What does the dhamma need in order to spread ? And how can we help it?

This post was initially made in another topic but I was suggested to start a new thread rather than be offtopic. The question is nevertheless important. Buddhist who have found value in the dhamma and realize it’s importance, will make spreading the dhamma one of their main goals. Many dedicate time and effort into social or political causes. Yet, as a buddhist, the highest cause one can dedicate himself to is spreading the dhamma.

While reading buddhist forums, I have noticed that some people believe that christianity has many in common with buddhism and that buddhism, by being also a religion, should somehow be an ally of it and be against atheism. I want to make a case for the opposite.

I live in a country where no buddhist communities can be said to exist. It’s also the most religious country in europe and one of the few, if not the only, christian country to make it in the top 10 most religious countries on earth.

What is needed for buddhist communities to grow, besides better marketing, is also space made by removal of christianity. Only countries with a significant percent of atheist have any significant buddhist presence in them.

As a convert religion, buddhism can only win by debate. It can only win if a person mind is allowed to listen to it’s arguments. If a person mind is closed through cult methods, he can never even hear what buddhism has to say.

Asian religions are religions created by normal people who tried to make sense of the world, then studied it, analyzed it, debated it, studied cause and effect, etc. and in the end, they ended up with hinduism, buddhism, taoism, etc.

Abrahamic religions were created by kings (King David, King Constantine, Kind Mohamed) for control of population. The presence of Jesus into the ecuation is one of the only things that made them worth something in terms of personal development. They are like a vise on one’s head. You got eternal heaven, even 72 virgins in some cases, promised for doing very little, if any, effort of improving yourself in this life. And on the other hand you’re threatened with eternal hell if you even listen to what other religions have to say. The most respected monk in today Romania considers that protestant books are the work of the devil, that protestant churches are “churches of the devil” and that their books should be burned because there is no sin, but a good deed, in burning their books. This kind of attitude is something normal for my country. Listening to other opinions is the devil trying to tempt you and the faster you banish him, the better of a christian you are. This kind of attitude, if instilled since childhood and practiced over a long term, becomes very powerful.

As a buddhist in such a country, the biggest problem one faces is convincing through debate his loved ones and dragging them towards the buddhist dhamma, towards something of infinitely more wisdom than the current dhamma they posses. Opening the vise of population-control type of religions is no doubt a frustrating activity.

Therefore, for the progress of dhamma and appearence of buddhist communities, popularity of “vise-on-your-brain” beliefs has to be reduced. As a buddhist, in my opinion, one should definitely support the spread of atheism on the global level. I’ve seen many claim that christianity is promoting the same values as buddhism and we should support it rather than atheism. I could not disagree more. Atheism is not a vise on one’s head, the religion of King Constantine (not of Jesus), is.

ALSO NOTE: The huge majority of people that change religion, do it in adolescence or early adulthood.


Every time he was asked about dying, one of the reasons Buddha gave for not dying yet was “having disciples skilled in refuting with arguments the wanderers of other sects”. This was one of the couple of things he needed to have in order for the dhamma to spread and live a long time.

So how can a buddhist refute with arguments christianity ? What is the weak point, the Achiles heel of christianity, the thing that can crush the vise-on-the-head ? What’s the one thing that crushes it in an argument ? The thing that will really make the person start thinking and asking questions, no matter how strong the vise-on-the-head is ?

Before I answer this question myself, I would like to see what you have to say about this giving your own experience in debating with christians. From my experience, it does have a major weak point, something that, if pressed and given enough time, will eventually get the person out of it.

He was the kindest.

How many Protestants does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. They live in eternal darkness.

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Since most people who enter the category of the “unchurched” do so for many various and complex personal reasons, its hard to say how much Buddhists should get involved in this process. I daresay that such involvement might just turn around and bite us in the ass. And this is a sensitive time in the transmission of the sasana to the West since it is still relatively young.

Besides, there is already communities of secular humanists and atheists who spend a lot of their time on this kind of christian bashing stuff.

I’m generally of the opinion that, at least for now, Western Buddhist should stay out of the big religious debates between Christians and Atheists/Secularists. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t defend our views publicly or work to promote dhamma, just that we should avoid big confrontations. After all, we are a very small minority in the West, and history shows that loud religious minorities usually don’t do well.

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There was a similar discussion on related questions awhile back:

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Won’t a convincing case need to be tailored to the individual discussion? If we’re listening to the other person, their arguments will show us where their concerns are and we can then respond with the appropriate bit of dhamma.


I live in a christian environment. Our country (US) is highly dependent on “what is written is what is fact or truth”. So, oral transmitted religions get pushed aside for religions dependent and cant live without scripture. Practice cant exist with physical scripture in fundamental christian views. Catholic (which I practice for four years of my adult life) see practice before stripture.

With that said, what I do in another religious forum that has many religious come and go is when a christian uses their biblical scripture to say X, I would use The Suttas to explain my view as of Y. A lot of times they arent interested in learning about The Dharma only repeat what they are familar with.

Education is a huge issue on why The Dharma is hard to spread. That and its hard actually speaking of The Dharma when the inner meanings of it comes from personal practice rather than is it I before E except after C.

After education, we hope that others are interested in various faiths. I only had JW ask me about my faith as a Buddhist. While their intent was to convert, as friends they were interested nonetheless. Also differing cultural norms makes it hard to spread The Dharma. A lot of people see spreading any religious views as evangalizing and proselytizing. They dont want to be “like christians”.

