Buddhism follows a different conceptual framework from the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As a result, many of the ideas and definitions found in Buddhism differ from those found in other religions. The monotheistic idea of sin found in the Abrahamic religions is a foreign concept to the Buddhist belief system.

Monotheism and Sin

Sin is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as both a “transgression of the law of God,” and as “an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible." There is no creator God in the teachings of Buddha, and therefore the Abrahamic concept of sin as a transgression against God, as something to be punished or forgiven for by God does not exist. However, Buddhism does discuss what has been translated as wrong or evil deeds, and so the concept of sin as outlined in the second definition does exist in Buddhism.

Evil Deeds

According to the website BuddhaSasana, Buddhists consider sin to be “unskillful or unwholesome action,” which leads to the downfall of man. The evil-doer is seen as ignorant, and the Buddha’s teachings were designed to help lift his students above ignorance, so that they could live a good life. Buddhists believe that evil deeds come from evil thoughts and that the consequence of evil deeds and thoughts are misery for the evil-doer as well as for those he harms.

Good Deeds

Whereas Buddhists believe bad deeds bring misery to the doer as well as to others, good deeds can bring happiness to everyone involved. The Dhammapada, one of the core scriptures containing the teachings of the Buddha, says in regards to those who do good, “Happiness will always follow him like his shadow that never leaves him."

Belief in Change

An important concept in Buddhism is the constantly changing nature of the world, including all those who inhabit it. Buddhists believe that those who perform evil deeds, although they will have to bear the consequences, can change their behavior and follow the right path. This can be accomplished by leaving behind ignorance and awakening to the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings.