Perhaps I am just cranky this morning, but I think it is despicable that spiritual endeavors should promise relief to their constituents. And of course spiritual endeavors all do this -- promise relief.
But there is a difference between seeming to promise relief and making a business out of it. Seeming to promise relief just uses expedient means -- a fib that points to a living truth which any constituency might discover. Making a business out of promising relief is like a constant case of coitus interruptus ... one that simply fills people with imagined goodness and stuffs the collection plate. No release.
Ta Hui once wrote to one of his adherents, "stop praying for relief." Talk about a sword thrust! What student, what adherent doesn't pray for relief ... sometimes with the most piteous wails? Suffering is no damned joke -- why on earth wouldn't someone pray for relief?
In Buddhism, there is a great seeming -- one that addresses the need for hope and belief and tears. There, there, dear -- come closer and I will kiss it better. But Buddhism is a faut-de-mieux business ... it's just that there's no other choice. And so there is the answer to a relief-filled prayer. Once a constituent becomes serious and takes up some practice ... well, the fib becomes apparent and there is some chance for actual release and not just some despicable business model.
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