This was passed on to me today by Bhikkhu Nyanatusita: “On the long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property.”
It is not a canonical quote. It’s from a Japanese publication called “The Teaching of Buddha” (also sometimes called “The Buddhist Bible”). It’s published by a charitable organization that leaves the books in hotel rooms to inspire travelers. I’ve heard that every hotel room in Japan has a copy.
It’s been in publication since at least the 1930s. My own copy is from 1985, and it’s the 115th edition! There are some scriptural passages in there, but mostly it’s a collection of non-scriptural writings explaining a Pure Land approach to the Dharma.
Many Fake Buddha Quotes have come from this book, no doubt because people assume that a book called “The Teaching of Buddha” is a compendium of the Buddha’s words. Or perhaps they see a quote with the attribution “The Teaching of Buddha” and assume it’s Buddhavacana.
I can’t imagine the Buddha referring to an individual human lifetime as a “long journey.” He seemed to emphasize the brevity of human life, not its length, except when talking about the round of samsara. I found a passage on Access to Insight that reads: “But it is impossible to find a realm in the round that I have not already passed through in this long journey (dīghena addhunā).”
In referring to an individual lifetime, the Buddha was more apt to say things like “Life is difficult and brief and bound up with suffering” (The Salla Sutta) or “faster than the speed of the devas who rush ahead of the sun and moon, the force of one’s life span comes to an end” (Dhanuggaha Sutta). Life is short! Practice!
2 thoughts on ““On the long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property.””
“Faith” , at least as it is understood in Western religious culture, is not a teaching of Buddhism at all. The Buddha taught that we should question all teachings, especially his, and accept them only when and if we come to understand them. Of course you might say that devotion to the Guru, as taught in Tantric Buddhism, is faith. But even here you choose a teacher and they choose you based upon rational inquiry, not faith.
This is such a great service you’re providing. Thanks for the good information on all these quotes, it’s been really helpful.