This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Buddhism and Hinduism

Buddhism must be dealt with on its own terms, and we will do this in the proper place, but because it has its origin in the context of Hinduism, we should also examine its relation to that tradition. To do this we should return again to a point we’ve already emphasized, if only because here, due its familiarity to the Western world, the misunderstanding in question is likely to be exacerbated. We are referring to the Western tendency to refer all doctrines to either the religious or the philosophical level, and if this fails to relegate them to the level of ‘primitive superstition.’ This is the only conceivable explanation for the labelling of Buddhism as an ‘atheistic religion’, which, is not only false but, taken on its own terms, is an absurdity. Buddhism is not atheistic, nor is it pantheistic, for the simple reason that it is not ‘theistic’ at all. Finally, we must state that it is also not a moral philosophy. Moralism is as absent in Buddhism as it is everywhere else in Eastern philosophy, and although there is an element of sentimentality that appears in it, and through which it is distinguished from the purely metaphysical character of Hinduism, it never descends to the moral point of view. Thus, when the Buddha speaks of Compassion, it is not a sentimental notion but something more like the ‘cosmic charity’ of the Islamic tradition. That is to say, it’s doctrines are metaphysical.

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