Is Catholicism and Buddhism compatible?


Here’s my take: On some levels, I say yes. Except for the concept of No Self; the idea that the Self is an illusion. The main reason why I say this is that practicing Buddhist meditation has helped me, in a degree; to manage my mental health issues and as a preparation to receive the Gospel. Fr Arrupe, a Jesuit; had practiced Zen meditation in the 1960s. Since Jesuit spirituality emphasizes serene acceptance, or detachment; and discernment; I see certain Buddhist practices as complimentary to Christian practice. What’s y’all’s takes on this?


It is NOT compatible. John Paul II publicly stated that Buddhism is an ATHEIST religion.


He did?! Was he speaking ex cathedral? I’ll of course submit to the Holy Father.


A lot of the practical applications are compatible I should think. But as far as theology and beliefs, no. Buddhism is predicated on the fact that we have no soul, and we are not distinct individuals. This seems antithetical to Christian understanding.


buddhism seems to be a default position for posters who want to troll on a catholic message board

very few catholics know anything about it

and to be honest; i doubt OP does


think the only thing compatible is moral issues. Other then that the teachings and beliefs are very different. As some pointed out there is no soul or me in Buddhism and no concept of a God either. Not to mention the believe in reincarnation.


That’s what I meant; the practical applications of Buddhist cognitive techniques. I speak from personal experience that meditative practices have helped me calm and sort through a lot of misconceptions about myself. The theology and beliefs are completely incompatible. Actually, there a lot of deities that Buddhism incorporated from the earlier animist religions they encountered and the bodhisattvas are basically like our saints.


Why are we asking if two separate, fully-fledged belief systems with their own histories, goals, and interior logic are compatible with each other? When I saw the thread on whether Islam and Christianity are compatible, I imagined someone shrinking a toaster and a washing machine, putting them into a particle acclerator, colliding them, and expecting a toaster-washer, the ultimate appliance, a washing machine or toaster with enhanced capabilities, etc. Basically, anything besides two broken, useless appliances.

I think a better question is to ask whether individual beliefs or practices are compatible with each other as they are parts and not the whole. However, it would be more likely that practices would be compatible than particle beliefs in the same way that two machines can carry out the same function but would not be able to swap parts.


But what I see are commonalities. Like Buddhist non attachment sounds a lot like what happens when a Christian forgives.


funny when I think of non-attachment I think of crucifying the desires of the flesh as paul says or when jesus says to follow him and anyone who looks back is not fit for the kingdom or to take up your cross etc


That makes sense. And that take up your cross is helped by the Buddhist concept of the acceptance of suffering.



Buddhist meditation is nothing like Christian meditation. Buddhist beliefs are antithetical to Catholic beliefs. I don’t see anything other than a superficial compatibility.

Btw, I find it extremely hilarious that the priest doing Zen meditation was a Jesuit.


Why hilarious? I’ve always had a deep respect for Jesuits.


Buddhism is classified as a world religion but it really isn’t .
The only way I can see it compatible is if someone tries to live by the Buddahs words in a philosophical sense. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Most of the Buddahs teachings were very positive on bettering ones self. Some would disagree but I think you can follow Buddah and Christ’s words and be fine. The two very often taught the same.


Good point, Jas. at it’s core, I think Buddhism is a philosophy with Hindu roots. I think Jesus and Buddha would see eye to eye about a lot of things.


Yah. Of course there are certain schools who have somewhat deified the Buddah .

Religion and philosophy are often times hard to decipher. People have been arguing for years whether Confucianism is a religion or a philosophy . It depends mainly on how you define the two which many times is shades of grey.
And this isn’t new at all when it comes to the Catholic Church. Many today believe Platonism influenced the early Church. And there is evidence to back that up. It doesn’t mean the Church is wrong it just applied principles that were good. Plato was a great philosopher.


I agree. When I read Plotinus, a great Platonist philosopher; and his description of the three hypostases, that helped me to finally understand the Holy Trinity.


I would just like to say that eastern mysticism seeks nothingness. Christian mysticism seeks unity with the Person of God.


I am Buddhist. Yes, on the moral level, there are many similarities:

“Love others as you love yourself.” – Bhadramayakaravyakarana sutra 91.

Buddhist meditation does indeed work. Buddhists have been refining the techniques for 2,500 years and they are generally effective.

As you say, much of the theoretical background of Buddhism: impermanence, suffering and no-soul is not generally compatible with the Abrahamic religions.




Then the Pope was misinformed. Buddhism has a lot more gods than Christianity:

Sakra, the ruler of the celestials, with twenty thousand gods, his followers, such as the god Chandra (the Moon), the god Surya (the Sun), the god Samantagandha (the Wind), the god Ratnaprabha, the god Avabhasaprabha, and others; further, the four great rulers of the cardinal points with thirty thousand gods in their train, viz. the great ruler Virudhaka, the great ruler Virupaksha, the great ruler Dhritarashtra, and the great ruler Vaisravana; the god Ishvara and the god Maheshvara, each followed by thirty thousand gods; further, Brahma Sahdmpati and his twelve thousand followers, the Brahmakayika gods, amongst whom Brahma Sikhin and Brahma Gyotishprabha, with the other twelve thousand Brahmakayika gods.

– Saddharmapundarika sutra, Chapter One

The difference is that in Christianity, God is of supreme importance. In Buddhism the gods are of relatively little importance and can be ignored if you wish. It is no so much atheist as ‘indifferentist’. If you are that interested in gods then you can work to be reborn as a god. The problem then is that it is generally more difficult to attain nirvana as a god than it is as a human, and it is not easy even as a human.


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