Real Buddha Quotes

OK, so it’s fun shooting down fake Buddha Quotes, but to be truly constructive I should also post some genuine quotes that can be Tweeted, posted on Facebook, posted on blogs, etc. So here they are, with (ahem!) sources:


  • Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good. (Dhammapada)
  • Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart, should one cherish all living beings. (Karaniya Metta Sutta)
  • Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. (Dhammapada)
  • If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox. (Dhammapada)
  • In four ways … should one who flatters be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend: He approves of his friend’s evil deeds, he disapproves his friend’s good deeds, he praises him in his presence, he speaks ill of him in his absence. (Sigalovada Sutta)
  • The mentor can be identified by four things: by restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, telling you what you ought to know, and showing you the path to heaven. (Sigalovada Sutta)
  • A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing. (Mangala Sutta)
  • Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds. (Dhammapada)
  • Should a person do good, let him do it again and again. Let him find pleasure therein, for blissful is the accumulation of good. (Dhammapada)
  • Speak only endearing speech, speech that is welcomed. Speech, when it brings no evil to others, is pleasant. (Sutta Nipata)
  • Speak only the speech that neither torments self nor does harm to others. That speech is truly well spoken. (Sutta Nipata)
  • There are these two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things & a gift of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a gift of the Dhamma. (Itivuttaka)
  • To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupation — this is the greatest blessing. (Mangala Sutta)
  • When a monk is an arahant, with his fermentations ended — one who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis — the thought doesn’t occur to him that ‘There is someone better than me,’ or ‘There is someone equal to me,’ or ‘There is someone worse than me.’ (Khema Sutta)
  • When one, abandoning greed, feels no greed for what would merit greed, greed gets shed from him — like a drop of water from a lotus leaf. (Itivuttaka)

OK, that’s a start. I’ll add more later.

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146 thoughts on “Real Buddha Quotes

  1. The Buddha said:

    Bear always in mind what it is that I have not elucidated, and what it is that I have elucidated. And what have I not elucidated? I have not elucidated that the world is eternal; I have not elucidated that the world is not eternal; I have not elucidated that the world is finite; I have not elucidated that the world is infinite; I have not elucidated that the soul and the body are identical; I have not elucidated that the soul is one thing and the body another; I have not elucidated that the saint [arhat, one who achieves enlightenment in Theravâda Buddhism] exists after death; I have not elucidated that the saint does not exist after death; I have not elucidated that the saint both exists and does not exist after death; I have not elucidated that the saint neither exists nor does not exist after death. And why have I not elucidated this? Because this profits not, nor has to do with the fundamentals of relgiion, nor tends to aversion, absence of passion, cessation, quiescence, the supernatural faculties, supreme wisdom, and Nirvana; therefore have I not elucidated it.
    And what have I elucidated? Misery [duhkha, pain, suffering — from the root du, to burn, pain, torment] have I elucidated; the origin of misery have I elucidated; the cessation of misery have I elucidated; and the path leading to the cessation of misery have I elucidated [i.e. the Four Noble Truths]. And why have I elucidated this? Because this does profit, has to do with the fundamentals of religion, and tends to aversion, absence of passion, cessation, quiescence, knowledge, supreme wisdom, and Nirvana; therefore have I elucidated it. [Henry Clarke Warren, Buddhism in Translation, Harvard University Press, 1896, Atheneum, 1962-1987, p.122 — Sutta-Pit.aka, Majjhima-Nikâya, Sutta 63]

    Here’s one I’d like to believe, is it true?

    • Hi Rick,

      I appreciate this saying very much. I’d like to print it on my photo of a bee gathering nectar from the flower.Could you please give me the source? Many thanks in advance.

      Stay well and happy.


        • Dear Bodhipaksa,
          Thank you so much for this important work which is very helpful. I’d like to spread the Buddha’s sayings in print but would like to stick to the original version like the Dhamapada or the suttas.
          1. Could you kindly tell me which translated version of the Dhamapada you are using?
          3.Are you referring to only one or many?
          4.If your answer to 3) is many, could you please give the version as you quote as well?
          May you be well, may you be happy.

