Are your Buddha quotations ethically sourced?

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you spend any time on Twitter, you will very soon come across tweeted quotations of a motivational or spiritual bent. But can you trust these endless quotations? Are your Buddha quotations ethically sourced?

Say such a quotation grabs you. You then face a Twitterers’ dilemma. To RT (and – perhaps rightly? – risk the tutted disapproval of others), or not to RT (and risk forgetting some words that fleetingly inspired, and may be of greater value or inspiration to others).

The Dalai Lama’s a dude
Years back, top blogger Neil Morrison set out his thoughts on the spreading of quotations via Twitter:

“For the love of Buddha. No more quotes. No more quotes. Yes Martin Luther King Jr was amazing, yes the Dalai Lama is a dude. But I don’t need you to tell me something that you’ve just looked up on findmeaninspirationalquote.com. I really don’t.”

Reader, I faced the dilemma of whether to share a Buddha quotation this week. And I chose to RT.

My Twitter friend Gautam Ghosh RT’d the following lovely words from the Buddha:

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

I was very taken by these words, and thus threw caution in a windwardly direction and RT’d them myself, adding that I considered it (and still do) “One of the all-time best tweets.”

A palpable fake?
Leading light of UK employment law Darren Newman specialises in flagging up and putting right misinterpretations (wilful or otherwise) and misattributions wherever they occur (please refer to his excellent A Range of Reasonable Responses blog for ample evidence).

I am indebted to Darren for momentarily turning his vigilant gaze from employment law to point out to me that there was just one wee flaw in Buddha’s words here. Namely that they were “not said by Buddha – check out http://fakebuddhaquotes.com.”

Fake Buddha Quotes turns out to be one fascinating and thorough blog. FBQ (if you will forgive my acronym) author Bodhipaksa asserts that the “In the end, only three things matter…” quotation is “a fake.” It seems likely that these words are, in fact, a misappropriation from – ahem- Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.

All the same, the sentiments expressed in this allegedly fake quotation would apparently not shame Buddha:

“Certainly all three things praised in our fake quote – loving, living gently, letting go – are things praised by the Buddha, but I’ve never seen a passage where these are praised together, or as the only things that matter. If you know of one, please do pass it along.”

Was it not Oscar Wilde who said…?
It seems Buddha is widely subject to fake quotations. Darren suggests that there “should be a similar site for Einstein.” And I’m sure Oscar Wilde could probably benefit from a site to probe the sheer number of quotations attributed to him. I’m sure Alexei Sayle once did a routine lambasting people who routinely say “Was it not Oscar Wilde who said…”

I couldn’t find the source for that one, but I did find Mr Sayle’s gentle reminder that Wilde, too must have had his off days.

And that in turn reminded me of this, much superior, Oscar Wilde sketch from Monty Python:

So was it not Oscar Wilde who said “To fake one Buddha quote may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake a pair looks like carelessness”?

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