Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fake Buddha quotes on Web (video)

Wisdom Quarterly
Hilarious satire from's "Facebook Quote Buddha" is good humor, not so Tricycle and others' fake Buddha quotes.

There is an issue that pervades the Internet -- misquotes attributed simply to "Buddha." (And we don't mean sensational humor or satire).

Oddly, many of these are usually misinterpretations of America's favorite Buddhist discourse, the Kalama Sutra.

This is odd because it is exactly the "Message to the Kalamas" (AN 3.65) that suggests how to distinguish Dharma from non-Dharma, what would be good to accept as truth and what would be better rejected.
The Kalama discourse is an invitation to open inquiry. But abbreviations say it means "Think whatever you want," "Believe no one and nothing," or "It's all good!" Homer Simpson may think it's all good, but the Buddha had much more enlightened advice on dealing with what circulates as "truth."

The only way to be sure if the historical Buddha, the "Sage of the Shakyas," said something is to look for the mark of legitimacy then check that citation against the texts.* In parentheses there should be a citation that refers to sutra's collection and location as in "AN 3.65," which means Anguttara Nikaya, "Numerical Discourse Collection" and its exact "address" within that collection of sacred texts.
  • Buddha? Who is "Buddha"? In Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism the name refers to countless bodhisattvas and deities. In Theravada and for careful readers, the title refers to the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and to a very limited number (28) of historical buddhas he named and one future buddha he described (Maitreya). Those buddhas ("Supremely Enlightened Ones") are revered every month in Theravada temples, where each has a name and the aeons they lived and made known the path to freedom, the timeless Dharma that is always there to be rediscovered by anyone who develops the Ten Perfections (paramitas, reduced in Mahayana to six, just as the 31 Planes of Existence the historical Buddha outlined were reduced to six) with the intention of liberating others.
*NOTE: Just because it has a reference or citation and is in the texts, that does not mean the Buddha said it. Often translations are poor and only looking at the original language will do. But even then, even if it is handed down and accepted, that still does not mean the historical Buddha said it. Does it agree with teachings or is it at odds with them, does it conduce to wisdom, compassion, and liberation? Buddhism is not for faith and belief, but rather for practice and realization. Most Mahayana literature was not uttered by the historical Buddha -- and it often does not claim to be. But most readers assume it is, and it does not help matters that much of it misleadingly begins, "Thus have I heard."