          Reply ↓

          • Good question. Here I generally use Buddharakkhita’s translation, which is found on Access to Insight and is therefore easy to link to. Often I’ll use Narada’s translation, but often in the context of discussing a quote I’ll refer to the Pali and do my own translations — if I’m up to it. I always make it clear if I’m using my own translation.

  2. How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
    Seek happiness in the senses,
    Indulge in food and sleep,
    And you too will be uprooted… Buddha

  3. What about anapana. Breath meditation? This is an anceint practice. Some say the Buddha taught it, some say he did not?

    • Well, on this blog I’m really just focusing on quotations. But anapanasati is definitely in the Pali canon. There’s a whole Anapanasati Sutta, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Buddha taught this practice. Of course the way people do the practice may not be the way the Buddha taught it. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    • The Buddha certainly did teach anapanasati. See:
      I’ve been taught that from what scholars know of the meditation practice of the historical Buddha – the only meditation practice we know he did was mindfulness of breathing. So other techniques of mindfulness have come down to us through the ages, but if you read the suttas, the only mention of the Buddha’s practice was mindfulness of breathing. In the Anapanasati Sutta, the Buddha teaches that this practice alone can lead to complete liberation:
      “when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it fulfils the four foundations of mindfulness. When the four foundations of mindfulness are developed and cultivated, they fulfil the seven enlightenment factors. When the seven enlightenment factors are developed and cultivated, they fulfil true knowledge and deliverance.” (Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.)

      • Where does it say in the Anapanasati Sutta that it’s “this practice alone” can lead to complete liberation? This sounds rather “fundamentalist” to my ears :)

        As far as other meditation practices go, the six element reflection is explained in detail in the Dhatuvibangha Sutta, the Brahmaviharas are mentioned often, and walking meditation is also frequently mentioned. It’s not entirely clear from the rather sketchy details given in the canon, but the meditations on the formless sphere (ayatanas) is another form of meditation, as well, and although while the breathing may initially be part of these meditations I certainly wouldn’t consider them to be anapanasati. Oh, and there are the six reflections (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Ethics, Generosity, Dana) taught in the Anguttara Nikaya. And I believe the 10 kasina meditation are also mentioned in the Pali canon. [Added: yes, the kasinas are mentioned in MN 77.]

  4. Do you know if ‘As we think, so we become’ is a real quote? I feel a bit of a mug finding out how many fake ones there are!

    • Hi, Charley.

      Jayarava did a blog article on this one and concluded it was not from the Buddha. The closest I know of to that statement is in MN 19, “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” But that’s a rather different statement.

        • Dear friends,

          Thank you so much for this important work which is very helpful. I’d like to spread the Buddha’s sayings in print but would like to stick to the original version like the Dhamapada or other suttas.
          1. I would agree with Kumara Bhikku. It is likely to be a paraphrase of the beginning of the Dhamapada.
          2. Could you kindly tell me which translated version of the Dhamapada you are using?
          3.Are you referring to only one or many?
          4.If your answer to 3) is many, could you please give the version as you quote as well?

          May you be well, may you be happy.

    • The Buddha didn’t actually say it in that manner; it’s more like a mistranslation. However; I think the original passage is from the first verse of the first chapter of the Dhammapda: “Our world is shaped by our mind, we become what we think.”

      • Except that the first verse of the Dhammapada says “Mind precedes all mental states,” not “Our world is shaped by our mind.” And there’s nothing in the Dhammapada that says “we become what we think.”

        • Hi, Bodhipaksa,

          Do you maybe have the sentence “Mind precedes all mental states” in its original language? (So not the english version)

          Thank you.

  5. Buddha said: “I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I di…scern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.” From: See More

    • That’s interesting. It’s from the Sutra of 42 Sections (Section 42), which was likely composed in China several hundred years after the Buddha’s death, although there may have been a Sanskrit original that was lost. From a Mahāyāna perspective it is of course a genuine Buddha quote, but from a historical perspective it’s rather dubious.

      BTW, the translation I’ve linked to was by a Samuel Beal. Any relation?

