May 6, 2011

Is Yoga Better Than Buddhism

By Mr. John C. Kimbrough

It may not be a worthwhile or skillful thing to dwell too long or too often on whether Buddhism is better then Yoga or Yoga is better then Buddhism.

To reflect on such a thing in order to think that our path or way is better then anothers or that we are more spiritually advanced then others would be utter foolishness and a waste of time.

At the same time, any calm or studious investigation of each of these paths and practices and the various components that make them up may assist us in deciding which one is best for us to learn and practice, or how we can use techniques and practices from both disciplines to gain those states of being that we wish for or are told that we can achieve.

Perhaps in its simplest terms we could describe the practice of Yoga, if one practices all of its components, as being more physically demanding and challenging in some respects then Buddhism.

But since the core teaching and practice of both Yoga and Buddhism is meditation, that may not be an important point.

It does seem that many who practice Yoga in these modern times are focusing more on its physical practice and its other techniques, practices and teachings are pursued by a small minority.

These various techniques, practices and teachings can be thought of as being mental and physical activities involving knowledge, action and devotion, in addition to morals and ethics involving honesty, non – violence, loving kindness, and compassion, among other things.

Two important teachings of Yoga that make it so powerful and in many ways far more comprehensive then Buddhism are purity and austerity, two teachings that are closely related and intertwined.

In order to cultivate purity we must practice austerity.

They involve many things in thought, word and action, many of which are seldom covered in a “Yoga” session or even in some writings and commentaries on the Yoga scriptures.

To think, speak and act in a pure manner means that we must be mindful, accountable, make a constant effort and have energy and self - discipline.

It means that we must put aside our aversions, our frustrations, our anger and our pride and ego.

It may means that we must make changes that involve saying no, eating, having and doing less and exploring things that in the past seemed challenging, troublesome or difficult to us.

Yoga, when taught in its most comprehensive and holistic form guides us as to what our actions and attitudes are as regards diet, sleep and leisure activities should be, whereas Buddhism may seldom explore these aspects of our existence in any great detail.

Yoga teaches us ways that help us cultivate the ability to practice concentration and meditation, through relaxation and posture practice and breathing techniques, while Buddhism just asks of us that we sit in a meditative posture and practice.

The system of morals and ethics that yoga puts forth covers all of the morals and ethics put forth in Buddhism and goes a step further, emphasizing the need for acceptance and self – study, contentment and non – greed, and a restraint of sexual desires and activity to the point of abstention.

When Yoga is practiced in such a way, in its totality, it can manifest itself as a powerful and comprehensive system of mental and physical purification that is not matched throughout the world.

Perhaps Yoga is a better system of mental and physical purification then Buddhism is, when it is practiced in such a manner.

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