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Gods, Hinduism, Buddhism, Respect

To: alt.pagan,talk.religion.misc,alt.religion.all-worlds,alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.buddhism
From: ccaruso@mail2.sas.upenn.edu (Christopher G Caruso)
Subject: Re: Gods, Hinduism, Buddhism, Respect (Was Re: Gods: Kali, Satan ...)
Date: 27 Feb 1995 14:18:09 GMT

Nathan Parker (nparker@crl.com) wrote:
: The only 
: similarites between the buddhist philosophy and the vedic sANkhya is that 
: they are both ultimatley atheistic, as are five of the six darSanas. 
: Other than that, you can not find much similarity between them.

: JND

The similarities of Samkhya-Yoga and Early Buddhism (hereafter referred 
to as Samkhya and Buddhism) are great.  

1.	The premises of both may be expressed in the form of the four 
noble truth (as in fact the respected Hindu scholar Vyasa did, in his 
commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra- see Dasgupta, Surendranath, _A Study of 
Patanjali_, Motilal: Delhi, 1989, p.35).  I. Suffering Exists.  II. Suffering 
has a cause.  This cause is ultimately ignorance of the truth, which causes our 
false identification with the three gunas (attachment, aversion, and ignorance) 
III. There is a cure to suffering.  Knowledge of the truth leads 
to the cessation of our identification with the three gunas.  IV.  There is an 
eight-fold path leading to the end of suffering.  

2.	Both have an eight-fold path leading to the end of suffering.  
Both paths have the same structure.  They proceed  from ethical considerations 
(Yama and Niyama for Samkhya; Right Speech, Right Action, and Right 
Livelihood for Buddhism), to mental calming practices (asana, pranayama, and 
pratyahara for Samkhya; Right Concentration for Buddhism), and culminate in 
meditative practices (dharana and dhyana for Samkhya, Right Mindfulness for 
Buddhism), leading to samadhi, where direct experiential insight into the 
truth is obtained. (See Patanjali, _Yoga Sutra_, Prabhavananda, [Trans.] 
Mentor: New York, 1953, 2.29 for a description of the Yogic 8-limbed path)

3.	Another similarity is that the eight dhyanas of Early Buddhist 
Right Concentration are actually pre-classical Samkhya states.  The Buddha 
learned the first four, the rupadhatu, from Arada (the first Hindu teacher 
he studied with) (see Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha, E.H. Johnston 
[Trans.], Motilal: Delhi,1972, XII, 49-56), as well as the first three 
arupadhatu from Arada (XII, 59-63).  The Buddha learned the last arupadhatu 
from Udraka (the second Hindu teacher he studied with) (XII, 85).  These are 
pre-classical Samkhya states. 

Ontology

4.	Both Samkhya and Buddhism are phenomenological.  That is, they 
take a middle way between realism and idealism.  They are concerned with the 
moment of interaction of subject and object.  (For an analysis of the Samkhya 
concept of sarga as phenomenological, see Sinha, Braj M., _Time and 
Temporality in Samkhya-Yoga and Abhidharma Buddhism_, Munishiram Manoharilal: 
New Delhi, 1983, p. 20-23)

Relation to Brahmanism

5.	Both Samkhya and Buddhism are anti-Bramanical.  Let me be clear 
about this.  I am not saying that Samkhya denies the authority of the Vedas.  
It does not.  When I say that they are both anti-brahmanical, I mean that both 
replace the caste-bound morality of Brahmanism with a universal morality: "These
 forms of abstention are basic rules of conduct.  They must be practiced 
without any reservations as to time, place, or caste rules," (Yoga-Sutra, 
2.31) says Samkhya.  The Dhammapada (Rahula, Walpola [Trans.] in _What 
The Buddha Taught_, Grove Press, New York, NY 1959, p. 136) says "he who 
has destroyed defilements and become worthy, him I call a Brahman" 
(420).  Thus, one is not a "Brahman" (i.e. in contact with the sacred) by 
birth, but by practice, for Buddhism.

6.	Both elevate direct experiential insight over knowledge gained 
from the Vedas: "The knowledge which is gained from Samadhi is of a much 
higher order.  It goes beyond inference and the scriptures" (Yoga-Sutras 1.49).
  Again, Samkhya does not deny that the Vedas are sacred, it simply says 
that direct insight into these truths is best.  And, of course, the Buddha 
did not recognize the authority of the Vedas at all.

I am not saying that Samkhya-Yoga and Early Buddhism are the same thing.  
Clearly, they are sociologically discreet.  However, their philosophical 
similarites are great.  Buddhism is hier to the philosophical and 
soteriological tradition of Samkhya-Yoga.


Chris Caruso
ccaruso@sas.upenn.edu
Philadelphia, PA  USA




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