Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by form » Thu May 18, 2017 8:07 am

Hello Kim,
I ever come across a quote that makes me pondering. It says once we see reality actually it will seems simple. Ian not saying which way is right cos I dun know the answer at this point.

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Spiny Norman » Thu May 18, 2017 10:13 am

mikenz66 wrote: The difference between the Buddhist not-self and the universal-self doctrines is not trivial but they do both seem to be about letting go of a personal self.
Good point.
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by DNS » Thu May 18, 2017 7:34 pm

Kim OHara wrote: The graphic is very pretty, David, but it's profoundly wrong: it doesn't show ANY cross-fertilisation between traditions, schools or religions, and it doesn't show ANY vagueness, unknowns or uncertainties. Reality is always far messier than our pictures of it (pictures are always simplified abstractions showing what we think to be the most important features) but at a certain level the pictures become actively misleading.
Actually, I think it does. It shows the branches intertwining, going around each other like vines on a tree and then reaching out in a myriad of forms but all the while interconnected and intertwining.

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Kim OHara » Thu May 18, 2017 10:39 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:... It shows the branches intertwining, going around each other like vines on a tree and then reaching out in a myriad of forms but all the while interconnected and intertwining.
Look again, please. It shows a trunk composed of five spiralling lines/traditions the branches intertwining, going around each other like vines on a tree and then reaching out in a myriad of forms but all the while interconnected and intertwining. and never meeting or merging again once they separate.
And why only five pre-historical traditions? Why, for instance, does Japanese Mythology get a guernsey while Native American, Druidical ... Norse ... African ... Maori ... miss out? Each of them contributed to the 'major' religions as they proselytised the 'heathens' (just think of Yule logs, and the Spring fertility festival Christian nations celebrate) or died out in historically recent times - or are still alive.

But my biggest criticism is still that it looks so tidy and definite while the reality is so muddled and vague.

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by binocular » Fri May 19, 2017 7:27 am

Kim OHara wrote:The graphic is very pretty, David, but it's profoundly wrong: it doesn't show ANY cross-fertilisation between traditions, schools or religions, and it doesn't show ANY vagueness, unknowns or uncertainties.
I'm sure that many religious people find it deeply offensive to even just suggest that different religions might have the same roots or the same aim, what to speak of cross-fertilisation between traditions!

It seems that religious people generally seem to prefer to view their religions as autonomous, self-sufficient entities that have been handed down to humans from God, or that otherwise originate from an exalted being (or exalted beings).

IOW, there is a secular, atheistic, less or more scientific religiological explanation of religions and their origins and their interconnections; and then there is the kind of explanation that religious people consider accurate or acceptable. The two can differ greatly.

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Kim OHara » Fri May 19, 2017 11:36 am

binocular wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:The graphic is very pretty, David, but it's profoundly wrong: it doesn't show ANY cross-fertilisation between traditions, schools or religions, and it doesn't show ANY vagueness, unknowns or uncertainties.
I'm sure that many religious people find it deeply offensive to even just suggest that different religions might have the same roots or the same aim, what to speak of cross-fertilisation between traditions!

It seems that religious people generally seem to prefer to view their religions as autonomous, self-sufficient entities that have been handed down to humans from God, or that otherwise originate from an exalted being (or exalted beings).

IOW, there is a secular, atheistic, less or more scientific religiological explanation of religions and their origins and their interconnections; and then there is the kind of explanation that religious people consider accurate or acceptable. The two can differ greatly.
I think there are far more than two kinds of explanation, but I do understand what you're saying and don't have any trouble believing it.
On the other hand, I feel no need at all to protect the feelings of people who reject historical truth simply because they don't like it, or because someone in a robe tells them it isn't true. IMO the dharma, whether Hindu or Buddhist (hey, I'm back on topic! :tongue: ), is above all about knowing and we should use all the tools and techniques at our disposal. Here and now they include academic research and the scientific method - as well as meditation and compassion and all the more traditionally religious approaches.

:namaste:
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by binocular » Fri May 19, 2017 4:14 pm

Kim OHara wrote:On the other hand, I feel no need at all to protect the feelings of people who reject historical truth simply because they don't like it, or because someone in a robe tells them it isn't true.
What is the point of those secular, less or more scientific explanations of the origins and connections of religions, when the people who actually are members of those religions don't hold them, don't believe them?
IMO the dharma, whether Hindu or Buddhist (hey, I'm back on topic! :tongue: ), is above all about knowing and we should use all the tools and techniques at our disposal.
The question is, knowing what?

