Zen Talk

Leaving Buddhism

Leaving Buddhism

Why people give up on Buddhism

Why people leave Buddhism:

  • New Age and Secular Humanist mumbo-jumbo
    • The blaming the student for their own confusion;
    • Viewing that materialistic gains are the end-goal
    • Denial of the soul, the soul-purification process, and the soul-liberation
    • Anti-Buddhist teachings bearded as Buddhism!
  • Ignorance of the Sangha (meaning the monastic school you belong to)
    • The sangha itself does no study of real Buddhism
    • Mistaking foreign culture and religious forms as the teachings,
    • The sangha teacher is ignorant, not educated themselves, and just relies on dogma
    • Reliance on assumptions, opinions and feelings rather than the actual Buddha’s teaching
    • Denial of all of the above
  • Hypocrisy
    • Whatever code of ethics and rules of the sangha are not being adhered to,
    • Abuses of money, sexual conduct, and positions of authority
    • There is no justice and no avenue for justice.

A Zen Center is just a school

Like any school, there is a charter that informs the students exactly what the school mission is about. Schools come and go, many that start fail.

Why a school fails:

  1. Lack of a clear mission; ambiguity and confusion as to what they teach
  2. The leadership is weak, non-existant or distant
  3. Lack of community support, often due to #1 and #2
  4. Hypocrisy and bad actors where sexual misconduct, financial misdeeds, power abuses occur.
  5. It’s a scam, and always was. The school was set up as a cash-cow in an affluent part of the city to pray upon the spiritual seeking of the wealthy.


I have seen senior students and teachers leave Zen Centers and Zen Buddhism all together. 

Here is why:

  • The organization brings in anti-Buddhist teachings (New age and secular humanism) to attract new people.
  • Poor leadership, unclear mission and purpose.
  • Hypocrisy and bad actors are allowed to flourish, no consequences for them.
  • No clear and visible path for advancement and those who are advanced is arbitrary
  • Lack of support from the students and community. Often for one or more of the above.

If I was to run a Zen Center

So, if I was to run a Zen Center I would:

  1. Clearly define the mission statement of the school
  2. Educate initiates as to our mission and methods
  3. Base our ethics and rules on Natural Law
  4. Formal students and teachers are given a clear path of advancement
  5. Have a just and fair grievance method to root out bad actors and hypocrites
  6. Be vigil and guard against anti-Buddhist teachings and heresy
  7. Adapt local culture and style to the Buddhist teachings (Buddha’s teachings are universal, beyond any culture or regional peoples)
  8. Gain the acceptance of the local community and their support.


Non-aligned Zen Teacher currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada USA Youtube Channel Website