Dalai Lama fake quotes

This week I got twice the “18 Rules for Living” attributed to the Dalai Lama. The first time I received it via a Powerpoint presentation attached to an email asking me to share it within 96 hours with many people, claiming tremendous benefit I would receive by spreading it. The second time I received it today via a Newsletter of a respected Buddhist organization, included in the Losar New Years’ greetings of a most wonderful, kind and wise teacher. There it was said:

Let us all remember The Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules for Living:

  1. Take into account that great love & great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs: – Respect for self – Respect for others – Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you have made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older & think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Now, look more closely on those rules: is this the way the Dalai Lama expresses himself? Is this his way he puts things or is it the Dalai Lama’s style of phrasing things? Does he have an attitude or a tendency to render things in such slogans? Would he really say: “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly”? – a man, who always lists among the good qualities a human being should cultivate self-discipline?

I replied to both persons, that I think these 18 rules are a fake. To the Buddhist teacher I expressed my doubts and added some reasons why I believe that this is not from the Dalai Lama. After I sent the email I checked on the internet if these 18 rules are by the Dalai Lama, and, indeed they are a fake: Not again! The Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules for Living: Another fake

But there are more Dalai Lama fake quotes and recordings.

Did you ever stumble upon “The Paradox of Our Time” by the Dalai Lama?

The paradox of our time.

We have bigger houses but smaller families.

We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgements;
more experts but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but we have trouble crossing the street
to meet the new neighbour.

We build more computers
to hold more information,
to produce more copies than ever,
but we have less communication.

We have become long on quantity
but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods,
but slow digestion;
tall man, but short character;
steep profits, but shallow relationships.

It is time when there is much in the window
but nothing in the room.

Dalai Lama

You can apply the same analysis: is this the way the Dalai Lama renders things? Would he say this? I doubted that always, and I always saw it as a fake. In Italy, at Istituto Lama Tsong Khapa, where I studied they sell it even in the shop to people.

The attribution of “The Paradox of Our Time” to the Dalai Lama is also wrong: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/paradox.asp

The reason why I became more cautious in these matters is that I was fooled in the past by a mantra that was given to me by prisoners some years ago on a CD that claimed that “This is a recording of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his entourage chanting prayers at the sickbed of his dear friend Vaclav Havel.” I believed it naively to be true and posted it on New Kadampa Survivors. You can find it here on YouTube:

Later a member of the New Kadampa Survivor forum found out that it is simply a Hindu Mantra called the Gayatri Mantra: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gayatri_Mantra Details of the recording’s origin can be found here: http://spatula.net/blog/2007/03/not-dalai-lama.html

Realize how you are fooled believing what the video claims:

This is a recording of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his entourage chanting prayers at the sickbed of his dear friend Vaclav Havel.

It was recorded on a battery powered hand-held tape recorder. His Holiness gave his permission to for it to be reproduced and given as a non-commercial FREE gift.

Why do I think it matters to be careful in this regard?

Some yeas ago in Germany, the Dalai Lama was nastily attacked by an online newspaper article for his “naive sayings” but when I checked what they claimed the Dalai Lama had said, I found out, that it was not from the Dalai Lama but an anonymous website full of such sayings. So they attacked him as being naive and foolish for things he never said, and a lot of people believed this online newspaper article.

I think this is not a good development and I wish people are more careful. In the long run it distorts the real message of His Holiness the Dalai Lama which is by far profounder than many of those superficial sayings that sound nice but don’t have much of a substance. The Dalai Lama has a special way of expressing himself and how he renders things, with some carefulness you can prevent to spread things the Dalai Lama never said. And I would like to invite you also to be more careful. Thank you.

See also


  1. Sounds much more Vedic than the Tibetan style/sounds for sure.

  2. The “Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules for Living,” also know as Instructions for Life is part of a longer list from the book Life’s Little Instruction Book by Jackson Brown and H. Jackson Brown.

    The Paradox of Our Time quote originated with Jeff Dickson who posted it to his Hacks-R-Us online forum in May 1998.

  3. I had exactly the same reaction when a friend (not a Buddhist but with some interest) showed these to me. They did not ring true with my experience of the way His Holiness expresses himself and the intent of his messages. The internet is full of misattributions to all sorts of well-known people and it takes discernment to hear their real voices. Thanks for validating my intuitions!

  4. How about this one? “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”

    • this is by David Orr
      in “Ecological Literacy
      Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World”

      “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more
      successful people. But it does desperately need more
      peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers
      of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places.
      It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to
      make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities
      have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

  5. Debbie Teubes says:

    Thanks for putting this out there. It also annoys me when people accredit something they heard to some luminary they think could have said it rather than checking their resources. It is a form of plagiarism, and is not only potentially harmful to the person they accredit, as you’ve said in your article, but it also does not give the original author the credit he or she deserves. It annoys me no end when the beautiful piece starting with the words: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is accredited to Nelson Mandela (inaugural speech, no less!) instead of the author Marianne Williamson. Of course, it is more important for the message to get out there than anything else, but I wish people would be a bit more responsible and less sloppy, especially when publishing articles.

