What does pacifism mean in Buddhism?

Peace and non-violence are central to Buddhism. Most Buddhists believe that violence destroys inner peace. Without inner peace, a Buddhist cannot reach enlightenment.


Nirvana is the spiritual goal which all Buddhists aim to achieve. Nirvana can be achieved by deep meditation, profound peace of mind and insight into the nature of existence. Buddhists should therefore try to overcome all desires so as to be completely free from suffering. They become closer to Nirvana by following the Five Precepts and by not harming others:

Just as a mother would protect her only child even at risk of her own life, even so let one cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let one’s thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world – above below and across – without any obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity.Metta Sutta

The Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso was enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama and is now the Buddhist spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. As a Buddhist, the Dalai Lama refused to consider violence to defend his country.

He continues to work on peaceful solutions and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Dalai Lama refuses to use violence to free Tibet from the Chinese government because he believes in following Buddhist teachings of non-harm.

A man is not a great man because he is a warrior and kills living beings, but because he hurts no living thing. He is in truth a great man. Dhammapada 270