    • Actually, I mostly verify fake Buddha quotes as having originated with someone else, although sometimes I’ll dismiss them as fake on more the subjective grounds that stylistically or thematically they’re at odds with the canonical record. I’m not really in the business of verifying real Buddha quotes, although it’s not hard to take a quote you recognize and find a canonical source.

      “How can we believe all the Buddha’s words as Buddha is not in this world now?” Well, some of them I don’t believe (some of his cosmological views were at variance with modern science), and some I set to one side because I’ve no way of verifying them (e.g. rebirth). The rest, it’s a question of putting his words into practice and seeing what happens.

  6. Hello Bodhipaksa, I was googling buddha quotes about peace for a design. I came across “Peace comes from within” but then its skeptical as I was reading in previous posts, but then are there any “Peace quotes” by Buddha which are authetic or supported by reference.
    by the way i like this concept of your blog cause sometimes we are so dependent of internet that we think thats true., thank you.

    • Yes, the Buddha did talk about peace (shanti), although more in a personal than a societal sense. He called his path the “shanti marga,” the “Path of Peace.” I’ll see if I can dig out some peace quotes for you.

        • OK, here are a few, all from I’ve hyperlinked the first word or two so that you can consult the sources.

          • Who seeks to promote his welfare,
            Having glimpsed the state of perfect peace,
            Should be able, honest and upright,
            Gentle in speech, meek and not proud.
          • Cultivate only the path to peace, Nibbana, as made known by the Exalted One.
          • Not by weeping and grief do you gain peace of awareness. Pain arises all the more.
          • Rouse yourself! Sit up! Resolutely train yourself to attain peace. Do not let the king of death, seeing you are careless, lead you astray and dominate you.
          • In whom no craving is found for becoming or not-: he is said to be at peace, un-intent on sensual pleasures, with nothing at all to tie him down: one who’s crossed over attachment.
          • Better than a thousand useless words is one useful word, hearing which one attains peace.
          • Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself.
          • I will teach you peace — in the here & now, not quoted words — knowing which, living mindfully, you’ll go beyond entanglement in the world.
          • As the prickly lotus is unsmeared by water & mud, so the sage, an exponent of peace, without greed, is unsmeared by sensuality & the world.

          And this last one’s not by the Buddha, but by his disciple Angulimala, who was a former murderer:

          • May even my enemies hear talk of the Dhamma. May even my enemies devote themselves to the Buddha’s bidding.
    • The “more” quotes are simply those that I haven’t created a post for. The others are hyperlinked to some kind of resource, often a graphic but sometimes an analytical post.

    • Well spotted, Kathy.

      Yes, that one’s fake. It’s actually an inversion of the original passage, which says that others are as worthy of our love as we are. Of course I think it’s true that we deserve love and affection as much as anyone else, but it just so happens that’s not what the original says.

  7. When you light a lamp for someone else, you brighten your own path too. – Buddha

    I couldn’t find this quote on your site, I am just wondering if this is a true quote from Buddha? I couldn’t find sufficient information off the web.

    Thank you

    • I’m 99% sure that’s fake, and I remember looking into it at one point but not being able to find an original source. I’ll do some more researching in the new year.

      • Thank you so much, that is very kind of you :) I do love this quote, it embellishes the compassion and wisdom that I found in buddhism.

        • I believe the quote comes from Nichiren Daishonin “That which you give to another will become your own sustenance; if you light a lamp for another, your own way will be lit.” (Gosho Zenshu Pt12-1598)
          Nichiren is considered the Buddha of the later day of the law to practioners of Nichiren Buddhism, in that sense it might be correct to say it is a quote from the Buddha but it is not a quote of Shakyamuni it would seem.

          • Thank you for that. I’m quite sure that the quote you kindly provided is the original source. I’m always pleased to learn of the source of a quote!

            When we talk about “the Buddha” we mean the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, so whether or some people consider Nichiren to be “a Buddha” that’s not the same as a quote from “the Buddha.”