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Kim OHara » Sat May 20, 2017 12:12 am

Hi, binocular,
Two good questions, but I would like to answer them in reverse order.
IMO the dharma, whether Hindu or Buddhist (hey, I'm back on topic! :tongue: ), is above all about knowing and we should use all the tools and techniques at our disposal.
The question is, knowing what?
The whole point and value of a religion is basically how to be a good person.
The Buddha gave a couple of lists of how to distinguish dharma from non-dharma. They didn't say anything about whether the world is round or flat, or whether ten or a thousand angels could dance on the head of a pin, or whether you should plant your rice before the equinox or after it, and they certainly didn't say anyone should follow him or his heirs blindly.
binocular wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:On the other hand, I feel no need at all to protect the feelings of people who reject historical truth simply because they don't like it, or because someone in a robe tells them it isn't true.
What is the point of those secular, less or more scientific explanations of the origins and connections of religions, when the people who actually are members of those religions don't hold them, don't believe them?
Your implied point is correct: in terms of the purpose of the religion, they don't have much point. Believers could ignore them and still get on with the main job, i.e. becoming better people.
BUT (and it's a big 'but') the historical/secular narrative is the only one which is equally true to atheists and (equally genuine, equally good) believers of other religions so refusal to accept it leads to sectarian conflict and conflict between church and state.
That's a big one these days but its importance is largely social and political.
Here's one that is religious: there is a rule of logic which says, basically, that if you start from a falsehood or an unproven statement you can 'prove' anything you like but your 'proof' is useless because it has no more truth than your starting point. Think about that in relation to (e.g.) the Biblical creation story for a while.

:namaste:
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by binocular » Sat May 20, 2017 8:40 am

Kim OHara wrote:
The question is, knowing what?
The whole point and value of a religion is basically how to be a good person.
I find that people (whether religious or not), do not agree that this is the purpose and value of religion, at least not without further qualification as to what it means to "be a good person".

In Buddhism, the purpose and value of Buddhism is, ideally, in the sense that it is a path to making an end to suffering. Being a "good person" is incidental to this, and extremely culturally relative (people have very different ideas about what it means to be a "good person").

In some schools of Hinduism, for example, the purpose and value of religion is service to God (Vishnu/Krishna), and a person is considered a "good person" if they are good servants to God (which can go against our usual ideas of what it means to be a "good person").

In some Christian traditions, the purpose and value of religion is in establishing people in proper knowledge of God; again, this isn't necessarily commensurate with humanist notions of what it means to be a "good person."

And so on. While in many religions, their members will probably say that "the whole point and value of a religion is basically how to be a good person", given that they mean quite different things by "being a good person", it's not adequate to assume that since people are using the same words, they mean the same thing by them.
binocular wrote:What is the point of those secular, less or more scientific explanations of the origins and connections of religions, when the people who actually are members of those religions don't hold them, don't believe them?
Your implied point is correct: in terms of the purpose of the religion, they don't have much point. Believers could ignore them and still get on with the main job, i.e. becoming better people.
Insisting on secular, less or more scientific explanations of the origins and connections of religions, also leads to a legitimacy crisis in/about religion.
Like I said earlier, it seems that religious people generally seem to prefer to view their religions as autonomous, self-sufficient entities that have been handed down to humans from God, or that otherwise originate from an exalted being (or exalted beings). It's from seeing their religion this way that the religion is also regarded as legitimate. As opposed to being man-made or merely a product of evolution.
BUT (and it's a big 'but') the historical/secular narrative is the only one which is equally true to atheists and (equally genuine, equally good) believers of other religions so refusal to accept it leads to sectarian conflict and conflict between church and state.
It's not clear that this is the case.

If anything, if a person accepts a secular explanation of their religion, they enter a legitimacy crisis of religion, because of which their religiosity becomes a mere formality and their adherence to the religion's precepts loosens and lessens, the religion eventually becoming irrelevant in the person's life and the person abandoning it.
Here's one that is religious: there is a rule of logic which says, basically, that if you start from a falsehood or an unproven statement you can 'prove' anything you like but your 'proof' is useless because it has no more truth than your starting point. Think about that in relation to (e.g.) the Biblical creation story for a while.
Useless for whom? To someone who is not a member of said religion?

To address your example above: Theistic religions generally operate from the assumption that God descends to humans and reveals the true religion to them. Theistic religions generally do not see themselves as the product of observation of reality (as in "We have observed the workings of nature, and thus concluded that God exists") or a proven hypothesis (as in "We have proposed the experiment that if we say "God help us and make it rain!" and then it does rain, we can conclude that God has answered our prayers"). Theistic religions generally see themselves as divine revelations. They see themselves as having nothing to do with "starting with an unproven statement."

