No matter what your knowledge or experience with Buddhism, there is much insight that can be gained from the words of the Buddha.
You do not need to practice Buddhism, meditate, or even believe in any religion to benefit from his words. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, but I find myself fascinated by his teachings because they are simply about life. And regardless of your own personal beliefs, life is one thing we all have in common.
The following Buddha quotes can be very powerful in how we view ourselves, but also think about how they impact your view of others.
You may have different takeaways than the ones I offer below and that’s great. In fact, that is the beauty and the power in analyzing quotes – the interpretations are as individualized as we are. I offer my thoughts not to convince you to agree, but simply to get you thinking.
Ultimately, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to open our minds and allow ourselves to think new thoughts and question old ones. Oftentimes, the easiest way to do that is to really listen to the thoughts of another . . .
Here Are 9 Buddha Quotes to Refresh Your Perspective:
Read on for nine inspirational quotes from Buddha that have the potential to shift your perspective, open your mind, and change your life.
1. “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha
On the surface, this quote is fairly simple – no one can live your life except for you. Only you can walk your own path.
But really think about the first part and the word “save.” Think about all the external forces we look to in life to save us – to heal us, make us happy, even complete us.
We are the only ones who can give ourselves what we are constantly looking outside to find.
We place our hearts in the hands of another and expect them to fill it. We look to roles, job titles, and bank accounts to classify our worth. And we often look to a pulpit to define our souls.
But we will not find love and happiness in another, success in numbers, or salvation in doctrine. We are the only ones who can give ourselves what we are constantly looking outside to find. The saving always happens from within.
2. “Purity or impurity depends on oneself. No one can purify another.” – Buddha
Judgment can be very sneaky. So often it hides behind thoughts of “wanting what’s best for someone” or “looking out for them.”
But stripped down, those wishes are merely a desire to change someone or the way they currently live their life. We want to change it because we think it is wrong or not as good as another way.
That, right there, is judgment. The entire concept that a “best” option even exists is judgment.
The only thing that exists is the present – the present moment and every one of us as we currently are. Non-judgment is when we accept the moment and each other as we are without wishing it to be different; loving each other without wanting to change each.
We cannot save each other. We cannot walk the path of another. Nor should we, for we have our own to walk. We can only save and purify ourselves. And it starts with our intentions – are they from a place of love and acceptance or did judgment sneak its way in?
3. “True love is born from understanding.” – Buddha
To truly love someone is to see them for exactly who they are in that moment and – here’s the tricky part – accept them for who they are in that moment.
Love understands that everyone is always doing the best they can within their current level of awareness and consciousness. That is the understanding we must find to truly love another as well as ourselves.
Love understands that everyone is always doing the best they can within their current level of awareness and consciousness.
Life is a journey of learning. Some lessons live in happiness and others in pain, but we all travel the journey at different speeds.
We truly love someone when we see them as on that journey, understand their path is different than ours, and allow them to walk it at their own pace.
4. “The root of suffering is attachment.” – Buddha
The Second Noble Truth in Buddhism looks at the cause of suffering and points to attachment as the root of all suffering.
We are attached to our desires and that is why we suffer. Our desires take many forms like power, money, fame, and beauty.
But we also have a desire for life in general. We want our days to go a certain way, people to act a certain way, and various aspects of life to make us feel certain ways.
That is the suffering – continuing to see the disparity between how things are and how we wish they were, rather than simply seeing and embracing what is.
These desires are commonly referred to as expectations. Suffering enters the picture when life and everyone in it does not meet our expectations.
When reality shows up in a different form, rather than accept it and let go of the unmet expectations, we hold tightly onto the way things “should” be.
That is the attachment. That is the suffering – continuing to see the disparity between how things are and how we wish they were, rather than simply seeing and embracing what is.
This is such an important concept! Ready to dive deeper? Read: Okay Buddha, Let’s Talk About the Second Noble Truth and the Causes of Suffering
5. “What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” – Buddha
We are all the sum of every single experience that exists in our past. It is what has shaped us, made us grow, or even gotten us stuck.
We all got to be where and who we are today based on where and who we used to be. However, we are not our past. Yes, it has shaped us, but at any given moment we are different than how we used to be.
With every new encounter, every new experience, and every new reaction, we are changing and growing – for better or worse.
We are ever evolving. And since decisions are only ever made in the present, change also only happens in the present. At any given moment, we have the power to choose how we change.
6. “The Way is not in the sky; the Way is in the heart.” – Buddha
Remember, only we can save ourselves and we do that not by looking outward but by looking inward.
Behind everything we say and everything we do is first a thought. And behind that thought is a reason, or a why. That is our intention – it is what we hope to come from what we say or what we do.
The way we save ourselves is moving every intention out of the ego and into the heart.
Our intentions either come from a place of love (the heart) or a place of fear (the ego). The ego always wants to look important, be right, and be the best. The ego lives off judgment. The heart, on the other hand, knows only love and lives in nothing but acceptance and compassion.
The way we save ourselves is moving every intention out of the ego and into the heart. So that everything we say and everything we do comes from a place of pure love.
7. “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself: is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” – Buddha
This is where intention really comes into play. Why are we actually saying the things we say?
Is it to sound smart because deep down we are afraid we aren’t? Is it to belittle another so we feel better about ourselves? Is it to point out where another is wrong (aka judgment)?
When we really start to pay attention to what we are saying and why, we realize how much of it is gossip instead of truth, judgment instead of kindness, or something merely to ease our own insecurities.
Everything we say has an intention behind it. Once we become aware of that intention, we can silence the thoughts not stemming from love before they become words.
8. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
We tend to view anger as a justified emotion. One that we have a right to feel. One that is deserved and deserving of action. But when you think about it, what is the point of feeling angry?
The value in anger lies in the light it shines on a need for change. But we cannot change anyone else, and we cannot change what has already happened. We cannot actually throw the hot coal.
We can only change ourselves – our thoughts, our decisions, our reactions.
Our choice is always simple – put down the coal or continue to get burned. Putting it down does not mean that change can’t still occur. Rather, it clears the smoke so change can be made from a place of clarity.
9. “Hatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed.” – Buddha
We live in a culture that is very reactionary. When someone judges us, we respond with judgment of them. When someone hurts us, we aim to hurt them back.
We do this because we think it is what’s right. It is what they deserve. It is in defense of ourselves and our feelings.
But ultimately, we aren’t helping the cause; we’re merely perpetuating the cycle of hatred, hurt, and fear. It’s a cycle that only ends when someone finally realizes you don’t extinguish fire with flames.
Change comes from within and in every moment we can choose change. To quote another great spiritual thought-leader, Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Shift Your Perspective With These Buddha Quotes
A consistent theme within the Buddha’s quotes is to focus on ourselves – to understand that answers, change, guidance, and peace all come from within.
In a world that constantly tells us to look outward, Buddha challenges us to look inward.
While it can be an uncomfortable practice, it is also empowering. Because within ourselves is the only place we can actually control.
Once we accept control, we understand that we always (always!) have a choice. We can choose to stay open or closed. We can choose to understand or to judge. We can choose acceptance or anger.
Basically, in every moment, we are choosing whether or not to live from love.