Naturalism and Buddhism

Yes, certainly. Its seems the word “yoga” did not have an auspicious start in Buddhism, in the Buddha’s First Sermon:

“Mendicants, these two extremes should not be cultivated by one who has gone forth.

“Dveme, bhikkhave, antā pabbajitena na sevitabbā.

What two?

Katame dve?

[Devotion to] indulgence in sensual pleasures, which is low, crude, ordinary, ignoble, and pointless. And [devotion to] indulgence in self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and pointless.

Yo cāyaṁ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṁhito, yo cāyaṁ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṁhito.



“Yogo” there just means “devotion”. It doesn’t seem related to a particular path.

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I know one Hindu told me the different forms of yoga (if I remember) are, I guess, ways one connects to Brahma or experience Brahma-even though we westerners made it more of a physical exercise rather than a devotional practice.

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In Hinduism yoga just means “path”, and traditionally there are three of them.
Buddhism has the Noble 8-fold path.

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Another option is this.

The Yoga Sutras are best known for its reference to ashtanga, eight elements of practice culminating in samadhi, concentration of the mind on an object of meditation, namely yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration of the mind), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption). However, its main aim is kaivalya, discernment of purusha, the witness-conscious, as separate from prakriti, the cognitive apparatus, and disentanglement of purusha from prakriti’s muddled defilements.

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Yes, the paths can look quite similar, the pivotal difference is the destination, or what the path is designed to reveal.

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To shake off all the distractions life throws at you

The term “nature” has many connotations and its meaning is not insensitive to context. The emotional side of it usually refers to effortlessness, harmony, and following one’s urges without restrictions, guilt or prohibitions. The Abrahamic story of creation is a case in point: we were somehow in a state of harmony with nature until we committed the original sin, hence nature also represents a sense of nostalgia to a healthy state of affairs. This nostalgia is a major force behind moral action and the hope of returning only if we behave.

Modern naturalism is not divorced from the original religious thought. Nudism for example is an attempt to alleviate the sense of guilt and shame associated with what is hidden. No fig tree is required especially after we supposedly transcended the old religious myths through science and technology.

Buddhism seems to emphasize a circular view of nature to present the passion for returning as deluded and rooted in suffering. Meditative attainments are named in a way to reflect this sentiment: once returner, non-returner.

In brief, worldly affairs are marked by an interactive between what is believed to be an “original” and endless replicas that are only there to deceive.


I started another topic on naturalism but maybe with a bit of another angle. Please have a look.

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