          • Alex,
            The majority of sects of Nichiren Buddhism do not consider Nichiren to be the Buddha. Two, in particular, do: Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai.

  8. Spreading fake buddha quotes could be considered as a bad things.. We should differentiate between “buddhism” or “buddha” quotes itself. A lot respect for u sir, thank you :D . Warm regards from bali

  9. Nago: I think unknowingly spreading fake quotes is being a victim, while knowingly spreading fake quotes is a serious offence against the Dharma. But we live in the age of Mappo (Degenerate Dharma Age) so this is to be expected. The guy who runs this side is a paladin for good in this age. Homage to him for doing this.

  10. Thanks for your website. You’re doing a great service. May you reach and touch many. The notion of outspreading ripples in the pond. (Another maxim, or haiku, falsely attributed to Buddha?)

    • I am neither. I’m simply a Buddhist. I read Mahayana Sutras, but don’t accept that they represent a higher teaching or that they supersede the Pali canon. I read the Pali canon, but don’t consider it to be the only source of wisdom from the Buddhist tradition. Wisdom comes from practice, and later writers had their own insights and ways of expressing them. At the same time, I refer back constantly to the Pali canon, since it’s the closest we’ll get to what the Buddha taught.

  11. hellow, bodhipaksa
    i am from sri lanka where the place tripitakas were written down by 500 rahat monks of aluvihara,
    after five centuries the parinibban of shakyamuni,
    title name of this site misled me, i thought this site was insulting to lord buddha,

  12. Im glad i found your website and was able to clarify all the strangely poetic “quotes” of Buddha that keep popping up.

    But a question bugs me and although this may be a blog on his quotes i would prefer if you, a buddhist, would answer it.

    Did Buddha consider himself a god, reincarnation of one, prophet of a god. Also did he belief in an afterlife, reincarnation or as ive heard was he rather an atheist. Eager for a response.

    Cheers, from Australia

    • Did Buddha consider himself a god

      Absolutely not. He explicitly said he wasn’t.

      reincarnation of one

      Also no.

      prophet of a god.


      He did, if the Buddhist scriptures are to be relied on, talk about rebirth taking place throughout multiple lives. It’s possible that he didn’t actually say these things and that they were added later, or that he did say them but meant them metaphorically, but this is what he’s recorded as having said.

      The term “atheist” doesn’t really fit the Buddha. He didn’t believe in a creator God, but he did talk in terms of their being multiple gods, who were not enlightened and who would come to him for teachings. The same considerations apply as above — we can’t tell if he actually said these things.

      For my part, I stick to the technical teachings, which are eminently practical and empirical. Anything cosmological I set to one side. Apart from anything else, the practical teachings point out that cosmological theories are irrelevant to practice, and are in fact a distraction.

  13. Wonderful website and fascinating comment thread. I found this through the New York Times Comments section and had to laugh at, “People with opinions just go around bothering each other.” Aah, the humbling…

    Thanks for the service and Buddha’s reminder to heed my own hot air.

  14. It’s good indeed but why don’t you post quotes from the Mahayana Sutras? I guess it is because of your prejudices, am I right? What Buddha really taught and what not, you know it, right eh, buddy?

    • If you think I have some prejudice against the Mahayana Sutras you obviously haven’t seen my bookshelves.

    • Hi, Willow.

      I’d like to write about that at some point over at, but at the moment I don’t have the time. There are, however, plenty of websites that will explain the difference to you, so I’ll just point you to Google for now.

      All the best,

  15. Hey Venerable Bodhipaksa,
    Just wanted to say thanks and great job with this site.
    I think its an excellent duty you are doing for all beings by helping to clarify what the Tathagata did and did not teach.
    Metta and mudita,

    • Sure. Follow the links I’ve given to Access to Insight and then click on the link to the original source. You’ll find it at the top of the page after the abbreviation “PTS.”

  16. thank you for clearing up misquotations. when you get a moment, would be so kind as to confirm if this following quotation is a buddha statement or not:

    karma grows from our hearts. karma terminates from our hearts.

    thankyou and shantih,


  17. Hiya

    Thank you for this website, its really useful for someone very new to the path!

