Thu Oct 5 23:12:40 UTC 2000

Ven Tantra wrote:

> We have a term "Hindu," but are
> not sure how to employ it, or what it means.
But you, though a Buddhist, are happy to label yourself thus :)  I
think your motives are clearly laudable but I'm confused !

> And this fact is both astounding and outrageous.
Why should it be ?   Christianity emerged from Judaism but I do not
hear of many Christians calling or recognizing themselves as Jews
(desirable though that might be given centuries of anti-semitic
barabarism in Europe) nor do I hear of many Jews saying that
Christians are Jews either after  Christians were anathematized by
c3rd CE rabbis.  Though sharing certain common elements, these are
clearly two different religions -- even though each seem to have a lot
to gain from talking together about their common roots.  The
relationship between Buddhism and what became Hinduism is perhaps
similar -- though one could argue that they actually have less in

> an apparently irreconcilable point of contention between
> themselves and that which they perceive as something
> called "Hindu?" This is serious.
Are you talking about Buddhists as followers of a particular religion
or merely as human beings.  As a human individual, I have every
respect for sincere followers of Hinduism, also I read the Vedas,
Upanishads etc etc and find them beautiful and inspiring spiritual
works.  But as a Buddhist, I doubtlessly view those scriptures
differently to a Hindu.  I see similarities but also note there are
clear differences in tenets and practices -- and perhaps, hopefully, I
can understand a little of how these differences arose.  I do not see
them as "irreconcilable points of contention" -- why contend ?   Can't
people live and let live -- acknowledging the similarities and
respecting the differences.  That's what I try to do and did in the
past when I participated in various inter-faith forums.  I found that
if you treat others with respect, they will usually reciprocate.  A
bit idealistic perhaps, but it seems to work well enough until the
politicians come along.

> But what exactly is this irreconcilable "point" of
> contention ?
I deplore the kind of politicization of religion you allude to with
"Sinhalese Hindu-phobia" as much as you, but there are an number of
other points in which Buddhism differs from what later came to be
termed Hinduism.  For example, Buddhists (and the Buddha himself)
reject the idea of a creator god (II`svara etc), the authority of the
Vedas, the idea of status by birth (one is a brahmin by merit not
birth), the idea of a self (aatman), the role or necessity of animal
sacrifice as well as lots of arcane philosophical tenets.  So I think
there is/was more to the idea that Buddhism is distinct from Hinduism
than just a desire to elevate the status of the Buddha over his

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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