We just discussed the cycle of life and death of people in 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 yet another very important topic, and it is highly necessary for you to have some understanding of it. First, let us speak of which faiths the “faith” in “people of faith” refers to: The five major religions of Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, and Buddhism. 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 faith are few, yet these religions have many followers. They will go to a different place when they die. “Different” from whom? From the unbelievers—the people of no faith—whom we were just talking about. After they die, the believers of these five religions go elsewhere, somewhere different from the unbelievers. However, it is still the same process; the spiritual world will likewise judge them based on all that they did before they died, after which they will be processed accordingly. Why, though, are these people sent to a different location to be processed? There is an important reason for this. What is it? I will explain it to you with an example. Before I do, however, you might be thinking to yourselves: “Maybe it’s because they have a little belief in God! They’re not total unbelievers.” However, this is not the reason. There is a very important reason that they are kept apart from others.
Take Buddhism, for example. I will tell you a fact. A Buddhist is, firstly, someone who has converted to Buddhism, and this is a person who knows what their belief is. When Buddhists cut their hair and become monks or nuns, it means that they have separated themselves from the secular world, leaving behind the clamor of the human world. Every day, they recite the sutras and chant the Buddhas’ names, eat only vegetarian food, live ascetic lives, and pass their days accompanied only by the cold, weak light of a butter lamp. They spend their entire lives like this. When a Buddhist’s physical life is over, they will make a summary of their life, but in their heart they will not know where they will go after they die, who they will meet, or what their outcome will be: Deep down, they will not have a clear idea of such things. They will have done nothing more than blindly carry a sort of faith throughout their entire life, after which they depart from the human world along with their blind wishes and ideals. Such is the termination of a Buddhist’s physical life, when they leave the world of the living; after that, they return to their original place in the spiritual world. Whether or not this person is reincarnated to return to earth and continue their self-cultivation depends on their behavior and practice prior to their death. If they did nothing wrong during their lifetime, they will quickly be reincarnated and sent back to earth again, where this person will once more become a monk or nun. That is, they practice self-cultivation during their physical life in line with how they practiced self-cultivation the first time, and then return to the spiritual realm after their physical life is concluded, where they are examined. After that, if no problems are found, they can return once more to the world of man and again convert to Buddhism, thus continuing their practice. After being reincarnated three to seven times, they will once more return to the spiritual world, where they go after each physical life is over. If their various qualifications and behavior in the human world have been 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 have to go through this process. Rather, depending on their circumstances, they will take up a position in the spiritual realm. This is what Buddhists refer to as “attaining Buddhahood.” The attainment of Buddhahood chiefly means achieving fruition as an official of the spiritual world and, thereafter, no longer reincarnating or being at risk of being punished. Moreover, it means no longer suffering the afflictions of being human after reincarnation. So, is there still any chance of them being reincarnated as an animal? (No.) This means that they will remain to take up a role in the spiritual world and will no longer be reincarnated. This is one example of attaining the fruition of Buddhahood in Buddhism. As for those who do not attain fruition, upon their return to the spiritual world, they become subject to the examination and verification of the relevant official, who discovers that while still alive, they had not diligently practiced self-cultivation or been conscientious in reciting the sutras and chanting the Buddhas’ names as prescribed by Buddhism, and instead had committed many evil acts and engaged in a lot of wicked behavior. Then, in the spiritual world, a judgment is made about their evildoing, and following that, they are sure to be punished. In this, there are no exceptions. As such, when can such a person attain fruition? In a lifetime in which they commit no evil—when, after returning to the spiritual world, it is seen that they did nothing wrong before they died. They then continue to reincarnate, carrying on with reciting the sutras and chanting the Buddhas’ names, passing their days with the cold, weak light of a butter lamp, refraining from killing any living thing or eating any meat. They do not partake in the world of man, leaving its troubles far behind and having no disputes with others. In the process, if they have committed no evil, then after they return to the spiritual world and all of their actions and behavior have been examined, they are once more sent out into the human realm, in a cycle that continues for three to seven times. If no misconduct is committed during this time, then their attainment of Buddhahood 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 “attain fruition,” and to take up a position in the spiritual world; this is what makes them different from unbelievers. Firstly, while they are still living on earth, how do those who are able to assume a position in the spiritual world conduct themselves? They must be sure not to commit any evil at all: They must not murder, commit arson, rape, or plunder; if they engage in fraud, deception, theft, or robbery, then they cannot attain fruition. In other words, if they have any connection or affiliation with evildoing whatsoever, they will not be able to escape punishment meted out to them by the spiritual world. The spiritual world makes suitable arrangements for Buddhists who attain Buddhahood: They may be assigned to administer those who appear to believe in Buddhism, and in the Old Man in the Sky—they may be allocated a jurisdiction. They may also only be in charge of the unbelievers or have positions with very minor duties. Such allocation happens according to the various natures of their souls. This is an example of Buddhism.
