Buddhism is sometimes compared to solipsism.

Discussions on this topic can be found on the Internet. I do not understand why Buddhism is sometimes compared to solipsism.

As far as I know, in all schools and sects of Buddhism Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana there is a doctrine of anatman (no-self), and in all schools and sects of Buddhism a special role is played by compassion (in the Mahayana there are Bodhisattvas who swear to deprive all people of suffering).

Also, all schools of Buddhism say that each person consists of skandhas. How then can this be solipsism?

As far as I understand, Buddhism cannot teach solipsism at all.

Do Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana teach solipsism?

Or is it just that someone doesn't understand what they are talking about?


2 Answers 2


Solipsism: The belief that only oneself and one's experience exists.

I agree with your understanding that Buddhism does not teach solipsism.

Buddhism as considered in the teachings of the historical Buddha, e.g., Sutta Pitaka, proclaims a middle way which avoids extreme positions. There is only one exception: The dukkha- and samsara teaching, common to the vast majority of concurrent Indian worldviews at the time of the historical Buddha.

The teaching of the eight-fold path gives directives how to behave in social life interacting with other people. The characteristic teaching of Buddhism about universal compassion would make no sense when the author assumed that no other living being exist (Solipsism).

Note: You may also pose your question at buddhism.stackexchange


From an uninformed, outside perspective, Buddhism can seem a little outré. It doesn't advocate for much of anything; it doesn't instill fixed social rules; It doesn't proselytize; it encourages people to give up a whole bunch of things that conventional people find pleasurable and important, all with the idea that the practitioner can somehow escape the world of suffering entirely. I've heard people accuse it of being solipsistic, narcissistic, nihilistic, and other unpleasant things.

Part of that attitude is a natural xenophobic reaction to novel worldviews.

Part of that attitude is a reaction to those inevitable solipsists, narcissists, nihilists, and damaged/depraved/deluded people for whom novel worldviews are fertile ground for exploiting others.

A proper understanding of dharma and karma alleviates those concerns. But a proper understanding of dharma and karma doesn't come easily. C'est la vie...

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