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I am born Hindu and have been following Buddhism for more than a year. The change has been a life changing experience but now I find myself at the junction of two religions. I sometimes face contradictory situations where its ok in one religion but violates the other. Traveling in two boats at the same time is certainly not possible but its also difficult to choose one over the other. So my question is:
1) Can one follow Hinduism and Buddhism at the same time?
2) How to maintain a balance between the two?
3) Or would I have to choose one over the other?
4) Or is it possible to choose Buddhism as subset of Hinduism, just like Jains do i.e. the mainly follow their own religion first & then they following Hinduism. So even in contradictory situations, they choose Jain rule over Hindu rule.

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In Buddhism the main teachings you have to have faith in is the 8 Fold Path divided into 3 trainings, which is to develop higher virtue, higher mind and higher wisdom.

No religion is incompatible with developing higher virtue, higher mind and higher wisdom, therefore you can start practicing considering you self a Hindu. As you find parts of Buddhism logical and verified at the experiential level then you can lowly accepting parts of Buddhism at your own pace.

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Can one follow Hinduism and Buddhism at the same time?

Theravāda branch of Buddhism (in its truest sense) is in stark contrast with Hinduism, but it may not be so for the other branches of Buddhism. It is mainly because the view of sassata is not found in Theravāda. Hinduism teaches that one possesses a soul that lives eternally. This soul is considered to be one’s real self, a form of personality view. Hinduism teaches that the soul exists even after death. In the Bhagavad Gita, the God Krishna says that he created the world and that everybody possesses a soul. When one dies, the four physical elements (pathavi, apo, tejo and vayo – earth, water, fire and wind) vanish. But the soul is not harmed.

On the other extreme is “non being”. That is the view of Uccheda. This world is divided between these two extremes: Existence and Non-Existence. The Dhamma that Buddha taught overcome both these two extremes. We are taught that there is only cause and effect. Because of a cause, there is an effect. When causes cease, then effects cease too. So then there is no reason to fall into either of the two standpoints of sassata ditti & Uccheda ditti.

How to maintain a balance between the two?

Both believe in Kamma, but unlike in Hinduism, Kamma is not deterministic in Theravāda. In Buddhism, even if root causes are there, we can stop kamma from bringing their results by blocking the conditions for them to come to fruition. It is like a seed that has the potential to bring about a tree, but for that to happen the seed must be given a fertile soil, water, and sunlight.

Both practice Ānāpānasati. If by Ānāpānasati one takes it to mean "mindfulness of breathing” – then it is no different to that of Hinduism. In Hinduism what ‘Buddhists’ call the four Jhana is referred to as “kundalini awakening”. These similarities are because of Buddhaghosa introducing Hindu Vedic meditation techniques to Buddha Dhamma in his Visuddhimagga. Buddhaghosa was always devoted student of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and because of his influence, Buddhism as it is seen and practiced today has become similar to Hinduism.

Or would I have to choose one over the other?

I would choose Buddha Dhamma over Hinduism. If you follow the true Dhamma it will lead you to lead to the completion of the four satipattanas, the seven bojjangas, removal of avijja, and the attainment of Nibbana. The four satipattanas, when cultivated and pursued, bring the seven bojjangas to their completion. The seven bojjangas, when cultivated and pursued, bring vijja (opposite of avijja) and vimutti (or Nibbana) to their completion.

Or is it possible to choose Buddhism as subset of Hinduism, just like Jains do.

Is Jainism a subset of Hinduism? In Jainism, this view of eternalism is taught different to Hinduism. Jains explain that our previous karma has accumulated around our pristine soul like layers of bark around the core of a tree. To help remove these old karmas the Jains do not wear clothes, do not take baths, refrain from eating, or do not shave, do not wash their faces and so on. They believe that these kinds of severe practices remove the bark of the old karma thereby allowing them to reach a state of eternal purity. As I see it both Hindus & Jains have similar severe practices, but that does not mean it is a subset.

