“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”- Buddha
— ruchit patel (@rpatel206) June 18, 2012
There’s nothing at all unBuddhist about this quote, or the sentiment it expresses, but as far as I’m aware “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” isn’t found in any Buddhist scriptures.
It sounds like someone has tried to distill the Buddha’s teaching (or eastern spiritual teachings generally) into a nice maxim, and hit on a saying that was already popular.
This probable Fake Buddha Quote seems to have been around for some time. According to Google Books, it’s found attributed to the Buddha in Distilled Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Wisdom in Condensed Form, by Alfred Armand Montapert, from 1964, although it has to be said that Google Books’ dating is sometimes off. And Google also says it’s found in a 1959 book by George Francis Allen, with the splendid title of Words of Wisdom: The Buddhist Companion Book; Containing 365 Maxims and Utterances Attributed to Gotama Buddha for Each Day and Night of the Year.
Something very similar is found in an 1873 book, A Twofold Life, by Wilhelmine von Hillern:
“There is also a heaven upon earth in our own breasts. Do not seek it without, but within your heart ; then you will not come into heaven for the first time when you die, but remain in it always.”
A year later, in 1874, Joseph Jerome Vaughan added a footnote in the book, “The Spiritual Conflict and Conquest,” saying “Men foolishly seek peace of mind and contentment from without, whereas it comes from within.”
The saying was around in 1907 as “For the spirit of contentment and peace comes from within, not from without.” (Library Journal, December, 1907), and in 1908’s Country Life magazine as “Peace comes from within, not from without,” where it is described as “the message of Marcus Aurelius.”
I haven’t found any instances before the 20th century, but in “The Complete Words of W. E. Channing,” I’ve found the following:
“There can be no peace without, but through peace within. Society must be an expression of the souls of its members.”
This is from a lecture, “On War,” delivered in 1838. The general idea is no doubt much older, but the expression “peace comes from within” seems not to be much more than a century old.
Incidentally, not everyone has believed that peace comes from within.
A Scottish minister, John Purves, wrote in “Sermons touching some points much controverted at present” (1846):
Beware … of taking peace to yourselves because things are right within. Awakened souls are ever looking for this. They are ever inquiring, is this right or this ? is this the thing I need or that? Poor souls, so long as you try, and look, and think of a rightness within, you never can be right; you must be wrong. The very trial prevents you being right. It proves you to be wrong, and it keeps you so. For it shews you are seeking your peace from a source within, which is just seeking the living among the dead. And it is, therefore, keeping out the only peace, which is not from within, but from without; which is in the open Gospel, waiting, like an angel of light, at your door to be taken in.
A commenter helpful notes below that there’s a verse in the Tuvaṭaka Sutta of the Sutta Nipāta that says “Totally calm within himself / A bhikkhu would not seek peace from another.” There’s certainly a resemblance of theme, but the “peace comes from within” saying isn’t a translation of this, nor even a paraphrase. A paraphrase might look something like “Having found peace within, there is no need to seek it without.” “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without” seems instead to be a distillation of a viewpoint that had been brewing for a long time.
Anyway, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without” is definitely not a saying of the Buddha, and shouldn’t be attributed to him.