A friend posted this on Facebook recently and I had a good laugh. There are lots of bad, vaguely Buddhist¹ quotes and images out there meant to distill a Buddhist teaching into something you can easily share on social media. Reading it makes you feel good, or maybe inspired for about 30 seconds, then you might forget about it after sharing.
But I feel this is not really Buddhism. Buddhism can’t be distilled into some nice pleasantries that make you feel good about life, or make you “live authentically” because ironically enough Buddhism teaches that life is fraught with frustrations and unexpected problems that come out of nowhere. You can’t make them go away no matter how much you want to.
Buddhism is a very powerful teaching and discipline² for dealing with life. In fact, that’s what it mainly is about. However, it is deep, it can be frustrating, and most of all, it takes a long, long time. It is very rewarding though, and as the fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra shows, there’s something for everyone.
But if you’re still looking for an authentic Buddhist inspirational quote, then start with this one:
Stop acting like a jackass.
Buddhism works best when you actually practice it in your own life (and thankfully there are many ways to put it into practice), but the purpose of this constant cultivation isn’t to feel better necessarily but rather to stop the cycles within cycles of your own destructive behavior, the accumulated habit energy that sweeps you and others along like a raging flood. Only then can you replace with more positive cycles of behavior and emancipate both yourself and eventually others.
Other than that, fuck off. (just kidding 😉 )
¹ or “Buddhist inspired” which usually means “someone made it up without checking facts”.
² yup, I said “discipline”. Another thing that annoys the vaguely spiritual. Buddhism has a long tradition of both monastic and lay conduct that people uphold not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others.