Quotes on Buddhism
Of the great religions of history I prefer Buddhism, especially in its earliest forms because it has had the smallest element of persecution.
Bertrand Russell

I have no hesitation in declaring that I owe a great deal to the inspiration that I have derived from the life of the Enlightened One. Asia has a message for the whole world, if only it would live up to it. There is the imprint of Buddhistic influence on the whole of Asia, which includes India, China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, and the Malay States. For Asia to be not for Asia but for the whole world, it has to re-learn the message of the Buddha and deliver it to the whole world. His love, his boundless love went out as much to the lower animal, to the lowest life as to human beings. And he insisted upon purity of life.
Mahatma Gandhi ( 1869-1948) Indian Thinker and Apostle of Non Violence
Now in this realm Buddha's speeches are a source and mine of quite unparalleled richness and depth. As soon as we cease to regard Buddha's teachings simply intellectually and acquiesce with a certain sympathy in the age-old Eastern concept of unity, if we allow Buddha to speak to us as vision, as image, as the awakened one, the perfect one, we find him, almost independently of the philosophic content and dogmatic kernel of his teachings, a great prototype of mankind. Whoever attentively reads a small number of the countless speeches of Buddha is soon aware of harmony in them, a quietude of soul, a smiling transcendence, a totally unshakeable firmness, but also invariable kindness, endless patience. As ways and means to the attainment of this holy quietude of soul, the speeches are full of advice, precepts, hints. The intellectual content of Buddha's teaching is only half his work, the other half is his life, his life as lived, as labour accomplished and action carried out. A training, a spiritual self training of the highest order was accomplished and is taught here, a training about which unthinking people who talk about "quietism" and "Hindu dreaminess" and the like in connection with Buddha have no conception; they deny him the cardinal Western virtue of activity. Instead Buddha accomplished a training for himself and his pupils, exercised a discipline, set up a goal, and produced results before which even the genuine heroes of European action can only feel awe.
Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
For the first time in human history, the Buddha admonished, entreated and appealed to people not to hurt a living being, and it is not necessary to offer prayer, praise or sacrifice to gods. With all the eloquence at his command the Buddha vehemently proclaimed that gods are also in dire need of salvation themselves.
Prof. T.W. Rhys Davids ( 1843 - 1922 )

Man gave up the illusion of a fatherly God as a parental helper - but he gave up also the true aims of all great humanistic religions: overcoming the limitations of an egotistical self, achieving love, objectivity, and humility and respecting life so that the aim of life is living itself, and man becomes what he potentially is. These were the aims of the great Western religions, as they were the aims of the great Eastern religions. The East, however, was not burdened with the concept of a transcendent father - saviour in which the monotheistic religions expressed their longings. Taoism and Buddhism had a rationality and realism superior to that of Western religions. They could see man realistically and objectively, having nobody but the 'awakened' ones to guide him, and being able to he guided because each man has within himself the capacity to awake and be enlightened. This is precisely the reason why Eastern religious thought, Taoism and Buddhism - and their blending in Zen Buddhism* assume such importance for the West today. Buddhism helps man to find an answer to the question of his existence, an answer which is essentially the same as that given in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and yet which does not contradict the rationality, realism, and independence which are modern man's precious achievements. Paradoxically, Eastern religious thought turns out to be more congenial to Western rational thought than does Western religious thought itself.
Erich Fromm (1900-1980) German American Psychoanalyst and Social Philosopher
I left India and returned to Colombo, where I was the guest of a Singhalese student I knew in Perth. They were Buddhists, their house was in the grounds of a temple, and the atmosphere of the household was very peaceful and unbelievably gentle. I talked a lot about Buddhism with them, and they took me up to a temple in the hills, in Kandy, where I met the monks and talked to a very old abbot, who explained more about Buddhism to me. I found Buddhism fascinating. Their concept that you progress towards the Ineffable through a number of existences seemed to me much more intellectually satisfying than the Christian belief that you come just once and are cast into circumstances maybe of great wealth or of great moment, but that you come to God or don't come to God on the basis of that one life. The logical attraction of Buddhism after the devastating experience of India was a further part of my breaking down. I was never on the point of embracing Buddhism but I found, and still find, it infinitely more satisfying than the Judeo-Christian philosophy.
