I grew up in a western country raised in a western atmosphere with a western mentality. I'm talking things like the pyramid of needs and how apparently self-gratification and personal success are the highest on the checklist. I grew up with an attitude that stressed individuality above everything else, self-accomplishment as the most important trait of a person, and everything under it (money, fame, finance, cars, houses, etc). When I started practicing Buddhism, I began to look into the nature of the "self" and the ego, and now it seems to me like there is an inner cultural conflict.

What does Buddhism say about success and accomplishment in life? It seems on one hand you have an absolute western mentality about achievement and individual strength and standing out from all others as an ultimate success. On the other, Buddhism and a lot of eastern cultures traditionaly emphasize humility, selflesness, and non-attachment to one's ego.

Thank you all~.

2 Answers 2


True. Individualism, self-achievement & success are strong features of Buddhism. The Maha-mangala Sutta & Sigalovada Sutta are excellent examples.

What mitigates blind & excessive material pursuit in Buddhism is the emphasis upon duty ('dhamma') towards the well-being of one-self & others and thus not pursuing what is excessive, harmful &/or unnecessary.

The scriptures always praise materially successful people who earn their wealth blamelessly (eg. Anana Sutta) and share their wealth with others, without being attached to it (eg. 41.1.12.).

My impression is Thai Buddhists have been particularly shrewd & successful as a nation, at least historically (rather than currently). The following link, whilst listing teachings from the ancient Pali scriptures, has a particularly Thai bent in its explanations. The focus on 'success' is very apparent.

A Constitution for Living: Buddhist Principles for a Fruitful and Harmonious Life


Also remember to read the Dighajanu Sutta or Vyagghapajja Sutta. The layman’s welfare. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.054.nara.html In this sutta Buddha instructs rich householders how to preserve and increase their prosperity and avoid loss of wealth. This is The Buddha's Teachings on Prosperity.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .