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Article taken from fakebudhaquotes dot com.

"What you think, you become,” or sometimes “The mind is everything; What you think, you become,” is commonly attributed to the Buddha, but doesn’t seem to be scriptural. At best an overly-free — well, inaccurate — paraphrase.

Jayarava did a blog article on this one some time ago and concluded it was not from the Buddha. His exposition is rather long, but worth reading. I agree with him, by the way.

The closest I know of to this quote is in Majjhima Nikaya 19, “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” That’s a rather different statement, of course.

“What you think, you become” has always puzzled me. If I think about Lady Gaga I’m not going to become an outré pop star. But that’s probably just me being literalist. I suppose it’s intended to mean something like “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.”

Here’s a fuller version of that quote:

***Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with sensuality, abandoning thinking imbued with renunciation, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with sensuality. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with non-ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmfulness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmlessness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmfulness.***

This is from a sutta called the Dvedhavitakka, or “Two Modes of Thinking,” where the Buddha is talking about his realization, before his Awakening, that there were two tendencies within the mind.

First, he would notice that, ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality [or ill will, or harmfulness] has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, and does not lead to Nibbana.’

He further noticed that as he mindfully observed this kind of thinking, with an awareness that it led to suffering, it would subside.

Second, he would notice that ‘Thinking imbued with renunciation [and non ill will, and non-harmfulness] has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, and leads to Nibbana.’

And having observed the arising of this kind of thinking, he would give it his mindful attention. As he says, in a rather lovely simile:

Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of ‘those cows.’ In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of ‘those mental qualities.’

From that point on, to cut a long story short, he entered the jhānas and then got enlightened.

So this is the context of “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” It means that the mind is trainable, and what kind of thoughts we put our energy into come to shape the mind, and affect both its affective tone (are we happy or unhappy) and its ability to discern the truth.

It’s been suggested that the “what you think, you become” quote may also stem from the first two verses of the Dhammapada, which express in poetic form what the Dvedhavitakka Sutta explains in a more expanded form:

1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

These verses are from the “Chapter on the Pairs” (Yamakavagga) which explores these two modes of thinking, or being.

This derivation, rather than the Dvedhavitakka Sutta origin, may be supported by the fact that “What you think, you become” is often seen in another form: “The mind is everything; What you think, you become.” The connection may not be obvious, but sometimes those Dhammapada verses have been translated to include “our life is the creation of our mind” rather than “our mind is the creation of our thoughts.” And it’s not a great leap from “our life is the creation of our mind” to “the mind is everything.” So that may be the origin of this suspect quote.

Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the first verse of the Dhammapada in fact begins, “Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” This is not at all far from “The mind is everything; What you think, you become.”

And that fuller version of the quote is very old indeed. I’ve found it in a 1897 book, In Tune with the Infinite, by Ralph Waldo Trine. Trine used “The mind is everything; What you think, you become” in several of his books, but I haven’t been able to establish where he got it from. I’ll keep looking.

These two Dhammapada verses are often rendered in a very different way from how they were intended, along the lines of “The world is the creation of your mind” — but that’s for another fake Buddha Quote post.

Article taken from A list of fake Buddha quotes are available here;

asked 12 Dec '12, 00:36

mastermind2's gravatar image


wikified 12 Dec '12, 05:30

Dollar%20Bill's gravatar image

Dollar Bill

Interesting article. Quoted from

"Nope, I never said that." -- the Buddha

(12 Dec '12, 05:39) Dollar Bill

“You Can’t Believe Most of the Quotes You Read On the Internet” -Abraham Lincoln

(12 Dec '12, 09:13) releaser99
showing 1 of 2 show 1 more comments

"You must walk in the steps of the man to understand him, not trying to understand him by merely looking at his footsteps. For if he crosses a river, you won't get wet. If he walks in snow, your feet won't bog down. 'twas always thus that your own experience provides you with understanding. Never your understanding that provides experience. He walked before you and the footsteps are there, you may walk the very same path as he did and ultimately learn what each foot step means"

Dhammapadas in other words then, is description of Buddha's experiences or journey through his life. But it's only a map showing you direction. You may look at a map, but you won't understand what it is like at that area. But it will lead you there, and when you arrive you will know.

By reading only Dhammapadas you will interpret them in accordance with your own belief system. In other words, you take the words and try to fit them into your perspective, often times changing the meaning. This is why even if you were with Buddha, you would not understand him. To me, it is no good wondering what Buddha meant, I don't ponder or get entangled in various translations. As I advance on my own journey, I uncover true meaning . And then I look back at Sutras from Buddha, I can verify my own experience against his, ensuring I'm still walking in his footsteps.

