This quote was passed on to me this morning:
“Until he has unconditional and unbiased love for all beings, man will not find peace.”
It’s definitely not from the Buddha, although apparently a lot of people think it is. It’s attributed to the Buddha in a ton of images, Facebook quotes, quote sites, and in at least three books.
The person who sent it to me thought that it could be traced back to the Pure Land nun Shi Wuling, although so far I haven’t been able to confirm that. It’s certainly found in a book called “Heart of a Buddha” (2000, Amitabha Publications). The book is described as containing “teachings by the Buddha, Venerable Master Chin Kung, and Venerable Wuling,” but in fact most of the teachings in that book that are supposedly by the Buddha are Fake Buddha Quotes. There’s no way of knowing whether this quote was thought by the compiler to be by the Buddha or whether it was original to one of the two teachers (unless it can be found in an earlier work published by one or the other of them). So the origin, at present, is unknown.
The language of “unconditional love” is far too contemporary for the Buddha. It’s an expression that only seems to have entered the English language in the 19th century, and there’s no term in the Buddhist scriptures that could literally be translated in those words, although the concept of a love that was unlimited is certainly found there.
I don’t recall the Buddha ever talking about “man” (or “mankind” or any synonym for humanity as a whole”) finding peace. I don’t think he expected that humanity as a whole would ever be able to bring such a thing about. He saw peace (in the form of Awakening, or bodhi) as accessible to only the small number of people who will ardently pursue it through spiritual practice.
In general, the quote is overall too polished and literary to be from the Buddha. It’s definitely contemporary.
This quote is probably a variation on something attributed to Albert Schweitzer: “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man himself will not find peace.” So far I’ve seen no evidence that Schweitzer wrote or said these words. Like the Buddha, he is another famous figure to whom quotes become misattributed.
The most famous instance of unconditional love in the Pali scriptures is in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, part of which reads as follows:
Whatever living creatures there be,
Without exception, weak or strong,
Long, huge or middle-sized,
Or short, minute or bulky,
Whether visible or invisible,
And those living far or near,
The born and those seeking birth,
May all beings be happy!
Let none deceive or decry
His fellow anywhere;
Let none wish others harm
In resentment or in hate.
The quality being described is called “metta,” which is indeed an unbounded or unconditioned love. There is a meditation practice to help us cultivate this open state of kindness and care, and I have a guide to that practice on my main website.