Is it possible to be Buddhist and a misanthropist? I've realised I actually despise humanity and sometimes I fantasise about the sun exploding and wiping us all out. I believe that the majority of humans are undeserving of this life. So much stupidity and ignorance that I just cannot bear people most of the time. The other night my neighbours just decided to have a loud party on their balcony at 2:45 am. What kind of self centred stupid people would do that? The people in my apartment block are so lazy and dumb that they just dump their garbage in the recycling bins. It's things like this that I see on a daily basis that lead me to despise people. I've tried and tried metta practice but I just don't feel like people deserve kindness. They're idiots, selfish iPhone addicted idiots. Especially people like Trump. He deserves nothing but suffering in my view.

Thanks for the answers but still not sure what I'm supposed to do. I just don't like most people and I can't tolerate them. I don't have friends because of this and I don't see my family because I can't stand them either. People are just insufferable. I can sit there till I'm blue in the face repeating rote metta phrases but it makes not a shred of difference. I don't feel any empathy or sympathy for a species of creatures who behave the way humans do. The Earth would be a much better place without us. Leave the animals to live in harmony instead of raping and pillaging the place for money. I'm sick of it. I don't feel any love for anyone. The USA has a narcissistic bigoted moron as its leader. What does that say about the people? It's says that half the USA are delusional idiots.

  • i credit your honesty and the sharp eyes to see through the cosmetics. don't blame yourself if you feel this way. Buddha used a metaphor described that we people are living in the burning house like kids playing happily inside the burning house unaware that's about to collapse in another minute in the Lotus Sutra. seeing the insanity of the world is in fact a hint that you are ready to seek for the doorway - the world appears due to ignorance (無明: means lack of light [to see what is true] thus taking the wrong as right). understand that all these people you don't like are kids - ignorant. Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 7:13
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    "The earth would be a much better place". Maybe the Earth isn't meant to be a better place. It is what it is, because people want it to be what it is. Maybe the goal isn't to change the Earth but to help who you can, to move to upper planes and ultimately reach nibbana. I suggest you reflect on the 31 planes of existence. In this way you can realize the Earth is just a part of a bigger hierarchy of (better / worse) planes and then let go of misanthropy.
    – Jocelyn
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 9:14
  • Jocelyn, you don't know that. It's just your opinion and it's a very faith based one. I don't believe in so called "upper planes" or "nibanna". They are religious concepts and there is no proof of any of it just like in Christianity there is no proof of God or heaven.
    – Arturia
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 23:02
  • Misanthropist? Then how it called to be a Buddhist? Buddhism is only kindness and humanity. So answer is no even literally.
    – Swapnil
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 14:28
  • It doesn't matter too much whether people are idiots or not - clinging to wishing wrongful things or hatred is what makes you suffer, and most likely, people around you. In the end the latter oftentimes results in things like mass murder shootings that end in suffering both for perpertrators and their families and victims and their families.
    – user13383
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 16:40

18 Answers 18


Buddhists meet all the same problems as other beings. If not these problems, there would be no need in Buddhism.

So the question is: what do you have to do to solve them?

If our view on the world leans to aversion, it means our thoughts were focused mainly on unpleasant things.

To explain that Buddha used to speak about six realms of samsara:

  1. Gods
  2. Asuras (titans)
  3. Humans
  4. Animals
  5. Hungry ghosts
  6. Hell beings

Paying attention to faults, we gradually find so much hateful things around that they make our world to be hell.

That's because our mental processes involve "selective amplification", exaggeration of some details.

Likewise, if we develop greed and insatiable wish to have some things, our world becomes the world of hungry spirits, and so on.

The same river is seen

  1. by gods as healing nectar of pleasure,
  2. by humans as water,
  3. by hungry ghosts as pus and blood,
  4. by hell beings as torturing flames.

So in order to heal our world ultimately, we have to drop amplifications and discover the world in its original form. There's always something to cry about, and there's always something to laugh about.

If you imagine how many possible thoughts and attitudes are there, imagine yourself as one with all that space,

then you might find that all the possible mass of thoughts and attitudes have silenced, and your attention is free for this here-and-now.

Be free right here, not captured by attachments to particular ideas and views.

Also to balance our perception we can pay more attention to positive qualities of people.

  • Pay attention when they do kind, virtuous things,
  • dedicate merit
  • and rejoice.

The practice of joy for good qualities of others is one of the most powerful spiritual practices, especially helpful in your case. We can practice it even in dreams!

