Reminder from last issue: Seeing is Not Annihilated
Recently a woman described herself to me as a "Buddhist" with a Catholic family and schooling—so she thought she embraced both religions. But when I asked her what was going to happen to her after death, she replied, "Nothing. It's all over. We just live this one life and that's it." Pure annihilationism!
Master Hua describes this eternalism/ annihilationism predicament clearly in his comments on verses from the Lotus Sutra's "Parable Chapter."
...those of externalist sects sometimes put forth views of eternalism and sometimes of annihilationism. Sometimes they say everything is eternal. "The saints in heaven," they claim, "are now and forever will be saints in heaven. Human beings will always be people, and animals will always be animals. It's all fixed. It doesn't ever change. God is God, and people are people. Grass and trees will always be grass and trees. There is no possibility of change." But then sometimes they have reservations about this doctrine, and they switch to a view of annihilationism. "People won't be people forever. When they die, they disappear entirely. Horses, cows, sheep, chickens, pigs—all will disappear. It's like cutting down a big tree—there's nothing left at all." They have a lot of doubts about things, and so sometimes they hold to eternalism and other times they switch to annihilationism. The two views are diabolically opposed, which puts these people into quite a paradoxical situation, but they continue to run back and forth between the two extremes. They never stop in the middle, at the Middle Way.
→To be continued