Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking because I consider myself a great person etc., Chakravartin, but why didn't the Buddha take solipsism seriously, perhaps before his complete enlightenment? If he's so great then how can it be that we, everyone else, are so little?

Was it, perhaps, because he was born a prince, or there was no history of solipsism in India at the time, or what, really?

I think it could just beyond the powers of imagination to get inside a mahasattva's head, so to speak.


2 Answers 2


Solipsism is an extreme opposite of Buddhism. It posits that only the self is truly real. That all that exists is the self. It places the self on a throne.

The Buddha was not a solipsist because he saw and knew the truth: that the self is not real, but rather like an illusion with not one iota of real or inherent existence. Seeing the truth, how could he possibly believe solipsism?


It seems obvious that solipsism need not be wedded to any definition, perhaps even any possible definition or what makes up the person. In that sense it is the extreme opposite of Buddhism in the sense that it could limit compassion. And perhaps compassion is what generates out belief that there are others.

  • 1
    Doesn’t have to be wedded, but it does have to be defined so that we can communicate. A perfectly adequate def. seems to be that solipsism is the belief that, “only I exist and all else is illusion.” This belief is wrong not because it is uncompassionate... it is wrong because it simply is not true. It is incorrect. It is not in conformance with reality. The Buddha, knowing clearly and correctly that it is wrong... that it is not in concordance with reality... how could he possibly believe it?
    – user13375
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 12:58
  • @YesheTenley Do you think that solipsism might be compatible with Descartes' saying, "I think therefore I am"? Not that I really agree with Descartes, but I mention it because apparently other people thought that that observation that was clever enough to make it famous -- maybe the premise (that some kind of experience of and by the self is all that we can know for sure) isn't obviously wrong to everyone.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 14:05
  • Yeah, it is compatible but not the same thing. Solipsism says the self is the only real thing. Descartes said the self is a real thing.
    – user13375
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 14:32

You must log in to answer this question.

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