I was listening to the radio the other day and the hosts were talking about Buddhism. One of the hosts told a story about how he met a Buddhist monk and he wanted to learn Buddhism from the him. However, the monk told the host that Buddhism is a self taught belief. Once he (the monk) starts teaching him (the host) about Buddhism, it has already been corrupted because it is based on his (the monk) interpretation and who is to say that his interpretation is the correct one? Once he (the monk) starts teaching him Buddhism, he (the host) would have some sort of bias in the future. Buddhism is something that you have to learn it from your heart and must be self taught.

My question is this: Is that correct? This is the first time that I have heard of this. I've taken a comparative religion course before and my teacher was Buddhist but she never brought this up. thanks

ANSWER: Hi Jackie,

I don't see any logic in this person's comment.    

"Buddhism is something that you have to learn it from your heart and must be self taught." How does a person learn it if not from some sources which may be from books, from the internet or from Buddhist teachers?  He has a point there that misinterpretations may occur in the process of learning, but this does not prevent anyone from learning from another person.  After all, one of the duties of the Buddhist monks is to teach the Buddha's message.  

There are actually three stages in the "learning" process.  The first is obtaining knowledge, the second to put into practice, and the third stage is to experience from it. In Buddhist parlance in Pali they are pariyati, patipati and pativeda.

Hope this helps.

Justin Choo

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


There is actually more to the monk's explanation. The monk said that nobody taught Buddha. Buddha taught himself. The monk was saying one should learn Buddhism without the help of others. My family is Buddhist and I asked them that and they said they agree. I'm asking you because I want to hear a different opinion. thanks


Hi Jackie,

The Buddha discovered the truth of existence through his own effort.  That is why he is called the Buddha.  With his discovery, he shared with us through his teachings.  We are not Buddhas, so we need to learn from others what the Buddha discovered.  

Justin Choo


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Justin Choo


All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.


I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.