Criticisms of Buddhism Its History, Doctrine and Common Practices

1. The Literary Foundation of Buddhism: Divisions and Denominations

We know of Buddhism because Buddhist scholars began to write down Buddhist stories during a time when the faith was threatened. This was done after hundreds of years of oral transmission of those stories:

Book Cover

For the first five hundred years the Scriptures were orally transmitted. They were written down only at the beginning of the Christian era, because at that time the decline in faith threatened their continued survival in the memories of the monks. Different schools wrote down different things. […] The years between A.D. 100 and 400 were the golden age of Buddhist literature.

Buddhist Scriptures” by Edward Conze (1959)2

The second great Buddhist council was held in 387BCE in Vaisali, and was attended by 700 theras (Therevada senior monks). Disputes were discussed, and the Buddhist community suffered more splits yet “even in this council of Vaisali we cannot find the fact that the Master’s preachings were reduced to writing. […] Thus the same doctrine of the Teacher began to be differently stated and believed. […] There were many different schools of the Buddhists at the time when King Acoka ascended the throne (about 269 B.C.)”3. The Buddhist Canon is full of “discrepancies and contradictions” and even the major Buddhist denominations are unsure if their texts are the original ones or if they are based on Human speculations about the original texts, which were themselves “handed down by memory about one hundred years” before being written down3.

Buddhism therefore suffers from the same problems as Christianity and Islam: Everything we know about the religion comes from fallible human sources, and, the earliest collections of writings on the religion have profoundly contradicted each other. The model for oral transmission was, and sometimes still is, followed today, where teachers form long-lasting relationships with students. The founders of major sects are given much credibility and all of this lasts on one big claim: that the teacher passes on the religion as he himself received it. But this model never works. In all instances, Buddhist doctrine and practice vary greatly. Modern-day communities of Buddhists have widely differing practices as a result.

Lineages of teachers, which are often reputed to be unbroken right back to the Buddha, pass instructions on practices to their students [… who themselves then] emphasize the need to carry out a practice in accordance with the precise procedure passed from teacher to student. This means there can be striking differences between practices that have been passed on through contrasting lineages. All the practices developed over time, most often in isolation from each other. Consequently, practitioners using contrasting techniques may never have come into contact with each other. There was therefore no need for them to take account of or explain contrasts.

Waterhouse (2001) p127

Buddhism suffers from denominational conflicts in the same way as other religions. The scholar of religion Helen Waterhouse notes that “anyone who has had dealings with a range of Buddhist groups will be aware that Buddhists belonging to one group are often happy to criticize Buddhists belonging to another. […] There is a range of focuses for such criticism, among which perhaps the most common is the questioning of the authenticity of the teachers of other groups in terms of their legitimacy within a lineage or the quality of their personal practice”4.

For example: Zen Buddhism specifically distances itself from other branches of Buddhism, claiming thatBuddhist scholars are wasting their time while deliberating over the specific phrases and words used withinBuddhist scripture.

As the finger has no brightness whatever, so the Scripture has no holiness whatever. […] Those who spend most of their lives in the study of the Scriptures, arguing and explaining with hair-splitting reasonings, and attain no higher plane in spirituality, are religious flies good for nothing but their buzzing about the nonsensical technicalities. […]

Buddhist denominations, like non-Buddhist religions, lay stress on scriptural authority; but Zen denounces it on the ground that words or characters can never adequately express religious truth, which can only be realized by mind […]. It is an isolated instance in the whole history of the world’s religions that holy scriptures are declared to be ‘no more than waste paper’.

Zen – The Religion of the Samurai” by Kaiten Nukariya (1913)5

Now the advent of globalisation and the internet, disparate Buddhist groups regularly confront each other over differences in doctrine. Waterhouse (2001) states categorically that it is impossible to construct an original form of Buddhism from modern-day examples because the change that has occurred has been too great. As most major Buddhist sects disagree on some important theological issues, it must be the case that most of them are wrong in their teachings.

2. Nothing New

Not only was Buddhism written down by all-too-human scholars hundreds of years after the events they wrote about, but it seems that the stories themselves were elements of the culture of the time. Just likeChristianity, Islam, and all other religions, it was formed from the beliefs of the present culture, a mixture of various trends of the time. The doctrine and feel of Buddhism is very similar to Hindu thought, just with different emphases. It was not a sudden, new, unique revelation. It grew slowly. The teachings of its founder were not written down by the founder himself (same as Christianity and Islam). It shows all the hallmarks of a mythical set of stories, many of them rewrites of older stories. Like most other religions, it seems that any revelations of an otherworldly nature were eerily compatible with what humanity already practised, and already thought.

What doctrines, it must now be asked, were special to Buddhism? Not Karma, that was common property which Buddhism shared. Not in asserting that a right mind was superior to sacrifice, that was a primary doctrine of the Jains, and pre-Buddhistic, both within and without the pale of Brahmanism. Not in seeking a way to salvation independently of the Vedas, that had been done by many teachers in various sects. Not in the doctrine that defilement comes not from unclean meats but from evil deeds and words and thoughts; Buddhist writers themselves say that is derived from previous Buddhas. Not in the search for peace through self-control and renunciation; that was the quest of a myriad recluses and all previous Buddhas. Not in the view that there is a higher wisdom than that attained by austerities; that, too, is pre-Buddhistic. Not in the doctrine that non-Brahmans could join an Order and attain religious blessedness; other orders were open to men of low social status and even to slaves. Indeed, the rigid separation of caste was not yet established in the early days of Buddhism.

