Further to my question about discussing Buddhism with children, I want to ask that, at what age does one becomes capable of understanding Buddhism?

The very first time I came across Buddha and Buddhism was in my school textbook where I read the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold path. I must have been around 14 or 15 at that time and raised in a liberal Hindu family. But I still remember at that time, I thought to myself, 'this is so simple and has nothing to do with the all power full Hindu gods that I worshipped and adored'. I underrated the Buddha.

Fast forward 20 years, after going through intense mental suffering, breakups, and craving and desires which never got fulfilled, and then starting contemplating about the whys, and spending time reading about religions and science and meditation, I now call myself a practicing Buddhist.

So at what age does one becomes capable to understand Buddhism? Is going through suffering a necessary part of one's path? Does failing to have a romantic relationship act as a trigger to start contemplating about life and turn to religion? Does exposure to the absurdity of life somehow turns a person look inwards?

2 Answers 2


7 year olds one can go forth into homelessness and Arahantship can be sustained, younger than that is unheard of.

When I was seven
& newly gone forth,
having conquered with my power
the great powerful serpent,
I was fetching water for my preceptor
from the great lake, Anotatta,
when the Teacher saw me & said:

"Look, Sariputta, at that one,
the young boy coming there,
carrying a pot of water,
well-centered within,
his practices — inspiring;
his bearing — admirable.
He's Anuruddha's novice,
mature in his powers,
made thoroughbred by a thoroughbred,
good by one who is good,
tamed by Anuruddha,
trained by one whose task
is done.

He, having reached the highest peace
& realized the unshakable,
Sumana the novice
wants this:
'Don't let anyone know me.'"

Thag 6.10


It's difficult to set the 'age of understanding' for Buddhism because it is not intellect that is required but Virtue.

Someone could be well developed in virtue from previous life he could be a bodhisattva so who can say at what age in this lifetime he would understand the dharma?

Visakha, the great female supporter was only seven years old, when the Buddha visited her birthplace... Though she was so young, she was religious and virtuous. As such, immediately after hearing the Dharma from the Buddha, she attained the first stage of sainthood.

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