    One quick question regarding the ‘this too shall pass’ story and quote…

    how original is this to the buddha/buddhism

    Thanks again, keep up the good work :p

    • “This too shall pass” seems to have a relatively recent origin (i.e. it’s from about 1500 years after the Buddha) and seems also to have a Sufi origin. I’ve never seen a suggestion that it’s Buddhist, although I’m sure someone has said it’s a Buddha quote :)

      • Brilliant thank you so much! Has been a quote I kept going back to in tough times, great to have a better idea of its true origin. Thanks again!

  18. Pingback: Buddha Said . . . | Zenkatwrites's Blog

  19. What is the original verse of which “What we are today comes from our thoughts yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow” is derived from?


  20. Hello Bodhipaksa,

    Can you tell me if the following is a genuine Buddha quote and if so, where it comes from?

    “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

    • That’s from a book called “The Teachings of Buddha,” which is not a book of scripture, primarily, but a book about Buddhism. This particular quote is definitely not canonical.

  21. I just wanted to say that this has been very interesting. I only recently started studying Buddhism and due to my recent studies, I appreciate and am delighted that I know what you are talking about (in reference to the sources that these come from)

  22. Hi Bodhipaksa,
    Maybe you have touched on this in the large number of other comments…but I was curious if the quote about the lotus flower is genuine. The one that reads
    “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water, and rises out of water, to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”

    • That’s not a quote I’ve ever been asked to verify. The wording you give is in Carrither’s The Buddha, and it’s from the Anguttara Nikaya. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the same passage is “Just as a blue, red, or white lotus flower, though born in the water and grown up in the water, rises above the water and stands unsoiled by the water, even so, though born in the world and grown up in the world, I have overcome the world and dwell unsoiled by the world.”

      So yes, you have a genuine scriptural quotation on your hands.

      • hi bodhipaksa,
        i recently interested and need to convert my religion into buddhism. what do you think if don’t go to any temple or buddhist community but only a self learning meditation?

        • There’s a certain amount of benefit you can gain by practicing on your own, but practicing with others is immeasurably more beneficial. There’s a reason why the Buddha included sangha (spiritual community) as one of the three refuges :)

  23. How can you know this…that these are “real quotes”?

    The best we can say is “this is what we are told.” None of it may be real. So, what you name as “true” quotes may not be that different than those named “fake” quotes.

    • I have, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly in this site, no way of knowing whether these quotes were uttered by the Buddha. But they are “real” quotes in the sense that they are canonical, while the “fake” quotes on this site are not, and were certainly not (or sometimes could not) have been spoken by the Buddha.

      • I’m not against you, I’m with you…I presume. I just came across your website and so far I’m enjoying it (appreciating it) greatly. I have much more to read here (and learn from, here).

        My point, I suppose, is that we need to question everything…including (perhaps even, most importantly) that which is identified as “canonical” (we must question, most of all, authority…the so-called law or experts). None of it is the original thing, all (including the so-called fake quotes) are at best nothing but a symbol of what may or may not be real…all of it is susceptible to all matters of human error, ego, manipulation or tall-tale-telling. So this may even mean that Buddha is also just be a myth or an illusion.

        So, what do we have in the end? So, what’s the lesson? Perhaps this:

        – Don’t believe what people say…find the source not the copy.

        – In the end, this is likely impossible for many or most things…perhaps all.  So, we must make up our own mind, after much thought, reflection, investigation and, most of all, practice.  If it doesn’t work or make sense, don’t use it.  Though, as you noted in your post… …even this is something to be warned against.

        – In the end, the best thing we will have (the closest we will come to a true source) is our own first-hand experience.

        – In the end, all we have is our own mind, our own experience, our own awareness.  And even this cannot be trusted.  So, be open always; refrain from a judging (jumping to conclusions) mind.  Doubt and question everything, especially yourself.  Be humble…recognizing that we know little or nothing, that the road to knowing (realizing…enlightenment) is an endless one, a destination never fully reached but always within grasp.

