Wayne Dyer vs. Dalai Lama

I have been a long-time follower of Wayne Dyer. When I was a freshman in college, I was captivated by his book Your Erroneous Zone (Chinese version). The book made me feel good and relieved me from mild depression. In later years, I read almost all his books and attended his lectures. I tried to apply his teaching to my life, and identified very much with his spiritual philosophy where there is a universal God that is loving. However, I found my personal life did not benefit from following Wayne Dyer’s teaching. In several cases, his teaching led to wrong actions and judgment.

This led to serious doubt. Why is Dyer’s teaching not effective for me? Wayne Dyer speaks with such certainty, as if his teaching is universal truth. It gives a lot of comfort in the beginning because someone already figured out an answer to your problem. But you pay a dear price after finding out that answer is worse than what you can come up with by yourself.

dalai-lamaOn the contrary, Dalai Lama does not claim he has answer to your problems. When pressed by an audience on some specific issue, he simply said “I don’t know.” Then he laughed. His laugh was so simplistic and genuine that you feel for him. Dalai Lama understands the complexity of human problems. By not claiming that he has the answer, he empowers others to make decision for themselves.

Dalai Lama is one of the most humble and unpretentious person in the world. This is because he has an enlightened concept on his own importance. “In Buddhism”, he said, “We try to eliminate Self”. Therefore he has not a single trace of self importance. This is how he can laugh and joke with anyone he meets, be that a dignitary or a cleaning person. He lacks any pretense that most people have. Without the sense of “self”, Dalai Lama does not worry how others perceive him when he makes mistakes. Thus he can freely reach out and make deep connection with people. In this man, you perceive deep congruity and honesty. This is the healthiest state of human existence. By watching him and learning from his lack of pretense, we enable ourselves to connect with others. Thus we create more connection and more happiness in our life.

Dalai Lama has a realistic view on success or achieving goals. He views himself as simply doing small things to help others. He does not view himself as a deity but rather a “simple Buddhist monk”.

There are some similarity between Wayne Dyer and Dalai Lama. Dyer emphasizes meditation, and a generic God concept which he calls “the source”. He talks about the importance of love and compassion. He talks about dealing with suffering from inside. All of these topics are mentioned by Dalai Lama, and are part of Buddhism teaching.

Both are excellent public speakers. Wayne Dyer can speak in front of a large audience with lots of humor and stories. He can speak for 2 hours without showing tiredness. Dalai Lama can hold a 20,000 audience captive, with his humor, candor and thoughtful ideas. People are filled with joy and inspiration after his talk.

Wayne Dyer has a lot of compassion for others, and he generously gives that to others he meets. He raises funding for PBS, and donates proceeds to the public broadcasting.  After one of his lectures, I approached him to chat. Before I began my story, he gave me a big warm hug. After listening to my story of immigrating to US from China, he said, “Do stay. We need you here.” Tears came to my eyes. For many years, I was asked by so many Americans on when I will go back to my home country. Dyer was the first person who expressed his welcome.

However, there is fundamental difference between Wayne Dyer and Dalai Lama. While Dalai Lama is very worldly (besides teaching Buddhism): engaging in a real political cause for Tibetan people and meeting world leaders to raise awareness, Wayne Dyer limits himself only on spreading self-help messages: his main audience is his believers who read his book or attend his seminars. While Dalai Lama promotes the idea of no “self”, a true selfless giving to others, Wayne Dyer promotes the way to personal success and personal worthiness. While Dalai Lama proclaims that he has no real answer to complex human emotional problems, Wayne Dyer indicates he has the right answers. He speaks with such definiteness that leads to simplicity of dealing with our complex life.

Dalai Lama teaches by his own example. By projecting deep compassion to people, he calms you and frees you. Much of our energy is spent on chasing love, which is deeply needed in our life. Dalai Lama gives to people the true unconditional love through his words and interaction. He provides the ultimate answer to our worldly problems—love and compassion.

If you want to learn more about Dalai Lama, check out this documentary movie 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. It has actual interviews, and will give you a glimpse of Dalai Lama’s personality: Calm, loving, humorous, and free.

Leave a comment


  1. Labby O'Redovich

     /  May 18, 2014

    This post is several years old, but I thought I would leave my comment anyway. I agree with the differences between Wayne Dyer and Dalai Lama. Although I haven’t read all of Dyer’s books, nor have I attended any of his lectures, I have read several of his books and listened to many of his audio books/lectures. I always felt bolstered and uplifted after reading or listening to Dyer, but those feelings never lasted. The biggest gripe I have with Dyer is his concept that we are all God, and we should realized our inherent divinity. Almost all of his anecdotes, tell miraculous-like stories, that albeit might be uplifting, does not help much for those who are truly suffering. To tell someone who is suffering greatly that there is no need to feel like this because you are God, and you can manifest whatever you want in your life if you only align with your source energy, I think is a serious disservice. I also shifted from the likes of Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and mostly all the high-achievement, positive-thinkers (not that Dyer is in the former class), and moved toward Buddhism years ago. I enjoy the readings of Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hahn, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, etc.

  2. Labby O'Redovich

     /  May 18, 2014

    Clicked enter too soon there. Anyway, I pretty much said what I wanted to. Dyer is a good person, and I think he’s doing a good thing. In fact, I have been reading one of his books now, although I personally get a bit turned off by all his quotes from the scriptures. For me, personally, I feel more aligned with the philosophy/psychology of Buddhism. I am a human being, and I have to learn to live like one. I will suffer with pain, loss, fear, anger, and many other human experiences. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t believe I am here to discover I am a divine, spiritual being having a human experience. I don’t know why I am here, but I am trying to make the best of this life. I’m trying to learn from all my experiences, I’m trying to be more compassionate and caring, and I am trying to learn to deal with all of life’s little and big disappointments. I’m not always happy, and I’m working on that, but it’s all part of the journey. I don’t want to delude myself into believing that I am attracting all this negativity into my life and if I only changed my thoughts, I can change my life. Really? If it was that simple, everyone would be happy. Come on, are we all that naive?

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Buddhism offers some systematic way of seeing the world as it is (truth), and thus eliminating mental suffering. The “4 noble truths” has profound wisdom in them.

  4. Labby O'Redovich

     /  May 21, 2014

    I very much agree with that. And this could be one reason why Dyer has so many loyal followers. I don’t feel like Dyer is talking much about the “truth,” although in all fairness, he some of his teachings are in line with the wisdom and practicality of Buddhism. I think he’s trying to convince people of their inherent nature and their oneness with God. He’s really speaking to a select group of peoples and not the masses, because not everyone in the world shares his religious beliefs. Dyer was writing about his diagnosis with Leukemia a few years ago and apparently he went to see a controversial healer (João de Deus). He has pictures in his books of these “orbs” surrounding people who are supposedly being healed. Dyer has turned from psychology to spirituality, to this really hokey mysticism, which is such a strange shift to me. Is there anything wrong with the truth? If you husband or white leaves you for another woman or man, do you seriously think trying to manifest them back into your life is going to work? You can’t manifest everyone in this life that you want to have. Things will not always go way. Loved ones might get sick and die. Sure, it’s a good thing to be positive, and to mediate and try to harness natural healing energy to overcome disease, but sometimes it’s not possible to help yourself (or someone else). Sometimes something really bad happens, and you have to learn to live with it. All the praying and cursing in the world is not going to change anything. One must come to terms with the realities of life and that everything is impermanent.

    The 4 Noble Truths are so basic, yet so profound as you suggested.


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