“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”

I found this quote in an article on Medium.com  with the title “6 Quotes By Buddha That Will Change How You See The World And Yourself.” The piece was written by Sinem Günel.

Amazingly, not one of the six quotes is by the Buddha, suggesting once again that some people have a positive attraction toward bogus quotes — a kind of “bullshit detector” in reverse.

Here are the six quotes Günel offers us as the supposed teachings of the Buddha.

  1. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
  2. Don’t respond to rudeness. When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are. Don’t take it personally. Be silent.”
  3. “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”
  4. Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot at least, we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
  5. Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
  6. It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

I’ve linked to the fake quotes I’ve already covered on this site. The one I’m dealing with today is one I hadn’t come across before:

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”

This quote is in fact compiled from snippets of a poem by Sri Chinmoy (born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose), a post-Hindu teacher who spent most of his adult life in the US and who had a number of famous followers, including the musicians Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin.

I remember when I lived in Glasgow, Scotland, seeing posters for flute concerts that Sri Chinmoy used to give, and I was interested in attending one, although I never quite got around to doing so. Perhaps if I had I’d be blogging on a “Fake Veda Quotes” site right now.

The poem is one of a pair that are together titled “Forgiveness.” Both are found on page 76 of Sri Chinmoy’s book “Happiness,” published by Agni Press in 1994.

The poem in full reads:

Judge nothing;
You will be happy.
My own personal experience
I am sharing with you.

Try to forgive everything;
You will be happier.
My own personal realisation
I am sharing with you.

Love everything;
You will be happiest.
God’s own personal secret
I am sharing with you.

The Buddha probably would have been scathing had anyone suggested to him that his teaching included the injunction to “judge nothing.” By today’s standards of  spiritual discourse he was a judgemental so-and-so. When people misquoted him he’d say something like “Worthless man! From whom did you learn that I taught such a thing?” (Yes, the Buddha didn’t like being misquoted!)

For the Buddha, the ideal was not to abstain from judging, but to judge wisely, as represented by these verses from the Dhammapada:

256. Not by passing arbitrary judgments does a man become just; a wise man is he who investigates both right and wrong.

257. 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.

The whole question of what “judging” is is rather unclear. Is it bad to judge? If you answer yes, then you’ve just made a judgement!

One time when I was teaching I had someone who was upset by something I’d said, who pointed their finger at me and actually yelled, “THAT’S JUDGEMENTAL!” Is saying that someone is judgemental judgemental? Presumably yes.

The kind of judging that’s unhelpful is, from a Buddhist point of view, that which is based on craving/attachment, aversion/hatred, and confusion. But recognizing that actions have consequences for good or ill is a foundational principle in Buddhist practice, and this is the kind of “good judging” that the Buddha is encouraging in the Dhammapada verses above.

9 thoughts on ““Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.””

      1. I’m not a Buddhist but I came across the same page and it raised my eyebrows because it did not make a lot of sense. I was having fun ripping them apart in my head until I found this page. Awesome job. You are using common sense (more uncommon lately). Whoever wrote that said something about using your common sense but shouldn’t she “teach” by doing? There wasn’t much common sense going on in that article. Don’t judge? Criminals would love it if everyone was like that. No cops, courts, or prison plus you can do all your disgusting stuff in the open! Anyway I just wanted to say keep it up because you might steer some people away from lies and that’s something.

  1. Of course, that is an incorrect quote. But there are some suttas in which the Buddha seems stronger about judging people as a whole. It is at AN 6:44. This is a fragment from Nyanaponika Th.’s translation: “Therefore, Ānanda, you should not be a hasty critic of people, should not lightly pass judgement on people. He who passes judgement on people harms himself. I alone, Ānanda, or one like me, can judge people.”

    1. That’s a great quote, and the vast majority of us certainly need to work on judging less. It’s interesting, though, that in a teaching on not being quick to judge the Buddha says (in Sujato’s translation), “Ānanda, who is this laywoman Migasālā, a foolish incompetent matron, with an matron’s wit?” I do wonder about these very harsh comments attributed to the Buddha, and whether he actually communicated like that.

      1. That’s part of the sutta as well, yes. Would be interesting to check whether there are parallels in the other Tipiṭakas.

  2. Many Westerners who think about Buddhism might be under the influence of Dogen’s instructions for zazen, which include a passage sometimes translated as “give up judging good or bad.” Which I see as being related to “not being reactive.” I feel safe saying that the Buddha taught “not jumping to conclusions,” which gets mangled into “don’t judge” by people who don’t look too deeply into things.

    1. If a person doesn’t judge they are absolutely useless. You wouldn’t be able to make a decision on what shoes to wear everyday. If a woman is getting mugged or much worse do you just walk away so you don’t judge the person committing the crime? When I read the site this comment came, the very first quote gives away what type of personality the person has…self love and pleasure. People also use the Biblical “Don’t judge” all the time but they just take it way out of context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.