“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.”

I was introduced to this particular Fake Buddha Quote by someone who wanted to show me their Buddha quote website. As is often the case, most of his quotes were fake.

This one comes from Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara, or “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.” Shantideva was an 8th century Indian teacher who was a monk at Nalanda University. This work outlines a Mahayana concept of a compassionate path to awakening—one where your motivation for spiritual growth is not to benefit just yourself but all beings.

There’s a lot of great stuff in the “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,” including some very practical reflections for developing patience.

This particular quote is verse 10 from from Chapter 6.

གལ་ཏེ་བཅོས་སུ་ཡོད་ན་ནི། །
དེ་ལ་མི་དགར་ཅི་ཞིག་ཡོད། །
གལ་ཏེ་བཅོས་སུ་མེད་ན་ནི། །
དེ་ལ་མི་དགའ་བྱས་ཅི་ཕན། །

If a problem can be solved,
What reason is there to be upset?
If there is no possible solution,
What use is there in being sad?

[Source: Rigpawiki]

The Dalai Lama is a big fan of Shantideva, and a lot of his teaching is a restatement of things from the Bodhicaryavatara. So his version of the quote above, found in “Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness” (page 99) is:

If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

8 thoughts on ““If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.””

    1. I haven’t seen the film, but it’s quite likely that the scriptwriters would borrow from the later Dalia Lama quoting or paraphrasing Shantideva.

  1. I just saw the film (7 years in Tibet) and I was searching the web about it. Who can tell for certain who thought about this things, and made the saying? Is there a chance that every one of us here is wrong about because of credibility of the source? Ladies and gentlemen: anyway, in my opinion, is a great phrase. Maybe, just maybe, everybody agree in the point that it’s a magnificent teaching.

    1. It’s a great teaching. There’s certainly no evidence that the Buddha ever said anything like this, so the quote can’t be attributed to him. Shantideva did say almost exactly the same thing, and the Dalai Lama is a scholar of Shantideva, so it’s sensible to assume that the DL was paraphrasing Shantideva.

  2. Yes, Bodhipaksa. You are right, being a Tibetan and listening to HH Dalai Lama’s teachings. He does mention that this quote is from the Great Nalanda Master Shantideva’s teaching from the text mentioned above. It is great to see all of your interest and passion.

  3. Similar reference can also be found in Bhutanese film Phorpa.
    By the way, the quote has helped me to calm my mind and to be cheerful many times.

  4. Shantideva’s “Way of the Bodhisattva” is quite remarkable. I’ve seen this passage translated as,
    “If there is a remedy when trouble strikes, what reason is there for dejection?
    And if there is no help for it, what use is there in being glum?”
    So true…

    The following passage also is quite wonderful,
    “Pain, humiliation, insults or rebukes–We do not want them. Either for ourselves or for those we love….
    The cause of happiness is rare, and many are the seeds of suffering!…Therefore oh my mind, be steadfast!” ,”I train myself to bear with great adversity”

    In essence, by calming “the elephants of our our mind” we can manage any adversity, loss, fear, or failure. It’s an interesting thought.

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