One important question always seems to come up when Western psychologists begin to study Buddhism. Does one have to become a Buddhist in order to learn about Buddhism?
The answer is that of course one does not, but it must be asked in return, what does one want to learn?
What Buddhism really has to teach the Western psychologist is how to relate more closely with his own experience, in its freshness, its fullness, and its immediacy. To do this, one does not have to become a Buddhist, but one does have to practice meditation.
It is certainly possible to study only the theory of Buddhist psychology. But in doing so, one would miss the point. Without experience to rely on, one would end up simply interpreting Buddhist notions through Western concepts. A good taste of meditation is actually necessary in working with oneself and others.
-Chögyam Trungpa, The Sanity We Are Born With
This is a question also asked in Bärmarks "Jag vet inte" ("i dont know"), what do you need to do something?
In this case do you need to be a buddhist to study buddhism?
It's the same as asking "do you need to be sick to be an doctor and heal people" is it not?
You might know things "in theory", but can you really "KNOW"?
May the force be with you