Hinduism’s relationship to Buddhism is closely akin to the Western example of Judaism and Christianity. Siddhartha Gautama was the real man who became to be known as the Buddha. Siddhartha was born in the year 563 BCE and died in 482 BCE more or less in the village Kapileswara in current day Nepal. He was a Kshatriya, the second highest caste in the Hindu caste system. This was the warrior or ruler class whose main job was to protect the people. He was said to have grown up without knowing old age, sickness, pain, or any other form of suffering. Yet on a tour of his city, he came across an old man, a sick man, and a dead man. It was through this that he learned of suffering and left his life of luxury to become an ascetic and meditate on a solution to suffering.
Now none of this is still cohesive with Hinduism. In fact, the Buddha’s solution, the Eightfold Path, could be followed by a Hindu without any religious conflicts. The Eightfold Path, represented in symbolism as a 8-Spoked Wheel called the Dharma Chakra, is as follows:
- Right Understanding – Have a correct and extensive education
- Right Intention – Have motives and intent that is conducive with an honorable perspective
- Right Speech – Have a healthy and honorable tone and vocabulary
- Right Action – Have honorable actions and live honorably always
- Right Livelihood – Have an occupation suited to inherent attributes
- Right Effort – Have the conscious drive to always apply the best at everything
- Right Mindfulness – Have honorable priorities and achieve them
- Right Concentration – Have the fortitude to apply these steps cohesively and in balance
On his deathbed, Buddha’s last words were for his followers to find their own path. This has lead to various divisions in Hinduism as well as the creation and divisions in Buddhism. Some Hindus feel that the Buddha was the Ninth Incarnation of Vishnu, but it is not an orthodox or ordered belief. That is the reason why both Buddhism and Hinduism have persevered so long in the world and have adapted to a multitude of cultures. There is only a set of core values that can be accommodated with the indigenous believes without annihilating them. So between Buddhism and Hinduism, there should be a feeling of camaraderie and brotherhoods, for both paths are leading to Enlightment. Buddhists call it Nirvana; Hindus call it Moksha. Yet both are just the release from the cycles of reincarnation to ultimate peace.
As it stands, I will be attending the lecture of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Honorable Dalai Lama in a matter of days. I encourage you to post whatever questions you may have and I will be more than willing to ask them should I be granted the opportunity.