Just like a few days back absurdity of questions like "Who am I","what is the meaning of life","how are you" occurred to me. And from the point of witnessing my life I realized these questions cannot be answered in truth, for it was untruth that these question arisen from. It is only there that sense of identity or meaning can be created. One moment I'm father, the next moment I'm employee, so who am I? People struggle in their lives, because they are trying so hard to answer questions like these. Looking for sense of identity and sense of meaning. They identify themselves with worldly things and labels, or they go to abstract levels and say they are light, child of god and so on. Which is worse than identifying yourself with worldly things. Worse, in a sense that it may take a lifetime or more to realize fallacy of such identity. They are bound to these identities by their beliefs, which rather than setting you free, chain you down. Through faith, which you may one day realize, is blind.

That is why in eastern part of the world comments to each Dhammapada exist, which explain in detail what is meant by each Dhammapada. Unlike western translations and speculations that are very often incorrect, simply because the language in which Buddha spoke contains words which has no direct translation in any language commonly used on Earth nowadays.

So you see the problem with translations. Someone takes the most similar word available and uses it completely twisting the meaning of the saying.

Here is one of those comments that Osho provides on the very Dhammapada you question.


Osho - It has been said to you again and again that the Eastern mystics believe that the world is illusory. It is true: they not only believe that the world is untrue, illusory, maya -- they know that it is maya, it is an illusion, a dream. But when they use the word sansara -- the world -- they don't mean the objective world that science investigates; no, not at all. They don't mean the world of the trees and the mountains and the rivers; no, not at all.

They mean the world that you create, spin and weave inside your mind, the wheel of the mind that goes on moving and spinning. Sansara has nothing to do with the outside world. There are three things to be remembered. One is the outside world, the objective world. Buddha will never say anything about it because that is not his concern; he is not an Albert Einstein.

Then there is a second world: the world of the mind, the world that the psychoanalysts, the psychiatrists, the psychologists investigate. Buddha will have a few things to say about it, not many, just a few -- in fact, one: that it is illusory, that it has no truth, either objective or subjective, that it is in between. The first world is the objective world, which science investigates. The second world is the world of the mind, which the psychologist investigates. And the third world is your subjectivity, your interiority, your inner self.

Buddha's indication is towards the interiormost core of your being. But you are too much involved with the mind. Unless he helps you to become untrapped from the mind, you will never know the third, the real world: your inner substance. Hence he starts with the statement: WE ARE WHAT WE THINK. That's what everybody is: his mind. ALL THAT WE ARE ARISES WITH OUR THOUGHTS.

Just imagine for a single moment that all thoughts have ceased...then who are you? If all thoughts cease for a single moment, then who are you? No answer will be coming. You cannot say, "I am a Catholic," "I am a Protestant," "I am a Hindu," "I am a Mohammedan" -- you cannot say that. All thoughts have ceased. So the Koran has disappeared, the Bible, the Gita...all words have ceased! You cannot even utter your name. All language has disappeared so you cannot say to which country you belong, to which race. When thoughts cease, who are you? An utter emptiness, nothingness, no-thingness.

It is because of this that Buddha has used a strange word; nobody has ever done such a thing before, or since. The mystics have always used the word 'self' for the interior most core of your being -- Buddha uses the word 'no-self'. And I perfectly agree with him; he is far more accurate, closer to truth. To use the word 'self' -- even if you use the word 'Self' with a capital 'S', does not make much difference. It continues to give you the sense of the ego, and with a capital 'S' it may give you an even bigger ego.

Buddha does not use the words atma, 'self', atta. He uses just the opposite word: 'no-self', anatma, anatta. He says when mind ceases, there is no self left -- you have become universal, you have overflowed the boundaries of the ego, you are a pure space, uncontaminated by anything. You are just a mirror reflecting nothing. WE ARE WHAT WE THINK. ALL THAT WE ARE ARISES WITH OUR THOUGHTS. WITH OUR THOUGHTS WE MAKE THE WORLD.

If you really want to know who, in reality, you are, you will have to learn how to cease as a mind, how to stop thinking. That's what meditation is all about. Meditation means going out of the mind, dropping the mind and moving in the space called no-mind. And in no-mind you will know the ultimate truth, dhamma. And moving from mind to no-mind is the step, pada. And this is the whole secret of THE DHAMMAPADA.


answered 12 Dec '12, 03:20

CalonLan's gravatar image


edited 12 Dec '12, 03:28

the second world is the water, and the third world is the spirit(light=samadhi). no mind is impossible.only by making the water calm and pure by being in truth seeing how everything relate to each other in truth.only then the pieces of the puzzle fall in place in truth. then the light will appear and guide you in to all truth.with out conflict everything solve the water and the light becomes one. then no-mind is achive dhyana(a mind with no more puzzle to solve) in full awareness focus and

(12 Dec '12, 18:41) white tiger

concentration. then with out fear the last door can be open.the wind blow where ever it please.add the name that you want there according to your belief to coordinate:the one that comes from above,purusha,tathagata

(12 Dec '12, 18:49) white tiger
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