Text: What is the Axial Age? The period from the 600s 400s BC in which, according to scholars, many major world religions were taking shape

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1 REL 223 Module 3 AVP Script Buddhism as a Reform Movement of Hinduism Slide 1 Welcome to our presentation on Buddhism as a reform movement of Hinduism. Slide 2 Slide title: Reform Movements within Hinduism Text: What is the Axial Age? The period from the 600s 400s BC in which, according to scholars, many major world religions were taking shape Images: Greek architecture, Buddist sculpture, Hindu archtecture During the mid-first millennium BC, India moved from a small tribal rule to cities ruled by local kings, developed a money-based economy, and saw the rise of the warrior caste to challenge the Brahmins. The Vedic religion of the Brahmins became suspected of being a power tool to control the masses. Upanishadic Hinduism accepted the Vedas but claimed to complete them. Non-orthodox movements like Buddhism and Jainism rejected the Vedas outright, but remain similar to Hinduism in key ways. Slide 3 Slide title: The Buddha and Indra Image: carving of Indra crossing the sea Buddhism s myths and symbols originated from Vedic religion. Legends of the Buddha directly parallel legends of the Hindu god Indra. Both were born from the side of their mother, amid earthquakes and supernatural signs. At birth Buddha is called the greatest among men and at birth Indra is called superior to all other gods. Both are declared to be great teachers of gods and men. Indra sets in motion the wheel of the sun and Buddha sets in motion the Wheel of Dharma. Indra slays the evil spirit Vritra, who causes droughts and is sometimes depicted as the serpent or dragon. Vritra is also called Namuci. In Buddhist legend, Siddhartha contends with the evil spirit Mara, who tries to hinder him from attaining liberation. Buddha defeats Mara under the Bodhi Tree. Various Buddhist scriptures call Mara Namuci. Slide 4 Slide title: The Buddha and Vishnu Image: Large sculpture of the head of Buddha and relief carving of Vishnu

2 Buddhist legends also parallel legends of the Hindu god Vishnu (or Krishna). In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna s charioteer reveals truth to Arjuna. In Buddhist legend, Siddhartha s charioteer explained the Four Signs to him, setting Siddhartha on the path to liberation. Krishna exhorts Arjuna to take courage, not be a coward, and to do his duty to fight, and avoid shame and disgrace. In struggling with the evil demon, Mara, Buddha states that cowards do not overcome Mara, but suffer shame and disgrace. When Buddha emerged from his mother s side, he took seven steps, stopped, and said: I am the best in the world. In the Rigveda Vishnu takes his famous three steps across the earth, and is lauded as the greatest among the gods when he completes his final step. Slide 5 Slide title: Buddhist and Hindu Mythology Image: sculpture of a Hindu goddess and gold sculpture of Buddha The mythologies of Hinduism and Buddhism are similar. Both have multiple heavens and hells, both affirm the existence of gods and spirits on multiple planes of existence, and for both, these gods and spirits are also beings in need of liberation. Many Hindu myths and legends come from the first parts of the Vedas, which pre-date Buddhism. This means Buddhism borrowed these myths and legends. Slide 6 Slide title: The Human Problem: Pain and Suffering Text: Similarity: The main human problem is pain and suffering Difference: Hinduism affirms life in this world as good and valuable more so than Buddhism Image: photo of a poverty stricken Indian family With Vedantic Hinduism, early Buddhism saw the human problem as pain and suffering. Hinduism affirms goodness in the world. This is seen in three of its four valid aims of life: (1) pleasure; (2) wealth, power or fame; and (3) performing one s caste duties. Only the fourth aim, liberation (or moksha), views the world negatively. Buddhism, however, sees the world as completely full of sorrow: How can there be laughter, how can there be pleasure, when the whole world is on burning and on fire? (Dhammapada 146) Slide 7 Slide title: Rebirth in Buddhism and Hinduism Image: a poor fishing village in Asia

