Faking It

This is kind of a continuation on the theme of fakeness…

I recently came across Bodhipaksa’s blog “bodhi tree swaying” and in particular his series on fake Buddha quotes.    With the preponderance of quotation sites online, it is easy enough to grab a “Buddha” quote to fit what you want to say…but are they genuine quotes of the Buddha?  One I have used in particular in the past is “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change“.   I love this quote; I find it inspiring and I believe that others do too.  But after reading a few of Bodhipaksa’s posts on fake Buddha quotes, I suspected that it might not be authentic.   It turns out I was right!  Bodhipaska writes:


It’s from page 112 of Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book,” in which Jack “distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life.” This is a common pattern: if a book is called “The Teaching of Buddha” or “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book” then people jump to the conclusion that any quote from it is the teaching of the Buddha or one of the Buddha’s instructions. It’s not the fault of the author, of course…


So the quote is fake.  I do vow to be more mindful in attributing quotes, and checking sources.  But in some ways, I think, does it matter?  If the phrase is one which is in line with the Buddha’s teachings, and is helpful to people treading the path, how important is it that the quote be “authentic”?  I would be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.

I have also been skimming through The Life of Milarepa (I will read it properly soon ;-)) and came across this:

Showing others the path

When you don’t know the way

Harms yourself and others

This has become jumbled up in my self doubts of yesterday.  Though I don’t think I am trying to show others the path, but only to share thoughts that I have found helpful and others may do too.  I think if we took this Milarepa quote too literally, then there would be very few dharma teachers, and that could hardly be a good thing!  But it is certainly something to chew on.

But – hey – flowers are wonderful, in the eyes of Jack Kornfield and many others, so today I am going to share a few from my garden.  A miracle, every one of them. Enjoy 🙂


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12 thoughts on “Faking It

  1. Sunnyace says:

    Reblogged this on Sunnyace Collections.

  2. Ben Naga says:

    “I think, does it matter? If the phrase is one which is in line with the Buddha’s teachings, and is helpful to people treading the path, how important is it that the quote be “authentic”? I would be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.”

    I am in two minds about this. On one level I agree with you completely; on the other, I agree with Milarepa.

    My own rule of thumb is to listen to my heart, check the aphorism or whatever against all that I have read or heard and in day to day practice rather than taking it as “gospel”. In fact I seem to recall coming across a teaching that says very much the same thing.

    In addition, I have often come across people interpreting the same words in very different ways (including, may I say, various editions of “me”. 😀 )

    Anyway, why make up “Buddha” quotes when you can make up your own? So here’s a home-grown one:

    “My words were always mindless fools.”
    – Ben Naga

    • vivjm says:

      Ah yes, Ben, good idea re making up your own quotes -much safer that way 😉
      I am liking your rule of thumb re checking what you read against your practice. The fact that the Buddha taught this very thing is what attracted me to the teachings in the first place.

      • Ben Naga says:

        I am always wary of “teachers” who try and tell me what to do. The best teachers explain a thing but leave you to decide on what you take from it, or even encourage you to examine it’s truth and reflect on your own response. The Dalai Lama would seem to be a good example of this.

      • vivjm says:

        Don’t mistake mere words to be the meaning of the teachings. Mingle the practice with your own being and attain liberation from samsara right now.” Read these words (of Padmasambhava’s) today and was reminded of your comment re checking teachings against one’s own practice.

  3. First let me tell you the photos are gorgeous! Re the quotes, I always wonder when I read quotes anywhere what the persons source was. So if I want to reuse them, and I don’t know the person or site I’m reading them on, I usually find myself researching the quote online to confirm. SInce that can take some time, I end up not using as many quotes as I’d like to because I want to be accurate. The inaccuracies are bound to occur though for many of us because I think it’s simply human nature to want to share things that make us smile, so we pass them on.

    • vivjm says:

      I think you are right about our nature to want to share things that make us smile, and I definitely don’t want to discourage that. I am going to try and stick to quotes I can know the source of in future though – Bodhipaksa’s posts have definitely made me more mindful of that.
      I am glad you like the photos too!

  4. MindMindful says:

    Re the quotes: I think it does matter whether something quoted has a genuine attribution. That said, how would we really know?? unless we ourselves go to the primary source to check it. Now, I send a quote almost every day — but i don’t want to do extensive research on each one! If we say “this was attributed to the Buddha or whoever” when we quote, it will cover all the bases ……. maybe??

    Re Milarepa on ‘the path’ — I think there should be fewer dharma teachers! Though I want it promoted, & find it to be the best of all the possible answers, I think there are far too many people who claim the right to teach. Except — that we who are doing are best to abide it, can be examples.

    So — I’m blathering, I guess. Good questions!

    • vivjm says:

      What an interesting point re thinking there should be fewer dharma teachers. I must admit, my thought was that the more the better, in as much as the dharma could then reach a wider audience…but I suppose the downside of that might be a proliferation of lesser teachers who introduce more confusion and thus end up putting people off the dharma? I agree with you about those doing our best to abide it can be examples (whilst making no claim to be teachers). At the classes I go to, there is an emphasis on having horizontal spiritual friendships (ie with those on a similar spiritual level to oneself) and I suppose sharing inspiration and thoughts with others here in blogland could be considered in this way.

      Thanks for commenting and giving me even more to think about 🙂

      • MindMindful says:

        Don’t you just love the back & forthing, with all the things to think about?? 🙂

        I like that idea of horizontal spiritual friendship — neither is the teacher, but you have someone to share your experiences with, someone who ‘gets’ what you’re doing. (I don’t have anyone around me like that at this time — & I miss it)

        I think that some of the “teachers” out there DO introduce confusion into many minds. But I don’t know what to do about it, haha, since I’m not trained enough to put myself out there as a dharma teacher.

  5. Interesting topic. I think that quotes need to be authentic, becuase to me they were either said by the Buddha, or whoever they are being attributed to, or they weren’t. If it is a meaningful and moving quote, then it should be able to stand up on its own, even if it is cited as “- Unknown”, rather than “- The Buddha”. Interesting topic nonetheless, I’m glad I stumbled upon your site!

    • vivjm says:

      Thanks Jason – I think you are quite right re a meaningful quote being able to stand up on its own. Glad you stumble upon my blog and thanks for commenting 🙂

I will reply to comments here on the blog, so please check back if you are looking for a response! I love hearing from you x

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