Last month, by chance, I found out that movie stars are not the only ones blatantly misquoted. Here’s how it happened: for a few weeks last year, as my signature on email, I had used this Buddha quote – ‘when you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky’. Reading it every day, it struck me as odd because Siddhartha Gautama wasn’t exactly known as a laughing into the sky kinda dude. On a hunch, I tried my luck on Google.
Thus, I stumbled upon an amazing website called www.fakebuddhaquotes.com run by a light-hearted Western Buddhist Bodhipaksa. Turned out this quote is a total fake. As are the following common ones that I betcha didn’t know were fakes too.
1) “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” A quick 0.27 sec Google Search tells me this quote has been circulated at least 102,000 times online. But it’s a fake – unless the Buddha suddenly spoke these words privately in the late 1990s.
2) “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” This common one, according to Bodhipaksa, is from page 112 of Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book,” where Jack “distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life.” Some readers mistook Jack’s yarn as ol’ Siddhartha’s homespun wisdom.
3) “What you think, you become” This is actually similar to something the Buddha did say: ‘whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.’ But there is no record of the Buddha saying this current crisp version. Maybe because if you think about Lady Gaga, you will not become Lady Gaga, no matter who says it.
What was more shocking to me was that Bodhipaksa’s site lists over 50 such fake Buddha quotes which are doing the rounds of the net. So when I see one now, I put Buddha’s teaching of discernment into practice before passing it on!
Banner image from Bodhipaksa’s Website