“Those whom summer’s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn…”

The following has appeared a number of times on the internet, and a few times in printed books, attributed to the Buddha:

Those whom summer’s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn
Without even fearing the idea
That a hundred days of their life will then have passed forever.

It doesn’t seem to have made it into any of the quotation sites yet.

It originates in Mathieu Ricard’s book, “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.”

Ricard is a very famous monk who is well-known for his levels of happiness, which have been measured, using various brain-scan technologies, as being off the charts. He’s sometimes referred to as “the happiest man alive.” He’s a Tibetan monk, and so you’d expect him to correctly attribute quotes to the Buddha.

But the quote above isn’t from the Buddha.

It’s from (and I thank the discourse.suttacentral.com user, Aurelijus Vijunas for this information) the chapter on impermanence in Jigmé Lingpa’s Treasury of Special Qualities – volume 1, chapter 2, verse 5 in the Padmakara Translation Committee’s edition:

Verses 4-6

For those who flock so carefree in the wholesome vales of higher realms,
The hunter lies in wait, his weapon in his hand,
Conspiring how to rob them of their lives.
He thinks and thinks of it and has no other thoughts.

Tormented by the summer’s heat, beings sigh with pleasure
In the clear light of the autumn moon.
They do not think, and it does not alarm them
That a hundred of their days has passed away.

A powerful bowman’s shaft is swift indeed,
But not as swift as pretas moving on the earth.
The pretas in the air are swifter still,
And swifter yet the gods of sun and moon.
But swiftest of them all is human life.

The difference in wording may be due to the fact that “Happiness” was translated from the French book, “Plaidoyer pour le bonheur” (“In Defense of Happiness”).

There it’s:

Ceux que torturent les chaleurs de l’été
Languissent après le clair de lune automnal,
Sans même être effrayés à l’idée.
Qu’alors cent jours de leur vie seront à jamais passés.

“Those whom summer’s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn / Without even fearing the idea / That a hundred days of their life will then have passed forever” is a very literal translation of that verse.

In “Plaidoyer pour le bonheur” the quote is attributed to “Bouddha Shakyamuni.”

So this is a quote that may have been translated from Tibetan (into English?) into French, into English. Which doesn’t affect anything, but I find it interesting.

Anyway, the quote immediately struck me as unlikely to be from the Buddha because it’s too literary and polished. It all flows too smoothly.

It occurs to me that this post is a “two-fer” (“two for the price of one”) because not only is the quote beginning “Those whom summer’s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn…” a Fake Buddha Quote, but the French version, beginning “Ceux que torturent les chaleurs de l’été…” is also fake. It’s a “Faux citation de Bouddha.”

4 thoughts on ““Those whom summer’s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn…””

  1. When Mathieu hears this he’s going to be a tad less happy with himself. But he’s got plenty enough happiness to make up for it. He denies he’s the happiest man alive, by the way. It’s just a brain scan, not a true measure of happiness by a long shot. I’m sure the Blessed One would agree, although I can’t locate His quote about it.

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