We just discussed the cycle of life and death of the first category, the unbelievers. Now, let us discuss that of the second category, the various people of faith. “The cycle of life and death of the various people of faith” is also a very important topic, and it is expedient that you have some understanding of it. First, let us speak of which faiths the “faith” in “people of faith” refers to: It means Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, and Buddhism, these five major religions. In addition to the unbelievers, the people who believe in these five religions occupy a large proportion of the world’s population. Among these five religions, those who have made a career out of their belief are few, yet these religions have many believers. Their believers go to a different place when they die. “Different” from who? From the unbelievers, the people of no faith, that we were just talking about. After they die, the believers of these five religions go somewhere else, somewhere different from the unbelievers. But it’s the same process. The spiritual world will also make a judgment about them based on all they did before they died, following which they will be processed accordingly. But why are these people placed somewhere else to be processed? There is an important reason for this. And what is this reason? I’ll tell you using an example. But before I do, you might be thinking to yourselves: “Maybe it’s because they have a little belief in God! They’re not complete unbelievers.” This is not the reason why. There is a very important reason why they are put somewhere else.
Take Buddhism: Let Me tell you a fact. A Buddhist is, firstly, someone who has converted to Buddhism, and they are someone who knows what their belief is. When a Buddhist cuts their hair and becomes a monk or a nun, this means that they have separated themselves from the secular world and left the clamor of the world of man far behind. Every day they chant the sutras and eat only vegetarian food, they live ascetic lives, and they pass their days accompanied by the cold, weak light of the butter lamp. They spend their whole lives in this way. When their physical life finishes, they make a summary of their life, but in their hearts they don’t know where they’ll go after they die, who they’ll meet, and what end they will have—in their hearts they are not clear about these things. They have done nothing more than blindly spend their whole life accompanied by a faith, after which they depart from the world accompanied by blind wishes and ideals. Such is the termination of their physical life when they leave the world of the living, and after that, they return to their original place in the spiritual world. Whether this person is reincarnated to return to earth and continue their self-cultivation depends on their behavior and self-cultivation prior to their death. If they did nothing wrong during their lifetime, they will quickly be reincarnated and sent back to earth again, where they will once again become a monk or nun. As per the first time’s procedure, their physical body self-cultivates, after which they die and return to the spiritual world, where they are examined, after which—if there are no problems—they can return once more to the world of man, and once more convert to Buddhism and continue their self-cultivation. After being reincarnated three to seven times, they will once more return to the spiritual world, to where they go each time their physical life finishes. If their various qualifications and behavior in the human world are in keeping with the heavenly edicts of the spiritual world, then from this point onward they will remain there; they will no longer be reincarnated as human, nor will there be any risk of them being punished for evildoing on earth. They will never again experience this process. Instead, as per their circumstances, they will take up a position in the spiritual realm. This is what Buddhists refer to as the achievement of immortality. The achievement of immortality chiefly means becoming an official of the spiritual world, and there being no further chance of reincarnation or punishment. More than that, it means no longer suffering the aggravation of being human after being reincarnated. So is there still any chance of them being reincarnated as an animal? (No.) This means that they remain to take up a role in the spiritual world, and will no longer be reincarnated. This is one example of achieving immortality in Buddhism. As for those who do not achieve immortality, upon their return to the spiritual world, they are examined and verified by the relevant bailiff, and found to have not diligently self-cultivated or been conscientious in chanting the sutras as prescribed by Buddhism; instead, they committed much evil, and did much that was wicked. In the spiritual world a judgment is then made about their evildoing, following which they are sure to be punished. In this, there are no exceptions. So, when will this kind of person achieve immortality? At the life when they do no evil—when, after returning to the spiritual world, it is seen that they did nothing wrong before they died. They continue being reincarnated, they carry on chanting the sutras, they pass their days with the cold, weak light of the butter lamp, they don’t kill any living thing, don’t eat meat, and don’t partake in the world of man, leaving its troubles far behind, and having no disputes with others. During this process, they do no evil, following which they return to the spiritual world, and after all of their actions and behavior have been examined, they are once more sent out into the world of man, in a cycle that goes on three to seven times. If there are no upsets during this, then their achievement of immortality will remain unaffected, and will not be delayed. This is a feature of the cycle of life and death of all people of faith: They are able to achieve immortality, and to take up a position in the spiritual world. This is what makes them different to the unbelievers. Firstly, when they are alive on earth, what is the conduct of those who are able to assume a position in the spiritual world? They must commit absolutely no evil: They must not commit murder, arson, rape, or loot; if they commit fraud, deception, theft, or robbery, then they cannot achieve immortality. Which is to say, if they have any connection or affiliation with evildoing, they will not be able to escape the punishment of the spiritual world. The spiritual world makes suitable arrangements for Buddhists who achieve immortality: They may be assigned to administer those who appear to believe in Buddhism, and the Old Man in the Sky, and the Buddhists will be given a jurisdiction, they may only administer the unbelievers, or else they may be a very minor bailiff. Such allocation is according to the nature of these souls. This is an example of Buddhism.
