Verification of a popular quote

Dear fellow Dhamma practitioners

There is a famous saying that is credited to Siddartha Gautama Buddha

“There are three things that cannot be long hidden: The Sun, the Moon and the Truth”

Can anyone tell me where I can reference this quote in the texts?

Does it appear in the EBT or even in the later texts?

My reason for asking is that the same quote is also attributed to Confucius

Please see the two pictures attached


Three things shine in the open, not under cover. What three? The moon shines in the open, not under cover. The sun shines in the open, not under cover. The teaching and training proclaimed by a Realized One shine in the open, not under cover.

AN3.131: SuttaCentral


Thank you Mike: And thank you for the scriptural reference too! :smiley:


There is also this website you can consult on such questions:


It’s a nice quote, and it handily illustrates both the benefits and pitfalls of such “quotations”.

On the one hand, the popular version is brief and poetic, quotable in a way that the original isn’t.

At the same time, it loses the specific context: the “truth” meant the Buddha’s Dhamma, not just anything that’s true. Losing that context makes the saying more universal, yet at the same time, with loss of context comes loss of semantic weight.

Not only is it vaguer, the sense has shifted. Without knowing the context, I’d take the popular quote to mean, “Even if you try to hide the truth, it will out!” But that’s not the sense of the original at all. The point there is to contrast the Buddha’s teaching with other teachings, such as the Vedas, that were maintained in a secret lineage.



Thank you so very much Bhante
for taking the time out to reply to my question so informatively
Thank you also for your such thorough and detailed work
in the ‘Authenticity of The Early Buddhist Texts’
Bless you Bhante