Gautama the Buddha, the enlightened being who is known as the founder of Buddhism has been a guiding light for spiritual seekers for over 2500 years. Here are 52 memorable Gautama Buddha quotes on a variety of topics.
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Buddha Quotes on the Mind
All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?
What we think, we become.
It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.
There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.
Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.
Buddha Quotes on Truth and Spirituality
To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.
You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.
The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Purity or impurity depends on oneself. No one can purify another.
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
In separateness lies the world’s greatest misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength.
When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.
If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature.
Learn this from water: loud splashes the brook but the oceans depth are calm.
I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
If you knew what I know about the power of giving you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you.
Look within, thou art the Buddha.
Buddha Quotes on Life, Peace and Love
The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.
You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.
There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Buddha Quotes on Wisdom
Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.
A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless.
You only lose what you cling to.
Pain is certain, suffering is optional.
As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.
The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live.
Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.
Wear your ego like a loose fitting garment.
The trouble is, you think you have time.
A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.
People with opinions just go around bothering one another.
Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.
There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.
One moment can change a day, one day can change a life and one life can change the world.
?Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things to help you.
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
True love is born from understanding.
Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.
More Buddha Quotes
Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.
Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.
If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.
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Buddha Quotes | About Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha the renowned founder of Buddhism, was born in a princely Kshatriya family of Kapilavastu in the Nepalese Tarai to the north of the Basti district in Uttar Pradesh. His father’s name was Suddhodhana and his mother was Maya. She died in childbirth and her son who was given the name of Siddhartha was brought up by his aunt and step-mother, Prajapati Gautami. His family name was Gautama. After the name of the Sakya tribe to which his father belonged he was also called Sakya-Sinha, or lion amongst the Sakyas, and later on, Sakya-Muni or sage amongst the Sakyas. At the age of sixteen he was married to a lady named Yasodhara (also called Bhadda Kachchami, Subhadraka, Bimba or Gopa).
For the next thirteen years Siddhartha lived a luxurious life in his father’s palace till at last the vision of old age, disease and death made him realise the hollowness of worldly pleasures and its attractions so intensely that the very night on which a son was born to him he felt the fetters of earthly life growing stronger than before and left his father’s comfortable home, his beloved young and beautiful wife as well as his newborn son and assumed the life of a wandering monk determined to find out a way of escape fi·om the sufferings of disease, old age and death to which all persons were prey. At the time of this Great Renunciation Gautama was only twenty-nine years of age. For one year he studied Indian philosophy, but it gave him no solution.
Then for the next five years he practised severe austerities hoping thereby to find the way to salvation. His yogic practices may have included hatha yoga, yogasanas, kriya yoga and other processes to raise the kundalini. He is known to have spent time with many yogic teachers. The samana tradition is an ancient yogic tradition that also included Mahavir Jain, the founder of Jainism. But all proved futile. Then one day as he sat immersed in deep meditation under the famous Bodhi tree of modern Bodh Gaya on the bank of the Niranjana, enlightenment came to him and he realised the truth. Henceforth he came to be known as the Buddha or the Enlightened and decided to spend the rest of his life in preaching the truth as he saw it. He delivered his first sermon at the Deer Park at Sarnath near Benaras where five disciples joined him.
From that time for the next forty-five years Buddha moved about the Gangetic valley in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar preaching and teaching, visiting and converting princes as well as peasants, irrespective of caste, organising his disciples in the great Buddhist Sangha or Order, endowing it with rules and discipline and converting hundreds and thousands to his death which came to be known as Buddhism (q.v.). He died at the age of eighty at Kusinagara which has been identified by many archaeologists with Kasia in the Gorakhpur district. The date of his Parinirvana or decease, like the date of his birth, has not yet been decided with accuracy, though it is admitted by all that he was contemporary with kings Bimbisara and Ajatasatru of Magadha and died in the reign of the latter. According to a Cantonese tradition Buddha passed away in 486 B.C. He was, then, born eighty years earlier, in 566 B.c.
