14 May 2016

“Equally the Essence” -- Hinduism & Buddhism United in Yoga, Revealed in Silence



“While Hinduism and Buddhism may differ in terms of names and forms, their essential yogic practices are the same. Their semantic differences can generally easily be resolved.…

Most important is the view that the Buddhist idea of ‘anatman’ or non-ego is opposed to the Hindu concept of ‘Atman’ or the higher Self. While this dichotomy appears at first striking, if we look more deeply it disappears.

The Hindu Atman or Self is not the ego or self-image, the conditioned entity identified with the body-mind complex, [though ‘atman’ in a lower case/lower sense can have these meanings]. The more common term for ego in Hindu thought is ‘ahankara’ or the ‘I-fabrication’.

As Krishna states:

The wise man who abandoning all desires lives free

of craving, who has no sense of ego (nirahankara)

or of mineness (nirmama), attains to peace.

--- Bhagavad Gita II.71


This concept, found also in Buddhist texts, is equally the essence of Buddhism and Hinduism.

While Buddhism does technically reject the term Atman, it has similar terms like ‘Self-nature’ or ‘one’s original face before birth’. Terms like ‘pure consciousness’, ‘non-duality’ or the ‘absolute’ are common in both traditions. The Buddhist term Bodhichitta, like the Hindu Atman, refers to the enlightened consciousness which dwells within the heart. Both traditions thus resolve around a discrimination between the ego (Buddhist atman or Hindu ahankara) and enlightened awareness (Buddhist Bodhichitta or Hindu Atman). Yet both traditions agree that truth transcends all words, ideas and dichotomies of the mind and is best revealed by silence or by the negation of all names and terms. In the Brihadaranyaka, the oldest Upanishad, Brahman (the Absolute) is described as as ‘neti-neti’ or not this, not that. This view is the same as the Voidness teaching of Buddhism, Shunyavada, as emphasized by great Mahayana Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna, that truth is beyond all conceptual views.

Buddhism also appears to reject the term Brahman, the Godhead or Absolute of Hinduism. Yet it has similar terms like the unborn, uncreate, Absolute or Dharmakaya. In fact the Hindu equation that Atman is Brahman can be identified with the Buddhist equation Mind is Buddha. Atman and Mind stand for pure consciousness, not for the ego or conditioned mind. Buddha and Brahman stand for the supreme reality.

Hence Hinduism and Buddhism are two formulations of the same yogic tradition, differing in approach but not in essence.”

--  selections from ‘General Connections Between Hinduism and Buddhism’
by Dr. David Frawley
found in his book Tantric Yoga and The Wisdom Goddesses:


chinnamasta          35a7eb7b70538c96e51f1b3b6cd51548    



“The role of the Yoginis, or feminine deities of Yoga, occurs in both Hindu and Buddhist thought. In Buddhism the Yoginis, like the Bodhisattvas, are spirits who guide us in the practice of Yoga. The Yoginis appear in Hindu thought not just as guides of Yoga practice but as fierce Goddesses and forms of Kali.

The foremost of the Buddhist Yoginis is Vajra Yogini…. the Buddhist depiction of Vajra Yogini is exactly the same as [the Hindu] Chhinnamasta…

Hindu Chhinnamasta is also called Vajra Vairochani, or the resplendent lady of the Vajra or thunderbolt.”


  1. Tantra in Mahayana Buddhism does borrow a lot from Hinduism. Imagining yourself as an already enlightenment being like Vajraoyogini is great- it's called bringing the future result into the path. A few Hindu schools of thought also borrowed the concept of Shunyata from Buddhism, hence there is a lot of exciting cross pollination between the two religions. But philosophically speaking there is a big difference between the two religions. I think most Buddhist Tantrikas follow the Madhyamaka Prasaṅgika school of philosophy, and Hindus (along with western yoga) follow the Samkhya school of thought. Conventionally, Buddhists speak of a mind that is affected by causes (karma). Mind is what goes from one life to the next, but the ultimate nature of the mind is emptiness. Therefore there is no mind, essence, universe or Buddha. Yup there is no Buddha. Buddha is also a construct created by mind. And there is no enlightenment. Generally, in Mahayana Buddhism there are two ways to have a direct realization of emptiness (this is necessary in order to become an enlightened being). One is through Tranquil Abiding meditation, and the other is through Tantric meditation. Tantric meditation is called the Quick Path since meditating on emptiness is easier when blissed via Tantra. Tranquil Abiding meditation is more difficult and time consuming. There are many different schools of Buddhist thought. Theraveda Buddhists and Zen Buddhists, for example, do not practice Tantra as far as I know, and their philosophy and understanding of emptiness is also a bit different than the Madhyamaka Prasaṅgikas. I hope this makes saense. I'm trying to make sense of it. :)

  2. Sorry about the typos in the previous comment...


  4. Nice post
    Bharathiyam providing the indian temples information,gaushalas information, gurus information,madhavaseva information ,indian ashramas.

  5. You do such great research. Wonderful to read