I am not sure if Buddha said it or not, I was flipping around some Buddha quotes pictures and found an image saying "Its better to travel well than to arrive". can anyone explain What does it mean ? Thanks


5 Answers 5


“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” is a fake Buddhist Quote.


Hope and anticipation are often better than reality.


This phrase is a Robert Louis Stevenson quotation, from Virginibus Puerisque, 1881:

"Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour."

Stevenson was expressing the same idea as the earlier Taoist saying - "The journey is the reward."

Source: The meaning and origin of the expression: To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive

"The journey is the reward." seems to be a Chinese Proverb

If you look at this in the context of Noble Eightfold Path and Nirvana it is better to arrive than how or how well you travel. It seems to me like the opposite of this statement is true.

Although the eightfold path is conditioned [], its goal, nirvana (nibbāna), is free from conditions (visaṅkhāra,gata) (Dh 154): nirvana is unconditioned (asaṅkhata). Only nirvana is free from all conditions: it is “the stilling of all formations” (sabba,saṅkhāra,samatha). This stilling of all conditions is true happiness (Dh 368, 381). In the Māluṅkya,putta Sutta (S 35.95), the Buddha defines this stilling of all formations as “the ending of suffering.”

Source: The Path of Awakening The way, the life and the liberation of the noble eightfold path by Piya Tan

Now, ayya, is the noble eightfold path conditioned or is it unconditioned?

"The noble eightfold path, avuso Visākha, is conditioned."

Cūla Vedalla Sutta

What this entails is that traveling the path itself is suffering / misery with a view to end suffering / misery. So ending of misery is better than the journey to end misery which is also miserable. Having said this as you progress if the path the misery in general will become less and less and states like Piti and Passaddhi arise. [(Dasaka) Cetanā’karaṇīya Sutta, (Ekā,dasaka) Cetanā’karaṇīya Sutta]


It is better to travel well than to arrive. Means Focus on your journey rather than drop point.

  • Welcome to S.E. I would request you to follow "How to answer"
    – Ritesh.mlk
    Mar 31, 2017 at 8:38

This is probably not an authentic quote, as Suminda points out, and you should always check with Fake Buddha Quotes when you see such statements attributed to the Buddha on memes etc.

However, the sentiment is an authentic Zen teaching in the sense that we believe there is no 'aha!' moment after which you are enlightened and there is no further need of training.

Dogen (the Soto founder) said that practice and enlightenment were one (i.e. without conceptualising, no separation can be found between practice and enlightenment), wrote an essay on the subject of 'ascending Buddhas' (i.e. Buddhas are still and always training) and the final Bodhisattva vow can be translated as 'enlightenment is unattainable, I vow to attain it'.


I've never read the Buddha but ...sounds like it just means 'don't desire for gain' ('mushotoku'), i.e., don't have any goals for your actions, the view being that it's best simply to 'get into' undertaking them. (In psychological literature this is sometimes referred to as 'flow'.) This means that it's not about hope etc. either, including a hope for the end of the journey (as per Robert Louis Stevenson); it means you should have no goal, hence no hope for an end result. (Not that I suspect that Buddha, if he existed, wanted anyone to think in this way but - throwing ideas of goals away allows you to focus on the task itself thereby deriving genuine happiness. This said, the argument made is also against pursuing an action for the purposes of obtaining happiness too, since this would then also constitute a 'goal' of the action [in this case a desire for happiness]. He's basically arguing the Nike slogan - just do it. Don't have any desires - or goals, which reflect desires.) p.s., Although I've no idea if it's a real quotation or not, the underlying notion overlaps pretty nicely with the idea of shikantaza/just sitting - not sitting/meditating with a desire for an outcome e.g., enlightenment. Doing so seems to detract from/break meditation.

  • Like Gita says "Niskam Karma"
    – Ritesh.mlk
    Feb 14, 2017 at 12:34
  • Sounds about right!
    – BenC
    Feb 14, 2017 at 12:53

I've read it in the context of life and death. In his quote, "It is better to travel well than to arrive.", Buddha is looking at life as a journey. Although death is, ultimately, the final destination, it more important for one to live than it is to reach the 'destination'. Therefore, it is more important for one to live life well than it is for one to die.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .