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Thread: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

  1. Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    Namaste everyone,

    So I am writing this thread because I have lately come out of my early 20's globalist inspired naivety whereas I thought all religions should be looked at purely from a standpoint of common principles (spiritual not religious philosophy, etc). I realized that in a world of religions taking advantage of one another (*cough* Christian fundamentalism *cough* Islamism *cough*) or simply peacefully and passively competing for space by existing, religious identity matters. There may be emptiness in words or names, but there is also great power in society. So, I am wondering what exactly I am.

    I know this sounds like a strange realization for an adult to be having, but here is my background, and I will try to be brief. I was raised "spiritual but not religious" with two very left leaning parents of originally Christian descent in the USA. They introduced me to several Dharmic teachers including the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat Zinn, and in college I began exploring both the writings of Swami Vivekananda, Yogananda, as well as eastern inspired/trained new age writers like Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle.

    Since college, three things have happened: 1) I got engaged to my Hindu girlfriend/classmate of mine, who is from India, and have thought about how to best accommodate her background/ belief, 2) I have become more serious about Zen meditation classes and regularly attend the local zendo, and 3) I have read very extensively on the philosophy and history of EVERY religion in my spare time, but have focused on Dharmic traditions because they are in line with my beliefs. Although I know there is a large gap with regards to scripture, I find Vedanta and Buddhist ideals of "god" very similar in respect to non-duality and emptiness (at least to my understanding), and I derive much solace from these concepts. However, as I begin to become more serious about my zazen practice and simultaneously hear her describe how I will have to go through the thread tying ceremony before our wedding, I am beginning to wonder whether this makes absolutely perfect sense or if I am straddling two cultures unnecessarily and that I should turn my primary focus to Sanatana Dharma... This will, I suppose, matter extra because we plan to raise out child/children Hindu when we have them, and I worry about them being confused about the same thing.

    So, from your standpoint,
    -Does it make sense to continue to pursue zazen meditation/Buddha-Dharma while becoming more involved with the traditions and ceremonies of Hinduism?
    -Would it make more sense to identify as a Buddhist or Hindu if people ask? Does it matter at all given that they are both Dharmic traditions anyways, and I have an open/scientific mind when it comes to philosophy. This point makes me a bit frustrated, because I don't feel that Buddha originally even consciously intended to make a separate religion entirely.

    If it means anything, my wife to be is not very religiously involved herself (certainly less than I am), but does care a lot about Hindu traditions and stories, and maintaining them.

  2. #2
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    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~
    namasté

    A few things from my point of view which is neither here or there; that is, I hope only to provide food for thought.

    I do not have an answer for you , as I suspect you are quite capable of making a reasonable decision; and, as it is with many decisions of this nature, there is no ‘lock’ on what you choose in the short term because with real growth we change our minds, values, beliefs and the like as we evolve with more knowledge. So, you have a forgiving decision.

    You mention this:
    • So, I am wondering what exactly I am
    • Would it make more sense to identify as a Buddhist or Hindu
    Instead of wondering what you are, it is who you are that brings resolve to your question.

    If you come to realize ( in full) who you are, it is in fact, ‘I am’ aha. I am in hopes from your readings you recognize this term. It is when one says I am _______ ( fill in the blank: a manager, husband, happy, sad, big , small, smart, ill, aged, young, etc etc) then one has gone past who they really are. If you confuse doing ( a bundle of actions) for who you are you missed the real you. This is in fact at the core of sanātana dharma, unfolding one's core nature.

    This dharma is not about becoming localized with an identity of one thing or another, but about one’s actual universal status. The more localized/individual the less universal. See the point?

    So, the question you may be asking is what practice(s) or darṣana (school) should align to? I would ask: what behaviors should I align to that supports sanātana dharma ( or buddhist) frame of reference. I would ( in my humble opinion) consider the wisdom of patañjali’s yogadarśana and become familiar with the principles yama and niyama. They are highly transferable and most noble. Here one’s actions & behaviors are groomed accordingly and are in line with dharma. This same knowledge is found within our upaniṣads , śastra-s and the like, yet patañjali was kind enough to put them in one place for our kind consideration and are not overly burdensome as I see it.

    Calling one’s self a hindu or buddhist , all well and good, yet it is a label. Action and behaviors that align to one’s unfoldment is at the core sanātana dharma. Sanātana dharma embraces many many views, but the end point for all of them is wholeness, fullness of Being; living one’s full potential in God Consciousness.

    इतिशिवं
    iti śivaṁ
    Last edited by yajvan; 20 July 2017 at 09:54 AM. Reason: corrected spelling
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  3. #3

    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    I'm first and foremost Buddhist.. Buddhism puts everything into perspective for me. I work with Hindu Gods/Goddesses doin pujas and such.. And I rely on Christianity as well.. So I operate using 3 different religions and I have no problems about who I should be labeled as. The Divine will accept you as long as you are true to the Divine. So be true to the Divine and not worry about what label you should identify with.

  4. #4
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    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    Labels have the primary function of giving others a quick reference to what my beliefs are. Like you I find much in common with both Hinduism and Buddhism, but, because of 3 very powerful dreams of Ganesh, I call myself Hindu. Like Yajvan I recommend the teachings of Patanjali, the book "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" is one of my favorites.

  5. #5

    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    I find this a subject that hits home for me.

    I became interested in spirituality via Yogananda. I read lots of translations of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, read the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and the writings of Swami Vivikananda, and studied Hare Krishna as well. Then I came upon a book on Zen and took to it fully, eventually joining a Japanese Pure Land (Jodo Shinshu) Buddhist Temple.

