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Core spiritual ideas of Buddhism

Core spiritual ideas of Buddhism by way of comparison with ideas from the Hindu Upanishads.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] What I'd like to do in this video is explore the core spiritual ideas of Buddhism. And we're going to do it relative to the core spiritual ideas of Hinduism as described in the Upanishads. One, because there are significant parallels and also because Buddha and Buddhism grew out of a Hindu tradition. So in both belief systems, there's this notion that the reality that we are in is a quasi illusion. In the Upanishads it's described as Maya. That there's a true self. That there's this atman, which is of the same substance as the true nature of reality, of Brahman. That all things are actually connected. This notion of the individual is just an illusion and it's illusion given to us by this Maya. And the Maya isn't just our sensory perception, it's even our notions of ego and possibly even time-space and causality. In Buddhism, there is a parallel notion. That all of what we consider to be reality is just happening in our mind. There isn't anything more real than that. And we are subject to this reality because of our constant craving for that which is impermanent. This craving is called Trishna, which is the Sanskrit word, or Tanha, which is the Pali word, the language of Buddha. Now because of this craving, it leads to this constant suffering, this Dhukka, which is really this reality that we are subjecting ourselves to. Now in either case, we take action and that action leads to consequences. And so in both traditions, we have this notion of Karma. And that the Karma, the actions with consequences, lead to further actions and consequences, not just in this life, but in future realities, in whatever next Maya or reality or life that we take on. And this constant cycle of birth and rebirth is referred to as Samsara in both of the traditions. So you see this commonality. Now, in Hinduism there's this idea of trying to escape from Samsara through meditation, by being able to see through the Maya and merge your atman with Brahman, seeing that all are one. In Buddhism, there is a similar idea. Through meditation, through following the eightfold path, by recognizing the Four Noble Truths you should escape from this craving of impermanent things. And in either tradition as you do that, you escape from the Samsara. And when you escape from the Samsara and this cycle of Karma leading to more and more and the Maya and the Dhukka disappear, in Hinduism the term is Moksha, you have freed yourself from this cycle. In Buddhism, the Sanskrit word is actually Nirvana, which literally means blown out, but it's merging with the emptiness. So even though officially, a Hindu might say, through the Moksha your atman is merging with the ultimate reality of Brahman, while in Buddhism, when you achieve Nirvana, you have recognized your nonself and it has merged with the emptiness, with the non-being. Now there is debate. Is Buddhism saying that you should try to achieve a state of non-existence? Many people would disagree. They would say Nirvana is actually the ultimate bliss, to recognize your nonself. Some would say, hey this is just a matter of what words you use. In either case, you are recognizing that there isn't the individual, that you are merging with the true reality. That you are merging with the universe, whether you consider the universe to be Brahman or whether you consider the universe to be emptiness. But in either tradition, this is viewed as a state of release, as a state of ultimate bliss and something that you should try to get to through practice.