward and what holds you back and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

He commented, “This feels odd – I think it’s the ‘holds you back’ phrasing.”

This phrasing does sound suspiciously contemporary, but in this case that’s the result of the translation rather than a modern saying being retroactively ascribed to the Buddha.

This quote is actually verse 282 from Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the Dhammapada, which is of course a well-known Buddhist canonical text, traditionally regarded …

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“If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us?”

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 …

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“A jug fills drop by drop.”

This quote is found on many quotations sites and is commonly found on social media. Happily it’s a genuine quotation, although it’s missing the punch-line:

“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”

It’s from verse 122 of the Dhammapada.

No doubt however the implied meaning of the shortened quotation is clear to most people.

Here’s a graphic from RealBuddhaQuotes.com, in case you want to share it.

“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.”

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 …

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“Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”

This quote is commonly seen on social media, and it’s a genuine scriptural quotation. It’s from verse 5 of the Dhammapada.

In Buddharakkhita’s translation this is:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

In Thanissaro’s version this is:

Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility, regardless.
Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth.

Narada Thera has:

Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.

You can see that they’re all basically very similar.

In Pali this is:…

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“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace” is commonly found attributed to the Buddha. And it’s more or less genuine. Here’s Buddharakkhita’s translation of the same verse:

Better than a thousand useless words is one useful word, hearing which one attains peace.
Dhammapada, verse 100

This is from Thomas Byrom’s rendering of the Dhammapada, which is generally very inaccurate, although poetic. In this case he was reasonably close to the mark.

Less successful are Byrom’s “There is pleasure and there is bliss. Forgo the first to possess the second,” “Follow then

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“Silence the angry man with love. Silence the ill-natured man with kindness. Silence the miser with generosity. Silence the liar with truth.”

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.

Perhaps the …

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