    I was pretty happy with the Temple though my Jodo Shinshu was pretty Zen influenced, and I always took Amida Buddha as a symbol of absolute reality, and not really different from Vishnu or other personalized representations of the absolute. I became very involved in the board of directors, and with a very elderly Temple membership, they have become heavily reliant upon me.
    However I think the Temple's long term future is very doubtful with the vast majority of members in their 80's and 90's, and very few younger people getting involved.

    About five years ago I found Yogananda showing up over and over in my life, and I encountered the teachings of Roy Eugene Davis, who was a direct disciple of Yogananda's who continued to teach outside of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Mr. Davis's teaching is much more "Buddhistic" than SRF and I find more practical, and rational. I was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Mr Davis. (Sadly Mr Davis passed away on March 27 at the age of 89)

    I sometimes feel a bit conflicted myself as to whether I am Buddhist or Hindu. Honestly I prefer Hindu scriptures and explanations, but I love the people at my Buddhist Temple, and I feel my services at the Temple are needed, so I practice both.
    Daily I recite Nembutsu (Namu Amida Butsu...recitation of the name of the Buddha of infinite light and infinite life is the central practice in Pure Land Buddhism) and I practice Kriya Yoga.
    I try to not worry too much about labels and just do what I do and enjoy the inspiration and hopefully some measure of awakening that comes from my practice.
    I will say Nembutsu practice is very simple and accessible at any time, but my experience with Kriya yoga though more restricted in when and where it can be practiced, is much deeper.
    So there is room for both, at least right now.
    For myself, publicly I am well known in my community as a Buddhist. My practice of Kriya yoga is known only by a few people, so generally I use the term Buddhist, but I suspect once the Temple folds, I will exclusively practice Kriya Yoga (also I usually wear an Om pendant...sometimes along with a Nembutsu pendant) but I do still enjoy Nembutsu practice too, so maybe I will always combine them.

    I think in the OP's situation, probably following Advaita Vedanta would be the best course of action, uniting your family in Sanatan Dharma, and still following a very similar teaching to Zen. Of course you have to do what feels right for you at the end of the day, but from the outside I think that might be the best solution.

  6. #6

    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    oes it make sense to continue to pursue zazen meditation/Buddha-Dharma while becoming more involved with the traditions and ceremonies of Hinduism?:

    Yes. You can even believe in hellenism and practice hindu traditions and ceremonies of hinduism as long as your philosophical/metaphysical believes dont affect the the rules of traditions.

    :Would it make more sense to identify as a Buddhist or Hindu if people ask? Does it matter at all given that they are both Dharmic traditions anyways, and I have an open/scientific mind when it comes to philosophy. This point makes me a bit frustrated, because I don't feel that Buddha originally even consciously intended to make a separate religion entirely:

    You can identify yourself as a dharmika or sanatani or with the <tradition>-follower or with the name of your <ishta>. You can be a sunyavadi and worship gods. no harm as long as your sunyavada does not lead to violation of traditions and rules of traditions. There is no need to be frustated at all.Now coming to "
    I don't feel that Buddha originally even consciously intended to make a separate religion entirely" part. Buddha rejected the supremacy or authority of vedas. therefore he is a nastika according to vaidhikas. Nastika means one who has rejected the authority of vedas.

  7. #7

    Re: Am I Buddhist or Hindu? Does it matter?

    Namaste Anveshana

    Buddha rejected the supremacy or authority of vedas. therefore he is a nastika according to vaidhikas. Nastika means one who has rejected the authority of vedas.
    This is not exactly true, not from the point of view if we can call it that of the samadhi traditions in the suttas. From the historical point of view, many of the historical Buddha followers came from Brahmin families, who were known then as Brahmanas or knowers of Brahman, not the caste Brahmin which was introduced later as caste system based on the British class system. Many of the Brahmanas which later followed Buddha were highly learned in the vedas and did all the orthodox training and went to the Buddha who was tyagi or totally renounced from all rituals, it was a post graduate stage, similar to purva and karma mimamsa should evolve at some point into jnana or uttara mimimasa. Its not that he rejected the Vedas, internally they became renounced and independent of any method. Today in Buddhist practices they still recite sutras and follow gradual methods and maintain similar ways of vedic pujas and devotional practices, only the outer forms vary

    In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krsna also advises Arjuna to go beyond the vedas and dharma, does that mean he is anti vedic and against Dharma. Even today in India many people dont bother so much with the ritual side of things, some keep it in tradition others live harmoniously along side of it, if one is developing meditation naturally there is not so much need for the purva mimamsa.

    Buddha and his associates go further than just being historical figures, the same with Jain and Mahavira, they are not exactly historical person, but supra states of cosmological forms in the subtle realms both Tathagatha and Mahavira are spiritual bodies that transcend time and space

    Ma~Ha~Vi~Ra, He is Shiva Shakti, a rishi an avadhuta, experiencing bliss with Krsna.

    Ma~mata. prasade, devi Shakti
    Ha~siva, auspicious
    Vi~inner subtle
    Ra~supreme light potency

    Tathagatha~honorific title of the Buddha in the suttas/sutra~ threads to the Supreme Reality

    Tat~ Absolute
    Gata and agata simplest meaning both here and there, full and complete omniscient~Brahman

    How can they be anti Veda or vedic or belonging to different dharma traditions. Its impossible.....

    Linear and historical dates is not so important, personality figures is not associated individually with authority. Siddharta may also not have been a historical person who started a separate tradition or religion, siddha and artha, just means that when ones essence or citta becomes perfect or a siddha then they become Buddha~awake. So all dharma traditions converge and unite in the universal nama and rupa in the subtle, scholars, religious sectarians and intellectuals have given names and dates and importance of views to this , which has caused far more problems than its solved.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 28 May 2019 at 08:11 PM.

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