  • Excellent response! A raw percept is beyond all conceptions, beyond all words. On the other hand, what one thinks one perceives is entirely one's own projection. Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 8:35
  • @Rafael_Espericueta, interesting point. But why "entirely one's own projection"? Isn't this phrase based on the idea of absolute division between "own" and "others"?
    – chang zhao
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 9:29
  • True, in reality there is no division, but thought creates the illusion of one. As soon as thought arises, duality co-arises, so I was speaking from this illusory point of view. I used the phrase "entirely one's own projection" in an attempt to convey that what seemed to be an observation "out there" was actually not "out there" in an absolute sense. The questioner seemed to really believe that the yuck he was observing was "out there" - so I countered that it really was coming from within (perhaps just my unskillful attempt at skillful means!). ;-) Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 14:48

Final plate of Zen ox herding plate series

The picture above is the final plate in the series of Zen ox herding pictures. The entire series is a visual depiction of the Buddhist path. It charts the progress from a neophyte just trying to calm his his mind all the way to the highest, Bodhisattva ideal. It is of paramount importance and distinctly Buddhist that the series does not end with deep meditative absorption, mystical experiences of oneness, or even the bliss of nirvana. The highest purpose of undertaking Buddhist training is to eventually return to the marketplace - the world of red dust - with bliss bestowing hands. Everyone is deserving of the Bodhisattva's compassion and wisdom. - the people blasting music at 3AM, those who can't bother recycling, Donald Trump...everybody.

I have a hard time believing that you weren't already aware of this. What you may not have experienced before is just how hard Buddhist practice can be. We all eventually reach a point in our practice when the full scope of the dharma becomes evident. In that moment, the sheer immensity of it leaves us paralyzed. Fulfulling what we started seems nothing short of impossible. And maybe it is. Let me assure you, however, that it does get easier. While you may never reach a point where your compassion is perfect, bit by bit, it will become much easier to manage and understand the ignorant behaviors of others. But you have try.

  • "The highest purpose of undertaking Buddhist training is to eventually return to the marketplace - the world of red dust - with bliss bestowing hands. Everyone is deserving of the Bodhisattva's compassion and wisdom." +1. this is true liberation, no need to hide in somewhere a nibbana to avoid or escape from anything. Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:04
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    It might be nice to add to the answer a hyperlink or reference to the Ten Bulls, in case someone doesn't know what you're referring to.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 20:27

It's possible to be a Buddhist who is striving not to be overcome by misanthropic thoughts. Misanthropy is a product of aversion. Thinking to destroy human kind or wishing harm to even one person is simply hate.

If Metta meditation fails, try to see the world in terms of momentary experiences, not in terms of entities or individuals.


One of the primary purposes of Buddhism is to avoid misanthropic thoughts. While you can call yourself Buddhist and not follow some or many of its teachings, you should remember that you have thoughts and feelings that is in conflict with your belief system. It's akin to saying I am a Christian but I want to kill innocent people. While you're still technically considered a Christian, you are advocating for something that directly opposes one of the ten commandments of Christianity. But if you're talking about trying to be a true Buddhist, then misanthropy is a big no. I hope I answered your question.

  • As far as I'm aware your not meant to "avoid" anything. That would be aversion. Instead you're meant to "see things as they are" or "see reality". In which case misanthropy is arising but it's not self. It's just thoughts and feelings arising and passing.
    – Arturia
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 5:45
  • This mistaken teaching about "seeing things as they are" is outright dangerous. You should not see pathological thoughts as they are, you should make an effort to eradicate them. See The Right Four Efforts.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 19:19

The Buddha also thought most people are idiots, as follows:

The thought occurred to me: 'When brahmans or contemplatives who are drooling idiots resort to... their drooling idiocy. But it's not the case that I am a drooling idiot...'

MN 4

However, this does not mean he dwelt in hatred, aversion & cruelty (lack of compassion). Instead, he used this reality of ignorance for enlightenment.

58. Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.

59. Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom.


Buddhism explains the entire social world (loka) is a product of 'ignorance' (via dependent origination). There is nothing controversial about this reality. It is generally those who believe in a Creator God (that created man in his image) who expect more from the natural idiocy & ignorance of the world.


Is it possible to be Buddhist and a misanthropist?

Yes. It's even expected, that Buddhists will (at least sometimes) be conceited.

There's quite a tradition too, of solitary ascetics, who live away from normal society.

Especially people like Trump. He deserves nothing but suffering in my view.