The admission of women was not an innovation as it was practiced by the Jains, and even the tradition makes the Buddha accept it reluctantly in the twenty-fifth year of his preaching.

Pagan Christs” by J. M. Robertson

This is quite similar to the situation surrounding the foundings of other world religions.


3. The Buddha Was Not a Historical Person

The historicity of Buddha is accepted by all. But there is no unanimity of the date. In Sri Lanka, 483 BC is accepted as the date of his nirvana while in Burma 544 BC is accepted. In Tibet it is believed to be 835 BC, while in China, 11th century BC is the accepted date.Buddha was an Indian and the Indian Puranic tradition believes that the nirvana took place in 1793 or 1807 BC.

Stories of “The Buddha” are compiled stories from multiple people and multiple events, canonized and amalgamated. There was no singular “Buddha” as is traditionally taught in Buddhism, and no aspect of Buddhism is other than that you’d expect to find in early India. In addition, scholars have noted that over time, the stories and symbols of Buddhism have been interpreted increasingly literally, such as stories surrounding Māra6.

In short, it is entirely possible that there was no Buddha at all and that the stories of the Buddha’s life were merely the same stories of similar lives of other sages, given a new catchy name. Such is the way religions are developed! Some modern Buddhist apologists have acknowledged this and said that Buddhism is the revival of the stories of the last Buddha, thousands of years beforehand, therefore claiming that Buddhism pre-emptively informed Indian beliefs. This is similar to the Christians saying that Satan planted on the Earth many religious beliefs similar to Christianity in the first century, so as to discredit Christianity when it emerged. Such explanations seem to be rather paranoid and rash! The truth is, Buddhism and Christianitywere copies of earlier beliefs developed in the same way as other religions developed from culture and history.

4. Western Buddhism is Schizophrenic and Shallow

4.1. The Imbalanced Interest in Selected Rational Texts Only

The form of Buddhism that took root in the west from the 17th to 19th centuries was by necessity completely focused on a small portion of specific Buddhist texts from the Pali canon. The West’s idea of Buddhism derived from this partial selection, divorced from their cultural context. Buddhism was interpreted as an intellectual, rational, philosophical religion based on mental development7. This was not a true representation of Buddhism. It is as if a historian stumbles across a particularly legalistic fourth-century Christian treaty, and uses it to form his statements about the entire religion. It was in this narrow context that the first western Buddhist centres were created.

It took hundreds of years before an explosion of texts and material became available that exposed true Buddhist diversity and we have now accumulated a vast knowledge of different scriptures and traditions8. We learned that Buddhism was always tied up with mythology and irrationality, to its very core9,10. Yet what did we do? We continued to study the high-brow stuff that had interested us before, reconstructing Buddhism as containing only an “essential element” which happens to be just the most rational-seeming parts9. “Within the vast array of textual material, some texts resonate more easily with western ideas of rationality than others. It has often been translations of these texts that receive wide attention while the more esoteric or apparently irrational texts have, until recently, been largely ignored or dismissed”7. So what has changed, recently? Read on!

4.2. The Imbalanced Interest in Selected Practises, Devoid of Rationality

After educated westerners embraced an imbalanced and inaccurate form of intellectual Buddhism, concentrating on a few key texts, the general populace took another route. After the New Age swept the west, many individuals made a lifestyle out of ‘trying out’ religious, magical and otherworldly practices without heeding any of the surrounding religious thinking. Now, the most common form of ‘Buddhism‘ that is practised in the west is the kind done once a week, or perhaps one week a year. Self-help mysticism has found respectability under the banner of ‘Buddhism’, and presently it is things like meditation classes and weekend (or week-long) retreats that people associate with Buddhism7. Nearly all the genuine Buddhist centres in the UK run meditation classes and the like for the general public.

4.3. The Census Exaggerates Buddhist Numbers

“A census is inevitably based on self-definition, and those who identify as Buddhists are likely to include people who live in Buddhist centres or work full-time for a Buddhist organisation or have given up their ordinary lives to become monks or nuns, as well as people who once attended a Buddhist group for a couple of weeks or have learned what they know of Buddhism from books”7. In other words, people tend to say on the census and on other impersonal, official forms that they are “Buddhist” simply because they have aninterest in Buddhism and/or, they have attended some Buddhist evenings/days, which are actually only a watered-down, disguised form of New Age religious selectivism. Of the 144,453 who put down “Buddhist” on the 2001 Census, I suspect 100,000 are Buddhism-fans, not Buddhists.

4.4. Real Buddhism is Social, not Individualistic

They key problem of the West’s approach to Buddhism is that Western religions have become private, individual, voluntary and introspective affairs. So that it how we have approached Buddhism: as individuals reading books, or as individuals seeking enlightenment and peace by doing a little meditation. Buddhism contains much more in the way of superstition, ritual and dogma than we’d like to see, but the worst part is that Buddhism only works as a social system, complete with a mass of lay Buddhists who practice cultural Buddhism. Western Buddhism is simplified, compartmentalized and has its real heart removed. In “The Social Face of Buddhism” by Ken Jones (1989) the author writes that the community (sangha) of Buddhism in the West is completely missing11. Since he wrote that in 1989 there have now emerged some unique, small and committed communities of Buddhists in the UK.