Among the five religions of which we have spoken, Christianity is relatively special. What makes Christians so special? These are people who believe in the true God. How can those who believe in the true God be listed here? In saying that Christianity is a kind of faith, it undoubtedly would only have to do with faith; it would merely be a kind of ceremony, a kind of religion, and be a completely different thing from the faith of those who genuinely follow God. The reason I have listed Christianity among the five major “religions” is that it has been reduced to the same level as Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Most people here do not 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 discuss theology and use theology to teach people to be kind, to endure suffering, and to do good things. That is the kind of religion Christianity has become: It only concentrates on theological theories, bearing absolutely no relation to God’s work of managing and saving man. It has become a religion of people who follow God but who are not actually acknowledged by God. However, God also has a principle in His approach to such people. He does not casually handle or deal with them at will as He does with the unbelievers. He treats them the same as He treats Buddhists: If, while living, a Christian can exercise self-discipline, strictly abide by the Ten Commandments and make demands of their own behavior in accordance with the laws and commandments, and adhere to them their entire lives, then they also must 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 officials. Likewise, if they commit evil on earth—if they are too sinful and commit too many sins—then they will inevitably be punished and disciplined with varying severity. In Buddhism, attaining fruition means passing on to the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss, 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 there to take up a position and, unlike the people on earth, will not be reincarnated in a simple way or according to convention.
Among all these religions, the end of which they speak and for which they strive is the same as the attainment of fruition in Buddhism; it is just that this “fruition” is achieved by different means. They are all birds of a feather. For this portion of followers of these religions, who are able to strictly abide by religious precepts in their behavior, God provides 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, right? Now, having heard about what happens to people in Christianity, how do you feel? Do you feel that their plight is unfair? Do you sympathize with them? (A little.) There is nothing that can be done; they have only themselves to blame. Why do I say this? God’s work is true; He is alive and real, and His work is aimed at all mankind and every individual. Why, then, do they not accept this? Why do they so frantically oppose and persecute God? They should consider themselves lucky to even have this sort of outcome, so why do you feel sorry for them? Their being handled in this way shows great tolerance. Given the extent to which they oppose God, they should be destroyed, yet God does not do this; He instead simply handles Christianity the same as any ordinary religion. Thus, is there any need to go into further detail about the other religions? The ethos of all these religions is for people to suffer more hardship, do no evil, do good deeds, not swear at others, not pass judgment on others, distance themselves from disputes, and be good people—most religious teachings are like this. Therefore, if these people of faith—these followers of various religions and denominations—are able to strictly abide by their religious precepts, then they will not commit great errors or sins during the time that they are on earth; and, after being reincarnated for three to seven times, these people—the ones who are able to strictly abide by religious precepts—will, by and large, remain to take up a position in the spiritual world. Are there many such people? (No, there are not.) What do you base your answer on? It is not easy to do good and to abide by religious rules and laws. Buddhism does not allow people to eat meat—could you do that? If you had to wear gray robes and recite sutras and chant the Buddhas’ names in a Buddhist temple all day, could you do it? It would not be easy. Christianity has the Ten Commandments, the commandments and laws; are these easy to abide by? They are not! Take not swearing at others, for example: People are simply incapable of abiding by this rule. Unable to stop themselves, they swear—and after swearing, they cannot take those words back, so what do they do? At night, they confess their sins. Sometimes after they swear at others, they still harbor hatred in their hearts, and they even go so far as to plan out a time to do further harm to those people. In short, for those who live among this dead dogma, it is not easy to refrain from sinning or committing evil. Therefore, in every religion, only a handful of people are actually able to attain fruition. You assume that because so many people follow these religions, a good portion will be able to remain to take up a role in the spiritual realm. However, there are not that many; only a few are actually able to achieve this. That is generally it for the cycle of life and death of people of faith. What sets them apart is that they can attain fruition, and this is what sets them apart from unbelievers.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique X” in The Word Appears in the Flesh