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 only 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 my 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. Any thoughts?

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