Sadly as it is practised today, if you do wish to go this way, you are in good company. Few Buddhists understand urgency of coming to Nibbana and hence the distortion and dwarfing prelevant today. The rituals that are embedded in Hinduism are common in Buddhism today. Rituals have hidden the greatness of Hindu thoughts and concepts from most Hindus. Rituals have evolved into an attempt at bribing the God/ Gods in Hinduism today. The Buddhism practiced today is no different. Hinduism and Buddhism are thoughts and philosophies that stimulate and fire the intellect. Unfortunately, they have been reduced to the level of blind faiths and beliefs today. “Shraddha” has been erroneously brought to the forefront instead of “Panna”. Both religions have lost their dynamism and direction in practice. Both religions have been brought to the level of the masses. As a result the sublime and profound in both is lost. The need to strive has been negated in both religions in practice.

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Your question already implies differences in practice between your variation of Hinduism and what Buddhism you have practiced. On these issues you will have to choose.

When it comes to doctrine too, you will have to be clear in your mind. The very word dharma means something very different in Brahmanical Hinduism vs. Buddhism. There are differences in the nuances of the word karma too - and so on.

It's certainly easier to stick with the faith and practices you grew up with, and merely add those practices and doctrines from Buddhism that you can without contradiction. It's easier not merely for you personally, but also within the context of your family and social sphere.

In other words: take those aspects of Buddhism that make you a better human being and a better Hindu. Leave the rest be.

To do anything other than that should only be done after more time and study than you have at present devoted to it. Westerners often become Buddhists as converts from Christianity - but they only do so after they've already become disenchanted from Christianity. Even so - it's a difficult process that leads to culture-shock.

You do not sound like you are done with Hinduism because of anything within Hinduism.

As for seeing Buddhism as part of Hinduism... That's Hindu propaganda that doesn't respect Buddhism. It's a bit like Muslims claiming Christianity is part of Islam: it doesn't respect Buddhism as a separate religion. [Jainism: same thing.]

[This is advice that fits in with H.H. the Dalai Lama's advice on mixing religions.]

  • “The very word dharma means something very different in Brahmanical Hinduism vs. Buddhism”. What does it mean in Brahmanical Hinduism? – Gotamist Nov 14 '17 at 23:27
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Here are some differences between Buddhism, and Hinduism and Jainism:

  • The middle way between eternalism and annihilationism (both Hinduism and Jainism subscribe to eternalism of the self) - see this answer
  • The middle way between asceticism and indulgence (Jainism tends towards asceticism) - see this answer
  • The self is not eternal, not standalone and not independent - see this answer, and SN44.10, and contrast with Hindu BG2.24
  • The self or soul does not pervade the body (unlike the Hindu BG2.17) - see SN35.85
  • In terms of karma, not everything we experience is a result of past karma (compared to Jainism) - see this answer, SN36.21 and MN101
  • There is no Supreme Creator God (unlike Hinduism and the Abrahamic religions) - see this answer
  • The self or soul does not transmigrate (unlike Hindu BG2.22) - see this answer
  • Warriors dying on the battlefield while performing their duty do not go to heavan after death according to SN42.3 (unlike Hindu BG2.32)
  • Lay people eating meat that was bought dead and frozen from the supermarket is not sinful - see this answer

However, as also discussed in this answer, later on, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy influenced each other to produce Advaita Vedanta and Indian Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. Also, Tibetan Buddhism have adopted some Hindu deities. On the other hand, there has also been debates in later times between Hindu and Buddhist scholars (see this question).

However, Anatta (no eternal self) and the lack of a Supreme Creator God, still keeps Buddhism very far apart from the other religions, and due to this, it is very unlikely that one could truly practise Buddhism simultaneously with other religions including Hinduism and/or Jainism.

