A. The core teaching of Buddhism is that everything is non-duality, which is referred to as the true-Self, Emptiness, the Buddha, or Oneness. There is nothing that doesn’t belong to it. The historical Buddha is also part of the true-Self, just as we are. The difference between him and us sentient beings is that he realised the truth that everything is Oneness, whereas we are unaware of it.
According to the Sutras, the historical Buddha attained enlightenment as a result of hundreds of lifetimes of practice. The key point here is whether we keep being deluded by illusions of words or can realise that everything is empty. If we follow the literal interpretation, we still have such a long way to go that the chances of reaching the goal seem to be slim.
However, when we see everything as empty, both the Buddha and we are just one as Emptiness. This means that we have practised as much as the Buddha because his practice is our practice, since we are just one, not separate. In other words, everyone is ready to attain enlightenment at any moment.
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1 thought on “Q. It is said that enlightenment can be attained only after practising for hundreds of lifetimes. Can those who first began practice in this lifetime get enlightened?”
And how could we possibly know how many lifetimes we have already been at this since we begin each time with “a beginner’s mind”.