Also, decernment is also key. The Buddha had to decern who was ready and able to understand The Dharma. Since we dont have that level of insight and decernment, the best we can do is educate and hope it springs from there.

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When I wrote the topic I had person-to-person interactions in mind. I was thinking more about situations where one tries to convert a family member or friend. Great religious debates would be great, but I don’t think they are that important as the name “great” implies for the simple fact that nobody watches them.

Won’t a convincing case need to be tailored to the individual discussion? If we’re listening to the other person, their arguments will show us where their concerns are and we can then respond with the appropriate bit of dhamma.

I my opinion this could have an influence, but all people kinda work the same. Christianity is so attackable from so many angles that one doesn’t even know where to start. The Achiles heel I was speaking about may not be that intuitive. Things that may appear as strong arguments might have little power for the interlocutor. For example proving that the old testament is probably the most sadistic, evil and overall lacking in wisdom book that a person has in his library. And how could god allow such a book to be put in the bible ? This argument seems strong, yet isn’t never gona really shake the vise-on-the head.

There is one argument that I have found to truly shake ones beliefs.

In this case, its probably better to show them how dhamma is great, through your actions and so on, instead of trying to actively convert them. This is my experience.


I have sometimes encouraged some family members or friends to start meditating, but not with a lot of success. I just don’t seem to have a convincing evangelical personality.

I do have some writing I have worked on off and on for a few years, but it is by no means a defense of the whole Buddhist religion, but only seeks to develop insight into what I have come to believe are the most important core of the original teachings. If I ever do manage to publish something, I think it would possibly draw a lot of criticism from non-Buddhists and Buddhists alike. I have come to think a more allusive, poetic, non-didactic approach is preferable, one that avoids the hard logical distinctions and regimentations that set up walls in people’s minds. But my own greatest skill seems to be on the logical and conceptual area.

In my country, there is a growing spirit of rage and violence. I fear we are headed toward some great cataclysm. I think a lot these days about what is required to turn somebody whose mind is filled with greed, rage and a will to power, vengeance and domination into a lover of peace and practitioner of kindness. But it can seem quite hopeless.

I don’t think any spiritual teaching that comes dressed in the full, elaborate architecture and rainmemt of traditional religious orthodoxy, from any tradition, can succeed. Those traditional structures are pervaded by obsolete superstitions and delusional fancies. But I also don’t think a mere philosophy will work, no matter how well constructed, because what is true and satisfies the intellect does not necessarily transform the heart.

The Buddha was called the tamer of gods and men. What is most important is to understand how he did that. I think it has to do with embodying peace and metta, not mainly with talking about them. I wish I were having more success in cultivating these qualities. I find the teachings on how to do so rather cryptic and frustrating in their lack of specificity.


Easy to answer:

What the dhamma needs, is one single person who goes all in! NOW!!

Guess who that one is!?

Mommy is coming to get me, and this time I’m ready to listen :wink:


No one will listen to you if they cant see that the dhamma has made a difference in your life. when you shine a light in the darkness many creatures will be attracted to it.


The funny experience I have had is that people do recognize that meditation has made a positive difference in my life, but they don’t want to do it anyway. They think it’s some kind of religious ritual, and resist it for that reason I think. Others seem to worry that it will make them too “chill”, and they won’t be able to carry out the high stress obligations and responsibilities - even though they recognize that panic attacks and physical stress ailments are a by-product of continuing in the way they are going.

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Only the desperate ones … the desperation opens all of your innermost and dirtiest secrets, and Lord Buddha was right: :dharmawheel: good is bad, and bad is good! … patient endurance …

One has to JUMP!

Kamma is king!

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… How many did it convert so far ? All conversions that I ever saw happening in real life or in the suttas (the suttas are full) happened through debate. The spread of buddhism and transformation into a global religion was only possible because of the pro-debate culture of indians.

Note that by debate I do not mean prozelitizing like an evanghelical christian. All people talk about such issues from time to time and they are not difficult to bring up in a discussion with a friend or family member.

Also note that according to Buddha, if one does not achieve stream entry in this life, he can possibly stay in samsara forever an experience countless suffering, with no end to it ever happening. Some might ask “if one lives for countless lives, certainly at one point conditions will be of such nature that one will escape samsara” - but nope, Buddha said that this is not so. And statistics (the almost surely paradox) confirms Buddha was not wrong on this one.

It would be a shame for ones parents, girlfriend and good people “with little dust in their eyes” that one knows to miss the chance they got now through being in proximity to you. Buddha said the biggest good deed one can do is to repay their parents through establishing them in the dhamma.

So, those who are not good at debating or for some reason hate it, should practice and become good at it, same as they would get good at any other activity. It’s one, if not THE most important good deed they can do. It’s certainly a frustrating skill to learn from time to time, but all that is worthwhile takes effort and dedication.

I’ve had a very similar experience but now I prefer to walk the Path alone or with a teacher and the Sangha when I can. Its just taxing getting all tangled up in there personal experience of samsara. Sharing the insight meditation has bought is like one drop in the ocean of Dhamma.
These days if someone asks I’ll share a little but that’s about it, if they continue to ask questions I’d give the a book or three, I still have all the books :blush::+1:t3:. Hope that makes sense :thinking:

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Hopefully nice creatures. :yum:

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That made me smile ( I’m an ex-Catholic! )

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I don’t need Christianity to be removed.

I would not debate Buddhism. I would explain it when asked.

I will not drag my family anywhere. They have brains and don’t need rings in noses.

I still don’t know if there is a god. Ending suffering via N8P is my main concern.

I’m an engineer. I use what works. At any age.