  24. What about the quote: “We are what we think, All that we are arises from out thoughts. With our thoughts we make the World”. Is that authentic? It’s one of my favorites and I don’t see it in this list.

    • This is from Byrom’s “rendering” of the Dhammapada (even the publisher doesn’t call it a “translation”). I’d have to consider it fake, since what it says has almost no relation to the original Pali. I’ll write it up at some point, but for now I’d refer you to this similar mis-translation, and also to this post. The Buddha certainly didn’t teach that we make the world with our thoughts, that all we are arises from our thoughts, or that we are what we think. Three strikes for Thomas Byrom :(

  25. As many have said…Thank you for this wonderful site and much needed service.

    I am disabled and have many chronic illnesses.

    I would love to have some quotes that speak to the sick. I have found the teachings of Buddhism very helpful during this time in my life, but have not found specific quotes that could be understood and beneficial to others who are also dealing with illness.

    I understand if you are too busy, please do not go out of your way just for me.

    thank you again

    • Hi, Wendy.

      Once when the Buddha was injured he was challenged about just lying around not doing anything, and he said, “I lie down with empathy for all beings.”

      He said to a disciple who was sick, “So you should train yourself: ‘Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.'”

      He gave more detail about how to keep the mind unaffected by pain and sickness: “Now, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones, when touched with a feeling of pain, does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught. So he feels one pain: physical, but not mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, did not shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pain of only one arrow. In the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught. He feels one pain: physical, but not mental.”

      I hope these are helpful for you.

  26. Have you ever read “The Buddha and his Dhamma”? If not, I would recommend you toread it. This book will be the best book you have ever read about the Buddha :)

  27. Hi, I’ve been truly bothered by the idea of nothingness being all there really is and I’d love to know if buddha really described Nibbana that way. Also, did Buddha ever speak of energy and light as being a basic property of the universe and oneness (my person preference of the true nature of everything :) ?

    • Hi, Vanessa. The Buddha didn’t talk about nothingness, but he did talk about emptiness. Everything is empty. But that isn’t a nihilistic statement. It just means that everything is empty of qualities like permanence, and separateness. Everything is undefinable and ineffable. To put it more positively (although the Buddha didn’t use this exact language) everything flows, and is interconnected, and is full of potential. He described Nirvana positively in terms of it being blissful, secure, a release, the ultimate peace, and pure.

      He specifically said that he didn’t consider the universe to be a oneness, but he also didn’t see it as a manyness. The “emptiness” of things means that those terms just don’t apply: they’re too crude to describe what’s actually going on. But he didn’t, as far as I’m aware, use terms like light and energy to describe the nature of everything. He didn’t seem to be concerned to describe “everything,” in fact. I think that was beyond his remit! What he was concerned to do was to describe the nature of our experience, so that we could see how we come to suffer and how we can free ourselves from suffering.

      • Thank you. That definitely sounds more appealing. I can’t conceive of an existence where something comes from nothing. Although our minds are feeble and limited, it makes more sense from a purely human perspective that consciousness, at least, should exist as a catalyst for all that is. I also imagine that the universe as a whole contains both negative and positive aspects, therefore it seems reasonable that bliss would simply be the positive without the negative.

        • I don’t know exactly what you mean by “positive” and “negative,” which are not Buddhist terms, but the bliss of enlightenment is more an ability to experience the pleasant and the unpleasant with equanimity.

          • Ah you’re so right. Still only learning about Buddhism, so please forgive my ignorance. I guess I’ve always looked at the universe as having both negative and positive (opposites) in every way, including the laws of physics and mathematics. So not just in purely human perspective terms of good and bad. I studied astronomy, so perhaps that has coloured my opinion somewhat. For instance, numbers can either be positive or negative (with an infinite potential) and zero itself could be viewed as either none of the other numbers or all of them (i.e. neutral and the middle of the scale). Which is a curiosity that for some reason I think about when I hear nothingness discussed. I imagine that this interaction of positive and negative must exist for the universe to interact with itself, as there’s always an equal sign in every equation :) and zero is the only thing I can think of that has no opposite.

