Do you have to be a Buddhist to meditate?

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to do any of the practices that you’ll find on this website. You can keep on practicing the religious tradition you were brought up in and make use of what you find here.

If you don’t have a religious tradition then there’s nothing here that will seem particularly “religious” at all. (In fact, many people think that the term “religion” isn’t a very accurate way of describing Buddhism). Well, perhaps the mantra meditations may strike some people as religious, but really even those are just ways of helping to connect you with the nature of your mind — not to unite you with Indo-Tibetan deities or anything of that sort.

Meditation is just a way of getting to know yourself better, and learning to take responsibility for what you find, so that you can learn how to be a happier, more fulfilled person. It can be seen as comprised mainly of nonreligious mental and emotional exercises that promote good mental health. In fact Buddhism talks about meditation (and even ethics) as being forms of “training.” We train the mind so that it begins to cause us less unhappiness.

You’ll find meditation practices here that involve becoming aware of the breath. There’s a meditation practice in which you pay attention to your experience while you’re walking. There’s another in which you wish yourself and other living beings well. None of that strikes me as being suggestive of a religious path in any exclusive sense. If you’re coming from a background other than Buddhism you’ll probably recognize some of the key principles of meditation from your own cultural and religious background.

This site is set up and run by people who call themselves Buddhists, but we just want to share with you something that we’ve found useful. Our aim certainly isn’t to convert anyone.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • I just read the section here entitled “Do you have to be a Buddhist to Meditate (?)”. I was just curious. I am a Christian Bible Student and have been meditating for about 6 years. I have also studied fundamental Buddhism and can assure non-Buddhists that, in every thing I have read about Buddhism, there has been no effort to convert anyone to Buddhism. Indeed, such Buddhists as Thich Nhat Hanh go out of their way to point that out. I subscribe to several Buddhist meditation newsletters and do not consider any one of them to be a threat to my faith.

  • KusakaMasato
    May 13, 2013 1:36 am

    Hi, I’m new to Buddhism but I am interested to learn the values of Buddhism and incorporate them into my daily living.
    But I have a question:
    Did any scriptures mention that the Buddha prohibits anyone that are not Buddhist or not His follower to practice part of his teachings?
    I mean if I am not a Buddhist, maybe from other religion or no-religion, can I practice part of the teachings of Buddha that make sense and good for me?
    It is “All or None” law? : Not Buddhist, don’t follow all Buddha’s teachings, you are not allow to practice?
    I am sorry for such a weird question as my heart is a bit unease when I am practicing. Hope you will answer my question.


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