“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

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Someone on Facebook asked me about this one today:

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

At first I thought this was a spurious quote, but it does in fact have a canonical origin, although it’s heavily modified. In a Chinese text known as the Sutra of 42 Sections, there’s the following passage:

10. The Buddha said, “Those who rejoice in seeing others observe the Way will obtain great blessing.” A Sramana asked the Buddha, “Would this blessing be



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“My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.”

I came across this one on Google+, where I’ve now encountered a couple of Fake Buddha Quotes, both of which were posted by the same person, interestingly enough:

“My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.”

This isn’t from the Buddha, of course. It’s actually from Osho (Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh). Bhagwan was an Indian teacher who had a huge following in the west. He started a massive commune in Oregon, which ran into planning troubles with the local authorities because the ranch they …

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“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.”

This Fake Buddha Quote was forwarded to me today, and it’s one I’d never seen before:

“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.”

This one’s quite straightforward: it’s from the Rg Veda (10:71) , which of course is a pre-Buddhist text that nowadays we’d say was Hindu, although the people of the Rg Veda would not have recognized that word.

This is, of course, found in many of the quotes sites that are found on the internet, and which as far as I can see take little if any care …

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“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Welcome to the first Fake Buddha Quote of 2011 (and on the occasion of my 50th birthday, no less).

A Twitter friend (someone I don’t know personally) tweeted the following the other day:

Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. Buddha

As is usually the case, the language bears little or no resemblance to how the Buddha taught, which is not to say that the quote is false in its substance or lacking in poetry. It’s certainly a lovely metaphor, and in a sense true. It’s just very unlikely that these words are …

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“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

I found this one on “BrainyQuote“:

It is better to travel well than to arrive.
Buddha

This seems to be a variation on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,” which is from an 1878 essay entitled “El Dorado”).

Arthur C. Custance made an obvious reference to this saying when he wrote, in his 1978 Science and Faith, “To distort a well-known adage, It is better to travel well than to arrive at the right destination.”

Quite how this came to be attributed to the Buddha, I don’t know. The earliest …

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“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.”

Marianne Marquez’ Why the Buddha Smiled — a book of photos accompanied by Buddha Quotes (many of them fake) — is the gift that keeps on giving, as far as this Fake-Buddha-Quote-ologist is concerned. Here’s one that immediately struck me as suspect:

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.
(original here)

The language of “renewing humanity” is just way off, and “life of service and compassion” is too contemporary for this to be a canonical quotation.

One later source (2007) is …

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“In separateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength.”

Today, my skills as a Fake-Buddha-Quote-ologist were called upon once again. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

A Twitter friend asked me what I thought of this quote:

In seperateness [sic] lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength ~ Buddha

My gut response was that it stank. In my fairly extensive reading of the Pali canon (not to mention Mahayana Sutras) I don’t recall the Buddha ever talking about our “separateness.” It’s a popular topic of discourse in modern Buddhist writing (I’ve written about it myself in Living as a River

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“In the sky there is no distinction of east and west; people create the distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

This is another of the Fake Buddha Quotes that appeared in Tricycle’s blog yesterday. Tricycle managed to pull off the feat of having every single one of the Buddha quotes in an article be fake (some I’ve already covered, and the others I’ll tackle later), although Tricycle was in turn citing the work of an artist who combines quotations with images.

“In the sky there is no distinction of east and west; people create the distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

To be honest, this only barely registered on my inner Fake-osity …

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“In every trial let understanding fight for you.”

Another Fake Buddha Quote has surfaced. It’s funny, but I don’t see as many of these as I used to. It may be that I’ve pounced on transgressors so often that people are now scared to post anything attributed to the Buddha until they’ve held the palm-leaf manuscripts in their own hands, and painstakingly translated every word themselves.

Anyway, this one’s all over the net:

“In every trial let understanding fight for you: Buddha.”

Jnanagarbha brought it to my attention.

Sometimes I don’t know how I know a particular saying is a Fake Buddha Quote. You just feel it …

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“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

Thanks to Tricycle, a whole new batch of Fake Buddha Quotes has appeared on the same day, including the following:

“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

Sadly, there’s no indication that Monty, who posted this (and others, including at least one I’ve blogged about before) recognized the bogosity of the quotes, but then that’s not uncommon. Every single one of the quotes on that Tricycle page that are attributed to the Buddha is in fact a fake Buddha Quote.

I suspect most contemporary Buddhists have read very little primary literature …

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