What is craving for fame in Buddhism?

I am aware that fame pertains to the eight worldly concerns and is detrimental. However I wonder: what is fame-seeking in Buddhism?

I ask this because when I was younger I would fantasize greatly about fame, especially in link to a great theoretical realization. I still feel that way sometimes.

I perceive fame in this case as attachment to a view mixed with self-valuing, but I mostly wonder if one should abandon this and how? How can one acquire equanimity towards this aspiration?

3 Answers 3


I think the first step is to acknowledge that you pursue fame, and that most other people do so as well. You're not alone. It is a human tendency to seek wealth, fame and attention. However, you have to realise that even when you have these things, there are still real life examples that show you that people who have a lot are not necessarily much happier. A lot of people kill themselves despite being famous and wealthy. How come?

You also have to realise that other people and your current status viewed by other people are impermanent and not completely in your control. You can certainly influence others to behave in a different way, but there is no absolute guarantee that you will succeed. You need to have these or similar thoughts ready at hand when you encounter a thought or event that drags you into the fame path, else you will follow your old patterns of thinking and behaving. Initilially when you do this, your emotions will largely bias your thinking and your subsequent behaving; so you have to accept that your mind will be distorted for a while. Here you have to employ patience and the wisdom that it takes some time to cool off thoughts and emotions (insight into mind & impermanence). Of course not only can you remind yourself to think differently, you can also question your old habits in their truthfulness and usefulness. Whilst doing that, you should also try to behave differently; according to your desired goal. So if you want to diminish "fame-thinking" you have to focus on its positives and negatives but put more importance on the disadvantages (don't kid yourself saying that there are only negatives in fame, for if that be the case, no one would ever pursue it).

You should also pay attention to fame/attention seeking behaviours and try to delay the response, change it, or simply leave the situation. Do so in a sensible manner and do not overwhelm yourself unnecessarily with strong emotions since it takes time to undo old habits of thinkind behaving.

All the best


Your question seems to fit with AN8.6:

AN8.6:2.1: An uneducated ordinary person encounters gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain.
AN8.6:2.2: And so does an educated noble disciple.
AN8.6:2.3: What, then, is the difference between an ordinary uneducated person and an educated noble disciple?”
AN8.6:2.4: “Our teachings are rooted in the Buddha. He is our guide and our refuge. Sir, may the Buddha himself please clarify the meaning of this. The mendicants will listen and remember it.”

The Buddha answers with this:

AN8.6:5.1: An educated noble disciple encounters gain.
AN8.6:5.2: They reflect:
AN8.6:5.3: ‘I’ve encountered this gain.
AN8.6:5.4: It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They truly understand it.
AN8.6:5.5: They encounter loss …
AN8.6:5.6: fame …
AN8.6:5.7: disgrace …
AN8.6:5.8: praise …
AN8.6:5.9: blame …
AN8.6:5.10: pleasure …
AN8.6:5.11: pain.
AN8.6:5.12: They reflect:
AN8.6:5.13: ‘I’ve encountered this pain.
AN8.6:5.14: It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They truly understand it.
AN8.6:6.1: So gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain don’t occupy their mind.

So chasing gain and fame is like trying to capture happiness with duct tape. We end up having to slap on more and more duct tape and eventually just end up with a suffering big mass of useless duct tape. Fireflies are pleasant and impermanent. So are gain and fame. Don't duct tape the fireflies. The best way to enjoy fireflies is to have our eyes open and be present to see them. In that present seeing a notion of self is superfluous. Without the conceit "I am", we simply have:

SN35.95:10.1: “In that case, when it comes to things that are to be seen, heard, thought, and known: in the seen will be merely the seen; in the heard will be merely the heard; in the thought will be merely the thought; in the known will be merely the known.

In other words, there may be fame here. But there certainly is no need for "I am famous". And whatever fame there is here will not be there later. Because there was no fame before, there will be no fame after.


I remember Chinul on this

Chinul relates in his earliest work, En- couragement to Practice, composed in 1190: . One day I made a pact with more than ten fellow meditators which said: "After the close of this convocation we will renounce fame and profit and re- main in seclusion in the mountain forests. We will form a community designed to foster constant training in samiidhi and prajflii. Through worship of the Buddha, recitation of sQtras, and even through common work, we will each discharge the duties to which we are assigned and nourish the self-nature in all situations. We vow to pass our whole lives free of entanglements and to follow the higher pur- suits of accomplished and true men. Would this not be wonderful?" All those present who heard these words agreed with what was said, and vowed, "On another day we will consummate this agreement, live in seclusion in the for- est, arid be bound together as a community which should be named for samiidhi

The index here defines it as as one of the eight "winds"

palp'ung )\j!\ The four pairs of opposites which constantly buffet the mundane world: gain and loss; fame and disrepute; praise and blame; happiness and suffering.

It is also called rank, name, etc.. I think I remember him saying that he thought it was like excrement, but that may be a misremembered. Any, Chinul gained some posthumous fame at least, even though he and his community aren't still around to see it.

Samadhi prajna I suppose is one way to "renounce" its pursuit. More generally: does it really matter, either if there are endless rounds of rebirth, or if the happiness ('success') of samadhi prajna is simply much greater. We may well agree with Chinul, even when thinking about subtle forms of "fame", be that earnt, posthumous, aesthetically pleasing...

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