Buddhism is simply not suited to specialized cultures where life, work, pleasure, relationships, entertainment, spirituality, are all in different boxes. It is too dogmatically holistic, whereas New Age is the opposite: Dogmatically individualistic. What many Westerners consider Buddhism is merely the more respectable elements of Westernized Indian religion in general, but with an individualistic slant rather than a communal one.

5. Nirvana and Reality

5.1. The First Cause Dilemma: A Fundamental Contradiction

Ultimate transcendental reality is nirvana, and a prerequisite of achieving it is the complete abolition of the self. But the same dilemma faces Buddhists as faces theists such as Christians and Muslims: Why is it that there are any beings at all that are not in this perfect state?

A common defence is that it is somehow better if little bits of consciousness are deluded for a while, or that they have to suffer in the real world, before returning to Heaven or Nirvana. But if Nirvana and Heaven are perfect, why is it that anything needs to be done to improve on that state? The questions have remained unanswered by Christians and Buddhists for thousands of years. It seems that there is no logical reason, no theological reason, no rationality, behind this belief other than to say that it is connected with the Human fear of death but actually has no basis in reality.

5.2. World Rejection

The concept that all of our desires and attachments to the world are the things holding us back, and that reality is an illusion that we shouldn’t engage with, is a disastrous and potentially harmful doctrine when encouraged in some individuals. Although Buddhism teaches a “middle-way” inbetween complete asceticism and world-acceptance, it seems that the common-sense approach of renouncing Buddhism and merely striving to be a good person is more logical.

During the whole of [The Buddha’s] ministry, however, he embraced a world-renouncing life which excluded sexual contact. The rules for the Buddhist monks reflect this example of the Buddha. Such rules are still applied in Theravada Buddhism, but married monks are found among Mahayana Buddhists.

The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach
Moojan Momen (1999) [Book Review]12

5.3. Buddhist Psychology is Too Idealistic

You can spot Buddhist psycho-babble from quite a while off, there is a distinctive feel and look aboutBuddhist therapists and self-development. The truth is that Buddhist psychology is like Communist ideology or Christian guilt methodology: It only suits a particular type of person. Buddhist practices are not a universal solution to social ills or spiritual problems, but a certain type of solution catering for only certain types of person.

For a religion that makes universalist claims about the enlightenment of all beings, it is stuck with a mythology about Indian, Chinese and Eastern-style sages, teachers and students; when it is only a certain portion of humanity that can exist in those roles. The rest do not fit into the Buddhist mould, and Buddhist advice and counsel is counterproductive.

Ken Jones notes the real dangers that Buddhist ego training presents to certain types of people, producing neurotics and psychotics at worst, and mental imbalance at best. He notes the difficulty of adapting traditional Buddhist methods to swathes of society who do not conform to the model of the ego that Buddhist psychology requires of students.

Buddhism unfortunately, for a religion with so much social potential, falls over its own dogma and mythology when it comes to individual, personal development of people in general. It operates best as a peace movement, as a mediator, as an intelligent social commenter rather than a personal religion.

Those who do take earnestly and naturally to the methods of Buddhist self-development are those who are already more developed and already more intelligent Humans. Lower Buddhism, of the masses, is dumbed-down and mostly useless as a unique tool, functioning as a smotherer just like popular religions do in all countries. Higher Buddhism caters for those who are already on a higher level, just like scholarly Christianity suits the intelligent and elitist Satanism suits the naturally strong and mature, Buddhism doesn’t offer much insight into how the masses may improve themselves beyond offering the same social programs that socially aware governments offer.

6. Negative Social Effects

6.1. Buddhism’s Part in War and Strife

Buddhism, of all the major world religions, has the greatest record for peace and morality. Christianity, Islamand other religions’ more peaceful elements at their best only ever come to be equal to Buddhist movements. Compared with other powerful religions, Buddhism is calm in theory and in practice, although other religions such as the Bahá’í Faith make a good drive in a similar direction, they are small in size. Nonetheless, various forms of Buddhism in various times have been instruments of war and violence. Buddhist sects have argued and fought over doctrine, over populations and methods, over pride and national independence.

Conze has argued […] that ‘some of the success of the [Tibetan Buddhist] Gelug-pa [sect] was due to the military support of the Mongols, who, during the seventeenth century, frequently devastated the monasteries of the rival Red sects. The long association of Japanese Zen Buddhism with military prowess and aggressive imperialism has already been noted… […] and Trevor Ling has argued that South-East Asian Buddhist kingdoms were as militarily aggressive and self-seeking as any others. Walpola Rahula [describes] a war of national independence in Sri Lanka in the second century BC conducted under the slogan ‘Not for kingdom, but for Buddhism’

The Social Face of Buddhism” by Ken Jones (1989)13

Buddhism has integrated itself with governments and found itself manipulating the populace just as many other religions have done.

After the Meiji Restoration feudalism was replaced by a State dedicated to overseas expansion, and the Zen establishment found a new role in nurturing absolute obedience to it and supporting imperial wars of conquest. In the 1930s Zen Masters occupied themselves more and more with giving military men Zen training […]. The events of this military epoch in the history of Zen have been chronicled by Ichikawa Hakugen, a Zen priest and professor at Kyoto’s Hanazono University, who in books like The War Responsibility of Buddhists, condemned Zen’s (and his own) collaboration with Japanese fascism.