  28. Dear Bodhipaksa,
    Would it really matter to you if the words came from Buddha or someone else, when the energy of the thought is strengthening?
    If the words carry an energy that liberates you from any entrapment of the ego mind, take it, keep it in your mind and use it for good.
    It is only important where they came from if you can not feel the strengthening effect of its meaning.
    I added on my blog the link to you your page:
    there is a website where you can find if the quotes are real or not Buddha quotes.
    Keep well.
    Yaga Bialski

    • I’d said repeatedly on this site that whether a quote is inspiring or useful is unrelated to who said it. But claiming a quote was said by someone when it wasn’t is a matter of inaccuracy and untruthfulness. It’s not unimportant whether or not the information we pass along is accurate or true.

  29. Hi there,
    I’m looking for the words that The Buddha supposedly spoke to his disciples on his death bed: “Be a lamp unto yourself”- or some version of that. I wasn’t able to find it here. Have you ever heard it or looked into it? Thanks!

    • Sure, that’s a well-known and genuine quote. The only problem is that the word for “lamp” also means “island,”so it can also be “Be islands unto yourselves” (the more usual translation). Here’s a link.

  30. Hi-Thank you for your website…Is this a true quote?

    ‘In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.’

  31. Anumodana to all.. may this sharing of false and true sayings and teachings of the buddha brings true awakening to us all. And i want to share this chapter.. dhamapada- sukha vagga. Look it up..

  32. Hi, I really like your list, thanks for providing it! I came across this one on The mind is everything. What you think you become. –Buddha

    Is it real?

    btw- I tried emailing but your captcha isn’t working!

  33. Hi,
    Thank you for your website, it is really great.
    I came across this quote on Facebook: ‘The mind that perceives the limitation is the limitation.’ Is it a real quote or a fake one? Thanks!

      • Thank you, sighing. I know that 99% of the quotes that are attributed to the Buddha were never said by him, simply because of the type of quotes are “new age” in nature, and was not conceived of at the time, or are “Hindu non duality” that again, may have been available at the time, but not the way they’re put, are often: Eckert Tolle, Ramana Maharshi, or more current non dual gurus.

  34. Keep seeing this one. Can’t find attribution but also isn’t on your site, so it had me wondering if it was real.

    “In our lives, change is unavoidable, loss is unavoidable. In the adaptability and ease with which we experience change, lies our happiness and freedom”

    • I haven’t come across that one before, Stephen. Thanks for passing it on. I’m certain it’s fake. It doesn’t even sound like a paraphrase.

  35. Even if a quote is exactly true to the original words, those words were spoken in a specific situation and with a specific intent. We can never separate words from that intent without altering something very essential.

    Knowing what exactly someone’s words were is trivial compared with knowing what he was talking about and why he did speak at all.

  36. I don’t see this one on either Real or Fake Buddha Quotes:

    “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

  37. Hi,

    Thank you for your site. It’s great. I am learning a lot. How many times have I put the wrong words in the Buddha’s mouth? Only the Buddha knows. It’s nice to have a good resource to check Buddhist (and bogus) quotes.

    Though I’m a Christian (broadly speaking), I have love and respect for several religions, certainly Buddhism. Through your efforts to weed out the authentic from the fake, you are teaching us a lot about Buddhism. I appreciate how you try to back up every real quote with a canonical source.

    Best regards,

  38. Thanks a lot, man! That’s GREAT! At long last I can simply refer people to your list of fake Buddha quotes in stead of explaining why this is utterly untypical of the Buddha or Buddhists in Southeast Asia, but rather typical of self indulging Western people, and at the same time refer them to the REAL Buddha quotes, with (ahem!) REFERENCES!
    Truly grateful,
    Ophira (a hopeless Advaitin with a strong affection to the Buddha)

  39. Hello, and thank you for your efforts! I have stumbled upon one quote this morning that was shared by “Buddhism Daily” on facebook. It does not sound to me like a truly canonical quote, but neither does it stand out to me as obviously and blatantly fabricated. After a quick skimming through your site, I’ve not found a reference to it, so I thought I would share it here.

