Buddhism and Hinduism were both born on the Indian subcontinent and share many spiritual practices and goals. There are certainly fundamental differences between the two religions, but since Buddhism first emerged around 530 B.C. when Gautama Buddha began teaching -- Hinduism by contrast is older by at least a millennium or two -- the two have been in constant dialogue and have influenced each other in many ways.
Reincarnation and Karma
Both Hinduism and Buddhism emphasize the illusory nature of our world. Both refer to the cyclical world of our experience as "samsara," a place we enter again and again via reincarnation. Karma -- the consequences of our actions -- keeps us bound to samsara and tempers the quality of life and the type of rebirth we will receive. The major difference here is that many Hindus believe in a permanent, self-existent soul that is reincarnated while Buddhists reject the idea of any permanent soul.
Compassion Towards All Living Beings
As both Hindus and Buddhists believe they are reincarnated not only as human beings but also as animals, this has resulted in a strong feeling of compassion towards all living beings. In this way of thinking, your pet dog or cat could possibly be a mother or father from a past life. If you were to commit a violent act towards such a creature, you would eventually have to suffer the karmic consequences of that action, either in this life or the next.
Detachment and Renunciation
Both Buddhism and Hinduism consider selfish desire to be the primary cause of human suffering. According to Buddhists, desire is the root cause of all suffering, and therefore the removal of desire will result in the end of suffering. In Hindu scriptures, such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, performing actions that are driven by desire will lead to bondage and suffering, while performing actions without desiring the fruit of those actions results in liberation. Thus detachment and renunciation of worldly desires is required of those who wish to live a spiritual life.
Meditation was an aspect of Hinduism before the Buddha was born. The Buddha himself adopted, created and elaborated on many meditative techniques, combining them with a philosophy of liberating cognition. Adherents of both religions use different meditation techniques to improve their concentration and to cultivate certain devotional states of mind.
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