3 Both Hinduism and Buddhism believe in a cycle of rebirth (or samsara). For both, this cycle is due to a chain of causes and effects (or karma) fueled by human actions. For both, thoughts and deeds born of ignorance perpetuate the cycle, while thoughts and deeds born of knowledge break the cycle. Hinduism affirms the rebirth of self (or atman). Buddhism denies that a true self undergoes reincarnation. The self for Buddhism is an empty illusion. Desire is a cause that at death results in the birth of another substantially empty being. This is likened to a candle lighting another candle. Buddhists also reject the caste system, which is bound up with reincarnation in Hinduism. Slide 8 Slide title: Ignorance and Knowledge Text: Similarity: Ignorance is the problem and knowledge is the solution Difference: What liberating knowledge consists of (True self in Hinduism or no self in Buddhism) No image For both Hinduism and Buddhism, a wrong view of the self and the world is the human problem. For both, the problem is ignorance, not a moral problem (as in many western religions), and the solution is liberating knowledge. For both, everything in our experience, including ourselves, is impermanent, and therefore not ultimate reality. For both, mistaking the impermanent for the permanent is a wrong view that leads to attachment and hence to suffering. They differ, though, in their view of what constitutes right knowledge. For Hinduism, the limited, changing world of our experience is illusion (or Maya), but underlying this is the timeless, unchanging, infinite, ultimate reality (or Atman-Brahman). For Buddhism, there is nothing permanent, infinite and unchanging. Everything is emptiness and impermanence. Buddhists call this ultimate fact the unconditioned, and it becomes a sort of ultimate reality, analogous to Brahman s role in Hinduism: There is, monks, an unborn, not become, unmade, uncompounded, and were it not, monks, for this unborn, not become, not made, uncompounded, no escape could be shown here for what is born, has become, is made, and is compounded (Buddha, Udāna 81). Slide 9 Slide title: The Human Person Text: The five Skandhas represented as segments of a tangerine Image: picture of a tangerine with depiction of 5 segments labeled Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, and Consciousness Buddhism s analysis of the Person as Five Aggregates (or Heaps or Skandhas) is similar to Vedantic Hinduism. Early Buddhists argued the self is merely a composite of five things: mind, body, feelings, consciousness, and karmic influences. Vedantic Hinduism speaks of Five Sheaths covering the true self (or the atman). Hinduism affirms an unchanging, unborn, infinite true self identical with Brahman behind the Five Sheaths, while for Buddhism there is no self beneath the Five Aggregates.

4 Slide 10 Slide title: Liberating Knowledge Text: Sabba Dhamma Anatta All states and things are without a core self! All phenomena have no substance or reality independent of mind! Image: stone carving of the Buddha The solutions to the human problem in Hinduism and Buddhism are also similar. For both, a wrong view of self leads to thoughts and actions that perpetuate the karmic chain. For both, the solution is knowledge leading to the right thoughts and right actions. This breaks the karmic chain. The difference lies in the nature of liberating knowledge. For Vedantic Hinduism, it is the realization that one s true self is ultimate reality (or that Atman is Brahman). For Buddhism, enlightenment is the realization that there is no self (anatman). Slide 11 Slide title: The Ultimate Goal Text: Similarity: Stop the cycle of rebirth into the world (samsara) Difference: Whether the self continues to exist after the cycle of rebirth has ceased No image The ultimate goals of Hinduism and Buddhism are likewise similar and different. For both, the immediate goal is to stop the cycle of rebirth (samsara). They differ on what this entails. In Hinduism, when rebirth stops, the self continues to exist as Brahman. Brahman cannot really be described except through negative terms. Brahman is not limited by time and space, it does not change, it does not increase or decrease, it is not born, it never perishes, and it does not suffer. Liberating knowledge has been likened to a drop of water already in the ocean (not added to the ocean), realizing that it is the entire ocean. For Buddhism, the Self never really existed. Realizing this is Nirvana, which is described negatively as the blowing out of a candle. Removing the false concept of the ego extinguishes selfish desires (tanha). Thus karma is snuffed out and cannot light another candle (cause another birth into the world). In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva voluntarily forgoes Nirvana, not for selfish reasons, but to help other suffering beings attain liberation. Slide 12 Slide title: Ways to Liberation