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    ...later on, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy influenced each other to produce Advaita Vedanta and Indian Mahayana Buddhist philosophy... this is a modern Theravadin promoted saying, there is nothing called Indian Mahayana Buddhist so and so. Hinduism is a modern production after Buddha's teaching caused decline of Brahminsm, first response was Advaita Vedanta than responded with Hinduism. Yet there are enough such promoted sayings influxed it's tiresome to bother with it except by chance I see it. It doesn't matter, say whatever whoever likes :) – Mishu 米殊 Sep 2 '17 at 12:40
  • There are many obvious and undeniable Hindu influences on Mahayana Buddhism like Buddha nature (tathāgatagarbha , buddhadhātu similar to Atmatattva), Śūnyatā (emptiness of all things - similar to maya in Advaita), Adi Buddha (similar to Parabrahman), Amitabha Buddha (mantra-chanting to reach the deity after death, also Buddha of Infinite Light is similar to jyothirlinga), rainbow body, Avalokiteśvara (similar to Devi), Tara (similar to Devi), Mahākāla (similar to Shiva), Tantric Buddhism (similar to Hindu Tantra), Tulku (similar to avatar), mandala similar to yantra etc. – ruben2020 Sep 2 '17 at 13:29
  • Of course, Hindu influences on Mahayana Buddhism does not mean that it is Hinduism in disguise, because Mahayana still adheres to anatta, which is a fundamental difference to Hinduism and even Advaita Vedanta. Mahayana also adheres to the other key teachings- four noble truths, three marks of existence, noble eightfold path, dependent origination etc. What is really special and positive about Mahayana Buddhism is the Bodhisattva ideal and cultivation of Bodhicitta, as opposed to the Theravadin path to Arahantship rather than Bodhisattva-hood. – ruben2020 Sep 2 '17 at 13:56
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I cannot provide my own answer to your question. However, since most answers here are in the No camp, I thought I’d mention a famous proponent of the Yes camp, S.N. Goenka who believed that one can practice the core teachings of the Buddha while continuing to be a practitioner of another religion. I am not sure if his idea of such practice meets your or someone else’s definition of “practicing Buddhism”, though, so please keep that in mind.

He has taught hundreds of thousands of people and has hundreds of centers around the world. He grew up in an orthodox Hindu family and considered himself a devout Hindu till his death. Under his view this is not particular to Hinduism and there are people who are Christian and Muslim also who practice his way.

As Katinka already pointed out, the Dalai Lama is in the No camp. He thinks Buddhism is suitable for those who are disillusioned with other religions or do not have one - otherwise, just follow “your own religion” whatever that is. Again, this would be dependent on what his view of “practicing Buddhism” is.

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In order to answer these questions, you need to understand the Dhamma Differences in Hinduism and Buddhism. In DN1/ Digha Nikaya 1, Buddha expounded the differences between the dhamma that he teached and the dhamma of the brahmins/hinduism.

My answer is that, you need to find this yourself. but to tell you the truth, it's not possible.

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    But isn't the Hinduism of today different than the Brahmanism of The Buddha's time? For that matter, doesn't the Hinduism of today reflect the influence of Buddhism on the Brahmanism of the time? In short, can you really take these differences as still relevant? – R. Barzell May 7 '17 at 16:38
  • The Hinduism of that today might not be the same as Brahmanism of the buddha's time but both Hinduism and Brahmanism has 3 vedas while Modern Hinduism has 3 Vedas of Brahmanism + 1 new Veda [adding a story about buddha as an incarnation of Shiva etc2] As for Modern Buddhism, Sect like Mahayana and Tantra/Vajra was influenced by Brahmanism and practicing some of Brahmanic's practices such as worshiping gods and brahmas. – LomX May 7 '17 at 16:50
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You may get close, but so long you believe in the concept of an everlasting soul (i.e atman), you will not achieve what the Buddha called the ultimate cessation of suffering, because of the clinging to the Self which arises in conjunction with this belief.

Remember: the Buddha spoke of four types of clinging. Clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, clinging to rules and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self.