The Social Face of Buddhism” by Ken Jones (1989)14

Buddhism in Japan and the USA has seen the emergence of “training” for corporate employees designed to quell dissatisfaction and discord, in short, of covering up the symptoms of illness and bad practice rather than tackling the problems of social malaise and industry work standards. Buddhism, despite its highly socially-centered morality frequently slips into individual remedies when in order to be consistent and true to its own teachings it should be engaging in wider social work.

6.2. The Inequality of Women

The religious hierarchy in Buddhism is typically male-dominated, as it is in most traditional religions. Moojan Momen writes: “Even in Buddhism, where Buddha himself gave permission for the setting up of an order of nuns, the Buddhist scriptures represent him as having been very reluctant to do so […three times] saying, ‘If women go forth under the rule of the Dharma, this Dharma will not be long-enduring.’ He said that it would be like a blight descending upon a field of sugar cane. Eventually he relented, however, and allowed an order of nuns. However, the nuns were to remain subordinate to the monks in all ways”15.

Nuns in Tibetan lineages of Buddhism can never be more than ‘novices’ because there is no ordination process for them; and female Therevada Buddhists cannot become ordained either because the lineage required died out and has not been revived due to opposition from male-dominated Buddhist authorities16.

Lama Choedak Rinpoche explains a little of the current situation in an article celebrating his organising of an ordination event for female Buddhists in Australia:

The controversy surrounding female ordination is not a problem restricted only toChristianity. Even though ordination of women in Buddhism occurred during the life of the Buddha, his initial reluctance to ordain women seems to have been misinterpreted by many people. This misinterpretation has left a legacy of doubt and indecision among the orthodoxBuddhist leaders. Some Buddhist countries did not even introduce the Bhikhuni ordination while others who did could not sustain the lineage for long. The Bhikhuni ordination was never introduced to Tibet even though there are hundreds of nunneries there. Theravadin tradition lost the lineage that they once had and initiatives to revive the tradition in Thailand have faced stiff opposition from the mainstream Buddhist leadership.

Tibetan Buddhists proudly claim that theirs is the complete form of Buddhism, but it would be hard to maintain this if Bhikhuni ordination is not established. It is said that in order to say that there is Dharma in a land there should be Sangha consisting of four members, including fully ordained Bhikhunis. Whatever are the reasons, there are miserably few female teachers in Tibetan Buddhism and a few seem to be in that position because of the merit of there being sisters or daughters of well known male teachers. Nunneries do not have qualified female teachers and even countries, which have a Bhikhuni ordination system, are reluctant to have female Buddhist teachers.

The First Bhikhuni Ordination in Australia” (2007)17

Some authors such as Rita Gross, are positive about the relationship between Buddhism and women. She says that “a reconstructed authentic core of Buddhism reflects and supports feminist values, in so far as it is ‘without gender bias, …, and that sexist practices are in actual contradiction with the essential core teachings of the tradition'”18. Given the actual historical relationship, how can she hold to this view? Well, she adds two caveats. Firstly, presumably when she says “core teachings” she defines it in a way that removes social teachings, and secondly the caveat in the middle of her statement (replaced by an ellipsis, above) adds: “whatever the practical record may reveal”. Unfortunately, even if Buddhist philosophy was gender-neutral, it is only the practical side that has any meaning! There is no difference between being denied equality and standing by someone who backs it up with a proper understanding of their own religion, and, being subjugated by someone who backs it up with an improper understanding of their own religion. Either way, the religion’s teachings ought to state gender equality, especially as no text has been written in times when misogyny and patriarchy have not been infamous. Nonetheless Rita Gross’s position is further undermined “when she starts generalizing that all religions were originally non-patriarchal until they were subverted by men” (Hawthorn 2011), and other historians have criticized her approach as “unhistorical”.

6.3. Sex Scandals and Cover-ups: the Same as Other Religions

Like other religions, Buddhism suffers from the same impulse to hide events that tarnish the reputation of Buddhism. Note the similar trends in these examples:

  • For example, Lama Choedak Rinpoche, who we quoted from above regarding female ordination, runs the Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra, Australia. He has been embroiled in a sex scandal after it emerged that he had had affairs with several women from Canberra’s Tibetan Buddhist Community in 2010. His initial responses and the reactions of Buddhist officialdom were revealing. When complaints about his behaviour first emerged within the group, he and senior Buddhists ‘said talking to the media or telling new group members what had happened could be spiritually damaging and prevent other Canberrans from ”achieving enlightenment through buddhism”’ – in other words, they told the complainers not to speak about the incidents19. In October 2013,
  • Sangharakshita founded the Triratna Buddhist Community, known until 2010 as FWBO (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order), one of the UK’s largest Buddhist groups and perhaps the most well-known. But he only founded this order after being dismissed in 1966 from the English Sangha Trust due to concerns over his personal behaviour, including his receiving accusations of sexual misconduct. But that wasn’t all. The “FWBO Files” almost prides itself on the wealth of problems surrounding Sangharakshita’s sexual life even before 1966:

    He returned to England in 1964, having been, reportedly, expelled by the Indian authorities. According to this report, considerable concern had built up over rumours about Sangharakshita’s sexual behavior with young male students of Buddhism. In particular, there was an Indian family that wished to prosecute Sangharakshita for having seduced their son. A very senior Indian politician, who was sympathetic to Buddhism and also something of an anglophile, intervened personally in order to protect the good name of Buddhism from the risk of being damaged by the publicity surrounding such a case. He persuaded the family to drop the case, on condition Sangharakshita left India. A post as resident monk at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara in London was arranged for Sangharakshita. Christmas Humphreys, a prominent English Buddhist of the time, was closely involved in arranging this move, but he omitted to tell the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara of the full reasons behind the move, and he also took great care to keep the politician’s name out of things, lest this politician be accused of colluding in a cover-up.