    “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act upon them[?] – Buddha”

    This raises some red flags for me, primarily concerning the fact that right speech is a part of the eightfold path and right speech can, of course, include speaking well of the three gems, or such things as reciting suttas/sutras and similar activities, which are at least widely thought to help in accruing merits. I don’t personally know any canonical source where the Buddha says a particular word or set of words will be especially effective in merit-making, but again I would suspect it easily follows that proper speech could be conceived of as meritorious and therefore of some value. It may be that physical actions are in some cases more karmically heavy than verbal actions, but I do not know of any source where the Buddha described any of the sections of the eightfold path being inherently more important than the others. On the other hand, I could see the claim being made that observing one section of the path with neglect to the others is less worthwhile than paying attention to all of them, but I still would suspect that compared to ignoring all of them there would be some advantage. I’m also somewhat bothered by the phrase “holy words,” though I have no specific reason to assume this is problematic. So, if you are able, could you possibly shed some light on this? Or if you have covered it already and I missed that, could you please point me in the right direction?

    Thank you in advance!

    • “I don’t personally know any canonical source where the Buddha says a particular word or set of words will be especially effective in merit-making”

      Although, I very strongly suspect there are some Mahayana sutras in which the Buddha may well be said to have taught a particular mantra or dharani as being particularly worthy, although I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head. I can think of one or two in which A buddha teaches such a thing, or a beloved bodhisattva, but not Sakyamuni Buddha specifically. I’m sure they are probably out there, but I’m not altogether confident in my background on canonical sources, and what I know best does usually come from the Pali canon. In any case, I’d be rather surprised if there are no sutras, especially in Sanskrit, Chinese, and/or Tibetan, which tell of the historical Buddha teaching that a particular mantra or similar set of words or syllables is especially worth reading or reciting.

      • It sometimes seems that no Mahayana Sutra is complete without a reference to how much merit can be earned by reciting even one word of its contents :)

        In the Pali texts there are the Paritta (protection) verses. The very name implies that the recitation of them has a protective effect. On the one hand, reciting verses prevents us from thinking other things that would be less skillful, and on the other they act as reminders of how we should act. But effect of such things is limited. The recitation of the Paritta verses was intended as a practice for novices, and wasn’t likely to lead to awakening on its own.

    • Hi, Colin.

      I’d guess this is a loose paraphrase of verses 19 and 20 of the Dhammapada:

      19. Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.

      20. Little though he recites the sacred texts, but puts the Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred, and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipated mind, clinging to nothing of this or any other world — he indeed partakes of the blessings of a holy life.

      I don’t anything to disagree with in the original quote, though: “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act upon them.” The idea is the same: merely reading or reciting words is of little value. We need to practice.

      • Yes, it looks like that may be based on the verses you mention, or something close to it. Thanks!

        I don’t really agree or disagree with the quote as I posted it though. On the one hand I come close to agreeing: words alone, whether written, read, recited, spoken or thought or heard or whatever, are just words, and if they don’t meaningfully reflect how one behaves, or at least tries to behave, in the world, then they ultimately are meaningless.

        On the other hand, Buddhist practice is not merely meditation or this or that. It is a holistic approach to life and must necessarily involve the entire range of “right” ways of behaving, and linguistic actions are a type of behavior. Performing them skillfully is important, and does have an advantage.

        An analogy:
        If we give generously to people in need, this is something that is advantageous for both parties. I think it stands to reason that if a thief gives generously to somebody in need, it might not absolve him of the wrong that he does, but it remains good and beneficial for him to give to somebody in need. Likewise, if a person who conducts himself poorly in other ways at least observes right speech, it is still good and beneficial to engage in that right speech – even if it’s not enough to absolve them of the other things they do wrong, even if they could be even better.

        Then again, from yet another way of looking at it, what might normally be considered right speech if engaged in by a reasonably good person, if engaged in by a thoroughly wicked person could conceivably become wrong speech by virtue of insincerity and dishonesty!

        It might not be for me to know the actual answer to the problems raised by the quote :)

        Thanks a bunch for your reply!

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