I took a friend interested in Buddhism to a centre. This person is Catholic and doesn't want to change that; she is very satisfied with her religion. However she was curious about Buddhism and specially meditation.

At the end she was a bit disappointed because there were 2 mentions of other religions (catholics and other buddhist schools) that she thought were driven by a big "pride", for example: "Here we don't do this...in other centres they do"; "We value this, catholics don't".

I didn't have the same interpretation, however I agree one should be very careful on talking to an open public about other religions and traditions, as it can be very easily misunderstood. We don't need to use other religions to make a point.

So, the question is: Is there any Buddhist code of ethics on that? In the Vinaya maybe?


2 Answers 2


What you've described is probably very common in meditation centres, unfortunately.

This isn't from the Vinaya proper, but in the Brahmajāla Sutta, the Buddha goes over many views, starting with superficial views his followers have of him. Here's an excerpt from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:

  1. "It is, bhikkhus, only to trifling and insignificant matters, to the minor details of mere moral virtue, that a worldling would refer when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata. And what are those trifling and insignificant matters, those minor details of mere moral virtue, to which he would refer?

  2. "'Having abandoned the destruction of life, [omitted for brevity]' It is in this way, bhikkhus, that the worldling would speak when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata.

    "Or he might say: 'Having abandoned taking what is not given, [omitted]'

    "Or he might say: 'Having abandoned unchaste living, [omitted]'

  3. "Or he might say: 'Having abandoned false speech, the recluse Gotama abstains from falsehood. He speaks only the truth, he lives devoted to truth; trustworthy and reliable, he does not deceive anyone in the world.'

    "Or he might say: 'Having abandoned slander, the recluse Gotama abstains from slander. He does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide others from the people here, nor does he repeat here what he has heard elsewhere in order to divide these from the people there. Thus he is a reconciler of those who are divided and a promoter of friendships. Rejoicing, delighting, and exulting in concord, he speaks only words that are conducive to concord.'

    "Or he might say: 'Having abandoned harsh speech, the recluse Gotama abstains from harsh speech. He speaks only such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, endearing, going to the heart, urbane, amiable, and agreeable to many people.'

Also, in the Theragatha (found in the ) we have the verses by Vangisa Bhikkhu (according to ATI, the bhikkhu whom the Buddha designated as his foremost disciple in the composition of spontaneous verse):

  1. One should speak only that word by which one would not torment oneself nor harm others. That word is indeed well spoken.

  2. One should speak only pleasant words, words which are acceptable (to others). What one speaks without bringing evils to others is pleasant.

  3. Truth is indeed the undying word; this is an ancient verity. Upon truth, the good say, the goal and the teaching are founded.[19]

  4. The sure word the Awakened One speaks for the attainment of nibbana, for making an end of suffering, is truly the best of words.


Unfortunately your friend bristled at the religious aspects that some Buddhist practitioners pile on to the simplicity of Buddhism. If your friend has not been burned, show her the simplicity and innocence of the flower sermon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Sermon

Or show her the simplicity of following the breath meditation https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/mindfulness-breathing

You could mention the Dalai Lama and his warm relationship with Christians http://www.wccm.org/content/interview-laurence-freeman-comments-friendship-dalai-lama

I would hesitate myself to go to any organization, whether they call themselves Buddhists or not, if they say derisive or critical comments about any religion.

Do no harm. Or do nothing. But don't hide behind a religion and sow seeds of discord - I am ashamed that this could happen to your friend. Please offer her my sincere and humble apologies.

  • Thanks for your lovely answer, I think one of the main issues with this place is that it has no monk, only lay people, so it is easier to fall into the trap of "pride" when there is no senior monk to lead and be seen as the leader.
    – konrad01
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    Thank you for your feedback. I am not sure if lay or monk matters as much as the attitude of openness of who is leading the group event. It may be less a matter of pride as one of lack of confidence that leads someone to disparage others in order to elevate their own order. Nothing is perfect so wherever you find refuge in the sangha is fine.
    – soulsings
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 19:59
  • It may not be meant as disparaging. Buddhists might say, "Christians believe X, but we believe Y." konrad said, "I didn't have the same interpretation" which I thought meant, "I didn't think the statement was driven by big pride: I think my friend found it easy to misunderstand, and maybe the Buddhist should have described themselves without any comparison/contrast to other, non-Buddhist beliefs."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 20:56
  • Agreed, no need to compare or exclude. Am highly impressed how Dalai Lama finds a way to include other religions, scientists, psychologists, social scientists and others too numerous to mention.
    – soulsings
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 22:14

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