Well maybe you're viewing more of him, getting more views of him, than is good for you. There are other things, other people to think about. Maybe the attitude to aspire to isn't metta but upekkha ... or sense-restraint, i.e. avoid contact with sense-input that reminds you of that view of Trump; or treat him as a model of what not to do, and resolve to do better than you think he has done.

I just don't like most people and I can't tolerate them. I dont have friends because of this and I don't see my family because I can't stand them either. People are just insufferable.

Well, if that's a problem then I hope you find a solution.

Buddhism talks about spiritual friends. And, about good and bad social friends.

I don't remember a scripture that talks about how to find or make good friends socially; so here's from experience, for what that's worth: if there's any activity you like, maybe do that socially. Join a club, or join a class. They'll be doing something (an activity) you approve of. You don't have to (though you might) socialize with them outside the scope/time of that activity. There may be some variety of people participating (young adults, retirees), so you'll meet people who you wouldn't normally. If you meet anyone you like, they may have a social life -- friends of theirs, who you might meet through them. Perhaps your music teacher has a group of people who help refugees, or etc.

Leave the animals to live in harmony instead of raping and pillaging the place for money. I'm sick of it.

There's some conflict between animals too; even within one species, competition for territory.

  • Yes animals have conflict but they don't have rational intelligence so they operate entirely on instincts. Humans know better yet still behave like violent wild animals.
    – Arturia
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:33
  • Tame animals (dogs) can be well-behaved and cooperative ... friendly.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:09
  • What a balanced and fair answer. Thanks...I guess I'm taking this too personally but whatever. @ChrisW
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 23:16

By the numbers...

  1. Have compassion for the people you see around you. They do not understand the nature of the world, and act out of ignorance. There's no need to like their ignorance, but we can acknowledge that ignorance is ignorance: a flaw of understanding, not a flaw of character.
  2. If you cannot have compassion for others, have compassion for yourself. The lack of compassion for others merely means that you have not yet fully understood the nature of the world, and are acting out of ignorance. There's no need to like your own ignorance, but acknowledge that ignorance is ignorance: a flaw of understanding, not a flaw of character.
  3. If you cannot have compassion for yourself... Well, that is what creates a misanthrope. It has nothing to do with others, except as they are reflected in the distorted mirror of your perception. It is (again) another form of ignorance: a flaw of understanding, not a flaw of character.

Noisy neighbors, people who don't recycle, iPhoniacs, even the dreadful and dreaded Trump monster... All these people are celebrating life while mired in ignorance (sometimes mired in a great, fetid cesspools of ignorance, granted, but still...). To find compassion, first acknowledge that celebration; then the mire will seem more pitiful than odious.


Your question first describes the things you are adverse to, the way people act. Then it is followed by the way you craving it “should” be. The result of all of this is driving you crazy with suffering.

If you want to use Buddhist practice to get out of your present predicament you will have to go back to the basics. The universe has presented you with a preponderance of instructors in the form of things you are adverse to and also things you are clinging to or craving.

In the Buddhist teachings of the Four Noble Truths, we first learn about things that will cause you to suffer. These are feelings of craving and also aversion, in this impermanent world in which we find ourselves. We want things to go our way, line up with our beliefs, in a permanent way, and to stop being the way they are in reality. We will go on suffering until we understand what reality or the Dharma is.

We cling to our opinions and beliefs, refusing to let go. It is “clinging and aversion” which are the same thing, that cause you to suffer. We are trying to alter the Dharma or reality in a way that can’t be done. This is the first great teaching of the Buddha.

The people dumping trash into the recycling bin are teaching you reality. Also, the idiotic person acting the fool. is also teaching you about the Dharma. Look to yourself to see how you are clinging to the belief that they shouldn’t be doing that. That “belief” is causing you to suffer. Every time you find yourself suffering, look inside and find the belief that is causing it. See how you are swimming upstream into the logs that are flowing down. The natural state of a human is peace. It is attained by surrendering to the Dharma or the way things are.

When it finally comes your day to die, you will take you suffering with you. And to the degree that you have disentangled yourself from clinging to your beliefs, knowing that is the Dharma, you will take that peace and happiness with you in the same way.

This isn’t to say that you don’t act out your beliefs. You might instruct those about your beliefs, but you don’t put any weight on whether it is accepted or rejected. Remember that those people are YOUR teachers, not the other way around. Be grateful that they are giving you insight into the way that you are fighting with reality. Remember, it is meaningless if it is done you way or not.

If it makes so much difference, you might surrender and sort through the trash from the recycling yourself to set an example. This would also be a way for you to understand your ego more fully, and the way it gets in the way of seeing things as they are. It’s up to you.

