Someone recently wrote to me asking if he could contribute to my meditation blog at Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. In checking out his work I saw he’d posted an article on his own blog called “79 Zen Quotes that Will Help You Choose the Right Path.” Aha! An opportunity to check out his research chops!
There were five quotes on his list attributed to the Buddha, not one of which was actually by him. Two are on this site, while three were completely new to me.
This one — “Don’t judge others, because you are not perfect” — so far only appears on two places on the internet, which means it might be possible to nip it on the bud, or at least slow its growth a little.*
Of course one of these instances is in the “Zen quotes” article, while the other is on me.me, where it’s not attributed to the Buddha. This suggests that the author of the Zen Quotes article created that attribution.
Anyway, it’s not a Buddha quote. The closest I can think of offhand is verse 50 from the Dhammapada: “Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.”
Verse 257 of the Dhammapada reminds us that judgement can be appropriate, as long as it’s done in the right spirit: “He who does not judge others arbitrarily, but passes judgment impartially according to the truth, that sagacious man is a guardian of law and is called just.”
So we don’t have to be perfect to judge others; we just need to be impartial and to respect facts.
Of course forgiveness and patience are important as well, and remembering our own fallibility is very helpful in tempering our judgements. So I’m not going to be too hard on the gentleman who wrote the “Zen Quotes” article. We all mess up.
*In the form “Don’t judge others. You’re not perfect” it’s found in other places, but so far I haven’t seen it attributed to the Buddha.
As Gruff points out below, “Don’t judge others, because you are not perfect” resembles Matthew 7:1, which is “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (New International Version). Matthew 7:3 is “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”, which has a similar message. Our fake quote may be an adaptation of those verses.