“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.”

A website that linked to me took one of the genuine scriptural quotations on this site and presented it in a misleading way. It then went on to say:

Another quote from the Buddha, that I don’t believe is in dispute, is, “One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.”

Of course there is no dispute about whether this is from the Buddha, because it definitely isn’t! This isn’t the kind of thing that you’ll find in the early scriptures.

I’m not entirely sure of its origins. The first mention of it I’ve found is from 2010, where it’s paired with an image of the Buddha, but isn’t presented as being something he said. The context is an ad for the PBS special on the Buddha, which gave us the Fake Buddha Quote “In order to gain anything you must lose everything”.

I don’t know whether the PBS advertising team thought that this was a quote from the Buddha—perhaps taken from the internet—or whether they just created the saying as a tag line.

The ad was in “This Old House Magazine” for April 2010. Interestingly, the Buddha did say something in the Dhammapada that was on the theme of old houses:

153. Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering!

154. O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.

22 thoughts on ““One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.””

  1. Thanks for catching this. I corrected my reference and added a footnote to your page. Greatly appreciated.

  2. Of course nonbelievers only think things are fake. What is fake . The Bible itself is fake because it is man-made. Slandering the truth. But, your words are spurred by hatred. I feel sorry for you

      1. Those who pointed out the fake teaching usually get fired from the ignorants, this is very common. You had done your duty, I salute!

      2. I also see your posts. But like you said yourself you can’t really know what the Buddha have said. Also not in books or scripts bc they have been made later. People can twist things or things got lost later bc mostly it was talked about from one person to another. So who said the quotes and stories are true or not. The same goes for the bible or the Qur’an or any other “religion” books or quotes. You can’t really know if they or fake or not.

        1. I’ve pointed out many times on this blog that we can’t know for sure what the Buddha said. All we have are scriptural accounts, most of them probably based on things he actually said (some small quantity perhaps verbatim, the rest more like half-decent lecture notes) and some no doubt made up by later followers. But those scriptures are the only place where we can find things the Buddha might have said. If something doesn’t appear there, but instead appears a couple of millennia later then there’s no justification whatsoever for claiming it as a quote from the Buddha.

    1. I am not sure why you condemned the page owner for spreading hate.

      To know whether a quote is real (direct quote from the Canon) or inline with Buddha’s teachings, you only need to run the quote through some tests.

      Example Buddha taught that cultivation needs great effort, persistence and time. The above quote indicates that a single moment can change a lifetime. The third part is played against the second part indicating that this quote is most likely a modern day self-help quote.

  3. ” Hate is Poison, one lovekindness is the antidote that cures all poisons of the ego!”


    1. Thanks for the quote, although I always prefer to see a reference to an actual sutta. This one sounds a bit off to me. Doesn’t it strike you as possibly being fake?

      1. No this isn’t fake. But you should be more open minded about things. In life. A person who has a black heart doesn’t see what is true or what is not true. Because in their hearts they only see the negative things in life.

        1. What evidence do you have that I have a “black heart” and that I “only see the negative”?

          And what sutta does that quote come from?

  4. I don’t see where a strive to have accuracy is spurred by hatred. Keep up the good work Bodhipaksa! The quote, even if falsely attributed, is good. The real works of the Buddha, also good.

  5. I don’t care if it is fake. It’s a great quote if you ask me. Even if it is made up. But if we really are going to put this under a magnifying glass. Then one might argue that the Buddha actually means the enlightened one. It’s not a name but a tittle. If one is enlightened he becomes a buddha. So if PBS is stating this as a Buddha Quote. Then technically it could mean that it was said by somebody who was enlightened. Doesn’t have to be Siddhartha Gautama. (Yes of course they do mean Siddhartha Gautama But this is just as valid as a argument as saying that Siddhartha Gautama didn’t use this quote since you already stated that you can never be 100% sure what he said or didn’t say) And if you are really going to be anal about it then you could also say that by definition no English Buddha quote can be a Buddha quote because he didn’t speak English ;) But thank you for your research. Now we all know that this great quote was not made by Buddha.

    1. Hi, Arjan.

      Whether we like or dislike a quote is of course entirely irrelevant to whether or not it’s correctly attributed. And it’s the correct attribution of quotes that this site focuses on.

      You’re correct in saying that “Buddha” is a title rather than a name. But it’s not correct to say that anyone who gets enlightened is a Buddha. Someone becames a Buddha because they rediscover the path to awakening after it has been lost. That’s what Gotama did, and so he became the Buddha. Those who awaken following him are called Arhants. Only after the teachings have been lost, and someone rediscovers for themselves how to become Awakened will there be another Buddha. According to legend, that person will be called Maitreya/Metteya.

      If a quote is attributed to “the Buddha” that means it’s being attributed to the individual called Gotama.

      I doubt if even you really believe your argument about translation, which would of course apply to any translated statements. Do you really believe that, for example, there are by definition no genuine Spinoza quote in English or French, because his original works were written in Dutch and Latin, or that it’s impossible to have a quote from St. Paul in any language other than the first-century Greek in which he wrote? You’re in essence arguing that translation is impossible.

      All the best,

  6. Everything Is fake, Everything Is real, depending on It’s context and your personal beliefs! Personal beliefs are Infinite, thus making every thing else Infinite! Many definitions of truth exist, The final common denominator, Infinity suggests all facts are based on Quandary moments extracted from Infinity, to only define a phase or a moment of a sparkles personal definition of what Is real for them In this infinite trajectory. We’re all Idiots flying through space at a trillion miles per hour, and everyone has an answer! Go figure that!

    1. As George Orwell said, “This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.”

  7. It does not really matter to me whether or not the quote originated from Sidharta Gautama. It is inspiring and makes me aspire to be better. As with most things in life, how we choose to see things and what we learn is up to us.

    1. The truth or inspirational value of the statement is not affected by who said it. You’ll note, if you read the article, that I never claimed that it did. All I’ve done is point out that it’s not something we can validly ascribe to the Buddha. Saying that it’s a quote from the Buddha is false speech, and one thing the Buddha did say was that we should speak truthfully, not untruthfully. So if you feel inspired by the quote, then presumably you should also be happy that someone is calling out false speech, no?

      1. I think this quote seems Hallmark-y… I saw it being attributed to the Buddha and knew it wasn’t right. Thanks for clarifying. Though it may have some cheesy half truth in it, it’s not some wisdom that felt like the Buddha. Much appreciated.

  8. I appreciate your effort in clarifying questionable quotes. As a Buddhist, I want to learn the true teachings of the Enlightened One, not distracted by the (usually shallow) fake quotes.

    1. Thanks, Lin. It’s always good to hear that there are people who appreciate what I’m doing here, especially given the amount of hate-mail I receive.

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.