Robert J. Hawke, Rhodes Scholar, Trade Union Leader, and former Prime Minister of Australia ( 1983 -1992
The way of Buddhism is Middle Way between all extremes. This is no weak compromise, but a sweet reasonableness which avoids fanaticism and laziness with equal care, and marches onward without that haste which brings its own reaction, but without ceasing. The Buddha called it the Noble Eightfold Path to Nirvana, and it may be regarded as the noblest course of spiritual training yet presented, in such a simple form, to man. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor 'escapist'. It is a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life which is reasonable, practical and all-embracing. For 2,500 years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one third of mankind. It appeals to those in search of truth because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, mysticism, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny
Justice Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983) Eminent British Judge
As a student of comparative religions, I believe that Buddhism is the most perfect one the world has even seen. The philosophy of the theory of evolution and the law of karma were far superior to any other creed. It was neither the history of religion nor the study of philosophy that first drew me to the world of Buddhist thought but my professional interest as a doctor. My task was to treat psychic suffering and it was this that impelled me to become acquainted with the views and methods of that great teacher of humanity, whose principal theme was the chain of suffering, old age, sickness and death.
Dr C.C. Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist Founder of the Jungian school of psychology
Why I like Buddhism?
I prefer Buddhism because it gives three principles in combination, which no other religion does. Buddhism teaches prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism), karuna (love), and samata (equality). This is what man wants for a good and happy life. Neither god nor soul can save society.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Today science is challenging the finite quality of the human brain, a brain consisting of some 10,000 million electrically stimulated cells programmed with the instincts of our long history and receptive to new notions whether true or false. The aggregate of these cells provides our ever-changing personality and their partial removal by surgery or altered rhythm by shock treatment changes our character. By such crude methods, aggression can be turned into fear, hatred to affection - how much better that they should be changed by appreciation of the realities that the philosophy of Buddha has placed in our hands.
William Mac Quilty British Award winning film maker, Traveller and Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society
Wisdom is the sword and ignorance is the enemy Not a single page of Buddhist history has ever been lurid with the light of inquisitorial fires, or darkened with the smoke of heretic or heathen cities ablaze, or red with blood of the guiltless victims of religious hatred. Buddhism wields only one sword, the sword of wisdom, and recognises only one enemy - ignorance. This is the testimony of history, and is not to be gain-said. Prof. Bapat, "2500 years of Buddhism"
If I knew the Buddha would be speaking here tomorrow, nothing in the world could stop me from going to listen to him. And I would follow him to the very end. J.Krishnamurti ( 1895 - 1986 ) Indian philosopher 'Since you don't follow any of the established religions,' I asked, 'which of the great religious leaders came closest to teaching and realizing the ultimate truth?' 'Oh, the Buddha,' replied Krishnamurti without hesitation and somewhat to my astonishment. I had expected him to mention one of the Indian gods or even Christ. 'The Buddha comes closer to the basic truths and facts of life than any other. From the book, "The Quiet Mind," by John E. Coleman (1971) "Ignorance exists only when you don't know yourself. Self-knowing is wisdom. You may be ignorant of all the books in the world (and I hope you are), of all the latest theories, but that is not ignorance. Not knowing oneself deeply, profoundly, is ignorance; and you cannot know yourself if you cannot look at yourself, see yourself actually as you are, without any distortion, without any wish to change. Then what you see is transformed because the distance between the observer and the observed is removed and hence there is no conflict." --J. Krishnamurti
Wisdom is the sword and ignorance is the enemy Not a single page of Buddhist history has ever been lurid with the light of inquisitorial fires, or darkened with the smoke of heretic or heathen cities ablaze, or red with blood of the guiltless victims of religious hatred. Buddhism wields only one sword, the sword of wisdom, and recognises only one enemy - ignorance. This is the testimony of history, and is not to be gain-said.
Prof. Bapat, "2500 years of Buddhism" Parliamentary system borrowed from Buddhism It is probable that the tendency towards self government evidenced by these various forms of corporate activity received fresh impetus from the Buddhist rejection of the authority of the priesthood and further by its doctrine of equality as exemplified by its repudiation of caste. It is indeed to the Buddhist books that we have to turn for an account of the manner in which the affairs of the early examples of representative self-governing institutions were conducted. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that in assemblies of Buddhists in India 2500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of our own parliamentary practice of the present day. The dignity of the assembly was preserved by the appointment of a special officer - the embryo of "Mr. Speaker" in our House of Commons. A second officer was appointed to see that when necessary a quorum was secured - the prototype of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, in our own system. A member initiating business did so in the form of a motion which was then open to discussion. In some cases, this was done once only, in others three times, thus anticipating the practise of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If discussion disclosed a difference of opinion the matter was decided by the vote of the majority, the voting being by ballot. Marquess of Zetland, a former Viceroy of British India, in "Legacy of India"
The Buddha is a being who is totally free of all delusions and faults, who is endowed with all good qualities and has attained the wisdom eliminating the darkness of ignorance. The Dharma is the result of his enlightenment. After having achieved enlightenment, a Buddha teaches, and what he or she teaches is called the Dharma. The Sangha is made up of those who engage in the practice of the teachings given by the Buddha. . . . One of the benefits of refuge is that all of the misdeeds you have committed in the past can be purified, because taking refuge entails accepting the Buddha's guidance and following a path of virtuous action.
