What Gives: Buddhist Meditation and Hinduism
Meditation in the West tends to come from the Buddhist, not Hindi traditions and as such has a much more focused spirituality. When I started I was clumsily referring to ‘yoga’ as practiced in the west losing its spirituality there rather than meditation, and meditation in the context of traditional Hindu yoga practice being a part of yoga that the west largely ignores. I don’t know Hinduism in any great detail, though even buddhism in the west has been popularly co-opted by materialist secularism as the mindfulness movement – not necessarily a bad thing, but I think we have a lot to discover that our skeptical, over-rational minds have long dismissed. Some systems of Buddhism are more focused on logic and things that are more easily provable. That can make it easier to remove the spirituality from Buddhist meditation and turn it into generic “mindfulness”. Yoga is the cessation of the mind fluctuations. What people call yoga in the west isn’t even technically yoga. When we say we are going to do yoga, usually what we mean is that we are going to practice asanas. Exercise. Asanas is the physical conditioning aspect in the Yoga system. Yoga is generally focused on methods, not ideologies. That’s why hatha (“gym”) yoga works whether you understand it or not. The theories that yoga is based on have nothing to do with Western science, yet studies show that yoga is very effective. From Patanjali’s sutras. This is the de facto definition of yoga but of course it’s up to interpretation because a sutra is a thread of a thought designed to be passed down in an oral tradition. Yoga meditation tends to have less accessible spirituality for many westerners because it focuses more on esoteric methods such as pranayama and chakras to generate spiritual experiences. The experiences generated are then their own “proof”. By the technical definition of yoga, yoga is meditation. Yoga is union. It’s goal is to bring about union/harmony in the mind, in a literal sense, typically referring to the skill/cohesiveness of ones concentration. Hinduism is what the British empire labeled the myriad of spiritual practices they found in India. I have heard there are millions of god’s and goddesses in India because originally you could create a god from anything you chose to worship. People miss the point that everything contains the ultimate source. It’s the Western world that needs to label the world around them. There is a lot of spirituality found in India but you won’t find a central definition or establishment like other religions of the world. What is more apt to call Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma which is Sanskrit for Eternal Natural Way. It’s not a label is a vague definition because there isn’t one right or wrong way to reach an enlightened state. Ancient Hinduism originally known as Sanatana Dharma is the oldest religion on Earth.