Gautama Buddha is a unique figure amongst the founders of religions. First, he is definitely a historical person. Secondly, he claimed no divinity for himself and discouraged any idea of being worshiped. He only claimed that he had attained ‘knowledge’ which again he held could be attained by any other person provided he made the necessary effort. Thirdly, he was the first founder of a religion who organised a brotherhood of monks and started evangelization in an organised manner by peaceful means alone carrying the message of equality, peace, mercy. Lastly, he put reason above everything and exhorted his followers to accept nothing as true unless it stood the test of reasoning. He not only preached the brotherhood of man but also practised it all through his life as a religious teacher accepting as his disciples all who cared to listen to him without any consideration of caste and race and thus founding a religion which eventually passed beyond the limits of India and became one of the world’s greatest religions.
Buddha Quotes About Buddhism
Buddhism is commonly mistaken with tantra yoga and kundalini yoga, thanks to the Tibetan Buddhism versions. These are the versions that are associated with the Dalai Lama, mandalas and other such types. But these misunderstandings (tantra yoga itself has nothing to do with sexuality) are only recent. Buddhism the religion founded by Gautama Buddha in the latter half of the sixth century BC. It started with the basic principles of rebirth and karma which were then accepted by Indian philosophers as truths which required no proof. The karma doctrine means that the merits and demerits of a being in his past existences determine his condition in the present life. The doctrine of rebirth implies that at death the body perishes, but the soul which is immortal, takes new births until it attains salvation. But according to the Buddhist view the connecting link between a firmer existence and a later one is not to be found in the soul, the existence and immortality of which are assumed by Hindu philosophers but denied by Buddhism. On the death of a person the only thing that survives is not the soul, as the Hindus hold, but the result of his action, speech and thought, that is to say, his karma (doings) which docs not die with the body.
Buddhism thus came to be based on what was claimed to be the four Noble Truths: (I) There is suffering in lite. (2) This suffering has a cause. (3) Suffering must be caused to cease. (4) Suffering can cease if one knows the right way. Buddhism holds that the suffering inseparably connected with existence is mainly due to desire, to a craving thirst for satisfying the senses. Therefore the extinction of desire will lead to the cessation of existence by rebirth and of consequent suffering. Desire can be extinguished if one followed the Noble Eightfold Path which consists of the following: ( l) right views or beliefs meaning simply a knowledge of the Four Noble Truths and of the doctrine of rebirth and karma implied in them. (2) Right aims implying the determination to renounce pleasures, to bear no malice and do no harm. (3) Right speech implying abstention from falsehood, slandering, harsh words and foolish talk. (4) Right conduct or action involving abstention from taking life, from stealing and from immorality. (5) Right means of livelihood implying occupations which do not hurt or endanger any living being. (6) Right endeavour involving active benevolence and love towards all beings as well as efforts to prevent the growth of evil thoughts in the mind. (7) Right mindfulness meaning complete self-mastery by means of self-knowledge. (8) Right meditation which is to be practised in a quiet place sitting with body erect and intelligence alert and thought concentrated on the Four Noble Truths.
This Noble Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Path, for it avoided extremes of luxury as well as of austerity. By the pursuit of it persons will attain Nirvana which is the highest goal of a Buddhist. Buddhism repudiates the authority of the Vedas, denies the spiritual efficacy of Vedic rites and sacrifices, denies the efficacy of prayers and practically ignores the existence of a Supreme Being or God. It holds that the acceptance of the Four Noble Truths and the pursuit of the Noble Eightfold Path which is open to all, irrespective of caste and sex, laymen as well as monks and nuns, will lead to the extinction of desire and this will lead to Nirvana which it is possible to attain even in this life and will free a person from the curse of re-birth. It holds that it is easier for a monk living a secluded life to attain Nirvana but it is also open to lay Buddhists to attain the same. The Buddhist monks are not priests and they can pray neither for themselves nor for others who may wish to employ them. They arc an intellectual aristocracy like the Brahmans and are to be maintained by pious Buddhists. Buddhism requires no church or temple, but it recognises congregational discourses where the teachings of Gautama Buddha are recited and explained. The founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, himself is to be recognised as a supremely wise person who has known the truth, but not as God to whom prayers can be addressed.
