The Buddha on Fake Buddha Quotes (2)

From time to time I receive chastisements from people who tell me that the Buddha wouldn’t care about being misquoted. How they know this, of course, is a mystery. Perhaps they have psychic powers that allow them to communicate with the dead. They certainly don’t seem to get their knowledge from the Buddhist scriptures, where one of the few things that really seemed to annoy the Buddha (besides noisy monks) was having words put into his mouth.

Here’s a very short sutta that was passed on to me by Eddie Badilla Vindas, a.k.a Karma Gyurme Gyamtso:

“Monks, these two slander the Tathāgata [a synonym for “Buddha”]. Which two? He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata. And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathagata as not said or spoken by the Tathagata. These are two who slander the Tathagata.”

Woodward (Gradual Sayings, Volume I, page 54) translates this same passage as:

Monks, these two misrepresent the Tathāgata. What two?

He who proclaims, as utterances on the Tathāgata, what he never said or uttered, and he who denies what was said or uttered by the Tathāgata. These are the two.

And in case you’re interested, here it is in Pali:

Dveme bhikkhave tathāgataṃ abbhācikkhanti. Katame dve ? Yo ca abhāsitaṃ alapitaṃ tathāgatena bhāsitaṃ lapitaṃ tathāgatenāti dīpeti, yo ca bhāsitaṃ lapitaṃ tathāgatena abhāsitaṃ alapitaṃ tathāgatenāti dīpeti. Ime kho bhikkhave dve tathāgataṃ abbhācikkhantīti.

In other words, according to the scriptures, the Buddha really, really didn’t like Fake Buddha Quotes.

2 thoughts on “The Buddha on Fake Buddha Quotes (2)”

  1. Your efforts to reconnect the sayings to the essential, original teachings is invaluable.

    You may be jesting with “the Buddha…didn’t like…” but friend, if it is your intention to maintain the essence of these teachings so tbey may be fully understood, so that Buddha’s true nature as a Blessed One may be understood, then let us also not attribute such modes as “like” or “dislike” to the Buddha. It is one who has not attained “final knowledge” that may “like” or “dislike.” If Buddha uses any words in his language that indicate “slander” or “misrepresent,” it was with dispassion and designed only to ensure, as you also seek to ensure, the essence of the teachings is not diluted.

    As I read your blog, your scorn is palpable. It feels like you’re trying to slap people with your words. Within that, I read how upset you are with Buddha’s teachings being distorted. I imagine, as the Buddha described, it must burn inside you.

    1. Hi, Soma.

      Thank you for writing.

      We have very different perspectives on what the Buddha was like. I see him in the scriptures not liking being around noisy monks, and in fact at one point quitting the sangha because of that. I see him, as an old man, talking to Ananda about how he is aging and saying “Curse this wretched old age,” in a way that suggests he didn’t enjoy getting old.

      If you have any evidence that the Buddha did not have likes and dislikes, I’d love to see it.

      You talk about my “scorn” being “palpable,” and also that you “read how upset [I am] with Buddha’s teachings being distorted.” I’m rarely upset at all with the Buddha’s teachings being distorted. Maybe if someone is a Buddhist teacher and should know better, I would get frustrated. But what actually I find irritating is when people use nonsensical arguments in an attempt to hold onto mistaken views. Talking with someone like that is rather frustrating. I don’t follow the Buddha’s example and call them “foolish man,” or “worthless man,” but I can certainly get irritated. I’m very happy to talk to people with views that differ from my own, if they’re arguing in good faith. Some of the people who comment here are not offering good faith arguments.

      All the best,

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