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Spiny Norman » Sun May 21, 2017 9:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:The difference between the Buddhist not-self and the universal-self doctrines is not trivial but they do both seem to be about letting go of a personal self.
With a traditional view Nibbana is seen as an existing reality, "the unconditioned", a sphere that one touches. I wonder if there is there any equivalence here with the union of Atman and Brahman?
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Santi253 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:37 am

I've been practicing Buddhism for over two years. I am thirty-one years old, and was raised in a Christian background. I've been interested in eastern religions, particularly Daoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism since high school.

I've noticed that, in Nepal, there are temples where both Hinduism and Buddhism is practiced in the same temple. In Thailand, there's popular devotion to the four-faced Brahma. In Japan, Hindu gods are worshiped or petitioned as Shinto Kami.

Would anyone like to discuss the positive things there are in Buddhism in relation to Hinduism, things that are missing in Hinduism that the Buddha discovered or taught? I appreciate your help. :thanks:

I have so much love for the Buddha and for Avalokitesvara that I don't think I could ever be Hindu. While the Bhagavad Gita is well-known as a devotional book, I think it's rivaled by the Lotus Sutra in its beauty, in how the sutra shows the Buddha's love for the world.

The main reason why I could never be Hindu is I can't believe that an all-loving, all-powerful creator God would allow for so much suffering and evil in the world. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are human beings who attained a high spiritual status, not gods.
Last edited by Santi253 on Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Santi253 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:38 am

Spiny Norman wrote:In another thread I suggested that, crudely put, Buddhism = Hinduism minus Atman and Brahman.

Do you think this is basically accurate, and if not, why not?
The concepts aren't exactly the same, but Buddha-nature in Mahayana Buddhism can be compared to Atman, and Dharmakaya can be compared to Brahman. There are definite differences between these concepts though.

I think a major difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, if not a defining difference, is there is no creator God in Buddhism.

According to the Jataka tales, Sariputra was Krishna in a past life:
At the end of this Ghata-Jataka discourse, the Buddhist text declares that Sariputta, one of the revered disciples of the Buddha in the Buddhist tradition, was incarnated as Krishna in his previous life to learn lessons on grief from the Buddha in his prior rebirth:

Then he [Master] declared the Truths, and identified the Birth: 'At that time, Ananda was Rohineyya, Sariputta was Vasudeva [Krishna], the followers of the Buddha were the other persons, and I myself was Ghatapandita."

— Jataka Tale No. 454, Translator: W. H. D. Rouse[200]

While the Buddhist Jataka texts co-opt Krishna-Vasudeva and make him a student of the Buddha in his previous life,[200] the Hindu texts co-opt the Buddha and make him an avatar of Vishnu.[201][202] The 'divine boy' Krishna as an embodiment of wisdom and endearing prankster forms a part of the pantheon of gods in Japanese Buddhism.[203]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Swatantra » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:49 pm

The biggest difference for me is that Hindus believe in many deities and worship them as creators/destroyers/everything in life. Buddhists do not believe in a supreme being.
Also my Hindu friend says that you cannot convert to Hinduism, you can only be born into it.
So that's my two cents. :heart:
"One is not noble who has injures living beings.
One is called 'noble' because they are harmless to all living beings."

:heart: :yingyang:

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Silent in the mind, without defilement,
Blessed is silence is the sage.
One is truely washed of evil."

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Swatantra » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:50 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:"Buddhism is for enlightened white atheists; Hinduism is for superstitious brown people" -- the creators of Western Buddhism said in their head.
Oh no he didn't! :redherring: :pig:
"One is not noble who has injures living beings.
One is called 'noble' because they are harmless to all living beings."

:heart: :yingyang:

"Silent in body, silent in speech,
Silent in the mind, without defilement,
Blessed is silence is the sage.
One is truely washed of evil."