Dalai Lama, "The Way to Freedom".
I ever believe that the mark of a truly educated and imaginative person facing the twenty-first century is that he feels himself to be a planetary being. Perhaps my own Buddhist upbringing has helped me more than anything else to realize and to express in my speeches and writings this concept of world citizenship. As a Buddhist, I was trained to be tolerant of everything except intolerance. I was brought up not only to develop the spirit of tolerance, but also to cherish moral and spiritual qualities, especially modesty, humanity, compassion, and, most important, to attain a certain degree of emotional equilibrium.
U Thant (1910- 1974) Burmese Educator, Diplomat and Secretary - General of the United Nations
The fundamental teachings of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all disputes the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligence the world has ever known. Buddhism is the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind. HG Wells ( 1866-1946) British historian, socialist and science fiction writer.
In divining that, the experience of pain was an inseparable concomitant of consciousness and will, the Buddha has shown a penetrating psychological insight. Hinduism regards man's universe as being an illusion; the Buddha anticipating some of the schools of the modern Western psychologists by about twenty-four centuries, held that the soul is an illusion too. Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) British historian
Buddhism has conquered China as a philosophy and as a religion, as a philosophy for the scholars and a religion for the common people. Whereas Confucianism has only a philosophy of moral conduct, Buddhism possesses a logical method, a metaphysics and a theory of knowledge. Besides, it is fortunate in having a high tradition of scholarship in the translation of Buddhist classics, and the language of these translations, so succinct and often so distinguished by a beautiful lucidity of language and reasoning, cannot but attract the scholar with a philosophical bias. Hence, Buddhism has always enjoyed a prestige among Chinese scholars, which so far Christianity has failed to achieve.
Lin Yutang (1895-1976) Chinese writer,thinker, journalist and playwright
If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with time, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say 'no'. The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of a man's self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth century science. J Robert Oppenheimer ( 1904-1967) American Physicist
First Hospital Service Very great improvement in medicine and surgery took place in the Buddhist period in India. Because the religion of the Buddha insists on the alleviation of suffering as an important item of Buddhistic faith hence hospitals for treatment of men and beasts alike were built in almost all the monasteries of Buddhistic India. Inscriptions engraved on rocks, pillars, etc.. record prescriptions for the treatment of diseases. (The Cultural Heritage of India)
A Model of a Worthy Human Being Buddhist Civilisation held up before all who came within its influence, a model of what a worthy human being should be, an ideal of character equally worthy of emulation by king or beggar. While this deal found full statement in the charity, courage and wisdom of the Sangha, it was adopted by laymen and emulated by them as far as lay within their capacity. The production of wealth for social use instead of individual profit, the measuring of an individual in terms of his moral stature and true wisdom and not of his economic power, and of the nation's greatness in terms of the peace and prosperity of its inhabitants and not solely in terms of its balance of trade, these were some of the values embodied in the Buddhist ideal of character. Dr. Richard A. Card, "Buddhism"
The Buddhist Community is the oldest institution of mankind The Buddhist community is the oldest institution of mankind. It has survived longer than any other institution, except the kindred sect of the Jains. Here you have the big bullying empires of history, guarded by hosts of soldiers, ships and magistrates. Scarcely none of them lasted longer than perhaps three centuries. Where these mighty empires, built on greed, hatred and delusion. lasted just a few centuries, the impulse of the self-denial carried the Buddhist community through 2,500 years. (Dr. Edward Conze, "Buddhism")
Buddhism Is Not an Enemy of Other Religions Buddhism is not an enemy of other religions, as atheism is believed to be. Buddhism indeed is the enemy of none. A Buddhist will recognize and appreciate whatever ethical, spiritual values have been created by God-belief in its long and checkered history. We cannot, however, close our eyes to the fact that the God-concept has served too often as a cloak for man's will to power and the reckless and cruel use of that power, thus adding considerably to the ample measure of misery in this world supposed to be an all-loving God's creation. For centuries, free thought and free research. and the statement of any dissident views have been obstructed and stifled in the alleged service of God. And alas, these and other negative features are not yet entirely things of the past. (Ven. Nyanaponika, A German Buddhist Scholar)
