Debunked: "You must love yourself before you love another" - fake Buddha quote


Senior Member.
I'm sure we've all heard the line "you must love yourself first, before you can truly love another" - and maybe even tried to apply it - but, notwithstanding the dubiousness of the advice, where does it come from?

Lately I've seen it ascribed to Buddha, with additional text, such as at AZ Quotes:
The first two sentences appear to be taken from the 1974 book 'The Nature of Personal Reality' by Jane Roberts:
The third sentence appears to be from Sharon Salzberg's 1995 book, “Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness":
Nothing in Buddhist scripture, however, matches these words.

How the two quotes became joined together may be as a result of a 2012 blog post at psychology "The 50 Best Quotes on Self-Love". In the section titled "Love Yourself"...
See also: for a possible explanation of why Salzberg credited those words to Buddha, as well as other further details (great site)
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Senior Member


Senior Member.
here in 1979 some Buddhist guy is talking about Buddha's "Love yourself" (page 65) quote and how if you love others without first loving yourself then it is ego.

so maybe its one of those quotes where they 'simplify' it, to get a general idea [of Buddha's] across. I don't want to study Buddha's love 'yourself ideas' to find out though.


Senior Member.
Good work! :)

I subsequently found the matching quote in a 1974 'Seth' book, and updated the OP accordingly.

The "Buddhist guy" you mention is famed cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - now more commonly known as 'Osho' - whose followers were the subject of a recent Netflix series, 'Wild, Wild Country'.

He was a man who played fast and loose with his quotes too - among other things - and I'd say the one he was referring to above is another he's put his own spin on. It's actually chapter 12 of the Dhammapada: a more traditional translation might begin, "If one regards oneself as dear, one should guard oneself right well [...] should establish oneself in what is suitable" as opposed to Osho's "Love yourself [...] establish yourself in the Way."

He was known as "the sex guru" and his followers carried automatic weapons. Not that Buddhist, really. ;)
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New Member
He was known as "the sex guru" and his followers carried automatic weapons. Not that Buddhist, really. ;)

He was not Buddhist in any sense at all, actually. He might best be described as "neo-Hindu." He was from a Hindu background but did his own thing. He never identified himself as a Buddhist.

And thanks, everyone, for tracking down the references. I'd already written up the Salzberg quote on my Fake Buddha Quotes site, but wasn't aware of the Roberts' quote until Rory brought it to my attention.

It's great to know that this site exists. Keep it up!


Senior Member.
The third sentence appears to be from Sharon Salzberg's 1995 book, “Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness":

According to the Buddha, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."

Nothing in Buddhist scripture, however, matches these words.​
As pointed out by Bodhipaksa on his own website, the Salzberg quote first appeared about six years earlier, in a magazine called 'Woman of Power' (either issue 12, 13, or 14). In an article titled 'Paths of the Heart: Loving Ourselves', she wrote:
While the second quote is, at best, a well-intentioned but questionable alternative interpretation of Udana 5.1, the first is more or less right, coming from verse 5 of the Dhammapada:
"Non-hatred" is not the same as "love" - it's a broad term that could encompass all manner of states of mind and actions - but the word "love" is perhaps more pleasing to our modern sensibilities, and better fitted Salzberg's agenda during the writing of the article and the book.

That said, there are other texts which elaborate on what non-hatred (of another person) might look like, such as sutta 5.161 of the Aṅguttara Nikāya, which advises: developing good will, or compassion, or equanimity; paying no attention to them; or contemplating and understanding why they are the way they are - most of which could be interpreted as "loving".

Nowhere in there, however, do we find support for Salzberg's assertion that Buddha was also talking about "self-hatred" and "self-love", or that he advised we "discover the meaning of true intimacy with ourselves."

'Tis a shame people feel they have to make stuff up to support what are already good and harmless ideas in their own right.​
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David Fraser

Senior Member.
Purely anecdotal but I studied Carl Rogers and person centred counselling. The phrase came up quite a lot but not quite a lot that I can pin the source down.
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