I am Saved. You Are Not! (How Many Times Have You Encountered That?)
All of us share in the same fundamental original nature. If we all come from the same original source, how could it be otherwise?
Furthermore, think about it: if everything is made of "Godstuff," nothing can made of more Godstuff than anything else since it is all Godstuff. Get it?
If so then fundamentally we are all liberated, all enlightened, all "saved" by virtue of sharing in that same fundamental substrate, that same fundamental nature, that same Godstuff, that same original being, that same .... whatever you want to call it or whatever religions choose to call it. You don't need to believe in anything or do anything to already be saved or liberated. You just have to REALIZE it. Not mentally realize it, but experientially realize it by experientially realizing that fundamental All-State.
Remember,that fundamental ground state is NOT a samadhi, or skandha experience, or experiential realm or visaya. It is formless, empty, beyond is and is not, being and no-being.
Now, it just so happens that one of the functions issuing from this original nature is consciousness, or awareness. If that wasn't one of its functions, we wouldn't have awareness or consciousness at all.
Why does our original nature possess this ability? It just does, that's just the way it is, so there's no use asking about. In religious striving, you simply try to get to the ultimate source behind awareness, the Ground state of All That Is, the primordial mind ground, the Suchness. You try to get to the ULTIMATE state, not any of the creations, however refined they are, such as the samadhi.
The problem as humans is, due to what we call "Ignorance" or mental clinging, we turn away from realization of our fundamental nature and hold on to things that screen us from our fundamental nature. That's why we are unenlightened. How do you get enlightened? You turn away from clinging to mental images, feelings, forms, sensations, impulses, mental scenarios, gong-fu and all sorts of forms, appearances, things that arise and depart.
None of them are real, but we cling to them in subtle ways which is like coating a film of ignorance over our perceptive capabilities of being fully enlightened. We are fundamentally enlightened but we cover over that fundamental enlightenment with ignorance and cling to what's non-real rather than the REAL fundamental nature. We cling to the realm of illusion or delusion that's always changing and never stays, that's defined by cause and effect ("interdependent origination"). If we let go of clinging to these things, by non-clinging, we can reach a state called emptiness, voidness, non-discriminative thinking, no-thought, selflessness, and so forth
That, fundamentally, is a description of the ontology of the spiritual path and the soteriology of the spiritual path.
So guess what always gives me a chuckle?
I know fundamental Christians who declare that because they believe in Christ, and you don't, they are saved and you are not. In fact, they are the ONLY ones saved. Pity on you! It seems you have to believe something or do something in order to be saved and if you were born thousands of years ago before those things were defined, tough luck. It's too bad they don't even know anything about true Christian cultivation practice.
I meet Jewish people who declare that God created a special Covenant with the Jewish people, and no one else, and therefore they are the elect and saved and no one else is. You have to be born into the Jewish faith to be part of this group, so lucky them and ... because you aren't part of the group, you don't really matter. They matter, you don't. After all, the Covenant is with them ... they are the elect. Ignore all the bad karma of the nation, that's part of the deal.
I meet Moslems who believe that only those who follow Mohammed are saved, whereas ALL others are not. So their job is to convert everyone. If you become Moslem -- if the whole world becomes Moslem -- then their job is done. How that further saves you, I don't know, but that's the goal.
I meet Taoists who believe they have secret methods for spiritual attainment, and you do not, so they are superior to you and will achieve immortality whereas you won't because you don't have those techniques. It doesn't even matter that THEY don't personally succeed with the techniques, but just having them makes them superior.
I know Tibetans who believe they carry the highest and truest cultivation path. In fact, they don't even believe Westerners can achieve samadhi or enlightenment, and even deny teachings to foreigners because non-Tibetans are not qualified for the path. Uh-huh, tell me about it.
I meet Buddhists who believe their own little sect is the right one, and that other Buddhist groups (from Tibet, or Chinese Mahayana, etc.) are not even Buddhist. Strange ideas abound also ... such that just reciting Amitofo's name can get you reborn in Amitofo's Land where you will live forever and never be reborn. When did Buddha ever say you could get rid of reincarnation? He simply said to try to get reborn in other places so you could further your spiritual progress. When you get enlightened you can CONTROL the process of reincarnation and where you will go next and what you will do, but there's no way to escape the Three Realms and no place of permanent rest.
What group did I forget? Oh, what the heck ... there are too many to go into.