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Santi253 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:42 am

Would anyone like to please share the reasons why they are Buddhist instead of Hindu? What are the main differences between Hinduism and Buddhism that attracted you to Buddhism instead?
Last edited by Santi253 on Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by aflatun » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:57 am

Santi253 wrote:Would anyone like to please share the reasons why they are Buddhist instead of Hindu?
paticcasamuppada/sunnata
individual temperament
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:50 am

Santi253 wrote:Would anyone like to discuss the positive things there are in Buddhism in relation to Hinduism, things that are missing in Hinduism that the Buddha discovered or taught? I appreciate your help.
For a long time, in "India", "Buddhist" practice was nondifferentiated and non-seperated, conceptually, from proto-Hinduisms (like "Buddhist" sects of, for instance, Kaśmīri, Shaivism***). The Buddhism practiced in Indonesia, at Borobudur, for instance, was likely a Buddhism in which one could not tell apart beneficent Hindu devāḥ from Buddhist celestial bodhisattvāḥ. "Proto-Hindu" and "Buddhist" (Vajrayāna) elements exist alongside eachother in SE Asia before the collapse of mainstream Buddhism there (I am thinking, particularly, of the large Indonesian Buddhist/Hindu societies that once existed). If you go onto DharmaWheel, you will occasionally hear argued a discourse that modern "Hinduism" is simply appropriated older Buddhism with new gods' names and a few deviations from "the teaching", but obviously this is only one perspective, that you will only hear some people arguing. That doesn't mean there isn't some degree of truth to it, though. For instance, it is well-documented that the Patañjaliyogasūtrāṇi (Yoga sutras) are indebted to the Buddhist world of literary discourse.

***see the Mahāyāna Mahākaruṇācitta Dhāraṇī ("Great Compassion Dhāraṇī"), generally sung as part of the morning service at Chinese Chan monasteries (or at least many, I am unused to how their liturgical manuals work), for an example of a ritual text from this period of heavy Hindu-Buddhist syncretism

This says nothing really, though, about the relations between Hinduism and Theravāda, or historical Sarvāstivāda, Sautrāntikāḥ, etc., because once one goes back far beyond the 8th/9th century, it gets increasingly and increasingly more difficult to pin down "what" "Hinduism" (or proto-Hinduism) actually "is/was". Does the specifgic ancient Brahmanical religion/"loose set of practices" attested to in EBTs count as "Hinduism" when it is not attested in a substantially similar way in non-EBT literature?
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Santi253 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:16 am

I can give at least three main reasons why I prefer Buddhism to Hinduism:

The Buddha rejected belief in a creator god.

The Buddha rejected the caste system.

Buddhahood is a more desirable goal for me than Moksha.
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by Santi253 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:18 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Santi253 wrote:Would anyone like to discuss the positive things there are in Buddhism in relation to Hinduism, things that are missing in Hinduism that the Buddha discovered or taught? I appreciate your help.
For a long time, in "India", "Buddhist" practice was nondifferentiated and non-seperated, conceptually, from proto-Hinduisms (like "Buddhist" sects of, for instance, Kaśmīri, Shaivism***). The Buddhism practiced in Indonesia, at Borobudur, for instance, was likely a Buddhism in which one could not tell apart beneficent Hindu devāḥ from Buddhist celestial bodhisattvāḥ. "Proto-Hindu" and "Buddhist" (Vajrayāna) elements exist alongside eachother in SE Asia before the collapse of mainstream Buddhism there (I am thinking, particularly, of the large Indonesian Buddhist/Hindu societies that once existed). If you go onto DharmaWheel, you will occasionally hear argued a discourse that modern "Hinduism" is simply appropriated older Buddhism with new gods' names and a few deviations from "the teaching", but obviously this is only one perspective, that you will only hear some people arguing. That doesn't mean there isn't some degree of truth to it, though. For instance, it is well-documented that the Patañjaliyogasūtrāṇi (Yoga sutras) are indebted to the Buddhist world of literary discourse.

***see the Mahāyāna Mahākaruṇācitta Dhāraṇī ("Great Compassion Dhāraṇī"), generally sung as part of the morning service at Chinese Chan monasteries (or at least many, I am unused to how their liturgical manuals work), for an example of a ritual text from this period of heavy Hindu-Buddhist syncretism

This says nothing really, though, about the relations between Hinduism and Theravāda, or historical Sarvāstivāda, Sautrāntikāḥ, etc., because once one goes back far beyond the 8th/9th century, it gets increasingly and increasingly more difficult to pin down "what" "Hinduism" (or proto-Hinduism) actually "is/was". Does the specifgic ancient Brahmanical religion/"loose set of practices" attested to in EBTs count as "Hinduism" when it is not attested in a substantially similar way in non-EBT literature?
I'm sorry. What does the above say about why you prefer Buddhism to Hinduism?
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Re: Differentiating Buddhism from Hinduism

Post by cappuccino » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:19 am

Santi253 wrote:Would anyone like to please share the reasons why they are Buddhist instead of Hindu? What are the main differences between Hinduism and Buddhism that attracted you to Buddhism instead?
I followed Advaita for a while.

After reading a biography of the Buddha, I became Buddhist, and never looked back.
Last edited by cappuccino on Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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