Criticism of Buddhism

overview about the criticism of Buddhism

The criticism of Buddhism is much like the criticism of any other religion. It is mainly done by people who do not agree with what the religion says and what it believes. The criticism often comes from agnostics, skeptics, materialist philosophy, people who follow other religions, or by Buddhists who want change.


Basic terms




Not true to Buddhist principles change

Criticisms include some beliefs that are only found in some Buddhist cultures and institutions. These are not all true to original Buddhist principles.[1] Sam Harris, a New Atheism supporter,[2] and believers in Buddhist meditation say that many followers of Buddhism treat it as a religion in the wrong way. They say that their beliefs are often "naive, petitionary, and superstitious". ("Petitionary" means making a petition, or a request, as when asking for help.) They think this stops the followers from living the true Buddhist principles.[3]

Some critics say Buddhist followers and leaders have been interested in property and money. They think that they are corrupt and are more interested in wealth and power rather than Buddhist principles.[4] There have been many sex scandals involving teachers in Western Buddhist groups.[5]

War and violence change

Michael Jerryson believes Buddhism has been connected to government since its start. He thinks that the inability to understand the idea of a country without Buddhism leads to a kind of religious nationalism. He feels this is found in many Buddhist conflicts.[6] In medieval Southeast Asia, there were many Buddhist states. These included the Pagan Kingdom, the Sukhothai Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. In Sri Lanka, modern monks often took part in the politics of the country.[7] They did this even though the Buddha only believed in helping others make their own choice in the government. Peace activists such as A. T. Ariyaratne have also used Buddhism for ways of doing things.

East Asian Mahayana Buddhists also often get money from the government. The Zen priest Brian Daizen Victoria wrote in his book Zen at War that Buddhist groups justified Japanese militarism. He said they helped the Japanese Army on the battlefield. Because of the book, several groups said sorry for their actions.[8]

Accusation of violence change

After the 2008 problems in the Tibetan area of the PRC, China claimed that the Dalai Lama helped to create the problems and violence. A Chinese spokesperson said that a large number of guns and explosives had been found in monasteries in the capital of Tibet.[9]

Feminist criticism change

Buddhism has been criticized because it treats women as less than men. This mainly deals with women monks.[10] Most schools of Buddhism have more rules for Bhikshuni (nuns) than bikshu (monks). Buddhists say that in the time of the Buddha, nuns had more problems like their safety. Monks often traveled in the forest and between cities. Because of this, more rules were created for nuns, for instance: nuns are not allowed to travel alone.[11]

At the 2007 Hamburg congress, The Dalai Lama said that men and women have equal rights, but at times, culture affects how things are done.

Related pages change

References change

    • Christine J. Nissen, (2008), "Buddhism and Corruption", in People of virtue: reconfiguring religion, power and moral order in Cambodia today, Alexandra Kent (Ed.), NIAS Press, p. 272-292.
    • Lopez, Donald S. (1999). Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. University of Chicago Press. p. 3.
    • John K. Locke (2005), "The Unique features of Newar Buddhism", in Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Vol. 6, Jane Williams (Ed.), Routeledge; p 295.
    • Lopez, Donald S. (2008). Buddhism & science: a guide for the perplexed. University of Chicago Press. p. 30. ISBN 9780226493121.
    • Seager, Richard Hughes (2000). Buddhism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 119.
    • Powell, Andrew (1995). Living Buddhism. University of California Press. p. 13. ISBN 9780520204102.
  1. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Daniel Dennett have been described as the "Four Horsemen" of the "New Atheism". See 'THE FOUR HORSEMEN,' Discussions with Richard Dawkins: Episode 1, RDFRS - Archived 2009-08-26 at the Wayback Machine and » Blog Archive » The Four Horsemen of the New Atheism Archived 2010-07-30 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Killing the Buddha Archived 2017-10-02 at the Wayback Machine by Sam Harris
  3. Bell, Sandra (2002). "Scandals in Emerging Western Buddhism". In Charles S Prebish & Martin Baumann (ed.). Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia (PDF). University of California Press. pp. 230–242. ISBN 0520226259.
  4. Jerryson, Michael and Mark Juergensmyer (2010). Buddhist Warfare, ch. 1, "Introduction."
  5. Ananda Abeysekara, "The Saffron Army, Violence, Terror(ism): Buddhism, Identity, and Difference in Sri Lanka". Numen 48.1 (2001).
  6. Zen at War (2nd ed.) by Brian Daizen Victoria / Rowman and Littlefield 2006, ISBN 0-7425-3926-1
  7. "China Steps Up Attacks, Brands Dalai Lama Supporters 'Scum of Buddhism'". Fox News. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
    • Keyes, Charles F. "Mother or Mistress but Never a Monk: Buddhist Notions of Female Gender in Rural Thailand", American Ethnologist, Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, 1984), pp. 223-241.
    • Gutschow, Kim (2004). Being a Buddhist nun: the struggle for enlightenment in the Himalayas. Harvard University Press. p. 207,225,240.
    • Lucinda Joy Peach (2001), "Buddhism and Human Rights in the Thai Sex Trade", in Religious Fundamentalisms and the Human Rights of Women, Courtney W. Howland (Ed)., Palgrave Macmillan, p. 219.
    • Janell Mills (2000), "Militarisim, civil war and women's status: a Burma case study", in Women in Asia: tradition, modernity, and globalisation, Louise P. Edwards (Ed.), University of Michigan Press, p. 269.
    • Campbell, June (2002). Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826457193.
  8. Women in Buddhism Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine (in English)

Other websites change