Taking things back to the original inquiry about the appropriateness of ‘proselytizing’, I guess the details I’d draw out of these recent strands is the importance of caution both with regards to arrogance in connection to ones own tradition or ideas, and likewise in being too quick to recommend particular practices for people without a good understanding of what might be suitable.


7 posts were merged into an existing topic: Mindfulness, right mindfulness and attention in Abhidhamma

Good idea1

1 Like

By happy coincidence I happened to come across AN 4.193 on ‘conversion magic’, and to my mind offers a lovely perspective on the subject at hand.

By my estimation, the whole sutta has relevance here, but I’ll just draw out the following detail:

When [the Buddha had given a discourse], Bhaddiya the Licchavi said to the Buddha: “Excellent, sir! … From this day forth, may the Buddha remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”

“Well, Bhaddiya, did I say to you: ‘Please, Bhaddiya, be my disciple, and I will be your teacher’?” “No, sir.” “Though I speak and explain like this, certain ascetics and brahmins misrepresent me with the false, baseless, lying, untruthful claim: ‘The ascetic Gotama is a magician. He knows a conversion magic, and uses it to convert the disciples of those who follow other paths.’”


Well he does use ‘magic’ or superpowers to instruct his followers- hence his word is good in the beginning, middle and end’.

There likely isn’t any harm in sharing your story. The fact that Buddhism has helped you is a fact of your life (my story is similar). Usually, you can sense when it’s appropriate to divulge such details, like a hint of curiosity to know more. When those moments arise for me, I briefly mention the benefits that meditation has had—without referring to “Buddhism.” And if they’d like to know more beyond that, I’ll share it.

As far as volunteering information to people, I take a similar approach. If I know someone who’s struggling with stress, burdened by their emotions or duties, I’ll recommend some simple mindfulness or breath meditation—again without referring to “Buddhism.” And if they’d like to know more beyond that, I’ll share it.


Yesterday in one of my classes I mentioned to students that I had a bit of a panic attack the night before because I realized I hadn’t yet asked them their preferences for when they want to sign up for their oral presentations at the end of the semester. I was speaking colloquially when I mentioned “panic attack,” but one of my students cheerfully inquired, “Were you running around your house yelling and breaking things?” (he was just being cheeky). I paused for a second to ask myself if I should reply, and then decided it was O.K. to say the following: “I practice mindfulness meditation, so yelling and breaking things wouldn’t be consistent with that.” The students all thought that was funny. The Chaplain’s Office on campus sponsors weekly non-sectarian mindfulness meditation sessions, so nothing I said necessarily suggested Buddhism. But if I piqued the curiosity of any of the students in class they can always pursue it further.