“The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.”

This one is also found as “The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make your own life peaceful.”

This is one I hadn’t ever come across until it was sent to me, but it seems it’s fairly comment and is even found in a few books.

I’m not disputing the meaning of this quote at all, and neither would the Buddha. But it’s not the kind of thing that the Buddha said.

It’s yet another quote from Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book” (page 87).

Although many people have assumed from the title that the quotes in Jack’s books are from the Buddha, they are actually adaptations and distillations of wisdom from many sources.

I don’t know where Jack adapted this one from. Perhaps one of you guys knows?

In case you’re curious about why I say this isn’t the kind of thing that the Buddha said, it’s partly because of the language being too contemporary. The language of “the Earth” isn’t typical of language from that era, although it’s not unthinkable, since the word for the substance earth, which comes from a root meaning spreading out, also refers to the earth in the sense of the world. The Buddha would more commonly have talked of “the world,” although he tended to use that term in a fairly negative sense — as the experiential realm of pain and delusion

Also, “world peace” wasn’t one of the Buddha’s explicit aims, as far as I can see. His focus was mainly on encouraging individuals to escape suffering and find peace. He aimed to create a community that lived in peace:

Among hostile people,
free from hostility we dwell. (Dhammapada 197)

There is one long passage where the Buddha envisages a world that is peaceful and harmonious, and that is governed by a righteous monarch, so the Buddha talking in terms of world peace isn’t unthinkable — it’s just not likely and so acts as a bit of a red flag.

3 thoughts on ““The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.””

  1. Sounds like a Kornfeldian adaptation of “Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.”

  2. seems like a paraphrase of Shantideva about trying to cover the earth being impossible but covering the soles of my feet does the same thing. and my explanation is butchering the teacher but i doubt he’d mind

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