These folks, like all the others, just create whatever they want to believe so that THEY ARE SAVED, THEIR GROUP IS SPECIAL AND SAVED and you are not, and THEY personally have very little work to do in terms of the work or practice of spiritual cultivation. Just believe something and you're saved or just become a member of the group-- that's the formula. Just go to church once a a week and you're okay and will be reborn in heaven. Just follow the Commandments or Islamic injunctions and up you'll go to heaven when it's time. No other work to be done.
Forget trying to teach such people. They want it spiritual practice to be easy, they want to be the elect, they want little responsibility, ... and I can't blame them. But it doesn't work that way.
Here's how it works.
We all share in the same fundamental nature. You CAN realize that fundamental nature through spiritual practice. All the spiritual practices rely on the principle letting go of experiential realms so that you are always in seamless tune or union with the fundamental nature. Usually they involve principles of cessation and contemplation as practice vehicles until you make the big breakthrough.
Spiritual practice takes training ... effortless training. Why? Because it's not training in doing something. It's training in LETTING go of the underlying, undercurrent, subtle ever present habit of clinging to mental realms, i.e. fundamental ignorance. That's why we say you cultivate emptiness. That's why the spiritual path is one of "non-effort" but it takes practice to achieve it. Spiritual practice is the practice of breaking habits so you are FREE. Get it? But don't interpret those words too superficially because there's lots of gong-fu involved -- physical transformations, samadhi, spiritual realms, and so on.
Here's what else is important. The path is nondenominational, and there is such a thing as gong-fu, or various ranks of partial realization.
You practice and you CAN achieve spiritual stages and experiences, no matter who you are or what religion you belong to. Sorry about the "saved elect" notions. The spiritual stages of attainment, as explained in my course, can be ranked in terms of gong-fu, skandhas, samadhi, levels of consciousness and so on. Anyone who practices, regardless of religion, can make spiritual progress. Gong-fu is nondenominational. No one is barred from spiritual progress.
So while Roman Catholicism says you can be excommunicated and barred entry into Heaven, and so does Mormonism, and so does etc. etc., is that logical? You decide. Wisdom is YOU figuring it out rather than me saying it for you. Wisdom is YOU figuring out why certain groups say these things and how it helps them.
All these sects would like to think they are unique and particular and different, and in many respects they are, but everyone shares in the fundamental nature, everyone is liberated or saved. So are animals -- so are any beings that have consciousness! You just have to practice to realize your fundamental, inherent enlightenment as the spiritual path. That's what's real. The conventional realm isn't real in the REAL sense. In the conventional sense it's real, but not in the ultimate sense. It's an effervescent, never staying, undependable realm that's defined by interdependence of infinite links between all phenomena. That's cause and effect, or karma.
In terms of the regular world, there's karma and the expression of interdependent origination through society, customs, and family relationships. They exist, but they're not real, but you cannot say they aren't real and ignore them because them karma will come up and bite you. So they are neither real nor non-real, get it? You act that way in accordance with societal rules, but you continue cultivating to realize your original nature. THE original nature.
So the spiritual practices you choose to follow as your spiritual path and doing them correctly and making progress with them -- along with proper conduct in the material realm of society with karmic entanglements -- are ALL the spiritual path. You have to honor both, recognize both, master both or you're one-sided, or lop-sided.
Next time you hear someone say they are saved and you are not, just chuckle. That pencil in front of you has the same amount of Godstuff as you and your thoughts. That's why saints, adepts, masters, etc. say there is no such thing as a being. It's all one. Read the Diamond Sutra and maybe you'll realize what I just wrote, for I'm only seeding the thoughts to get you started.
Moral or conclusion?
It still all comes down to the personal responsibility and the discipline of personal spiritual practice to realize your Buddha nature. It also comes down to honoring/satisfying/corresponding to societal engagements, purifying your conduct and behavior, creating merit and cultivating virtue in the realm of karmic, interdependent origination that though non-real, still functions.
That's the Middle Path. I hope you realize it. Just focus on one side and you neglect the other. Complete enlightenment, perfect enlightenment is to realize your original nature and vow continue working in the realm of samsara, as unreal as it ULTIMATELY is, to help the beings there get rid of suffering and realize the Tao, even though they don't ultimately exist and are thereby ultimately saved.
That's the real path of spiritual practice. That's what I call pure cultivation. Now you know it, and hopefully have a little clarity on the issue.
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