The other day a friend of mine accompanied me to my weekly Gita discussion group at the local Hindu Temple. My friend is a Buddhist Monk. He was their to gain further understanding of my form of devotion. But he also wanted to ask the president of the Hindu Temple (a regular member of the Gita discussion group) if he, my friend, might be able to host some Buddhist events in the basement hall of our Temple. Our president quickly agreed. I, and my friend were both thrilled.
My friend asked for the use of the hall out of necessity for space. But a bi-product will be that in seeing each other come and go, Hindus will gain a feeling of kinship with the Buddhists, and the Buddhists will learn more about Hinduism being inside one of it’s sacred places.
I think we’ve already had that in my city. And as my Buddhist friend is always keen to remind me, Buddha was born into a Hindu family. Or a family which practiced that which came to be known as Hinduism. Sanatana-Dharma really. But it is true, Buddha was a Hindu. So there is already an inherent kinship. They are both of the Dharma family. But the sharing of one physical space can only lead to more of a sense of spiritual kinship. More oneness. Less duality.
My friend loves to tell me that Buddhism is the skeleton of Hinduism, as it is Hinduism without the “pantheon” of gods, goddesses, devas, and devis. I suppose this is very true and Buddhism could be considered yet another sect of Hinduism, if one were inclined to see it as such. And yet, I am certain that when looked upon under a microscope of culture and history, there are differences which make Buddhism an entity unto itself. Just as Judaism gave birth to Christianity, today each is becoming in many ways more and more of a self-contained system. All four are part of the vast Sanatana-Dharma which belongs to no one and belongs to everyone at that same time. The Eternal religion, a stream down which we all float toward the Ocean of Brahman. But these branches of the One Stream have developed, I am sure, to accommodate the many different types of sentimentalities and sensibilities when it comes to the approach to the Divine Truth.
And yet we are one. And this easy, casual agreement made at my temple on Sunday was a testament to that truth.