Here's something curious (or, maybe not). Back in my fundamentalist days – yes, there's Eastern fundamentalism also – I was deeply concerned about my salvation.
I felt just like Woody Allen:
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.
Yet now that I've evolved to a more open and non-dogmatic form of spirituality, I don't obsess nearly as much over whether I'll live on after I die. Or in what fashion my rebirth will occur, should that be in the cards for me.
So when I was nominally more religious, a true believer in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) branch of Sant Mat, I was seriously worried about what was going to happen to this ego-encapsulated being known as "Brian."
Yet isn't religiosity supposed to make you humble and egoless? I got to thinking about this after reading the July 2007 issue of the Western USA RSSB newsletter:
Sant Mat tells us…We have the opportunity to attain immortality…jivan mukhti, salvation before death.
Well, my first thought was "how can you be saved before you die?" I can see how you could believe you're saved from hellfire, rebirth, or whatever before your physical death.
However, until you actually die, that's just a hypothesis. Death is the ultimate spiritual experiment. It separates truth from falsehood cleanly, just like that!
My second thought was, "immortality sounds nice, but if it doesn't happen, that's OK too." As if I had a choice in the matter.
I was struck by how calmly I could accept precious little me being gone forever, imaginatively at least (hold a gun to my head and my reaction might be quite different).
Again, isn't this curious? Religious people fret over whether they're doing everything just right to ensure their personal salvation. This points to a Me-Me-Me mentality.
I know, because I once had it. And knew many others with the same "Thank god I'm saved, while others aren't" mentality.
That seems self-centered to me now. Plus, it doesn't show much faith in the goodness, justice, and harmony of the cosmos.
Another stopped halfway. But the end of it displayed a burst of beauty.
Whichever, it seems to me that flowing along with whatever comes along is the best (and, really, only) course of action.