View Full Version : Yoga and Buddhism (differences)

Bob G
30 January 2008, 01:27 AM
Yoga and Buddhism
by David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

excerpt from his article "Cosmic Principles"

The Absolute

"Vedanta defines the absolute as a metaphysical principle Being-Consciousness-Bliss, or Brahman in which there is perfect peace and liberation. Buddhism does recognize an Absolute, which is non-dual and beyond all birth and death. However Buddhism generally does not allow it any definition and regards it as void. It is sometimes called the Dharmakaya or body of dharma, though Sanskrit Buddhist texts never call it Brahman.
Self and not-Self

Buddhism generally rejects the Self (Atma or Purusha) of Yoga-Vedanta and emphasizes the non-Self (anatman). It says that there is no Self in anything and therefore that the Self is merely a fiction of the mind. Whatever we point out as the Self, the Buddhists state, is merely some impression, thought or feeling, but no such homogenous entity like a Self can be found anywhere. Buddhism has tended to lump the Self of Vedanta as another form of the ego or the misconception that there is a Self.
The Yoga-Vedanta tradition emphasizes Self-realization or the realization of our true nature. It states that the Self does not exist in anything external. If we cannot find a self in anything it is no wonder, because if we did find a self in something it would not be the self but that particular thing. We cannot point out anything as the Self because the Self is the one who points all things out. The Self transcends the mind-body complex, but this is not to say that it does not exist. Without the Self we would not exist. We would not even be able to ask questions.
Yoga-Vedanta discriminates between the Self (Atman), which is our true nature as consciousness, and the ego (generally called Ahamkara), which is the false identification of our true nature with the mind-body complex. The Atman of Vedanta is not the ego but is the enlightened awareness which transcends time and space.
However a number of Buddhist traditions, particularly traditions outside of India, like the Chan and Zen traditions of China, have used terms like Self-mind, one's original nature, the original nature of consciousness or one's original face, which are similar to the Self of Vedanta.
Mind and Self

Buddhism defines reality in terms of mind and often refers to ultimate truth as the One Mind or original nature of the mind. In Yoga mind (manas) is regarded as an instrument of consciousness which is the Self. It speaks of the One Self and the many minds which are its vehicles. For it mind is not an ultimate principle but an aspect of creation.
If we examine the terms mind and Self in the two traditions it appears that what Yoga criticizes as attachment to the mind and ego is much like the Buddhist criticism of the attachment to the self, while what Vedanta calls the Supreme Self is similar to the Buddhist idea of the original nature of the Mind or One Mind. The Self is the unborn, uncreated reality similar to what Buddhism refers to as the transcendent aspect of Mind. The enlightened mind which dwells within the heart of the Buddhists (Bodhicitta) resembles the Supreme Self (Paramatman) which also dwells within the heart. Yet these similarities aside, the formulations and methodologies of the two systems in this regard can be quite different. Classical Indian Buddhist texts do not make such correlations either, but insist that the Vedantic Self is different than the One Mind of Buddhism.
God or the Creator

The yogic tradition is based upon a recognition of, respect for and devotion to God or the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. One of its main principles is that of surrender to God (Ishvara-Pranidhana), which is said to be the most direct method to Self-realization. Some degree of theism exists in the various Yoga-Vedanta teachings, though in Advatic systems Ishvara is subordinated to the Self-Absolute, which transcend even the Creator. This is perhaps the main point of difference between Yoga and Buddhism. Buddhism rejects God (Ishvara) or a cosmic lord and creator. It sees no need for any creator and considers that living beings arise through karma alone. The Dalai Lama recently noted that Buddha is similar to God in omniscience but is not a creator of the universe.
Yet we do note that some modern Buddhist teachers use the term God and make it equivalent to the Buddha-nature. There is also the figure of the Adi-Buddha or primordial Buddha in some Buddhist traditions who resembles God. The Buddha appears as God not in the sense of a theological entity but as the Divine potential inherent in living beings, but is similarly looked upon as a great being who is prayed to for forgiveness of misdeeds 2E
Karma and Rebirth

Both systems see karma as the main causative factor behind rebirth in the world. However in Buddhism karma is said to be a self-existent principle. Buddhism states that the world exists owing to the beginningless karma of living beings. In the Yoga tradition, however, karma is not a self-existent principle. The world is created by God (Ishvara), the creative aspect of consciousness. Karma as a mere force of inertia and attachment cannot explain the creation of the world but only our attachment to it. Karma is regarded as a force dispensed by God, which cannot exist by itself, just as a law code cannot exist without a judge. However some other Vedic systems, also, like Purva Mimamsa put more emphasis upon karma than upon God.
Yoga recognizes the existence of a Jiva or individual soul who is reborn. Buddhism denies the existence of such a soul and says that rebirth is just the continuance of a stream of karma, not any real entity...."

These are some radical differences imho and I think that many people in the U.S. have no idea about this information...or at least the part of the U.S. that I live in. How about where you live?

04 March 2008, 02:48 AM
Great post.
Thanks for the info.
Worth the read.