Also, remember this is your life time to throw off all the things that are preventing you from seeing the Dharma. It doesn’t involve anyone else. It’s your job to take the cues from the universe that will speed you along, including this letter. This is your personal struggle. It will become more clear with daily breath meditation. You’re in the right place. Go back and review the Four Noble Truths.

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    I think that being so jaded and cynical about life and people is what brought me to Buddhism in the first place. I have felt so let down and hurt by people my whole life. My childhood and adolescence was traumatising with a combination of bullying at school and abuse at home. So I grew up with a view of the world that people can't be trusted and will disappoint me in the end. Everywhere I look in life I see evidence of this. Aside from that I think our society is so self centred these days, more so than it used to be. I'm trying to see things differently but It's very hard
    – Arturia
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 0:26
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    Out of your “grand disillusionment” will emerge an epiphany or a moment of revelation and insight that will guide you on. You have been blessed with so much pain, and yet you don’t realize it yet. Growth ONLY comes via pain. Wallow in it, until the insight comes. This pain is a gift. It’s to show you that the material world is just an illusion. You can’t find peace and true rest going outside. Turn in, and wait. Do you see it?
    – user10839
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:24

I one would try to kill all his enemies, even having the best weapons, he would probably not finish his undertaking before dying himself. But if one whould kill ones own anger, the world whould suddenly be void of them.

So what of both seems to be easier and more realistic be achived?

Maybe worthy to consider so to become not just ugly and what whould matter to one at least, run it's or one own ways.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange]


Try to forget the Metta practice for a minute and instead think about all the good people in this world. All people on earth can't be bad, right?

What about the monks giving teachings to lay people? What about all the meditators in the world, trying to free themselves from suffering?

These are people who are trying free themselves from this Samsara. These are the lights in this world. Practicing the Dhamma with wholesome intentions is the highest practice anyone can do.

Maybe you could give that recollection a try and see if it helps you.

  • Yes one on one I do like some people but as a whole humanity are pathetic greedy selfish idiots and are ruining this earth for all its creatures. Even when I went on retreat some of the people there I hated. They were like spiritual egotists.
    – Arturia
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:01
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    Where should the work be done - on humanity/the world or on the unwholesome root of aversion, arising in you?
    – user2424
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:06

From what I understand, you have some strong, negative emotions. Your mind, trying to be your friend, points outside when looking for the sources of your problems.

But think about it – if you were to go live in the forest by yourself, wouldn’t you find, at some point, the chirping of some bird a little bit too loud, or too often or just too annoying? Or think about the time when you were soooo in love with somebody that you found all her/his annoying habits so endearing, only to wake up to reality when love subsided a little… Were you happy and at peace with humankind when you had a different president/different and more considerate neighbours?

The fact that you are looking for a solution to your problems means that you want some peace for yourself = you care about one human being. And that’s pretty much what it takes to not be a misanthrope.

Try not to put a label on all the other people – look for individuals and particular problems, it might seem easier to deal with. You don’t have to care so much about other people. Start with yourself. Care about yourself enough to pass by life’s difficulties having your wellness and peace in mind. Buddhism and meditation might help you. Just care about yourself.

May you find peace and happiness! Be well!


Look mate if you've got a problem with your neighbors being idiots tell them to swivel mate no amounts of meditation will make them change it might change you but selfish people is a constant in this world that's the division between good and bad and has no perspective it's difinative Buddhism is probably the right nature of things but in a practical situation like that action should overeaway reaction. I hate people too but ironically I'm altruistic that's my nature I will go out of my way to help a stranger without benefit to me if the rest of man did the same we wouldn't have the problems we do but people are selfish mate and are programmed to be so, sentience is a dismissal of that programming and enlightenment is selflessness. Unfortunately theres a minority of people with it


I think you are one of the most sincere, honest frequent visitors on this website.
Closest word to "Buddhist" in pali is "savaka" or listener, follower, practitioner of alike teacher, etc. Buddha said Dhamma that makes one a follower of his teaching is keeping 5 precepts. as long as you have your 5 precepts, you are a Buddhist.
Have you tried not adding stories in your head with things that come into contact with you?. I personally learned that all mental troubles come from adding stories to them. you meditate for awhile, you know mind pops up here and there and there is something that keeps it away from focusing on breathing on new subject. Like bills come up, and you think about how to pay, if there was a mistake on the bills, etc. let go and not to add story to it and go back to focusing your attention on breathing. That's what practice in meditation is for. Let go of other things that pop up. not easy. you may ask, "then what's the different between sticking your head in the sand?" that maybe so (if you want to super strawman it), but you will gain something of a greater prize. An ability to let go. that's what practice in meditation is for, learning not to add story and let go. When you see garbage in recycle bin, dont think of any stories .."look at these people dont know how to be civilized. bet they were born in the jungle etc... " . you know what is the best mental stories to let go for me? things that happens in my past that were bad or things I regret. Let me know.


