10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Apr 5, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Wisdom burns its own flame. So does humor. So does this title, which makes fun of the notion of religious one upsmanship. Read beyond the title, if curious:

If you don’t do Buddhism

don’t worry,

you’re not going to hell.

*You’ll just endure countless lifetimes of cyclical suffering.

1. We’re not really a religion. As the Dalai Lama said, if Buddhism and Science disagree, go with science. As the Buddha himself said, don’t believe anything I say unless it matches with your experience.

We are however a path: there are teachings, meditation practices, rituals with meaning…but it’s all centered on one point. Wake up. Be kind. Be present. Be genuine. Be generous to others.

2. We don’t go to war, much. Historically, when we’re attacked, our anemic joke-of-an-army fights heroically while the rest of wherever we’re at flees, gets burned, looted, raped, pillaged. No fun for us, but at least we don’t fight others in order to spread our religion.

3. Buddhism works. If we meditate, and we meditate some more, and we study, and we work with our mixed bag of a (difficult, incompetent, sycophantic, insecure, kind, generous, gentle, eco-minded, tolerant) community, we’ll naturally begin to soften, and straighten, and enjoy life, and help others enjoy life more, too.

4. Buddhism doesn’t believe in anything. Any Buddhist who tells you to believe in reincarnation or anything that can’t be proven is caught up in superstition, and should be forcibly sent to remedial Buddhist meditation camp, which sounds like a fun camp.

5. Buddhist teachers are transparent. The greatest Buddhist teacher I’ve ever known was utterly human: full of “mistakes,” full of wildness and sweetness, open about just about everything. If Buddhist teachers aren’t transparent...on to number six.

6. Buddhism is non-theistic. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. Serving is leadership.

Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. To lead is to serve. To lead without serving is selfish and useless and silly. If a Buddhist teacher leads out of arrogance or selfish privilege, they will be slapped in the face, with a grin. It’s happened.

7. Buddhism doesn’t say other religions are wrong or anyone’s going to hell and doesn’t advocate judging others “nonbelievers” from afar, let alone sending them to some sort of eternal damnation. In the Buddhist view, we’re all damned already by our happiness-desiring egos, but luckily we’re all fundamentally aok, and we just can relax and (through meditation, study) begin to be ourselves, and serve others in suffering. And then the joke is we’ll start being happy.

8. Buddhism is of the world. It is wildly enthusiastic about money, sex, family, business, sports, books, education, politics…as long as these things are being used to help us and others wake up and be of benefit, it’s all good.

9. Buddhism is not laissez-faire New Ageyness. While Westerners who embrace Buddhism as a lifestyle may be irritating Portlandiaish parodies of a type, like yours truly, Buddhism is all about tradition, about being a good, dues-paying member of society, about decorum and giving back and the arts.

~

The 10th Reason why Buddhism is Better than your Religion is…

{drumroll}

We’re not better than your religion.
Your religion has lots of goodness and helpful stuff in it, and you should honor and practice that if you like. If you don’t like, you should become agnostic or atheistic and that’s pretty awesome, too. My grandma is a lifelong intellectual agnostic, and she’s the kindest person I know. As an old Christian saying goes, I can see how close you are to God by how kind you are.

Yoga, Christianity, Buddhism, Republicanism, Libertarianism, any ism…none is better than another. That’s not the point. They’re paths of truth, hopefully. Of finding peace, and true happiness. They are not meant to create further war.

Let’s stop the My Way is Better than Yours stuff.

