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Difference Between Catholicism and Buddhism

Difference Between Catholicism and Buddhism

Catholicism vs. Buddhism

Nowadays, open-mindedness includes being considerate of other people’s religious inclinations. Two major religions, Catholicism and Buddhism, have always been compared, because even though they have many differences, many people have tried combining their ideals. The religious leader of Catholicism is the Roman Catholic Pope, while the head of Buddhism is the Dalai Lama. Despite the differences in doctrine, both leaders have acknowledged each other’s presence with respect, unlike other religious leaders who tend to discredit or lambast opposing religious leaders. In fact, the Pope has gone as far as to declare that Buddhism has permeated into Western culture with positive effects.

In order to determine whether or not one religion is compatible with another, it’s important to compare and contrast them first. In terms of similarities, Catholicism and Buddhism both employ monks, or priests, to practice and spread their faith among the masses. Catholicism encourages the use of religious equipment such as the scapular and the rosary, while Buddhism would not be complete without the traditional prayer beads. Both religions value peace, meditation, and the propagation of good deeds to further one’s spiritual enlightenment.

The similarities end there, however; one encounters some key differences when Catholicism and Buddhism are put side by side. The first difference is that Catholicism believes in one God, the Almighty Father, while Buddhism does not. Siddhartha Gautama, who eventually became the first Buddha, is the closest figure in Buddhism to resemble the Catholic God. However, unlike God, who is considered omnipresent, Siddhartha Gautama is merely the first in a long line of Buddhas. Each Buddha is said to be a reincarnation of the previous; however, they are still named differently.

Difference Between Catholicism and Buddhism-1

The second difference lies in what people face in the afterlife. Buddhism believes in reincarnation, while Catholicism declares that people can go to three different places: Purgatory, Heaven, or Hell. In the Buddhism concept of reincarnation, people are reborn either as an animal or another person. One can only be prosperous in one’s present life if one cultivates enough good deeds in his or her past lives. Catholicism, on the other hand, declares that the sinful are thrown into Hell, and the not so sinful end up in Purgatory to repent for their sins before ascending to Heaven, which is considered the best place to end up in.

In terms of religious texts, Catholicism has a common reference – the Bible. Texts regarding Buddhism are not compiled in one major book; rather, they have been taught and passed down either by word of mouth, by the Pali Canon, or by the sutras. The Pali Canon is a book collection containing many of Buddha’s teachings. Although it bears the closest resemblance to the Bible, it is not considered as standard-issue among the followers of Buddhism. The sutras are written records that came from the current Buddha. In terms of clarity, however, the sutras can be as enigmatic as the Bible. Nevertheless, both the Pali Canon and the sutras serve as food for thought meant to help Buddhists achieve spiritual enlightenment.


1. Catholicism and Buddhism are both popular, and many people have attempted to combine their teachings.
2. The Roman Catholic Pope is the head of Catholicism, while the Buddha is the symbol of Buddhist faith.
3. Both Catholicism and Buddhism employ religious props. Catholicism has the rosary and scapular, while Buddhism has prayer beads.
4. The first major difference between the two religions is the belief in God; Catholicism believes in an omnipresent, omnipotent God, the Almighty Father, while Buddhism does not. The closest thing to God would be Siddhartha Gautama, the first Buddha to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
5. The second major difference pertains to the afterlife; Buddhism believes in reincarnation, while Catholicism does not.
6. The third major difference pertains to religious texts; Catholicism has a standard-issue text, the Bible, while Buddhism relies on word of mouth, the Pali Cannon, and sutras for reference.

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  1. Much obliged for the clarity.. But u forgot to add that Catholics pray through Virgin Mary to pass
    Our request for protection, forgiveness and blessings to Jesus and God…

    Nonetheless, I like lay-out

  2. Thnx

    Whats the name of the person who wrote this

  3. There are some more differences. Catholicism is deeply corrupt and always has been; yet it’s faith is real. Buddhism is deeply tolerant and nondogmental; Catholicism is basically just the opposite. Catholicism teaches a unity with Christ based on suffering especially meditation on the “stations of the cross” or the “passion of Christ” while Buddhism seems to be more like envisionment, meditation, incantation and right thinking. On the whole, Buddhism is a much more mystical religion, although Catholicism has it’s mystics, it is a more outwardly focused faith and also very political. WHile every religion or faith has it’s roots in a political theology, Catholicism has, at times, enforced it’s faith with large-scale violence, and is in fact, a religion which preaches peace but has practiced a violent propagation of itself. Such violence manifested in the basic inseparability of Christian armies with religious beliefs right up until modern times. Strangely also, while Christianity preaches purity, its followers have a strangely cynical tolerance for criminal behavior, perhaps based on the poverty induced by papal edicts on birth control, which often times create living situations that breed criminal behavior; yet other nonconnected environmental factors may be at work as well.
    Christian doctrines seem to produce a deeply rooted rejection of sexuality outside it’s framework of family that produces, in fact, psychiatric issues no only for the individual, but for the society as well. While homosexuality is rejected behavior, many members of the Catholic clergy are in fact homosexually oriented persons; more to the point, such feelings in the lay population are often times projected onto outsiders, since the faith ultimately rejects people and feelings that go with such behavior, yet it’s criteria may be strangely lax. producing strange sociological behavior : scapegoating. Catholicism has a definite boundary between male and female roles and behavior; Eastern beliefs have a belief in the interconnectedness of the spiritual self which embraces both aspects of personality. The two beliefs produce vastly different results; personally I suspect Buddhism to be a much more tolerant and peaceful belief system–but I have no exhaustive information on such, and the variables in any calculations would be considerable.

  4. I am currently writing a paper and I was wondering where you found this particular information and what pope are you referring too?
    “Despite the differences in doctrine, both leaders have acknowledged each other’s presence with respect, unlike other religious leaders who tend to discredit or lambast opposing religious. In fact, the Pope has gone so far as to declare that Buddhism has permeated into Western culture with positive effects.”

  5. To be exact, in Theravada Buddhism the closest thing to God is Gautama Buddha being omnipotent; however, in Vajrayana Buddhism, the supreme universal ruler or the creator does exist and goes by the name of the Great Sun Buddha. Please check your facts before spreading Buddhism on google.

  6. As a Catholic and a 45 year practitioner of Shaolin Kung Fu I was surrounded by both Buddhist and Taoist philosophies to which I have great respect and admiration for. To this day I still love reading works from both those faiths as I find them uplifting and edifying. When we let go of our personal bias, we can see beauty in almost everything, including a faith different from ours.

    On a final note, regarding Sam’s comment on Catholicism being corrupt; to say such a thing is rooted in ignorance as we cannot condemn the whole based on the actions of a few. Jesus taught us to not judge lest we be judged by the same measure in which we judge. Further, I would look to the plank in my own eye before noticing the speck of dust in the eye of another.

    • Sifu,
      I am surprised and shocked to know that you grow up in Buddhism environment and yet is a Catholic. How is that so?
      I’m looking into both and need some guidance on which way to go. Perhaps you can enlighten me your choice with reasons.

      • Im Catholic and practice Buddhist based philosophy. You can worship Jesus and believe in Hell and also practice Buddhist teachings. Many parts of both are the same, or can be complementary. Take the best from what you encounter. In Catholicism, the key is the path to truth and inner self is reflection, meditation and contemplation (with the help of the Holy Spirit) is that so different from the central practice of mediation in Buddhism? Both gives beneficial guidance for how to live.

  7. They both, like all represent a belief that the human is on a path. Trust in your path and surround yourself with positive individuals. The path will take you there.

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