“The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?”

Japanese zen garden with natural stone bench

A friend drew my attention to this on Facebook, and then two people emailed it to me on the same day. Ever had the feeling that life is telling you to write up a Fake Buddha Quote?

This of course is nothing like the language or imagery that the Buddha is recorded as having used in his teaching.

In fact it’s from Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book, page 11. BLIB is not a book of quotations from the Buddha, as the title seems to suggest to many. Instead, it’s Jack’s rather lovely renderings of the spirit of the Buddha’s teaching into a contemporary style.

The Buddha did use the imagery of seeds, at times. He said things like this:

Just as when seeds are not broken, not rotten, not damaged by wind & heat, capable of sprouting, well-buried, planted in well-prepared soil, and the rain-god would offer good streams of rain. Those seeds would thus come to growth, increase, & abundance. In the same way, any action performed with greed… performed with aversion… performed with delusion — born of delusion, caused by delusion, originating from delusion: wherever one’s selfhood turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.

As you’ll see, this is a similar message, but expressed very differently.

2 thoughts on ““The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?””

  1. Even the ‘heart is like a garden’ quote is not from Buddha, I feel it is quite true and reasonable.
    While your ‘imagery of seeds’ quote that Buddha has said – well, clearly BEFORE it got translated – is totally confusing in itself as presented here. The upper part – a seed grows – talks about something positive, while the lower part – aversion & delusion – is clearly negative. There is no connection between these 2 parts, which will has happened somewhere in the translation stage.
    Lost in translation …

    1. Certainly the language used regarding the seeds would strike us as quite positive, while the outcome is quite negative. And if you follow the link and read the rest of the sutta you’ll find that the destruction of the seeds is portrayed as being a positive thing, since it leads to the non-arising of greed, aversion, and delusion. So I can understand you thinking that something must have gotten messed up along the way. But there are many metaphors where the destruction of things like trees and forests is portrayed in a positive light that I think we have to accept that the way the Buddha thought about certain things was different from ours.

      You’d probably find the Bija Sutta more to your liking. It talks about how some “evil” seeds give rise to fruits characterized by “bitterness, acridity, and distastefulness,” while other more auspicious seeds grow into plants with qualities of “sweetness, tastiness, and unalloyed delectability.” These latter seeds are, of course, compared to the Buddha’s path of practice, while the former represent unskillful actions that lead to suffering.

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