    The FWBO Files20

    Two of his alleged junior male sexual partners from 1996 committed suicide.

Both of these instances reveal multiple people at high-levels “looking out” for Buddhism by suppressing the revealing of cases of sexual misbehaviour among the founder – not even mere laypeople – of major Buddhist movements. As these are the people who are scrutinized most widely, it stands without doubt that these represent only a small portion of the complete picture, and that many more cover-ups have remained in shadow.

More reading:

6.4. Human Suffering: Paying the Price for the Sins of a Previous Life

There is a lot of suffering in the world. This fact leads Buddhists to look to Buddha for an answer, and leadsChristians to look to Christ for an answer. Both claim that ultimately a blissful state can be attained with no suffering: that eventually everything will be alright. The psychological attraction of such beliefs is one of the greatest factors behind the success of religions that explain away suffering.

But, Christianity and Buddhism have both dehumanized suffering in history and have both led people to accept suffering when they should not. In Christianity, especially historically and within conservative Christianity, suffering is a test from God, a result of the sins of us and our ancestors. In Buddhism, suffering is the status-quo of life and in popular Buddhism a person suffers now for their transgressions in previous lives. Both Christianity and Buddhism explain away present evil as an unavoidable circumstance that we are better to accept than to combat.

The poor, the powerless and the diseased are therefore assumed to owe their misfortune to moral transgressions in past lives, no matter how virtuously they may strive to improve their condition in this life. This mystification is applied also to whole peoples and nations. […] “This retributive view of kamma is quite alien to canonical Buddhism, as Buddhist scholars and teachers have made clear on many occasions.

The Social Face of Buddhism” by Ken Jones (1989)21

The result is a depressive acceptance of social ills, taken as they are to be endured rather than cured. Anti-progressionist, such views have led the world into its darkest years. As with Christianity, when popular Buddhism informs, for example, a painfully disabled person that their present torture is a result of their ownpast actions or sins, the result is a harmful negativity and horrifies any compassionate person that such doctrines ever came to be. Karmic resolution and Christian sin are both harmful concepts with negative effects on society, especially on the weak and unfortunate.

6.5. The Social Vampirism of Monasteries

Buddhism monasteries in the UK, like many monks, cannot support themselves, and require donations from the (working) community around them. Traditionally, laypeople would (they believed) improve their karma by giving to monasteries. This system is very similar to Christianity, and has the same problem: It is merely a form of unsustainable vampirism whereby non-producers and world-rejectionists are encouraged in their mystical beliefs, by guilty laypeople who want to feel good about themselves. In reality, it is the non-producers who should feel guilty!

7. Conclusions

Buddhism is a wonderful religion socially, participating as a principle player in all forms of global peace & stability movements, very environmentally aware and an intelligent force for good in world politics. Historically it has contributed much less inhumanity to the world than have all other religions of similar stature. But its greatness is limited by its own dogma and mythology, its psychology is too idealistic and assumptive and its self-development aspects are too specific. In the West Buddhism has become no more than the respectable elements of New Age, merely called “Buddhism” and missing all of its main elements, replacing them with commercialist and popularist gimmicks. The London Buddhist Society and other high-brow Buddhist institutions in the West are inactive, elitist gatherings of intelligent pseudo-Buddhists, genuine Buddhists in the West are very hard to find.

The history of Buddhism is problematic. It has grown from the cultural practices and beliefs from particular parts of the East and there seems to be no evidence for Buddhist beliefs. Not only that, but the Buddha himself lacks any evidence for his existence, apart from the fact that many varied and contradictory stories were once passed on orally for hundreds of years before being written down. It is impossible to separate fact from fable.

Buddhist traditions all claim that through a long and accurate teacher-student lineage, their practices were those ordained by the Buddha. Yet major divisions exist between the branches of Buddhism as to what practices are good, what are bad, and what the beliefs of the religion are. It is clear that with so many contradictory claims, most Buddhists must therefore be wrong in their beliefs.

In an age where the UN and many secular multinational organisations have more strength and much willpower, social Buddhism has passed its hey-day as a useful tool of humanitarianism and global welfare. Buddhist groups could be replaced with secular organisations with little real change in mentality.

Overly mystical and too idealistic about human nature, only the world-wide social elements of Buddhism have genuine merit, the rest is yet-another self-fulfilling religion of superstition, assumptions and pseudopsychology.

Frenologia. Espiritualista e Espírita


Perfectibilidade da raça negra

Segundo Allan Kardec ele se baseou na “FRENOLOGIA” para classificar a humanidade em evoluídos espiritualmente e atrasados espiritualmente. A conclusão dos trabalhos de Kardec foi que, segundo ele, o único povo evoluído espiritualmente ou mais adiantados no planeta é o povo europeu que ele chama de “raça caucasiana” ou “raça Adâmica”, isto é, os europeus são descendentes diretos de Adão, sendo todos os outros povos do planeta “INFERIORES” aos europeus e isto prova a sua ignorância sobre as origens do povo europeu, e ignorância histórica porque, se Adão e Eva tivessem existido, eles seriam negros, e a própria bíblia confirma isto.
Ele cita mas especificamente, os indígenas, os negros e os asiáticos como sendo inferiores.
De onde veio este estudo de Kardec, fora o interesse em confirmar o seu racismo?