 ~

Bonus:
This is all Buddhists want:

Buddhism isn’t about being perfect. It’s about having a sense of humor, and getting over ourselves, and yet being ourselves:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDSAAlrqAHM[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5XnFAcjAJY[/youtube]


112,660 views

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

Comments

88 Responses to “10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion.”

  1. […] It’s not about dogma, even tradition: it’s about reality. […]

  2. thashi says:

    And also buddhism is better than ur religion becuse in buddism v dont slaughter innocent animals in the names of GODS!
    😉

  3. shay says:

    same goes with many other religions but the difference is Buddhism develops over time and learns as it goes along…….most other religions don't

  4. Claudiu says:

    #7 is just plain wrong, sir. The suttas are full of the Buddha telling people they will go to hell for various reasons. Some such reasons are:
    1) saying that the Buddha doesn't have superhuman knowledge: "21. "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.012… .
    2) reviling the monks: "Or how these beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell.'" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.130

    Oh religions.

  5. Thomas says:

    Buddhists do believe in hell. Hot and cold.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Love this! Great article!

  7. Poolboy says:

    The title of this article is "10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion."

    Yet look at reason 6 and 7.

  8. Hi Waylon,

    This sounds like a Brad Warner, Stephen Batchelor, American middle aged white guy version of Buddhism. It sounds very easy and there doesn't sound like there a need for great doubt, which I think is a big part of the practice, because with great doubt comes the questions, What is reincarnation, What is Buddha, What is this…cup of coffee. Great doubt helps us ask what is this path?

    Your interpretation doesn't have enough grit. It sounds like it's going to be an easy time at a meditation gym and I should bring my own spandex. My biggest problems is when you say "Any Buddhist who tells you to believe in reincarnation or anything that can’t be proven is caught up in superstition, and should be forcibly sent to remedial Buddhist meditation camp, which sounds like a fun camp." How can we prove anything? Buddhism is not about proving, it's about inquiry.

    Thanks anyway!

  9. latterenee says:

    Fantastic article! On a side note, you may want to check out this relevant article from Time about Wirathu. It involves #7…Although at least he's being transparent about his abhorrent behavior? http://lightbox.time.com/2013/06/20/when-buddhist

  10. Pedro says:

    Thank you for providing a humorous look at something people take way too seriously as evidenced by some of the comments. I appreciate a lighthearted take on life, the things that help make us happy and the things we find less than helpful. No criticism, no corrections, just enjoying the way you presented your comparison to other philosophies. Keep sharing the happiness and love you have found. Have a great day!

  11. Jason says:

    I appreciated this article, and probably only read it because of the controversial, provocative title (which, as Waylon points out, one need only read through the whole article to feel less provoked). I've been studying Buddhism off and on for about 20 years now, and if there is one thing I've learned is that it's impossible to pin it down. Whenever someone starts talking about what Buddhism is or what Buddhists think, I just smile and start watching my breath. There are so many paths, and so many cultural influences and additions. And the Buddha himself, within one lifetime and within one culture, gave different teachings to different people based on their education and world view. Some of his teachings reflect relative truth (e.g., everything is impermanent and will pass away) and some reflect absolute truth (e.g., nothing is born and nothing dies). One can't state emphatically that the Buddha taught that a physical place called "hell" exists beyond this world just because he references hell in one of the suttas. Different Buddhist teachers, perhaps depending upon their own cultural influences and degree of illumination, offer seemingly conflicting views on whether and how hell might exist — some asserting that it does exist as a separate realm, others that it exists as a psychological state of being in this very here and now that is experienced during anger, jealousy, fear, etc.

    With regard to some of the comments that seem to put down "simplistic, Western notions Buddhism" — why should Western notions of Buddhism contain less weight, be given less merit, than Chinese, Japanese or Tibetan notions? Just because Buddhism has been practiced longer in those countries? I personally feel that the Western tendency to question dogmatic belief systems fits in perfectly with the teachings of the Buddha.

