In general in Buddhism, is escapism seen as a bad "movement" to involve one's self in? I have seen many posts on SE about separating one's self from one's body, or getting rid of desire, so; would these actions been seen as escapism?

5 Answers 5


Escapism is not a principle found in Buddhism. Escapism suggests you are trying to run away from suffering, but in reality we are trying to be changed by suffering. This is a core teaching in Buddhism and circulates around in the term being mindful. By avoiding experiences that are unpleasant, the practitioner does not learn a lesson life is trying to teach them. By grabbing the bull by the horns and facing your problem head on, wisdom and experience begins to unfold.

To no longer have desires is commonly misinterpreted as all desires. There are such things as wholesome desires such as wishing the well-being of all human beings. To say there are no more desires means you no longer have strings pulling you around. You can still enjoy your favorite pizza, go inside if it's to cold outside, stay in bed while you're sick, but that's ok. You're human and you recognize it's going to happen. It means you have accepted whats happening in the here and now; but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy life nor take action to help those in need.


Escapism does not address the core issue. Say you have X experience which you do not like and you distract yourself with Y experience with you take pleasure in. The solution is temporary as Y ends you are left unsatisfied again.

The case of much of the suffering are the unwholesome roots in craving, aversion and ignorance. Buddhist practice aims to remove them.

Now let's take experiance you like. What happens is you think "Ah, I like this" hence the notion of I arises in your mind. Likewise with many forms of craving and aversions. So if you remove the craving or aversion by being equanimous (and also remove ignorance being aware of the arising and passing nature of phenomena) you stop perceiving a self. There is not separation of self from the body, it is just that you do not perceive a self as an entity. Also any perception of self is a concept or abstraction created by our mind which is never in tune with the true nature of what actually is there. Hence you have to get rid of any concepts about self (which in all cases will be wrong).


  1. How is Vipassana different from escapism?

Vipassana is to face the world. No escapism is permitted in Vipassana.

Source: http://www.vridhamma.org/Question-and-Answers#escapism

  • What is to define the true entity of phenomenon? If there were nothing to experience the world for eternity, then it may as well not be there. From that logic, wouldn't everyone's perspective be equally acceptable? Apr 5, 2016 at 15:35
  • There is not entity just phenomena arising and passing according to the law of dependent origination. This cannot be deduced purely by logic. You need to meditate. Perhaps you can try out a course to get practical experience into this. This will not happen in one course but things will reveal itself little by little. See: dhamma.org/en/index, internationalmeditationcentre.org/global/index.html Apr 5, 2016 at 15:43

here we go.. this Sutta directly addresses escapism

As he is touched by that painful feeling, he is resistant. Any resistance-obsession with regard to that painful feeling obsesses him. Touched by that painful feeling, he delights in sensual pleasure. Why is that? Because the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person does not discern any escape from painful feeling aside from sensual pleasure. As he is delighting in sensual pleasure, any passion-obsession with regard to that feeling of pleasure obsesses him. He does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, or escape from that feeling. As he does not discern the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, or escape from that feeling, then any ignorance-obsession with regard to that feeling of neither-pleasure-nor-pain obsesses him.

full sutta here: Sallatha Sutta


i am going to try to answer this. please let me know if incorrectly rephrased your question, "Is getting rid of sensual desires is a form of Escapism?".

I think it could be. It is a first step to let go of desires (or 5 hindrances for that matters), when one can let go of them, equanimity remains. However, equanimity, is also a fetter or higher parts of 10 fetters that a non-returner (Anagami) has to learn to let go. Equanimity is fetters 6 and 7. Budddha did not give specific lectures on how to let go of 5 higher fetters. Once you let go all fetters, then Nirvana is realized. It may sounds like a cop out, but nirvana is not annihilation nor can be explained logically.


Escapism - the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

According to the above definition, 'escapism' is unskillful even by common sense standards.

ex: Listening to songs to deal with your stomachache.

It is not "separating 'self' from body". It is "not taking the body or mind as a 'self'" as neither is qualified to be considered as a self in reality. Thus no escapism involved.

Working to remove desire is the opposite of 'escapism' as desire is the origin of suffering - 2nd noble truth.

  • But if you were to remove your being from your body, your body still would be there. You still would have problems that would arise from your life, the only difference then is that you're not with your body, right? Apr 9, 2016 at 12:19
  • Being = mind + body. There's no being apart from body except in the immaterial realms. Neither mind nor body can be considered as 'you' or 'yours' Apr 9, 2016 at 13:08

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