I have read a couple of articles written mostly in passing by western translators on the influence of Sage Kapila (i.e Samkhya) on the Buddha, but I'm yet to find a detailed inquiry on a similarity of these systems.
We read that Alara Kalama one of the teachers of the Gautama Buddha was a follower of the ancient Samkhya philosophy. it is also written that the Bodhisattva Gautama eventually equaled his teacher Alara, and went on inquiring further until he was fully awakened, Buddha. And after awakening, the first person he wished to teach was his former teacher Alara.
I'm only mentioning that above to highlight why I venture to inquire in this direction, my question is mainly on the similarity of the two systems /thought. I will list some:
- For both systems, the main goal is to 'End Suffering' by removing ignorance.
- Contrary to most religious thought in India, both systems, although they accept heavenly beings, they reject the idea of a creator God. The gods they accept are just like humans bound within the cycle of suffering. Samkhya satirically declares 'No one no-where Is happy'. The idea of 'Brahman' is also rejected.
- Again both say that there is no-self on forms, sensations, perceptions, and all mental activities including the mind's reason [Buddhi].
Now, there is a 'Self' in the Samkhya system, but on critical reading, it's beyond any of the non-self listed in the Buddist thought. It's not a self that transmigrates and pile-up karma it's unbound ever free self. What is Bound and what is freed is the mind, not the Self.
Similarly, there are primordial matters in the Samkhya system. But Buddhism doesn't discuss or is not interested at the beginning of the matter, etc...
There is a lot to list here but in short, when one compares the two systems it seems that Buddhism is a reduced version of Samkhya with some of the ideas removed as non-essential. Was the Buddha a reformer?