August 14, 2012

Fake Buddha Quotes

In a rare burst of creative energy, the Tricycle team went a step further when it came to illustrating Thanissaro Bhikkhu's article "Lost In Quotation," a piece about what we miss when we don't read the whole sutta. We actually created the art ourselves:

We know. Artistic genius.

In all seriousness, the amount of "fake Buddha quotes" in circulation, especially on the Internet, is staggering. Those Post-It note quotes might look nice on your refrigerator and in your day-planner, but they can actually be problematic. People end up formulating their perception of what the Buddha said based on these snapshot quotes that are often totally made up.

A friend of Tricycle's recently sent us a blog whose mission it is to take these quotes and figure out whether or not the Buddha actually said them: Fake Buddha Quotes. It's like a Buddhist scriptures Myth Busters!

The blog is written by Bodhipaksa, a Buddhist teacher based in New Hampshire who also runs the blog Bodhi Tree Swaying and the website Wildmind. He takes quotes attributed to the Buddha that are being shared on social media and delves into the scriptures to see if the quotes have any basis. Sometimes, the quotes pass the test. But other times, we're left with hilarious images like this one:

Buddha Quote

Practical and hilarious.

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Danny's picture

“The miracle is not walking on water. The miracle is walking on land.” The Buddha

mahakala's picture

"Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division; and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts."

- Joseph Stalin

jdrankin406's picture

I suspect most, if not all, sacred writings/persons fall prey to this. Jesus/Bible certainly does. I remember reading or hearing that if you want someone to take you seriously, say something and attribute it to Benjamin Franklin.

dchad3's picture

Wow - Synchronicity. I started listing dubious Shunryu Suzuki quotes just earlier this month (8-05-13). This Fake Buddha Quotes page has inspired me to make a separate page for Suzuki's dubious quotes and stories on cuke dot com which links to this Tricycle page. Go to What's New for today (8-23-13) to find. Great minds think dubious thoughts alike. - DC

wanwaimeng's picture

I have come across many inspiring quotes and some that can help us to switch our minds to a better state of mind. So what really matters to us, what matters to us is if those quotes can help to bring some betterment, improvement for us and bring us closer to the truth. I think being in buddhism we are open to new ideas and things, we just should check it out first whether the quotes are beneficial or not. We are not closed to influences that are non dharma. Just because it is not labeled buddhism does not mean it is not real or true or beneficial.

laurieinla's picture

I agree wanwaimeng. An inspiring quote need not be the "real deal" in order to have benefit.

sharmila2's picture

loved the article by Thanissaro Bikkhu; it is quite annoying to see feel-good new-age sound bites being passed off as ancient wisdom. It's interesting that the Kalama sutta is probably the most frequently misquoted sutta that I come across; most versions simply reaffirm one's own ego. Even Buddhists find it hard to escape that particular ego delusion i guess.

fightclubbuddha's picture

"bad karma is like the debt on your credit card, it is compounded monthly." the Buddha