Ayn Rand: Objectivism vs Buddhism. ~ Andrew Furst

Via elephant journal
on Dec 7, 2011
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Recently Brian Culkin posted an article entitled, In Defense of Ayn Rand. While I don’t offer any  criticism of the fundamental point of the article, it was a good one, I do see a big inconsistency on one of his statement.

“My personal belief is that the philosophy of Rand, when applied on a higher plane that also includes a deeper sense of spirituality, can easily be aligned with Buddhism, Yoga or any other philosophical system that embodies the human potential.” ~  Brian Culkin

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is directly at odds with with spirituality and anything you might set on par with a “higher plane”. As Brian mentions, she was a militant atheist, a point of view completely inconsistent with Buddhism or Yoga.

Rand trumpets self interest, atheism, and full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism. Her philosophy, coming into its own with the advent of the current conservative movement may have some chops. But it offers a barren and self-ish world view and in my opinion, doesn’t hold up to the test of examination.

Her philosophy portrays man’s condition as an individual alone in the world. While this perspective may seem familiar, it treats interdependence and its by product, cooperation, as a mere convention based on self interest. It also denies the transcendent.

In contrast, Yoga—the union of the transcendent and the conventional self, and Buddhism—being awake to the transcendent and conventional aspects of ourselves, take into account the deep connection and interdependence of life.

Rand’s philosophy only takes a half step towards the truth. I find it odd that she shares a home in today’s conservative movement with Evangelical Christians. I think trying to draw parallels between Yoga, Buddhism and Rand’s Objectivism is a case of talking out of both sides of your mouth. Human potential is further served by embracing the transcendent. Objectivism cuts it off at the heart.

Click here to read more about the differences between Ayn Rand and the great mystics of the world’s spiritual traditions.



Andrew Furst is a Meditation Teacher for Buddha Heart USA, a yogi, a backup guitarist for his two teenage boys, a lucky husband, a third dan, and a self employed software consultant. He’s generally forgetful and generally interested. He’s constantly trying to remind himself that he’s in union with the great divine, and willing to send reminders to anyone needing the same.

Click here to visit his website.




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8 Responses to “Ayn Rand: Objectivism vs Buddhism. ~ Andrew Furst”

  1. does not like dogma says:

    I could not disagree more with the article. I too have become an atheist over the years, (even though i was raised catholic), and have found in yoga a place that resonates with me, particularly the non-dogmatic aspect of it (may be I have not been exposed to the more rigid yoga definition described by the author). I don't hold strong political views but I belive in equality of opportunities and the influence public policy can have in this. And yet Ayn Rand still resonates with me.

  2. dub_xion says:

    As @truth and @does not like dogma state, Buddhism does not necessitate a higher power. Although the Buddha asks his students "to be a light unto yourselves", which might be echoed by Objectivism, the path of Buddhism results in the understanding of not-self, while Objectivism exults in the self. Ayn Rand being such a fan of rationality and logic might have, given the opportunity to talk with a Buddhist logician, found some deeper understanding than what she ended up with and promoted.

  3. lama kunga says:

    i agree with many points, good article

  4. misterioso says:

    This is another outstanding rebuttal to an attack on Ayn Rand delivered by Michael M. My deepest gratitude, MM.

  5. Barbara says:

    If y'all can get over the dig at atheism, the real difference between Rand and dharma is that Rand really did see humans as individuals alone in the world. She was hostile to the reality that as individuals we depend on each other and the societies we all create together. The desires of the individual must take precedence over the good of community, in her view. Buddhism, on the other hand, begins with the proposition that the "self," what we call "I," is a kind of illusion, and clinging to this illusion leads to greed and desire, which is at the root of all our problems and unhappiness. You really cannot reconcile those two perspectives.

  6. integralhack says:

    Good point, Barbara.

  7. Vern says:

    There is nothing inconsistent with Atheism and Buddhism. Buddhism does not assert a deity nor encourage a belief in one.

  8. chaturg says:

    My 2 cents… (not a buddhist yet…)

    Ayn Rand values = Why (Purpose-Happiness) + What (Reason-tool of knowledge) + How (Self esteem-mind is competent)

    Gautam Buddha values = Why (Pradnyan-Higher Knowledge) + What (Sila-Wholehearted commitment to what is wholesome) + How (Samadhi-Excercise, memory & concentration)

    Both suggest "life is worth living"