Segundo Kardec:

“A raça negra é perfectível? Segundo algumas pessoas, esta questão é julgada e resolvida negativamente. Se assim é, e se esta raça é votada por Deus a uma eterna inferioridade, segue-se que é inútil nos preocuparmos com ela e que devemos nos limitar a fazer do negro uma espécie de animal doméstico, preparado para a cultura do açúcar e do algodão. Entretanto a Humanidade, tanto quanto o interesse social, requer um exame mais cuidadoso. É o que tentaremos fazer. Mas como uma conclusão desta gravidade, num ou noutro sentido, não pode ser tomada levianamente e deve apoiar-se em raciocínio sério, pedimos permissão para desenvolver algumas considerações preliminares, que nos servirão para mostrar, mais uma vez, que o Espiritismo é a única chave possível de uma multidão de problemas, insolúveis com o auxílio dos dados atuais da Ciência. A FRENOLOGIA NOS SERVIRÁ DE PONTO DE PARTIDA.”
Revista Espírita – Jornal de Estudos Psicológicos ANO V ABRIL DE 1862 No 4


  1. A Frenologia não deve ser confundido com Fenologia.
  2. A Frenologia também não pode ser confundida com craniometria (medida ou tamanho do crânio, peso e forma)
  3. A Frenologia também não pode ser confundida com a Fisionomia (estudo das característcas faciais)

O que quer dizer “Frenologia”?

Freno = mente e logos = conhecimento. Portanto, Frenologia seria o conhecimento da mente. Mas foi considerada uma pseudociência. Pseudo=Falso + Ciência, ou seja: Frenologia é uma Falsa Ciência.

A Frenologia foi desenvolvida pelo médico Franz Joseph Gall, em 1796 e ele se baseava nas medidas do crânio humano, afirmando que o cérebro seria um órgão da mente e possuía determinadas áreas específicas ou módulos que determinam o caráter e moral das pessoas.

A frenologia não se limitou às pessoas comuns e ambos, rainha Victoria e o príncipe Albert, convidaram George Combe, uma dos maiores propagadores da frenologia, para ler as cabeças de seus filhos.

Na época, em torno de 1800, a frenologia também contribuiu para o desenvolvimento da antropologia física, medicina forense, a compreensão do cérebro, sistema nervoso e anatomia do cérebro, bem como contribuiu para a psicologia aplicada.

A Frenologia foi desacreditada como uma teoria científica na década de 1840 devido a uma quantidade crescente de evidências contra a a mesma.

Os frenologistas nunca foram capazes de chegar a acordo sobre os fundamentos mais básicos quanto ao número de órgãos mentais que vão de 27 a mais de 40, assim como, também, nunca foram capazes de localizar os órgãos mentais e, ao invés disso, eles praticavam leituras cranioscópicas do crânio para encontrar os locais dos órgãos.

Jean Pierre FLOURENS realizou experiências com pombos e comprovou que os supostos órgãos de Gall eram imaginários. A popularização da Frenologia resultou na sua simplificação e na mistura de seus princípios com fisionomia, que, desde o início foi rejeitado por Gall como um indicador de personalidade.

A frenologia desde o seu início foi continuamente acusada por promover o materialismo e o ateísmo, e de ser destruidora da moralidade. Estes foram os fatores que levaram à queda da frenologia. No Século 20 renasceu a frenologia por causa dos estudos de evolução, criminologia e antropologia

O psiquiatra Bernard Hollander (1864-1934) introduziu uma abordagem quantitativa para o diagnóstico frenológico, definindo um método para a medição do crânio, e comparando as medições com valores estatísticos.

Na Bélgica, Paul Bouts (1900-1999) começou a estudar frenologia a partir de uma formação pedagógica, utilizando a análise Frenologica para definir um indivíduo em pedagogia. Bouts, um sacerdote católico romano, propagou a frenologia, principalmente no Brasil e Canadá, onde fundou institutos para caracteriologia. Ele publicou um trabalho, que examina o tema da paleoantropologia e desenvolveu uma estudos em teleológica e ortogenetica com vista a um aperfeiçoamento na evolução, desde as paleo-encefalicas formas do crânio de homem pré-histórico, que ele ainda considerava prevalente em criminosos e selvagens, em direção a uma forma superior de humanidade, perpetuando assim problemática racialização da frenologia da estrutura humana. Bouts morreu em 7 de março de 1999, após o que o seu trabalho foi continuado pela fundação holandesa PPP (Per Pulchritudinem em Pulchritudine ), e operado por Anette Müller, um dos alunos de Bouts.

  • Durante os anos 1930 as autoridades coloniais belgas em Ruanda usava a frenologia para explicar a chamada superioridade dos tutsis sobre hutus.
  • Em seu livreto frenologia e outras ciências, C.W. Le Grand, presidente da British Phrenological Society 1958 – 60 expressou a sua frustração com os mal-entendidos e deturpações sobre a Frenologia: “Tantas noções erradas e idéias errôneas existem a respeito da frenologia, e tão bruta tem sido as suas deturpações, que muitas pessoas atenciosas a rejeitaram logo de cara.
  • Em 2007, o Estado norte-americano de Michigan incluíu a frenologia em uma lista de serviços pessoais sujeitos a imposto sobre vendas. 