    This is a difficult forum to discuss such things, as pretty much anything anyone says is going to elicit a reaction. But in a way, this is one of the things I love most about Buddhism — that it provokes passionate discussion that ultimately leads to being more awake in the world 😉

  12. Jason says:

    I appreciated this article, and probably only read it because of the controversial, provocative title (which, as Waylon points out, one need only read through the whole article to feel less provoked). I've been studying Buddhism off and on for about 20 years now, and if there is one thing I've learned is that it's impossible to pin it down. Whenever someone starts talking about what Buddhism is or what Buddhists think, I just smile and start watching my breath. There are so many paths, and so many cultural influences and additions. And the Buddha himself, within one lifetime and within one culture, gave different teachings to different people based on their education and world view. Some of his teachings reflect relative truth (e.g., everything is impermanent and will pass away) and some reflect absolute truth (e.g., nothing is born and nothing dies). One can't state emphatically that the Buddha taught that a physical place called "hell" exists beyond this world just because he references hell in one of the suttas. Different Buddhist teachers, perhaps depending upon their own cultural influences and degree of illumination, offer seemingly conflicting views on whether and how hell might exist — some asserting that it does exist as a separate realm, others that it exists as a psychological state of being in this very here and now that is experienced during anger, jealousy, fear, etc.

  13. Catriona says:

    I'm sorry but I think this article is really insensitive and pretty offensive. There are many places in the world where there are serious conflicts, killing and violence being carried out in the name of Buddhism or protection of Buddhism. I am living in one of these places now and intolerance between religions is a real and serious problem. The things that the author jokes about are being claimed in serious by others. A jokey article on this subject is not a helpful contribution to this debate.

  14. ggee says:

    Article sounded too biased. I don't like it. Not because Buddhism is said as the best religion but saying Buddhism is better than your religion makes it sound arrogant.

  15. Dana says:

    enjoyed reading. Regarding comments…people can get so bent out of shape. I always think of my connection to what i know about buddhism is this…holy crap batman buddhists are not perfect either and that is the point. They do however have a way of relating very real topics in life with very real ways to deal with things with kindness, love and enjoyment during this life without allowing judgement to enter. I consider it part of my moral compass….What would my buddha mind do, say or not do. It keeps me grounded, it reminds me to simply be happy. So thanks for this article, it made me smile. 🙂

  16. @Spunjo1221 says:

    Buddhism is better than your religion because it is not better than your religion? Buddhism seems a bit nihilistic when described as it is in this article

  17. Rachel says:

    The title of the article was off-putting to me, those who dont read your work regularly would be unable to inderstand its intimation, and having spent time in Sri Lanka I can assure you that wars are fought in the name of Buddhism. I am, however, thankful for your article because the discussion in comments have taught me more about Buddhism than anything else has in the past year. For that I am grateful.

  18. Min Banyar says:

    No.They are not fighting in the name of Buddhism.They are fighting in the for their Nationality right.

  19. todd says:

    1. We’re not really a religion. As the Dalai Lama said, if Buddhism and Science disagree, go with science. As the Buddha himself said, don’t believe anything I say unless it matches with your experience.

    **Not entirely true. In the Kalamas sutta, the Buddha states that it is more than just personal experience:

    "Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them."

    8. Buddhism is of the world. It is wildly enthusiastic about money, sex, family, business, sports, books, education, politics…as long as these things are being used to help us and others wake up and be of benefit, it’s all good.

    **This seems like a convenient popularizing of the teaching, but how can Buddhism be of the world? Siddhartha was not a grihastha (householder), but a sannyasin (renouncer). Unless you are specifically talking about the Mahayana paths and the syncretism that led to the concept of the bodhisattva, the path of Buddhism is wholly based upon an understanding of the pratityasamutpada, i.e. dependent origination. I don't how anyone could understand this doctrine and say Buddhism is "of the world". To be sure, there are many people that call themselves Buddhist, but if it's not a religion, AND they don't take up the robes, how can one be called a Buddhist? Anyway, in the tenth chapter of the Vinaya Cullavagga, Lord Buddha himself said very clearly that the authenticity of his teaching would only last 500 years, attributing the decline (in a somewhat misogynistic vein) to ordaining women as nuns:

    "If, Ānanda, women had not gone forth from the home into homelessness in the Way and Discipline made known by the Tathāgata, then the Holy Life would last a long time; the true Way would last for a thousand years. But since, Ānanda, women have gone forth from the home into homelessness in the Way and Discipline made known by the Tathāgata, now, Ānanda, the Holy Life will not last for a long time; now, Ānanda, the true Way will last for only five hundred years."

