Judaism & Buddhism Similarities

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


The Commonality Between Judaism and Buddhism



Buddhism and its eight fold path  resembles, in many aspects, the teachings of the ten commandments or  the “graden Derach” (the straight path).  It is the mind that directs our thoughts to do good or evil. 

Some tenets or directives for followers of the eightfold path are: Right mind, right intention, right speech, right action, right or honest livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.  All of these factors are also in the core of the ten commandments.  It takes the human being, the human mind, to follow the directives that compose the ten commandments.  To do right is not to murder, not to steal, not to bear false witness, etc.  It is the human will that allows us to carry out the given commandments.

“Right” can be interpreted as “good” as compared to evil.  The eightfold path is the “Buddha’s” right path just as the adherence of the ten commandments are the right path for humanity.  It is the mind that allows or forbids us to carry out what it is we ultimately do.  We observe this in our daily lives.

Humanity has those who care to follow what is seen as right or wrong.  In our western world we see the folks that are considered good and those who are considered deviant or evil.  The good person gives charity, lends his hand to his fellow man and his heart to G’d. He does not steal or lie, commit adultery, etc.  The deviant is the psychopath, the swindler, the “cheater”, the thief, the criminal, the molester, etc. - in psychological terms, the person who follows his impulses with disregard of the consequences  to self or others.

We must here consider that what is considered good or right in some cultures may be considered otherwise by our western world.  One very simple example is that of the bushmen in the hinterlands of Australia, who until very recently did not cover their bodies with garments. In some African tribes, women do not clothe their breasts.  The ordinary male or female in our modern society considers it lewd to be naked in public. In India, cows are considered sacred and are not generally eaten by the majority of the population.  They are allowed to roam the land and are not considered for consumption. By these few examples, we can clearly see that what is considered right and wrong depends on what has been learned and what the belief systems of a community or region are.  It can here be seen that the mind is the entity that carries out the “right” concepts of the Jewish and Buddhist religions. For the majority of religions, there is a punishment and reward system for following or not obeying that which is proscribed.

As Jews we have much leeway to follow in practicing the ten commandments and find contentment in our minds.  The Buddhist has the same opportunity in his/or her life and can find satisfaction in thinking and following in  the “right” path!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

Home ] Up ]