It was spread by Gautama Buddha during his lifetime in the Gangetic valley of Uttar Pradesh and of Bihar. About 250 years after the decease of Gautama Buddha Emperor Asoka embraced the religion, sent Buddhist missionaries throughout India as well as to many countries outside India and thus started Buddhism on its victorious career which gradually turned it into a world religion. But it eventually disappeared from the land of its birth for a variety of causes. The wealth of the monasteries and the easy life there which soon attracted many undesirable and unworthy inmates, the preponderance of the monks over the laity, the gradual replacement of the earlier ethical idealism of Buddhism by the ritualism of the Mahayana , the support that later Buddhism gave to Tantricism which was marked by various vicious and immoral practices, the reorganisation and re-vitalization of Hinduism by Sankara and Kumarila and finally the Muhammadan invasions of India-all combined to bring about the decline and fall of Buddhism in India, though it still counts one-third of the world’s population as its followers.
Buddhist Councils were held four times. The First Council met at Rajagriha (modern Rajgir) in Bihar soon after the death of Gautama Buddha. It was attended by the Buddhist elders (Theras) and was presided over by one of Buddha’s prominent Brahman disciples, named Mahakassapa. As Buddha had left none of his teachings in writing so at this Council three of his disciples, Kasyapa, the most learned, Upali, the oldest and Ananda, the most favoured of Buddha’s disciples, recited his teachings which were at first learnt orally and transmitted by teachers to disciples and were much later on put down in writing. A century later a Second Council of the Buddhist elders met at Vaisali to settle a dispute that had arisen by that time amongst the Buddhist monks on certain questions of discipline. The Council decided in favour of rigid discipline and revised the Buddhist scriptures which were still unwritten. A Third Council met, according to tradition, 236 years after the death of Buddha, under the patronage of King Asoka Maurya. It was presided over by monk Tissa Moggaliputta, the author of the Kathavattu, a sacred Buddhist text. This Council is believed to have drawn up the Buddhist canon in the final form of the Tripitaka or the Three Baskets, and gave its decisions on all disputed points. If the Sarnath Pillar Edict of Asoka is correctly believed to have been issued after the session of this Third Council it can be rightly held that its decisions were not accepted by so many Buddhist monks and nuns that King Asoka found it necessary to threaten the schismatics with dire punishment. The Fourth and last Council of the Buddhist elders met during the reign of Kanishka, the Kushana king (c. A.D. 120-144). It drew up authentic commentaries on the canon and these were engraved on copper-plates which were encased in a stone-coffer and kept for safety in the Kundalavana monastery. These have not yet been found.
Buddhist scriptures-have all grown after the death of Gautama Buddha who left nothing in writing. The scriptures known as the Tripitaka are believed to have been first recited by Ananda, Upali and Kasyapa, three close disciples of Gautama Buddha, at the session of the First Council of the Buddhist elders which met at Rajagriha soon after Buddha’s death. For many centuries these were learnt orally, being transmitted by teachers to their disciples and it was not till 80 B.C. that these were put down in writing in Ceylon in the reign of king Vattagamani. The Tripitaka consists of the Sutta, the Vinaya and the Abkidhamma. The Sutta contains stories and parables related by Buddha during his preaching tours; the Vitzaya lays down the laws and rules of discipline and the Abkidhamma contains the doctrines and metaphysical views of Buddhism. The Sutta is subdivided into five Nikayas of varying length, one of which contains the Dhammapada, Thera and Tkerigathas and the]atakas; the Vinaya has three sub-divisions, while the Abhidhamma has seven sub-divisions of which the celebrated Dhammasangini is the first. There are now four versions of the Tripitaka, namely the Pali version which is followed in Ceylon, Burma and Siam; the Sanskrit version which is current in Nepal and among the Buddhists in Central Asia; the Chinese version which is a rendering in Chinese of the Sanskrit version and the Tibetan version which is a translation made between the ninth and the eleventh centuries of the Christian era. The whole forms a massive body of literature. The japanese version of it runs into one hundred bound volumes of one thousand pages each. Besides the Tripitaka, the Milindapanka by Nagasena (c. 140 B.c.) and the Visuddkimagga by Buddhaghosha are also important as religious literature of the Buddhists.
Buddhist sects arose as a result of the circumstance that none of the teachings of Gautama Buddha was written down during his lifetime. Differences on questions of discipline for the monks and nuns as well as on the significance of what he had taught arose amongst his followers soon after his death and within a century of the Parinirvana the Buddhists became split up into several sects of which the two most important came eventually to be known as the Hinayanists (i.e., followers of the Lower Vehicle) and the Mahayanists (i.e., the followers of the Higher Vehicle). The scriptures of the Hinayana are written in Pali while those of the Mahayana in Sanskrit.