Algumas pessoas tem usado a frenologia como justificativa para consagrar a superioridade européia em relação a todas as outras raças, que segundo eles, são “inferiores” e assim, através de comparação de crânios de diferentes grupos étnicos se afirmam como sendo evoluídos.

Broussais, um discípulo de Gall, proclamou que os caucasianos era a raça “mais bonita”, enquanto povos, como o aborígenes da Australia e maori nunca iriam se tornar civilizados, uma vez que não tinham nenhum órgão cerebral próprio para a produção de obras de arte.

Surpreendentemente alguns Frenologistas argumentaram contra a emancipação dos escravos. Em vez disso, eles argumentaram que, por meio da educação e da miscigenação dos povos “inferiores”, estes poderiam melhorar. Outro argumento foi que a desigualdade natural das pessoas poderia ser usada para situá-las em um lugar mais adequado na sociedade.

Estereótipos de género também era comuns. Os Frenologists sustentavam que não existiam mulheres talentosas.

Tradução: Ana Burke

Fontes que podem ser consultadas:
Lyons 2009
1833, The American Journal das Ciências Médicas , Sociedade Sul para a investigação clínica
Pärssinen 1974 , p. 1.
McGrew 1985 , p. 259
Staum 2003
Staum 2003
Hollander, Bernard (1891). “Uma Contribuição para a frenologia Científica” . O Jornal do Instituto de Antropologia da Grã-Bretanha e da Irlanda 20 : 227-234 .Retirado 10 de junho 2012
Rea, Lisa. “Aplicando a Justiça Restaurativa para o genocídio em Ruanda” . Retirado 10 de junho 2012 .
CW Le Grand – frenologia e outras ciências – London, British Phrenological Society, sem data
“lista alargada de serviços afetados pelo novo imposto” . . Associated Press . 03 de outubro de 2007 . Retirado 2013/01/04 .


O suposto médium Robson Pinheiro, para a confecção de seu livro “psicografado” chamado “Aruanda”, nitidamente extraiu trechos volumosos de duas obras terrenas, “Orixás” e “Iemanjá e Oxum”. Para quem quiser baixar o artigo (no formato doc) em que demonstro isso, clique aqui.

“Aruanda”, de Robson Pinheiro (2004), pelo ‘espírito’ Ângelo Inácio

“Orixás”, de Pierre Verger

(autor falecido em 1996)