  6. Cory Bartley says:

    I don’t mean to offend anyone when I say this but I feel compelled to remind you all that the Buddha said “Don’t believe anything that doesn’t make sense to your head and your heart even comes from me” not an exact translation but close. The point is you should only believe what makes sense to you regardless of who says it and if does make sense to you that in should be just as profound if a child or the Dali Lama say it.

    • Very to the point. Thank you.

    • Wasn’t the reason I came to look for advice from the Buddha (or others) was exactly because I felt I’m not getting satisfactory results from my current way of thinking and acting? Was my common sense and reason always right in the past? What if my current common sense or reason are shrouded in ignorance? For my own well-being, how can I believe what makes sense to me wholeheartedly? Faced by this quotation without context, a searching mind might mark the Buddha as unhelpful in answering these questions, and move to search in other venues. That is a miss.
      For me, the willingness to consult with the Buddha comes from seeing that he gave respect to his own difficult questions and doubts about his own way of acting, and took them into account.
      So it’s better for us to know the context of this Buddha’s quote. See Thanissaro Bhikku’s words on this exact quote: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/lostinquotation.html.

      Peace and love dudes.

  7. I think it matters, surprisingly, because more people don’t care that it matters. It matters for people who it matters to. (ie.) Some people believe everything they read and they attribute the soundness of the quote according to the ego they think spoke it. Or they think by pointing their finger at ‘this’ authority or ‘that’ authority, then it’s worthwhile.

  8. The NKT/Kechara House combo have been busy making fake HHDL accounts on twitter that post softcore porn and sexist articles aside supposed quotes. They’re trying to drag down his image by impersonation, twist people’s understanding with fake quotes, and also putting them in a position to spam everyone that followed their accounts the moment HHDL actually slips up on something. They’ve also made numerous “Wisdom quotes” and gandhi, plato, and other historical philosopher accounts. This is called a “sleeper”, as in a “sleeper cell”. It’s an account one makes that mimics and infiltrates one’s opposition that one saves for a later campaign.

    • ***COMMENT REMOVED please avoid spite, use good reasoning and be constructive***
      ***see also my reply to Li***
      ***I don’t like pro and anti Tsem people to abuse my blog for their battle***

      ***Whoever pro and ex-Tsem person wants to contribute please be kind, fair, stick to the facts, stick to good reasoning, give evidence for what you claim or offer a personal testimony. Thank you.***

    • I have no time to check your claims. I hope they are true.

      I would like to ask the pro and anti Tsem Tulku troops not to exploit my blog for attacks against each other. I approved your comment because at least it is true that the Tsem Tulku troops try hard to bring down the Dalai Lama’s reputation and attack with really bad and nasty means any critic or critical ex-member. Therefore, there is a certain type of a possibility that what you write is true.

      However, most of what I read from ex-Tsem/Kechara members had a similar taste than the spite of the pro Tsem people and it is very hard for an outsider to verify the claims being made.

      In general – not specifically to Li:
      Please don’t bring rude behaviours to this blog. No further comment pro or against Tsem will be approved when I didn’t find time to check their validity. They will wait in the comment section to be approved until I found time for that.

      To all commenters on this blog if you want to contribute please:
      1) be honest, give only facts and add proofs or good reasoning if possible
      2) be moderate in your language
      3) avoid hostility or even hate

      For ex-Tsem/Kechara followers: I would like to suggest to set up your own blogs or websites or forums or self-help groups if possible. However, there will be space for you here too but it quickly gets nasty (mainly due to the pro Tsem people attacking critics) when the Tsem issue comes up and I lack time to moderate all of this nastiness nor do I know all of the details regarding Tsem and his strange activities. So either we find a way to express each other in the spirit of the Dharma or I have to block all comments regarding Tsem Tulku and his activities.

      Its up to you.

  9. This is an example that was successfully flagged down https://twitter.com/WisdomQuuotes.
    It looks like the ones that were posting porn were flagged down successfully too.

    Here’s a set of remaining examples of suspect sleepers:

    • I have no time to check your claims. I hope they are true. I would like to ask the pro and anti Tsem Tulku troops not to exploit my blog for attacks against each other and either to stay sane and reasonable or to write your stuff elsewhere. Thank you!

  10. Jae Griffin says:

    Tenpel, my gut is telling me that you are a person with honest intentions. I thank you for that and for this article. I am a person who usually has a better day whenever I hear HHDL speak. Buddhism seems to be the best path for me, Tibetan Buddhism in particular. Being entirely new to Buddhism it is quite difficult to figure out whose (other than HHDL himself) books, seminars, etc, would be most helpful to gain insight from. As with quotes, the books, etc, are often misleading to me and surely many other beginners. I have found Robert Thurman’s insight to be helpful but following just one person’s input is rarely a good idea. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thank you again. Peace be with you, yours, and all.


  1. […] the Dalai Lama actually says or thinks or does about ethics. (Which is why no one knows, and why you can get away with “quoting” him saying whatever vapid moralizing nonsense you like.) What matters is that […]

  2. […] the Dalai Lama actually says or thinks or does about ethics. (Which is why no one knows, and why you can get away with “quoting” him saying whatever vapid moralizing nonsense you like.) What matters is that […]

  3. […] there are a LOT of fake Dalai Lama quotes (see https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2014/03/01/dalai-lama-fake-quotes/). This is similar to the numerous fake quotes attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Each is an attempt to […]

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