A Civilization Itself Buddhism introduced education and culture; it encouraged literature and art; it promoted physical peace, goodwill and brotherhood among men; it deprecated war between nation and nation; it avowed sympathy with social liberty and freedom; it gave back much independence to women; it preached purity in thought, word and deed; it taught self denial without self-torture; it inculcated generosity, tolerance, love, self-sacrifice and benevolence even towards the inferior animals, it forbade avarice; and from it the declaration that a man's future depended on his present act and condition, stimulating exertion, promoting good works of all kinds; and elevating the character of humanity. (Harisingh Gour, M.A., D.Litt., "Spirit of Buddhism")
A religion which Influenced Everybody "How a religion which taught the annihilation of all existence. of all individuality and personality as the highest object of all human beings, and how, at the same time, by enforcing the duties of morality, justice, kindness, and self-sacrifice, it could have exercised a decidedly beneficial influence not only on the natives of India, but on the lowest barbarians, is a riddle which no one has been able to solve." (Prof. Max Muller)
Dominant Creed A system which knows no God in the Western sense, which denies a soul to man, which counts the belief in immortality a blunder, which refuses any efficacy to prayer and sacrifice, which bides men to look to nothing but their own efforts for salvation, which in its original purity knew nothing of vows of obedience and never sought the aid of the secular arm, yet spread over a considerable moiety of the old world with marvellous rapidity and is still, with whatever base admixture of forcing superstitions, the dominant creed of a large fraction of mankind. T.H. Huxley
The Buddhistic Way of Propagation The Buddhists propagated their religion by the persuasive voice of the missionary, many others by the merciless edge of the sword. The sanguinary career of others was lighted by lurid flames of burning cities; the peaceful progress of the Buddhist monk was illuminated by the cheerful faces of the sick in monastic hospitals, by the happy smiles of travellers reposing in rest houses by the road-side". (Dr. Cunningham, "Archaeologist")
Buddhist Contribution to Human Culture It should be remembered that the two most ancient living civilisations, the Indian and the Chinese, and almost all the great religions of today, have been altered and improved by the infiltration of Buddhist ideas. In the light of these facts one can well imagine how colossal must be the Buddhist contribution to the fund of human culture. (Ven. Soma Thera
Self Salvation The distinguishing characteristic of Buddhism was that it started a new line, that it looked upon the deepest questions men have to solve from an entirely different stand point. It swept away, from the field of its vision, the whole of the great soul-theory which had hitherto completely filled and dominated the minds of the superstitious and the thoughtful alike. For the first time in the history of the world it proclaimed a salvation which each man could gain for himself and by himself, in this world, during this life, without even the least reference to God, or to Gods, either great or small. Like the Upanishads, it placed the first importance on knowledge; but it was no longer a knowledge of God, it was a clear perception of the real nature, as they supposed it to be, of men and things. And it added to the necessity of knowledge, the necessity of purity. of courtesy, of uprightness, of peace, and of a universal love far-reaching, grown great and beyond measure. (Prof. Rhys Davids, Hibbert lectures)
Exponent of New Social System The Buddha was not only the earliest exponent of the new social system but he was equally the first in the field to elaborate it. It was he who first proclaimed the equality of men, their fraternity and universal brotherhood. It was he who first proclaimed the worthlessness of sacrifice to the gods. and taught men the value of social service. (Harisingh Gour, M.A., D.Litt., "Spirit of Buddhism")
The Buddha Is Nearer to Us You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms --one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immortality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to us and our needs. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality. (H. G. Wells)
The period between the seventh and fifth century BC, was a time of spiritual searching throughout the ancient world. It saw the beginning of Greek philosophy, the rise of the prophets of Israel, Confucius in China and (according to Parsi tradition) the time of Zoroaster in Persia. This period saw the birth of the Jain and Ajivika teachings, with the greatest of all, 'the Light of Asia' Gautama the Buddha . . . A doctrine of annihilation* ( of greed, hatred and delusion) in which an omnipotent God has no place, might seem one of profound pessimism, yet Buddhism was saved from being negative by the emphasis placed on free-will and humility. The importance of compassion, of charity and alms giving, all combined to generate a religion of warmth and love. Together with Jainism, Buddhism helped to create a revolutionary concept, that of 'ahimsa' or harmlessness; the idea of respect for others which evolves from a self-respect.
Prof. Hugh Tinker Professor of government and politics at the school of Orient and African Studies, London University