Where is this quote from?

Since you’ve all been so helpful finding Pali chanting, i wondered whether anyone might be able to help me with something else. I’m looking for the source for this quote.

Buddhist or not Buddhist, I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world, and in none of them have I found anything to surpass, in beauty and comprehensiveness, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. I am content to shape my life according to that path.

It is attributed to TW Rhys Davids, the pioneering English indologist, in K Sri Dhammananda’s Buddhism in the Eyes of the Intellectuals. And it certainly sounds like him. But nowhere can I find where it comes from; the usual suspects (Google, Wikipedia) have been no help. I presume it will be in one of his books or essays on Buddhism, and we don’t have these here at Santi. So any ideas?


21 thoughts on “Where is this quote from?

    • Yes, well, that’s a lot of journals! On a happy day I’ll find time to read through them. I’ve glanced at the first one – it has a fascinating series of letters from Theras in Sri Lanka to Rhy Davids on the founding of the PTS and their work. The letters are in Sinhala, and one is in Pali.

  1. There is a manuscript from K. L. Senarath Dayathilake on my hard drive that quotes it. The ms. in general is good about citing sources, but it skips this one, as you can see here:

    ‘Psychology is not a new science, the Abhidhamma the third division of Pali texts of Theravada school contain, a complete system of mind training based on analysis of consciousness taken to a degree not yet surpassed the by west. (Humphreys 1984) Founder President of the Pali Text Society of London, T.W. Rhys Davids said, “Buddhist or not Buddhist, I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world and in none of them have I found anything to surpass in beauty and comprehensiveness, the 8-fpld path and the four noble truths of the Buddha”. If the Buddhists and neuroscientists can put their heads together and figure out, now we can all wish to get a healthier world. (Barinaga 2003).’

    I could send you his email address if you like.

    • Thanks for the offer, DK, but i strongly suspect that Senarath, if he hasn’t given the source, is probably in the same boat we all are.

  2. It doesn’t appear to be in any of his books, the ones available online, such as at Sacred Texts or Forgotten Books.

    Looking through Google, it appears that it might be an oral quote, rather than something he wrote down. But there’s absolutely no date or place attached to when he might have said it.

  3. The internet seems to go in a loop. I can find numerous occasions of where that particular quote has been quoted but am unable to find where the quote originates. How odd! It must come from somewhere. Maybe the original is in a book that is not on the web. Hmmmm…

    “The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine.” Abraham Lincoln

  4. Now that I check that link is not as helpful as I thought… I think the quote is from the Hibbert Lectures made by T W Rhys David’s in 1881..

    • The Hibbert Lectures are online and it’s not in there. I suspect it might be a quote from another book or text, possibly his wife’s. Or maybe even an author much later on!

      http://www.archive.org/ has lots and lots of these old books and texts to sift through 🙂

  5. I have emailed the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge about the quote. The faculty has a Rhys Davids archive, so may well know the source. Will let you know if I get a reply

    • Sorry, but they were no help either. Here is the answer from Dr Margaret Cone:

      ‘I have delayed in replying, but I know others have been thinking and searching. I can’t help, I’m afraid. The quote doesn’t sound as if it comes from a book or academic article – rather an article for a newspaper or magazine (in Sri Lanka?)


      Margaret Cone’

    • If I am not mistaken, Margaret Cone is doing the most updated Pali Eng dictionary but she is only just over half way through… (just as an aside 🙂

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