10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion.

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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…


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.


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:

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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 | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


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

  1. 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.

  2. 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."

  3. 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"…

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. harshana says:

    Awesome Article

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. mtiffany8523 says:

    I understood your article and enjoyed reading it.

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