Did The Buddha Really Say That?!

buddha quoteLast 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!

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Banner image from Bodhipaksa’s Website

24 thoughts on “Did The Buddha Really Say That?!

  1. Oh dear, today you just make me laugh even if the matter might be more serious: misquoting, even Buddha has not been speared. But you show on a very humorous way what happens if…. and so I hope very much that at least my favorite Buddha Quote is a real one :“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”

    • LOL Beatrice.. If I recall correctly that is also a “fake”. Do check Bodhipaksa’s website. But finally, if it works for you, does it matter who said it? Buddha did say “be a light unto yourselves” 🙂

      • 🙂 Right, if it works for us it is fine! But then we are not forced to use “…” anymore, or?

  2. I find it hilarious how many fake quotes are chucked around – Einstein is another one who is meant to have said all kinds of things that probably didn’t get put together until after he died. I suppose with Buddha, the quotes may not be directly from him (it’s hard to know exactly what he said or didn’t say) but as long as they express his teaching I suppose I can see the value in it. The quotes above are all nice quotes regardless, and I’m sure the Buddha would have given them his approval!

    Nice blog btw!

  3. Ha Ha! You are so funny, as well as discerning. Lady Gaga is too good! Fortunately I usually check any quotes I use on Google anyway because I don’t always trust my memory. There’s always someone who will be ready to pick holes or tell you that you are wrong! But I shall be extra careful quoting Buddha from now on. Thanks

  4. Thank you for this lol! It’s not only the quotes but the hand too haha! Have you ever thought that Buddha but showing his hand may meant “Talk to my hand?”. Have a great day and thank you again for this amazing post!

  5. I find it sad that at some point, someone felt the need to justify his/her wisdom, by attributing it to a consecrated source, Buddha. It tells me that this certain someone did not trust his own wisdom, his inner light, his moment of truth. It’s sadder still, because most them are indeed beautiful to ponder.
    Here’s hoping people develop confidence to surrender to their inner truth & affirm it.
    Have a beautiful week Sir
    Dysa 🙂

  6. These are some of my humble words .. I hope he saw a great writer like you….
    1-Never break all bridges with the one you love
    There may be a quirk of fate for days last meeting
    Restores the past and up goes out …
    If beautiful old has gone who knows maybe waiting Omar beautiful.
    2-The word might do in humans fail when powerful drugs .. Is eternal life .. Not annihilate the death who says ..
    3-The word might do in humans fail when powerful drugs .. Is eternal life .. Not annihilate the death who says ..
    4-Beautiful moments .. Chips fall .. Fall out of our lives without returning ..Manipulated
    5-Love isnot the story of the movie until the end of presentation love story never begins nor ends Pfrac not the spirits of the bodies

  7. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog today! Not only do I find a lot of wisdom and inspiration but it makes me laugh out loud as well.
    Ah, your post reminds me of the following quote, you may have come across it already:

    “The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.” –Abraham Lincoln

    Thanks for the laughs and have a wonderful day!

  8. We talk about how the bible was corrupted and it is seen as this big huge deal, enough to make many of us who are new-agers shun the bible and its contents. However, its more seen as funny when it happens to Buddha and the reverse has happened (his bluntness is mellowed out to make him seem part of the love n light generation). Not that I think we need to get our panties in a twist over it. I only know for myself that before I had a book edited that contained what I thought were Buddha’s quotes in it, I thought Buddha was entirely different than he really was. Learning so many quotes I was using were fakes, I actually decided to read the Dhammapada and some other works. What I learned was that Buddha was a pretty blunt guy. He wasn’t soft, gentle and non-judgemental or all-positive or love n light like the new age would like to make him out to be. Like the bible he recommended people recognize the true Brahman from the false from the fruits. He talked alot about evil, mara, avoiding foolishness, attachment, etc etc. In the lotus sutra he talks much like the book of Revelations and how man will become evil and ignorant and focused on materialism… Also, people should know the fat buddha (the laughing buddha) is not Gautama Buddha but Hotei/Budai. Sometimes buddha quotes get put with Hotei’s picture (a chinese monk known for his generosity and compassion). Also, sometimes Hotei is made out to be THE Maitreya (the future Buddha), but this isn’t necessarily accurate either. I know the Doreen Virtue deck makes the Laughing Buddha and Maitreya the same person.

    • Yes, I totally enjoyed reading your comment and agree! We have given Buddha a new agey spin and co-opted his teachings to suit affirmations and vision boards. If it interests you, there is an amazing talk by Guy Armstrong on the real History Of Buddhism. Quite eye opening to know that we actually only have a fraction of his original teachings which were not destroyed by the invaders who tore down the Nalanda Universities. Here is the link: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/?search=history

    • Thank you. Who cares who said it? I love this saying. It changes nothing for me to think those exact words weren’t spoken by Buddha. It’s funny that there are people in the 21st century spending time deciding exactly what another person uttered, or not, 2500 years ago. Buddhism, for me, is a set of very practical tenets that either resonate with an individual or don’t. It’s become a high brow, “look at me” religion. So, if he were around today do you think he would sue?

      • I do think it matters because self-deception is an ever present possibility on the path – and often it is platitudes, placebos and feel-good hallmark greeting card lines that are put in the mouth of someone whose teaching is about annica, dukkha and annatta. All kinds of lines resonate with people even ones that put the blame on others and life for their problems, for example. While people are free to choose to believe it, it does matter that they know the Buddha atleast did not teach things like manifesting abundance as a solution to their problems!

  9. Pingback: What the Buddha Taught, Buddha Quotes, and Just How Big Was the Buddha | Isaan Live

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