Differences/Similarities of Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism are extremely similar and extremely different if that were possible. Both Hinduism and Buddhism developed in the Indian subcontinent. Though both religions disagree on how to attain enlightenment, they do both agree that enlightenment is attainable. Both religions profess to the existence of karma, reincarnation, and nirvana. Buddhism developed mainly as a response to Hindu non-egoism and self-denigration. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) tried the Hindu methods of poverty and selflessness and found them to be lacking. Hinduism holds that the Atman (inner self) and Brahman (the Ultimate Reality) are one and that through that realization enlightenment is attained. However, Buddha held that the problem of suffering was a purely human problem. He believed that only once we have let go of everything, even our will to let go of everything, can we find the end to human suffering.

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Additionally, Hinduism can be thought of as theistic and Buddhism as non-theistic. Hindus worship a plethora of gods and goddesses that are manifestations of the Ultimate Reality; whereas, Buddha was under the impression that there is no greater reality beyond ourselves. Hinduism seems to advocate the putting away of self and the acknowledgment of being a part of something greater, namely Brahman. But Buddhism appears to be concerned more with escaping the cycle of reincarnation and karma and reaching a state of eternal enlightenment in and of ourselves.

If I were to takes sides between Hinduism and Buddhism I would undoubtedly choose Hinduism. It is difficult for me to relate to a religion that is non-theistic. Not that it is difficult for me to relate to a religion that says we are God or everything is God, but that it is difficult for me to relate to a religion that says nothing is God (i.e. Ultimate Reality). If Buddha’s path to enlightenment exists then there has to be a reason for it existing. There has to be some higher force that put the process in place outside of Buddha; whether that force is nature, the Ultimate Reality, or God. My reasoning behind this line of thinking is the simple fact that we did not create the universe. If we did not create the universe then we did not create the way the universe behaves. If we did not create the way the universe behaves, then how could we create the way for universal enlightenment?

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Bruder, K., & Moore, B. N. (2002). Philosophy: The power of ideas (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

7 thoughts on “Differences/Similarities of Hinduism and Buddhism

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  1. Great idea for a post. I live it. You said “Not that it is difficult for me to relate to a religion that says we are God or everything is God, but that it is difficult for me to relate to a religion that says nothing is God (i.e. Ultimate Reality)” this might be a misunderstanding on your part. Buddhism is not about nothing. What if it was about everything? What is god is everywhere and everyone is a part of it equally?


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    1. That is a very interesting thought that turns what I said on it’s head. When I wrote this discussion question as a part of my Associate of Arts in Psychology I was an ardent Christian who read the Bible every day. Since then I have moved more towards vanilla theism or even pantheism. I am quite sure that the Gods of the Bible, Koran, and Torah are not real; but I am equally sure that we do not yet understand the universe to a sufficient level to rule out a creator or some kind of interconnected co-existence with each other.

      In the post, I only wished to convey that Buddhism did not advocate a theistic religion based around a single or pluralistic individual(s). I suppose I took the generalization and summation too far in characterizing Buddhism as a religion without a God. It might be more correct to say that Buddhism is the belief that all things are in me and I am in all things, that everything in the universe is a part of me and I am a part of everything in the universe, that even though there might not exist a God-like personage, the cumulative aggregate of the universe from time immemorial until the infinite future is nevertheless what we might call God.

      Great comment and thank you for this lively discussion!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lets add a few more things to the discussion. You might be familiar with the greeting Nameste, it means the divine in me greets the divine in you. Even this Hindu tradition is adopted in some Buddhist areas. We are all divine or spiritual beings having a human experience.

        I am not a pantheist but a panpsychist. Panpsychism purposes that consciousness is everywhere and in everything. Even elementary particles like electrons have consciousness albeit much less. Somehow it adds all up in a being such as you or me. But if I count all the microbes in my body I am not one but billions of beings that looks like one.

        Buddhism does not rule out the existence of gods or god like beings. In Vajrayana Buddhism we learn about the god and Demi god realms. The god of the Bible might very well fall into one of these categories. But so might some extremely wealthy person like a famous actor. I cannot speak for all branches of Buddhism here as there are some that see the Buddha as a god, most however do not.

        There is as I mentioned some aspect of creation that we as humans possess. Buddhism purposes that we make a perception mistake. We do not see things as they really are. Everything physical or conditioned is impermanent and dependent on a plethora of other things for its existence. This is one way to look at what we call emptiness. Things are not good not bad not black not white. Things are empty of an independent existence. These ideas we have about things are how we create our lives or at least our perception of things.

        Maybe that’s too much?


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      2. Wow, you really dropped some knowledge on me in this last comment. I had to read it a couple of times. I also took a look at your site: http://quantumawareness.net/. Great stuff. I highly recommend this site to anyone looking for clarification on spiritual or religious matters. On the subject of panpsychists and consciousness, it does seem like we all share some kind of collective consciousness. Of course, from the immaterial, purely physical viewpoint that I usually take this is a shared evolutionary trait between all humans manifesting itself as a collective consciousness. However, I am always open to the idea that there could be a spiritual component that transcends the physical. I would just need to observe evidence of this collective spiritual consciousness.


      3. If you want evidence you have to meditate. You will have all you need, only problem is that you will never be fully able to explain it to anyone else. It is beyond words.
        I don’t think there is a collective consciousness but that is there is consciousness everywhere it’s essence is the same.


        Liked by 1 person

    1. I followed you as well. You have some great information on your blog. I really liked your post on impermanence: https://quantumawareness.net/what-is-impermanance/. I am reading a book about Stoicism right now called, “How To Live Like Roman Emperor”. It is about the Roman Stoic Marcus Aurelius. In The Meditations Marcus talks about how impermanent things are here on earth and how we should not cling to any certain situation or state of being, but to move with the flow of life. Your post was reminiscent of this idea. Good stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

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