  • "You may get close, but so long you believe in the concept of an everlasting soul (i.e atman), you will not achieve what the Buddha called the ultimate cessation of suffering,..". Not too much of a worry, I'd say. Most people who do not believe that (and may firmly call themselves Buddhist) are also not going to achieve it in their lifetime. – Gotamist Nov 15 '17 at 5:12
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Where in which religion you feel peace, truth, non-violence. These two religions are very very different. In Hinduism all time speak about war, killing violence at all. Does Hinduism really help to live life peacefully, I never find myself as I observed and as I studied in society. How you can use Buddhism techniques over Hinduism. Because there so big different.
Hinduism = Hindu meaning Defeat, Loss.
*I also born as Hindu but I'm comletely following Buddhism.

In Buddhism drawing right hand side swastika (Good, positive, solar aspects, movement clockwise 'with' the currents of Nature) means non-violence, peace.

In Hinduism drawing left hand side swastika (Evil, negative, lunar aspects, movement counter-clockwise 'against' the currents of Nature) means violence.

Dr B. R. Ambedkar had vowed that "I born as Hindu but I'll not die as Hindu."

and so he gave treasure of Buddhism to all backward people of Indian society who wasn't Shudra but genuine Indians (Nag) who were worshiping Buddha in ancient time.

I would suggest you to follow Buddhism because there's peace and happiness. So all the best.

Also Buddhism has liberty to following or leaving so there's no compulsion to following, you knows that as you practicing since a year.

So it's completely depend upon what you feel more for.

Hope you'll choose what you love.
❁ Wish you Happy Vesak ❁

  • Whatever decision I take will obviously not be putting Hinduism in negative light as you did. You might have your own reasons for it but I don't agree with your point of view on Hinduism. Its 5000 years old religion, it has some flaws but its not totally what you said. – Varun Krish May 14 '17 at 23:50
  • Ok if you won't agree but this is truth. You must know truth history about Hinduism. Hindu word is given by Arya(Brahmin) people to backward people (genuinely Indians) of India. We all weren't Hindu but they made us defeat. It's ain't my own personal reason to have perspective like this towards Hinduism. I don't find any peaceful stuff in Ramayana or Mahabharata. There's no respect for women. But let me know with what you'd go with has some flaws or with path of enlightment. But as I told you it's depend upon you, your mind with what you feel more. – Swapnil May 15 '17 at 5:39
  • Who else down voted must know only Hinduism is sole and major reason decline of Buddhism in India. And they treated backward people very bad more than animals (Shudra) who are genuine Indians (Nag). Here is why I have such perspective and every Indian knows that. – Swapnil Jul 2 '17 at 14:41
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I will try to answer your questions which are of great nature.

1) Can one follow Hinduism and Buddhism at the same time?

Yes. At least from a Hindu point of view. Buddha is unanimously admitted by Hindus to be an Incarnation of Narayana or God, who came to rescue the kingdom of Righteousness.

2) How to maintain a balance between the two?

You need to get in touch with Brahmins of Buddha Gaya in Bihar , India, who are practicing the religion with Buddha as the Avatar of Vishnu. They are leading a very balanced life in spite of the contradictions between Vedas and Buddha. I am not aware of how they are doing it but they are doing it.

It is said in the book "Buddha Mimamsa" written by Maitreya that the original Religion of Buddha was part and parcel of orthodox Hindu System based upon the world-old religion(Sanatan Dharma) of the Vedas. Moreover it is worthwhile to mention that Gautama Buddha was himself a Hindu so whatever he learned he must have learned from a Hindu...His own discoveries like no-self , five aggregates and dependent origination doesn't make Buddha a Buddhist. What Buddha stands for is Truth. So if you are a Truth seeker then I guess you have no choice but to follow and understand what Buddha said. There is in my opinion no need to become a Buddhist without yourself realizing the absoluteness of his teachings.

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