Consequently the Hinayana is often known as the Pali school and the Mahayana as the Sanskrit school of Buddhism. Again, the Hinayana prevails mainly in Sri Lanka and Burma and is consequently often called the Southern Buddhism while the Mahayana which mainly prevails in Nepal, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea and Japan is called the Northern Buddhism. As all Buddhist canonical literature wherever it might have extended, arose in northern India and the two schools possess traces of mutual influence so the division of the Buddhist Church into Northern and Southern Schools is more or less unjustified. As the two schools represent only different aspects of the same religious system so the use of terms lower and higher is not also justifiable. Indeed many prefer to call the Hinayana as Theravada, that is to say, the opinion of the Theras or older monks. When exactly this division of the Buddhist Church took place, is not definitely known. Mahayanism was not a sudden development; it developed slowly and gradually in the course of some centuries. The origin of the Mahayana thought has been traced by some to the Mahasamghika and Sarvastivadin sects of Buddhism which existed as far hack as 350 B.c.
The inscriptions of Asoka (c. 273-231 B.c.) practically show no sign of Mahayanism which also did not have the controlling voice even at the fourth and last Buddhist Council which met in the reign of Kanishka (ace. c. A.D. 120), though Nagarjuna who was a contemporary and protege of Kanishka exposed in his Karika the hollowness of the Hinayana thought. When, however, Fa-Hien came to India in the fourth century A.D. he found Mahayanist monasteries existing side by side with those of the Hinayanists in all the places that he visited in India. It was, therefore, between the second and the fourth centuries of the Christian era that Mahayanism fully developed in India. It was also during this period that many non-Indians were converted to Buddhism.
This circumstance has led to the theory that Mahayanism was developed in order to meet their requirements. There are, however, reasons for holding that Mahayanism grew up in order to meet the religious and philosophical needs of the Indian Buddhists themselves though in later times it grew more popular outside India. The differences between the two schools are wide. According to the Hinayana Gautama is the Buddha, the sole Buddha, who now reposes in Nirvana, the absence of desire and striving, having left to mankind a simple rule by which the? also may attain a like bliss, either in this existence or at a later. This creed knows no prayers, invocations or offerings and worships no images, for Buddha is not God, but a man who has attained perfection and thrown off the karma which dooms mankind to successive existences in the world of pain and sorrow. Each is to work for himself and attain Nirvana by overcoming all thirst or attachment by living a good life as indicated by the Noble Eightfold Path. According to the Mahayana, Gautama is merely one re-incarnation in a vast series of Buddhas stretching from an illimitable past into an equally infinite future. Not only in this world but in other worlds numerous as the sands of the Ganges, Buddhas have lived and preached at intervals separated by myriads of years from a time past human calculation. This world is but a speck in space and an instant in time; il will pass away and Maitreya will be the Buddha of the next period.
Past Buddhas and Buddhas to come are gods of transcendant power, hearkening to the prayers of mankind, responding to invocations and delighting in offerings and incense. Ultimately in China Amida or Amitabha Buddha, a personage unknown to early Buddhist scriptures, became the object of almost exclusive devotion and his pure paradise, called the Western Heaven, the goal to which the pious should aspire. Nirvana and Gautama Buddha were almost forgotten. The Mahayana holds that the ultimate aim of the life of a Buddhist is not the attainment of individual liberation. A person who acquires enlightenment should not remain satisfied with his own Nirvana, but should work for the good of his fellowmen. Such a person is called Bodhisattva (wisdom being). Thus Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came to be worshiped and their images were made and installed in temples where these were worshiped with various rituals and incantations. Every incident of Buddha’s life as well as of his previous births familiarised by the Jataka stories and by later biographical sketches like the Lalitavistara came to be depicted in Buddhist sculptures. Using Sanskrit in its rituals and scriptures and worshiping images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Mahayanism tended to shorten the breach that separated Buddhism from Hinduism within the wide folds of which it was ultimately assimilated. In spite of the differences that exist between the Hinayana and the Mahayana there are not two Buddhisms. They are really one and the spirit of the founder of Buddhism prevails in both. Each has developed in its own way, according to the differences in environments in which each has blossomed and grown.