The first five steps of sainthood spelled out in my previous two articles on the subject are not too difficult to understand. These last five, however, can be challenging, especially to common, non-saintly folks like us who might not have personal, deep discussions with God to fall back on! Nevertheless, here are the last five, lofty steps that a saint must take before becoming a full-fledged holy person.
Previously, our saint has successfully taken the five preliminary steps of giving up his or her personality belief; doubt; and reliance of ceremony and rituals, along with forgoing their sensual desires and not indulging in their anger. Now, they must go forward into additional areas quite rarified and mysterious.
Remember; a saint's whole emphasis is union with God, and he or she therefore forsakes any and all things that might get in the way. Saints are a bit radical in this way, so one of the things that they forsake is any inclination regarding themselves and what will happen to their forms after death. They put their fate into God's hands, as they immerse themselves into helping with the many physical, psychological, and spiritual problems of humanity.
Whether their form ends up in heaven at the right hand of God, or whatever, they don't worry about it; they don't even think about it, because that would be indulging in themselves, and since they have already given themselves up for God, there is nothing left to indulge in.
Actually, they don't even think about the possibility of becoming a formless spirit or a soul, because a spirit or soul would only be an extension of the idea of themselves, which they have forsaken in deference to God.
And since they have given up the idea of themselves and can only see the needs of others, all of the conceit, pride, and arrogance that they may have had at one time now depart. All forms of assessing, judging, and self-righteousness disappear because a saint has nothing to compare what he or she knows with anyone else since in essence the saint no longer exists.
Along with this selflessness comes a calm mind. Restlessness, distraction, confusion, all gives way to peacefulness. Common people thrive on the restlessness and thrill of mind, doing this and doing that, going here and going there, finding themselves in a constant state of disorder and tumult. They cannot concentrate on anything, and their life becomes nothing more than moving from one excitement to the next until one becomes so jaded that nothing satisfies them. A saint avoids all of this uncertainty.
A saint also understands things at different levels than we do. They understand that everything changes, that no self exists behind the facade of worldly life, and that because of everything changing, and because there is nothing substantial behind our bodies and minds, human beings suffer terribly because of their misunderstanding of life. Saints “know" this suffering, and understand that it is caused by nothing less than our desire for things to be different from what God gives us to handle at any given time.
A saint trusts that whatever they are dealt is for the best, and they do what they can with it. They don't second guess God or aspire to things that will make them more comfortable of secure. Mother Teresa, in the poorest area of India, just took care of the next sick child, and then the next, never questioning God, only surrendering to His will, and doing the best that she could by living a life of honest labor, not lying to or cheating others, or knowingly hurting anyone physically, psychologically or spiritually.
These five last steps of a saint; not worrying about the afterlife of their body; not worrying about the afterlife of their soul; having no conceit, self-righteousness, pride or arrogance; not being restless; and understanding life from very deep levels, are the final steps to sainthood. Once a saint completes all five steps, they give themselves totally to God.
Or to put it another way, once one gives oneself totally to God, holding back nothing, the steps complete themselves.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com