|At the Royal Ontario Museum the exotic statues and gorgeous figurines show that the history of Earth and its people has much more to offer than we can hardly imagine (Tanzim Ahmed/Eighteen for Life/flickr.com)|
|Gandhara, Taxila Museum (Amir Taj)|
The Holy Roman Catholic Church has been particularly good about appropriating the mysteries and rites of other religions -- taking all the best holidays from around the world and incorporating them into its theology, for example, Pagan Easter, Christmas, Lent, Pentecost, and Halloween becoming All Souls' Day.
|The Buddha (FredMin/flickr)|
But to become a "saint," which many Christians define as one who lives in heaven (Catholics adding a few features including the ability to produce miracles), both of which are possible by the temporary suppression of defilements, and which Buddhists define as arhatship, which is only possible by eradication of defilements, is not easy.
It is not likely, it is not common, it is not to be left to the last minute, and is actually rare in the world. But it exists. In Buddhism, contrary to our logical expectations,
|Grand misdeed: accusing the Buddha|
Wrong view -- manifesting as delusion (moha) -- is the root cause of our woe, giving rise to harmful intentions co-motivated by and co-arising with greed and aversion. We become attached in ignorance (avijja, avidya), we suffer from fear and hate rooted in ignorance. Buddhist saints are liberated from such unwholesome roots of karma. Yet, oddly, they retain their proclivities and dispositions (sankharas), their "individuality" and quirks. But they are not buddhas.
A buddha is far more. Having awakened, a supremely Enlightened One knows more than an ordinary arhat. For example, because of the perfections cultivated, their awakening comes with analytical knowledges. And in the case of supremely-fully-awakened-ones (samma-sam-buddhas), as distinct from rare "non-teaching" or pacceka buddhas, the ability to effectively teach, establish, and transmit the Dharma is unique to a "light of the world" teacher.
If a christ could do that, it would be wonderful. If the Buddha, five to eight centuries after his passing into final-nirvana, inspired Jesus the Christ (St. Issa) to awaken others and lead them on to splendid rebirths in heaven, is that not also a wonderful thing? Fundamentalists will not stand for such talk.
|The famous female bodhisattva, Avalokita|
"You'll have to become a bodhisattva (buddha-to-be, a being-bent-on-enlightenment) first," her father replied."
"Oh, I'm already that," she said with certainty.
"Then can you teach me?" the father implored.
"I'll come back when you're ready," she assured him.
"You mean, as Maitreya (the future-Buddha)?" the father lamented.
"No, in this very life, when you and I are both ready."
The father smiled. "By the way, hun, who told you that?"
"Your brother the monk?"
Documentary: "My Brother, Buddhist Monk" (Finland, in Finnish with English subtitles) is the story of a 26-year-old guy's quest as he leaves his home country to become a Buddhist monk in the mountainous jungles of southern-central Thailand in a forest monastery called "Wat Map Jan." The story was documented by his sister, who provides the narration, and their family. She spent a month in a Buddhist monastery. (This is my story, and here).