What Do Buddhism and Yoga Have in Common?

Do you know who Buddha was or why people connect him with yoga?

We heard an inspiring story about Buddha this that got us wondering about this topic.

The story was this: While nearing the end of his life, Buddha became quite frail during his travels. He approached a village and was welcomed by a blacksmith named Cunda who wanted to honour Buddha and offer him a meal. Buddha knew that the food was rotten and that he would die if he ate it. In an act of gratitude for Cunda’s offering, Buddha ate the food and his death was imminent. Knowing that people might blame Cunda for his death, Buddha shared how significant the meal was as the last meal “before passing into the state of Nirvana in which no state of clinging remains.” In an ultimate act of compassion, Buddha credited Cunda with the most important meal of his life. In other words, he had no fear of death but wanted to ensure that the blacksmith was treated with compassion and honoured (Smith, The Powerof Meaning).

The qualities of love, compassion and forgiveness are common to yogic principles and is part of the reason that Buddhism is often connected to yoga. Buddha is often confused as a yogic teacher but in fact, taught more about the nature of the mind. Buddha was born a prince and offered all of life’s pleasures. At 29 years old he realized that every life would come to pass and have moments of suffering. Leaving his royal post, he set off on a spiritual quest to discover the nature of life. He studied for six years with meditation teachers and learned the potential of the mind.

After six years, he reached enlightenment, finding complete bliss and embodiment. It is said that Buddha experienced total presence and an experience of the here and now. From then on, Buddha spent the next 45 years travelling and teaching . At the end of his life he said “I can die happily. I have not kept a single teaching hidden in a closed hand. Everything that is useful for you, I have already given. Be your own guiding light.”– The Buddha (www.diamondway-buddhism.org)

Buddha, Jesus, Kuan Yin, Saints and Mystics are often inspiring for students of yoga, because at the heart of yoga are principles of compassion, love and service.