I am currently taking an online course that discusses the differences between Eastern and Western thought. We are currently learning about Buddhism, and I would like to ask you a few things for my research on the subject. What is the importance of meditation to Buddhism? Can Buddhism be practiced alongside other religions or philosophies? How does Buddhism differ in terms of philosophy from other Eastern religions?

Hi Ashley,

These are good questions, but they are big ones, asking for anything from an essay to book each. If you need a full understanding, you'll have to do a fair bit of reading, but in brief:

1) Meditation is an important practice in Buddhism, alongside good ethics, generosity, patients and so forth.

2) In principle, perhaps, but in practice generally not. There are two reasons. Firstly, although in some respects Buddhism is not a religion, in many practical respects it is. Most people would not want to be dashing from Temple to church to synagogue… Buddhism is also highly critical of the idea of an all-powerful creator god, so it is not really possible to hold Buddhist views at the same time as holding the views appropriate to Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other "big-God" religions.

3) Which other Eastern religions did you have in mind? Some religions to offer salvation through the assistance of some kind of saviour God or person, and this does not harmonise very well with Buddhist attitudes, which put a lot of emphasis on the responsibility of each individual.

Is that any help?


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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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