o arquétipo de Ogum é o das pessoas enérgicas, às vezes briguentas e impulsivas. Perseguem seus objetivos sem se desencorajar facilmente; nos momentos difíceis, triunfam onde qualquer outro teria abandonado o combate e perdido toda a esperança. Os filhos de Ogum, como se costuma dizer, são indivíduos de humor mutável e transitam com naturalidade de furiosos acessos de raiva ao mais tranqüilo dos comportamentos. Finalmente, Ogum é o arquétipo das pessoas impetuosas e arrogantes, que tendem a melindrar os outros por uma certa falta de discrição, quando alguém lhes presta serviços.” (pág. 152-153) “o arquétipo de Ogum é o das pessoas violentas, briguentas e impulsivas. Das pessoas que perseguem energicamente seus objetivos e não se desencorajam facilmente. Daquelas que nos momentos difíceis, triunfam onde qualquer outro teria abandonado o combate e perdido toda a esperança. Das que possuem humor mutável passando de furiosos acessos de raiva ao mais tranqüilo dos comportamentos. Finalmente, é o arquétipo das pessoas impetuosas e arrogantes, daquelas que arriscam a melindrar os outros por uma certa falta de discrição…” (pág. 51)
- Examinemos Oxóssi – prosseguiu Pai João. – Irmão de Ogum, na mitologia, o arquétipo de Oxóssi é bem diverso. Representa as pessoas espertas, rápidas, donas de notável agilidade, sempre em alerta e em movimento. Cheias de iniciativa, estão sempre em busca de novas descobertas e novas atividades, mas possuem grande senso de responsabilidade e de cuidado com a família (pág. 154) O arquétipo de Oxossi é o das pessoas espertas, rápidas, sempre alerta e em movimento. São pessoas cheias de iniciativas e sempre em vias de novas descobertas ou de novas atividades. Têm o senso de responsabilidade e dos cuidados para com a família. (pág. 54)
Outro tipo psicológico digno de estudo por parte dos psicólogos é Iansã, cujo comportamento já foi tema de filmes e músicas de nossos irmãos encarnados. O arquétipo de Iansã é o das mulheres audaciosas, poderosas e autoritárias. Indivíduos que podem ser fiéis e de lealdade absoluta em certas circunstâncias, mas que, em outros momentos, quando contrariadas em seus projetos e empreendimentos, deixam-se levar a manifestações da mais extrema cólera. São mulheres de temperamento sensual e voluptuoso, que pode levá-las a múltiplas e freqüentes aventuras amorosas extraconjugais, sem reserva nem decência, fato que não as impede de continuar muito ciumentas com seus maridos, por elas mesmas enganados.(pág. 154-155) O arquétipo de Oiá-Iansã é o das mulheres audaciosas, poderosas e autoritárias. Mulheres que podem ser fiéis e de lealdade absoluta em certas circunstâncias, mas que, em outros momentos, quando contrariadas em seus projetos e empreendimentos, deixam-se levar a manifestações a mais extrema cólera. Mulheres, enfim, cujo temperamento sensual e voluptuoso pode leva-las a aventuras amorosas extraconjugais múltiplas e freqüentes, sem reserva nem decências, o que não as impede de continuarem muito ciumentas dos seus maridos, por elas mesmas enganados. (pág. 66)
Por outro lado, Oxum, orixá do amor, tem comportamento emocional e social, tanto quanto tipo físico bem distintos. O arquétipo de Oxum é o das mulheres graciosas, com paixão pelas jóias, perfumes e vestimentas caras. É o tipo das mulheres que são símbolos de charme e beleza, também voluptuosas e sensuais, porém mais reservadas e refinadas que as do tipo psicológico Iansã. (pág. 155) O arquétipo de Oxum é o das mulheres graciosas e elegantes, com paixão pelas jóias, perfumes e vestimentas caras. Das mulheres que são símbolos do charme e da beleza. Voluptuosas e sensuais, porém mais reservadas que Oiá. (pág. 70)
O arquétipo de Omulu é o das pessoas com tendências masoquistas, que gostam de exibir seus sofrimentos e tristezas, dos quais tiram uma satisfação íntima, um tanto mórbida. Podem atingir situações materiais invejáveis e rejeitar, um belo dia, todas essas vantagens, alegando certos escrúpulos, imaginários. Vivem a sofrer por problemas que jamais ocorrerão. (pág. 155) O arquétipo de Obaluaê é o das pessoas com tendências masoquistas, que gostam de exibir seus sofrimentos e as tristezas das quais tiram uma satisfação íntima. Pessoas que são incapazes de se sentirem quando a vida lhes corre tranqüila. Podem atingir situações materiais invejáveis e rejeitar, um belo dia, todas essas vantagens por causa de certos escrúpulos imaginários. (pág. 85)
O arquétipo de Oxalá é o das pessoas calmas e dignas de confiança, respeitáveis e reservadas, dotadas de força de vontade inquebrantável, que nada pode abalar. Modificam seus planos e projetos para não ferir suscetibilidades alheias, a despeito das convicções pessoais e dos argumentos racionais. Todavia, sabem aceitar, sem reclamar, os resultados amargos muitas vezes daí decorrentes. (pág. 156) O arquétipo de personalidade dos devotos de Oxalá é aquele das pessoas calmas e dignas de confiança; das pessoas respeitáveis e reservadas, dotadas de força de vontade inquebrantável que nada pode influenciar. Em nenhuma circunstância modificam seus planos e seus projetos, mesmo a despeito das opiniões contrárias, racionais, que as alertam para as possíveis consequências desagradáveis dos seus atos. Tais pessoas, no entanto, sabem aceitar, sem reclamar, os resultados amargos daí decorrentes. (pág. 109)
Link para download aqui. Link para download aqui.

“Aruanda”, do espírito Ângelo Inácio, por Robson Pinheiro (2004)

“Iemanjá e Oxum”, de Lydia Cabrera (2004)

“Um orixá muito conhecido pelo Brasil afora é Iemanjá, representativo da polaridade feminina por excelência. As filhas de Iemanjá costumam ser voluntariosas, fortes, rigorosas, protetoras, altivas e, algumas vezes, impetuosas e arrogantes. Fazem-se respeitar e são justas, mas bastante formais. Têm o hábito de por à prova as amizades que lhe são devotadas, mas preocupam-se muito com os outros; são sérias e maternais.” (pág. 155) Link para download aqui. Em geral as filhas de Iemanjá são fortes, voluntariosas, protetoras, exigentes, altivas às vezes impetuosamente arrogantes. Têm o sentido da hierarquia, são autoritárias,formais, se fazem respeitar e se impõem aos demais. (…). Muito maternais, sérias, (…). (pág. 116) Link para visualização aqui.

Correlações originalmente descobertas por Alan, do blog “Lá de Aruanda”, mas com acréscimos próprios deste pesquisador. Porém, é importante dizer que na 13ª edição (2011), e logo após o prefácio, encontramos:

Nova explicação e agradecimento – nota à 13ª edição revista por Ângelo Inácio.

Depois de alguma explicação sobre o livro e o autor, lemos o seguinte:

[…] entrevistei alguns escritores desencarnados; deixo aqui meu preito de gratidão em especial a Menininha do Gantois, a Olga de Alaketu, a Pai João de Aruanda, a Pierre Verger e ao venerável Matta e Silva. Foram eles que me inspiraram e auxiliaram com o conhecimento que detêm dos assuntos aqui relacionados, embora nem todas as contribuições estejam destacadas, uma a uma. Tudo tendo sido grafado com o coração, deixo registrado o respeito que devo a esses expoentes da doutrina sagrada da aumbandhã e do povo de Aruanda, bem como aos representantes do candomblé brasileiro.

Apesar das belas palavras e do reconhecimento a Pierre Verger, bem como a outros, notem que ainda faltou a referência a Lydia Cabrera. E ao que me consta, mesmo esse reconhecimento genérico não é suficiente para descaracterizar o plágio. Deveria ter havido o uso de aspas e a citação direta das fontes.


Agradeço a Alexandre Terenciano por suas informações inestimáveis que ajudaram na elaboração deste artigo.