Don“t Quote Buddha, Be Buddha!

Don“t panic — this head­line is much less eso­teric as you might think. It came to my mind today, when I saw many peo­ple mourn­ing the death of musi­cian David Bowie, quot­ing him through­out the day.

For this post, David Bowie“s death and the uni­ver­sal reac­tions to it are very well suit­ed to explain my view on quot­ing great men and women: why not rather act­ing like them as quot­ing them? My feel­ing is that peo­ple quot­ing other — most­ly pret­ty well known — peo­ple would like to be like these peo­ple — and by quot­ing them and shar­ing their ideas with their own social graph they either might bor­row a lit­tle bit of their wis­dom and/or at least express their own feel­ings in a bet­ter way than they have could them­selves.

In one of today“s exam­ples, David Bowie is quot­ed:

Don“t look at me. Look at your­self. You can be, wear and say every­thing you want […].

Sounds good, does­n’t it? Yes, of course — and at least for me that’s the way life is — there’s noth­ing spe­cial in it — because I usu­al­ly act as David rec­om­mends. Ok — this one is easy, you might say. But we could go on and on: if I real­ly like and agree with the thoughts of some­one else I start act­ing alike, don’t I? Quot­ing intel­li­gent proverbs is nice but can be dan­ger­ous: While cit­ing wise words I could stick to my own, quite dif­fer­ent and not so wise actions Quot­ing only means that I cre­ate a dis­tance between me and the quot­ed per­son.

Only by inter­nal­iz­ing wise thoughts of some­one else they will have real and pos­i­tive effects on myself. That’s the mean­ing of this post’s head­line: why quot­ing Bud­dha, if you can be — i.e. act like — Bud­dha? There is absolute­ly no hubris in that — rather the oppo­site is true — the lit­er­al mean­ing of bud­dhism is not stand­ing aside and quot­ing wise monks but act­ing wise­ly your­self. So, don‘t quote, be!

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