What comes to mind when you hear the word “yoga”? Does your definition differ from that of a Buddhist or Hindu? What if we told you that yoga is identical to the Buddha’s teachings and Dhamma?
Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga are mutually interchangeable; in fact, all three mean different aspects of Dharma. Hinduism refers to a world religion based on Vedic scripture and the caste system, while Buddhism stands for a set of beliefs founded by Siddhartha Gotama. Yoga refers to a spiritual discipline that promotes an understanding of Dharma through methodology rather than doctrine. Both Hindus and Buddhists practise yoga, but each has different goals associated with it. Amongst Hindus, meditation techniques are used to bring about a personal experience of the divine, while Buddhists use yoga as a way to purify the mind in preparation for enlightenment.
The Buddha spoke of two types of yoga: the yoga of action (karma yoga) and the yoga of meditation (jnana yoga). Karma yoga is the path of selfless service that leads to liberation from suffering. Jhana yoga is the practice of concentration and mindfulness that leads to deep insight into the nature of reality. The Buddha’s teachings on karma and rebirth provide a scientific explanation for how these two types of yoga work. Through understanding karma, we can see the cause and effect relationship between our actions and their consequences. This understanding gives us the power to change our lives for the better. Through the practice of concentration and mindfulness, we learn how to control our minds, which leads us to a direct experience of reality.
Understand the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism:
Hinduism: A world religion based on Vedic scripture and the caste system. It is based on faith rather than understanding. The goal of Hindus is to create good karma in order to be reborn into a higher station of life or even attain moksha (liberation) from samsara (the endless cycle of rebirth). Hindus typically do not believe in an eternal self or soul, but in reincarnation.
Buddhism: A set of beliefs founded by Siddhartha Gotama that is based on understanding rather than faith. The goal of Buddhists is to purify the mind in preparation for enlightenment. Buddhists believe in an eternal self or soul, but also in reincarnation.
Understand the goals of yoga:
Yoga: A spiritual discipline that promotes an understanding of Dharma through methodology rather than doctrine.
Hindus use meditation techniques to bring about a personal experience of the divine, while Buddhists use yoga as a way to purify the mind in preparation for enlightenment. The goals of yoga are different for each group, but both Hindus and Buddhists see yoga as a path to liberation from suffering.