One of the major requirements for achieving Nirbana is that WE ALL must achieve Nirbana. In other words; Nirbana is not a select club for those who "made it". Nirbana is a place of perfect peace and happiness and that cannot be achieved as long as there is anyone still suffering!

Here is a very enlightening (no pun intended) article that will hopefully shed some light (the conclusion of the article may give you your answer): http://whatculture.com/offbeat/20-problems-only-total-misanthropes-will-understand


Buddhism leads us to "See the world from above". The path of mindfulness/meditation is about disidentification and purification. Disidentification, purification and the unconditional love that comes as a result of these two things don't requires "liking".

Ven. Yuttadhammo's teachings and explanations that is related to this subject can be helpful:

Dhammapada Verse 28: Seeing The World From Above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLEB3QY0H9A

Above the World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0rPVRw5Db0


"People" is just a general concept. It's a word only useful to name a group of humans. But you cannot said anything about the qualities of such humans.

Think about the word "homosexual". What can you assume without any risk of being wrong about someone recognized as 'homosexual'? Can you say that they are more "femenine" in traits than heterosexual people? Can you say that they all like "femenine" colors? Can you say that they all have the same kind of mannerisms and ways of talking?

No, you cannot, because the only thing you can know for sure is that they feel sexually attracted to people of their same sex.

Maybe, a certain group of people may statistically, in average, share some features. For instance, vegans may be in average thinner than most other groups of eaters (which I'm not sure to be true, but it is just an example).

So, it is a fallacy to assume that "humanity" is X or Y. Humans are diverse. If you are depressed, the world seems darker than it really is. If you are overconfident and unrealistically optimistic, the world may seem more peaceful and safe than what it really is. Ignorance rises due to this kind of views and generalizations. And precisely, the buddhist training tries to make us free from such views, by analysing our daily experience in an unbiased manner.

Have a wonderful day!


You are angry because they annoy you with a loud noise? I think you're delusional, you should be grateful that they didn't break your leg or pour boiling oil on you. Who told you that man is a tame animal, that men love one another?

Actually, those people you hate and are averse to are very kind, but you-you fantasize to burn all humanity, that is extreme wickedness? So with such wicked mind, full of resentment, you are blinded, you don't know what you can and can't do.

Stop faultfinding and work on yourself!


Any form of Wrong View, which you've been attached to for some time, probably cannot be eliminated immediately; but the first step, as they say, is admitting you have a problem. The "answer" to misanthropy is to consider how it causes you misery, how it causes you pain, how it impairs your judgment, depletes your energy, and erases your potential. You are the person most affected by your Wrong View.

Even if you were to act upon misanthropic impulses by committing murder -- even mass murder -- the people thus affected would only be suffering at the moment of their deaths. Whereas you would have been stewing-upon your miserable qualities beforehand, while premeditating the act, while carrying it out, and while facing the consequences following. Imagine yourself under questioning by the authorities. Imagine yourself asked about your motives, and you answer by complaining about noise, pollution, bloviating politicians on TV, strangers who don't smile when greeted, minor inconveniences that everybody encounters and deals with.

Imagine yourself handcuffed, in the police cell, harshly questioned by a strict but reasonable man who would much rather be at home, eating dinner with his family. Would you answer honestly? Could you look him in the eye? Would you feel pride in your act? Or shame, rather?

Buddhism is the psychology of happiness. Would you be happy if you acted upon aversion towards living beings? I think you would not.

Why is it that other people can coexists with the inconveniences of civilization, and still find love, succeed academically and professionally, have hobbies and artistic projects and so forth?

Understand that you are suffering. The misanthropic Wrong View is your suffering. This is the First of the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha taught that he had been with the gods in paradise; that anybody else who wishes to see the gods in paradise gets there by practicing the Four Divine Qualities: lovingkindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. These are non-negotiable, fundamental traits of the Buddhist mindset; agreeing that these traits are Buddhist (and the opposite traits non-Buddhist) is the first step of the Eightfold Path; this is Right View. The desire to attain these for oneself is the second step of the Eightfold Path: Right Intention. The full attainment of these are the Seventh and Eighth of the Eightfold Path.

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