Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Selections from ‘General Connections Between Hinduism and Buddhism’ by Dr. David Frawley


“While Hinduism and Buddhism may differ in terms of names and forms, their essential yogic practices are the same. Their semantic differences can generally easily be resolved.…
Most important is the view that the Buddhist idea of ‘anatman’ or non-ego is opposed to the Hindu concept of ‘Atman’ or the higher Self. While this dichotomy appears at first striking, if we look more deeply it disappears. 

The Hindu Atman or Self is not the ego or self-image, the conditioned entity identified with the body-mind complex, [though ‘atman’ in a lower case/lower sense can have these meanings]. The more common term for ego in Hindu thought is ‘ahankara’ or the ‘I-fabrication’. 
As Krishna states: 
The wise man who abandoning all desires lives free
of craving, who has no sense of ego (nirahankara)
or of mineness (nirmama), attains to peace.

--- Bhagavad Gita II.71

This concept, found also in Buddhist texts, is equally the essence of Buddhism and Hinduism. 
While Buddhism does technically reject the term Atman, it has similar terms like ‘Self-nature’ or ‘one’s original face before birth’. Terms like ‘pure consciousness’, ‘non-duality’ or the ‘absolute’ are common in both traditions. The Buddhist term Bodhichitta, like the Hindu Atman, refers to the enlightened consciousness which dwells within the heart. Both traditions thus resolve around a discrimination between the ego (Buddhist atman or Hindu ahankara) and enlightened awareness (Buddhist Bodhichitta or Hindu Atman). Yet both traditions agree that truth transcends all words, ideas and dichotomies of the mind and is best revealed by silence or by the negation of all names and terms. In the Brihadaranyaka, the oldest Upanishad, Brahman (the Absolute) is described as as ‘neti-neti’ or not this, not that. This view is the same as the Voidness teaching of Buddhism, Shunyavada, as emphasized by great Mahayana Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna, that truth is beyond all conceptual views. 
Buddhism also appears to reject the term Brahman, the Godhead or Absolute of Hinduism. Yet it has similar terms like the unborn, uncreate, Absolute or Dharmakaya. In fact the Hindu equation that Atman is Brahman can be identified with the Buddhist equation Mind is Buddha. Atman and Mind stand for pure consciousness, not for the ego or conditioned mind. Buddha and Brahman stand for the supreme reality. 

Hence Hinduism and Buddhism are two formulations of the same yogic tradition, differing in approach but not in essence.”


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