  20. Marco says:

    Come on people! If you don't have a sense of humor, why bother reading this article? Did you notice the laughing Buddha at the top? Did you read the 10th reason ( We’re not better than your religion!)…. Spirituality is also about laughing and having joyful moments and acceptance of others. It does not have to be serious all the time. We don't have agree on everything. There are many paths to "heaven"…
    Namaste.

  21. Jake says:

    Buddhism is the only religion that hasn't done anything evil in history yet. Christianity is known for Crusade and religious persecution; Islam is known for Jihad; Judaism is known for genocides & massacres as recorded in the Bible; Hinduism is known for the Caste system as well as Sati, the practice of cremating widows alive.

  22. Sierra says:

    Or how about with kindness instead of either?

  23. Sierra says:

    How it was explained to me is that buddhism and taoism both exist in a culture that has a word to explain neither religion nor spirituality. That Buddhism and Taoism can be practiced in and out of other "typical" religions because it is not one, it exists as something that in the West there is no name for.

  24. ddd says:

    What I like in buddhists is that they aren't wide eyed crazy-looking and trying to persuade you of their truth, when the question arises.
    It is almost amazing that you can notice glimpses of craziness in the eyes of so many christians, mormons, muslims.. it's weird.

  25. Gegee says:

    Only one philosophy that betray the one that give oxygen to sittadha (buddish inventer) life blow
    Every philosophy faithful to that one name is GOD

    and buddish is supjetive in please thing soil stone tree fiber and the thing in myst that is all benefet with merchandice

    Buddish have god difference another philosophy. They have GOD for neny to betray but other have to faithful

  26. Heather says:

    And we inevitably reach the "my buddhism is better than your buddhism" end point. I also am Tibetan tradition buddhist and love this article. If you ever met Lama Yehse, the abbot of Samye Ling in Scotland, you'd find him the most down to earth, purely joyful you'll ever meet. This "dabbling westerners" rubbish is just that. Rubbish. Why is their path less valid than yours because you've squirrelled away a few words of Sanskrit/Pali/Tibetan? Their path to mindfulness and buddhism is no less important. But your views are the most unbuddhist I've come across for a while. Thankfully..

  27. jim says:

    Number 2 is fairly inaccurate. Currently BUddhist monks are very active in persecuting Muslim minorities in Burma and are increasingly intolerant of non Muslims in Sri Lanka. In Burma's civil unrest monks have been quick to incite civilians to attack Muslims resulting in many deaths. Some monks have however offered sanctuary to those fleeing the saffron Taliban.

  28. Jeffery says:

    Buddhism is more than an ordinary religion. It is a system of the mind-centered teachings of the Buddha.

    Since tolerance plays an important role in buddhism, there had been no war or battle in the world history due to buddhism and its adherents.

    Of course in recent years in Myanmar, minor civil disorder arose between buddhists and muslims. In such situations, the Buddhist monks are not persecuting Muslims but they are just fighting for their own nationality without any violence. Since the nationality and religion cannot be separated there is nothing wrong with the monks trying to protect their nationality. To tell the truth, in the past few years in Myanmar it was found with evidence that a certain group of Muslims create anti-buddhism blogs on the Internet and criticize the Buddha and his teachings in a very bad manner. These are some factors leading to the conflict between buddhists and muslims.

    Buddhists accept the concept of rebirth but not reincarnation.

