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Dear Alex,

I have learned that Buddhism teaches that there are really no boundaries and therefore no ego. Though I am wondering about chidren.. I am a preschool teacher and have learned that kids need boundaries to feel safe and we as teachers should give them limits and boundaries to help their development.

Can you provide me with your insight on this?


Hi Lauren,

Frankly Lauren someone has given you a largely imaginary version of Buddhism.

Setting boundaries is one of the things that runs through Buddhist practice from top to bottom. Some of the vows people take are ethical - not to kill, lie, steal and so on. Some are more of a religious nature (think of the vows that monks and nuns take), while some are what you might call "mystical", like a vow to recite a certain mantra 100000 times. Buddhist training is almost all about setting boundaries and maintaining discipline.

The ego is another thing. A healthy ego is necessary for a healthy person. Without one we are mad. What Buddhism says is that when you really look at what you are, you will not find a hard, solid, independent eternal little "me-thing" sitting somewhere in the middle of yourself. If we cling to ourselves as if we have such an unchanging me-thing, or as if we are one, we will suffer for our mistake. But in the ordinary "psychological" sense, a well-functioning ego is vital.

I hope that helps a bit.


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Alex Wilding


I have practiced and studied Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions since the early 1970s, and have a good knowledge of theory, history and of the struggles of trying to practice the teachings, including meditation, while leading a normal, modern life. I am also available to provide background information for journalists.


I have been a practitioner since the early 1970s; have run a small Buddhist centre in the English Midlands and was vice-president of Kagyu Benchen Ling e.V. in Germany, for whom I managed three large Buddhist summer-camps. More importantly, I maintain a habit of personal practice. I am the "owner" of the Kagyu list at Yahoo.

My first degree was an M.A. from Oxford. I later obtained a Master of Philosophy degree for a research thesis in "Initiation in Tibetan Buddhism" from Leicester University. I also have engineering and educational qualifications.

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