Is Buddhism the True Religion?

In What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, he makes the point that Buddhism cannot be called a religion in a Western sense of the term, since there was no word for religion in the Buddha’s original context.

There are some important spiritual truths in the original Taoist texts such as the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang-Tzu, but I wouldn’t say Taoism as it exists today is the true religion. I believe, if there is a true religion today, that Buddhism is the true religion.

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You might like Robert Wright’s new book “Why Buddhism is True”.

Thank you for your response. Is that book from a secular Buddhist perspective, trying to say that Buddhism is true philosophically when its religious aspects are stripped away?

Ironically, even though Rev. Rahula didn’t particularly like the term religion, his book did a great job at showing, point by point, that Buddhism is the true religion.

In order to see how Mahayana Buddhism, in addition to Theravada, is a true from of Buddhism, I recommend Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.

I think the term the Buddha used was ‘ditti’ or Views.

Let’s look at the term religion in a general sense, and see if Buddhism fits it:

belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion
the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers
(mainly RC Church) the way of life determined by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience entered upon by monks, friars, and nuns: to enter religion
something of overwhelming importance to a person: football is his religion
the practice of sacred ritual observances
sacred rites and ceremonies
Word Origin
C12: via Old French from Latin religiō fear of the supernatural, piety, probably from religāre to tie up, from re- + ligāre to bind

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Religion | Define Religion at

While there is no creator god in Buddhism, there’s belief in the law of karma, and the Buddha is seen as a supernatural being, the teacher of gods and men.

Buddhism also traditionally has formal ritual observances, just as religions commonly do.


I was raised to be a religious person, but I no longer believe in a god. I am thankful that Buddhism is a religion that doesn’t require belief in a god.

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Good point.
I like the idea of right view instead of the true religion.
Buddha did not say this is only the right and everything else is false. If we take Buddhism as a religion we can’t say it is the only true religion. Because all religions are views.

Buddhist texts make the same claims to exclusivity as other religious texts do:

“‘Only here is there a true ascetic, here a second ascetic, here a third ascetic, and here a fourth ascetic. Other sects are empty of ascetics.’ This, mendicants, is how you should rightly roar your lion’s roar.- MN 11


Does it say “true” in Pali?

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As an ex-Catholic that was an important factor for me when I first got involved in Buddhism.:yum:


No, the point though is that Buddhism is the true religion in that only in Buddhism can be found persons who have attained a lasting salvation from the ills of existence


True religion = orthodoxy

ortho = true
doxy = teaching

Like the saddharma. True dharma.

I think orthodoxy is a good translation for right view.

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Bhante @sujato is this the correct translation? I cant see the word “true” in pali.

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Right view does not mean true taeching.

View does not mean teaching, but, right view will correspond with the “true teaching” of the Buddha.

Right view can’t contradict the dharma. That is why I think orthodoxy is a fine translation for it. The “teachings”/doxy that is held are actually views anyways.

For instance, having an orthodox position on rebirth doesn’t mean that one constantly teaches about rebirth. It means that one holds the proper teaching in mind with regards to it.


Buddha’s teaching also a fabrication hence it is a view.
But it is the correct view as it leads to eliminate all views.

I have heared it said that Buddhism is a ‘psychology’. But it is called a religion for ‘tax purposes’.

Certainly it is a fabrication. But it is also called “right view”.

What is the difference between a right view and a true view to you?

For sure.