“Never respond to rudeness. When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are.”

I found this quote in an article on Medium.com, written by Sinem Günel and titled “6 Quotes By Buddha That Will Change How You See The World And Yourself.”

Needless to say, not one of the 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’s what 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:

“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.”

is completely new to me.

It doesn’t seem to be very old. I haven’t found it in any books on Google Books or on Archive.org. It’s not even on many websites. There are really just a few instances on Pinterest and Tumblr, where it starts “Never respond to rudeness…” rather than the “Don’t respond to rudeness…” that Gülen offers us.

The earliest instance of it I’ve found is on the Lifehack site, where the graphic embedding the quote is dated April, 2014. It may be older, though.

Although the quote is definitely not from the Buddha, it’s very much in line with his teachings. In the discourse (sutta) in which the Buddha teaches the famous Parable of the Saw he says:

They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way … They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. In any event, you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person’s welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’

The Buddha offers more advice on how to handle criticism in the Brahmajala Sutta:

“Mendicants, if others criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, don’t make yourselves resentful, bitter, and exasperated. You’ll get angry and upset, which would be an obstacle for you alone. If others were to criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, and you got angry and upset, would you be able to understand whether they spoke well or poorly?”

“No, sir.”

“If others criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, you should explain that what is untrue is in fact untrue: ‘This is why that’s untrue, this is why that’s false. There’s no such thing in us, it’s not found among us.’”

And lastly, the Buddha once demonstrated through his actions how to deal with criticism when a priest bombarded him with insults. First he asks the priest (brahmin) if he offers treats to guests who visit him (and you can imagine the priest thinking, “What? This has to be a set-up of some kind!”):

“Yes, Gotama, sometimes I do offer them snacks or food or tidbits.”

“But if, brahman, they do not accept it, who gets it?”

“If Gotama, they do not accept it, I get it back.”

“Even so, brahman, you are abusing us who do not abuse, you are angry with us who do not get angry, you are quarreling with us who do not quarrel. All this of yours we don’t accept. You alone, brahman, get it back; all this, brahman, belongs to you.”

Basically, the Buddha says, the priest’s insults are about him, not about the Buddha, who he is insulting. This is very close in meaning to the quote above.

By way of a bonus, Günel offers three other quotes, all of which are fake too:

Günel certainly has talent as a writer but her research skills are, unfortunately, not on the same level.

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