5 Image: several wood figures depicting Buddhist people Hinduism and Buddhism both prescribe certain thoughts and actions to attain liberation. For Hinduism there are many ways to liberation, seen in the four yogas. For Buddhism, only the Buddha, His teaching (Dharma) and the Buddhist community (Sangha) bring liberation. Buddhism s Eightfold Path self-consciously differs from the asceticism of Hinduism, and its self-discipline elements primarily involve mental meditation. Yet, part of the Eightfold Path falls under Hinduism s four yogas. Traditionally, for Hindus, there are four stages of life (ashramas). Only in the fourth stage can one dedicate themselves fully to attaining liberation. Buddhism self-consciously made the pursuit of liberation open to anyone in any stage of life. Incipient Buddhism also rejected the Hindu caste system. In Hinduism, one performs karma yoga by performing the duties of one s caste, and these differ for each caste. In Buddhism, anyone can attain Nirvana by following the Eightfold Path. Slide 13 Slide title: Attachment and Detachment Similarity: Attachment to Impermanent things is the problem and Detachment from them is the solution Difference: Ultimate Permanence underlies impermanence (Hinduism) vs. Nothing is Permanent (Buddhism) No image Attachment and Detachment are central to both Buddhism and Hinduism. For both, attachment leads to bondage and suffering, and detachment leads to freedom and stops suffering. For Buddhism, suffering comes from attachment to and desire (or tanha) for impermanent things. Realizing the true impermanent nature of things leads to detachment, which stops desire and suffering. We know how the Upanishads teach that actions born of desire and attachment lead to bondage, while actions detached from the fruit of work (or karma yoga) lead to liberation. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: When one renounces all desires and acts without craving, possessiveness, or individuality, he finds peace (Gita 2.71) and Always perform with detachment, any action you must do; performing action with detachment, one achieves supreme good (Gita 3.19). Slide 14 Slide title: Meditation and Ethics Image: person meditating at sunset Both Hinduism and Buddhism prescribe meditation and concentration exercises to gain understanding

6 and control of the mind. In the Gita, Krishna says: "O mighty armed one, surely the mind is fickle and difficult to master; but it can be controlled by diligent practice " (Gita 6.35). A practice of rajah yoga is concentrating the mind on a single object and observing one s thoughts. The goal is to deter the mind from seeking happiness in different fleeting things. This leads to discrimination between the illusion of different, temporary things, and the reality of one s identity as infinite, Atman- Brahman. The three meditation parts of the Eightfold Path, likewise involve concentration and observing the mind. Observing the flow of thoughts is also a core practice, but the goal is that the mind is not a real, permanent, thing. This, in turn, leads to a realization of No Self (Anatman). The Buddhist ethic of non-harm (or Ahimsa) prescribed in the fifth part of the Eightfold Path has a direct parallel in Hinduism. The Chāndogya Upaniṣhad, (ca. 700s or 600s BC) forbids violence against all creatures. It calls non-harm one of the five virtues, leading to escape the cycle of rebirth. It also names non-harm as one of five essential virtues. Slide 15 Slide title: Coming Full Circle Image: round decorative object As history progressed influence between Buddhism and Hinduism flowed both ways. Some scholars detect Buddhist influences on later Non-Dual (Advaita) Hinduism. The Mahayana Buddhist Madhyamika sect affirmed that the fundamental nature of not only human beings, but of all things is Emptiness or Buddha Nature, which is a sort of ultimate reality. The Yogacara sect claimed that all realities are only mental realities. It affirmed a cosmic storehouse of consciousness that is the basis of the consciousness of individuals. These doctrines seem similar to the Advaita Hindu concepts of the identity of Atman and Brahman. Despite debate over the direction of the influence, telling similarities are certainly present.

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