Among the five religions we have spoken of, Christianity is somewhat special. And what’s special about Christianity? These are people who believe in the true God. How can those who believe in the true God be listed here? Since Christianity is a kind of faith, then it is, without doubt, only related to faith—it is a kind of ceremony, a kind of religion, and something separate from the faith of those who truly follow God. The reason why I have listed it among the five major religions is because Christianity has been reduced to the same level as Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Most Christians don’t believe there is a God, or that He rules over all things, much less do they believe in His existence. Instead, they merely employ the Scriptures to talk about theology, using theology to teach people to be kind, to endure suffering, and to do good things. That’s what kind of religion Christianity is: It only concentrates on theological theories, it bears absolutely no relation to God’s work of managing and saving man, it is a religion of those who follow God that is not acknowledged by God. But God also has a principle to His approach to them. He does not casually handle and deal with them at will, in the same way as with the unbelievers. His approach to them is the same as the Buddhists: If, while they’re alive, a Christian has self-discipline, is able to strictly abide by the Ten Commandments and abide by the laws and commandments in the demands they make of their own behavior—and if they can do this their whole life—then they will also have to spend the same amount of time going through the cycles of life and death before they can truly attain the so-called rapture. After achieving this rapture, they remain in the spiritual world, where they take up a position and become one of its bailiffs. Likewise, if they commit evil on earth, if they are sinful and commit too many sins, then it is unavoidable that they will be punished and disciplined with varying severity. In Buddhism, achieving immortality means entering Sukhavati, but what do they call it in Christianity? It is called “entering heaven” and being “raptured.” Those who are truly raptured also go through the cycle of life and death three to seven times, after which, having died, they come to the spiritual world, as if they had fallen asleep. If they are up to standard they can remain to take up a role, and, unlike the people on earth, will not be reincarnated in a simple way, or according to convention.
Among all these religions, the end that they speak of and strive for is the same as the attainment of immortality in Buddhism—it’s just that it is achieved by different means. They are all of a kind. For this portion of people of these religions who are able to strictly abide by religious precepts in their behavior, God gives them a suitable destination, a suitable place to go to, and handles them appropriately. All of this is reasonable, but it is not as people imagine, yes? Now, having heard what happens to Christians, how do you feel? Are you aggrieved for them? Do you sympathize with them? (A little.) There’s nothing that can be done—they have only themselves to blame. Why do I say this? God’s work is true, God is alive and real, and His work is aimed at all mankind and every person—so why don’t the Christians accept this? Why do they manically oppose and persecute God? They’re lucky even to have an end such as this, so why do you feel sorry for them? For them to be handled in this way shows great tolerance. Based on the extent to which they oppose God, they should be destroyed—yet God does not do this, and merely handles Christianity the same as an ordinary religion. So is there any need to go into detail about the other religions? The ethos of all these religions is for people to suffer more hardship, do no evil, say nice things, do good deeds, not swear at others, not jump to conclusions about others, distance themselves from disputes, do good things, be a good person—most religious teachings are like this. And so, if these people of faith—these people of various religions and denominations—are able to strictly abide by religious precepts, then they won’t commit great errors or sins during the time that they’re on earth, and after being reincarnated three to seven times, then by and large these people, the people who are able to strictly abide by religious precepts, will remain to take up a role in the spiritual world. And are there a lot of such people? (No, there aren’t many.) What is your answer based on? It’s not easy to do good, or to abide by religious rules and laws. Buddhism doesn’t let people eat meat—could you do that? If you had to wear gray robes and chant sutras in a Buddhist temple all day, could you do it? It wouldn’t be easy. Christianity has the Ten Commandments, the commandments and laws, are they easy to abide by? They are not! Take not swearing at others: People are incapable of abiding by this rule. Unable to stop themselves, they swear—and after swearing they can’t take it back, so what do they do? At night they confess their sins. Sometimes after they swear at others, there is still hate in their hearts, and they even go so far as to plan when they’re going to harm them. In sum, for those who live among this dead dogma, it is not easy to not sin or commit evil. And so, in every religion, only a few people are able to attain immortality. You think that because so many people follow these religions, many will be able to remain to take up a role in the spiritual realm. But there aren’t that many, only a few are able to achieve this. That’s generally it for the cycle of life and death of people of faith. What sets them apart is that they can achieve immortality, which is their difference to the unbelievers.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
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