A man said to the Buddha, "I want Happiness." Buddha said, first remove "I", that's ego, then remove "want", that's desire. See now you are left with only Happiness. If the story given above true? If not why not?

  • 3
    The story is not true. This is a fake Buddha quote. You can find more info here: fakebuddhaquotes.com/a-man-said-to-the-buddha-i-want-happiness
    – ruben2020
    Jan 28, 2019 at 14:18
  • 2
    But it does work. :D
    – OyaMist
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:39
  • Is it unwholesome to desire happiness, even if the source of that happiness is unworldly in nature? Is not that one of the many reasons and motivations for taking refuge in the Dhamma? Feb 3, 2019 at 8:56
  • It seems true to me but I have no idea whether it's canonical. Assuming the word refers to what most people use it to mean all that would be left to do is to remove 'happiness'.
    – user14119
    Mar 4, 2019 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


If the story given above true? If not why not?

It's not canonical -- A man said to the Buddha, ‘I want Happiness.’ is listed as one of the "fake Buddha quotes".

As for whether it's true, yes and no.

Yes to the extent that "wanting" is associated with unhappiness, though even there you might have to split hairs to distinguish between "unwholesome craving" versus a "wholesome desire for enlightenment" -- though even the wholesome desire is allayed once the goal is attained.

And no I guess it's not as simple as that -- it's like going to a doctor and saying, "I have cancer", and the doctor saying, "well take away the cancer then, problem solved" -- the Buddha was more helpful/detailed than that.

Also no because its "truth" depends on the definitions of various words, like "happiness", which are maybe just empty words.


I happen to think that short story is a good one, in a very Buddhist way, even if it is a very recent invention. Even the quote was originally authored in English, and not translated from an authentic Sanskrit or Chinese text... and it probably wasn't.

It is important to note that most "Buddhist" sutras, even those describing conversations with the Buddha, are not actually historical, biographical records of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Generally speaking, most sutras were written by monks centuries later, after coming out of a deep meditative trance. The Mahayana texts are extremely obvious about this; but even with the Theravada texts, and even the Pali Canon itself, it is it not clear how much was authored directly by Shakyamuni and his contemporaries.

And that's okay. The entire reason the Buddha taught was so that his disciples could meditate and achieve serenity and insight independently of Shakyamuni himself.

TLDR: Most historical Buddhist texts are "fake Buddha quotes" because that is the whole reason why Buddha founded the religion.

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