    One further point Dalai Lamai said ‘If Buddhism and science conflict we go with science’. It is not correct at all. There may be certain aspects of Buddhism that do not fit into scientific definitions but there needs no conflict between two of them. Of course the teachings of the Buddha include certain concepts of cosmology that do not suit the today’s scientific discoveries and measurements. Considering only this we cannot say the teachings are wrong. But we should note that the measurements (e.g., the diameter of the sun or the moon) are not the natural truths. Measurements can change more or less in the world. Even the conditions today and yesterday in the universe cannot be exactly the same. That is what the Buddha called the law of changing or impermanence. However the Four Noble Truths and the Dependent Origination cannot change or be changed as long as the world exists.

  29. CazzaMate says:

    It seems to me there is a ton of judgment here, which is certainly not in keeping with Buddhist tradition or philosophy. It is very consistent with our culture right now. Maybe it would be beneficial to reread the article with a sense of humor and humility. Sometimes you do not have to be right in order to win. If correcting him makes you feel like you win one over on him, than so be it. But remember, a very intelligent and enlighten Buddhist once said, "Do not transfer the oxen's load to the cow." Meaning that the critique of his article is much more self directed than most posters can admit. Maybe it is time to be kinder, be less judgmental, allow people to explore what they might without being judged or labeled, and stop taking everything so personally. It is time to let go and let be. We would all be happier. Please go in peace and not as a critic. Nobody appreciates a critic.

  30. harshana says:

    Awesome Article

  31. SSDD says:

    Buddhists fought wars for political reasons. Not to spread their religion.

  32. Linda V. Lewis says:

    It's why Trungpa R. preferred the word "buddhadharma" to buddhism, as the way he presented it was as a way of life, not as a singular belief system–in fact, the view of dharma evolves over the course of the 3 yanas: first work on oneself, tame one's mind; then extend mindfulness-awareness to others in the form of compassion, generosity, + patience; then on that basis and great awareness see the world as sacred–which tends to bring out the best in everyone one encounters!

  33. athea marcos amir says:

    You guys are wonderful and I love, love, LOVE this post. I am happy to be in the world the same time you are.

    I had a friend whose daughter asked her, "Mom, if I turn out to be just ordinary, is it all right?"

    I think of myself as the world's worst Buddhist because I don't like animals, but Buddhism has taught me I don't have to be the best of anything, just my own flawed self.

    Athea Marcos Amir, San Miguel de Allende

  34. thil says:

    In Sri Lanka back in the 90 was not a war among Hindus and Buddhists lol. Actually Hindus believe Buddha to be a reincarnation of their Lord Krishna and they respect Buddhism as much as they do with their own religion. But there has been a struggle for lands in which some Tamil people (Tamil Christians, Tamil Buddhists, Tamil Hindus etc) believe North and East parts of Sri Lanka to be their Historic lands and keep asking for a separate country. However armed conflict was ended by 2009 and peace has been almost established. I don't understand how you keep saying gibberish with so much confidence.

  35. thil says:

    As far as i understand, yes Buddha has mentioned about hells and heavens. I am not sure if i remember this correctly. anyway in a story, Buddha explains his monks that he uses various techniques to keep his listeners in the right track. First he tries to improve enthusiasm of his listeners by explaining Dukka in hells and Happiness in heavens just to improve their motivation to listen more(And they may be historically accurate and valid as well). But for some listeners he directly go for deep dhamma parts that can only be experienced and nothing to believe.

  36. thil says:

    I am Buddhist and i don't believe. Hot and Cold. To have a religious perspective for Buddhism, it can be wrapped up with a belief system which can either be true or false. But there is no restriction to stay out of beliefs in Buddhism. Actually Dhamma is explained as "Ehi passiko, Opanaiko, Pangnanthan wehi thabbo" which means Come and experience by yourselves, and be understood with by own levels of wisdom.

  37. Mu Mu says:

    There are a lots of people or monks saying they are Buddhist but NOT practicing what Buddha taught. That’s is the example of what is happening at Burma on Muslim vs Buddhist. My family itself is born as Buddhist but they don’t even know what is real Buddhist is. They are Buddhist by tradition.

  38. mtiffany8523 says:

    I understood your article and enjoyed reading it.

Leave a Reply