I come in here with a semantic and nondual approach.
1.any "one", who or what is this one, that is, what is the entity that is to be saved in your view? [I thinking orthodox Christians think along with Paul that there is a bodily resurrection only not a flesh body, which I find very unhelpful, but there it is]
2. "saved" means this resurrection body with an earth memory, personality, and skills will live in heaven and never die and sing praise or something for an infinite span of time?
I'm just saying what comes to mind when I read your statement. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth or claim that is what you've said but I think the concept of what salvation is and who is saved are very close to the crux of the religion and close to where it's key concepts break down semantically, at least for the more literal theologies.
It appears to me the core dynamic of Christianity addresses inequality, injustice and fear of death with a remediation formula that is claimed to result in saving those who comply and not saving those who don't.
I am contrasting the Christian offering with the Buddhist concept of salvation. The Mahayana Buddhist vow to "not enter into nirvana until all sentient beings are saved" is fulfilled with the clear insight that "from the very beginning no sentient beings have existed".
I am offering a criticism of Christianity not based on the veracity of the Bible, but rather on the accuracy of the key concept of someone who is to be saved or lost. Who or what is this someone? If we can't produce an entity than salvation and damnation are moot.
Examing myself I find an material organism and a consciousness with access to awareness of memories, concepts, skills, emotion, perceptions. I suspect that the concept of a person arises because we have memories that we have identified as our "self". I'm only sketching in broad strokes the nature of the problem.
Generally Christian theology has glossed over this problem with the notion of a soul. It seems to me that soul is the way theology has factored consciousness into the schema.
Well I won't go further with this now. I am curious if you see a possiblity of the Buddha's position making sense, and if that is the case how that might effect your ideas about salvation.
Well, "put off" amounts to the same thing I said. The task is clearly impossible until the understanding of "no sentient beings exist".
Is Enlightenment the same for each individual?
As far as I can tell each human being as an individual organism has a unique personal experience and expression of "awakening". In English, I think "awakening" serves better than "enlightenment" as it is quite natural for English speakers to speak of enlightenment as something someone has. As the nondual can only be spoken of in dualistic language it's important to realize that no one is ever enlightened or awakened. The disappearance of the sense of being an individual is enlightenment, but there is no one left to be enlightened, or awakened.
One teaching example using this metaphor is when you awaken from some bad dream of a disaster striking a group of people you don't ask what happened to the people, or try to go back to sleep to save them from the dream. Why? Because waking up you realize that those people were only dreamed by you.
The bit that I've dipped into The Gospel of Thomas does give a bit more support to the notion my brother has that Yeshuah was an awakened individual trying to teach the non dual to people who basically failed to get it. If he died young he had very little chance to transmit his understanding and it got recast in the old molds.
Your point about vocabulary is right on. One of the reasons I'm so impressed with Bernadette Roberts' book is that she awoke within the contemporary Catholic Christian contemplative tradition and was about as naive about Buddhism and eastern nondualism as one could be in these times. So she has narrated her experience in contemporary Enlish and using Christian concepts.
Yet, when I read her book I was very excited to read the depth of her understanding. Towards the end of her search she did turn to the east basically looking for someone who had experienced what she had experienced and recognized in a brief passage attributed to the Buddha her own experience in another's words.
She lost her self, completely and irrevocably, all that remains is God which she also refers to as What Is. Now, Buddhism does not use theistic language while Advaita Vedanta does. I believe they both recognize the same reality. If you take this notion of What Is Real, this can be a basis for your statement that different religions worship the same God. That is religions when they aren't social institution can address the search for ultimate reality. That reality is One. Or as a Jewish friend of mine said, "That's what Judaism says, it's all One." There is no way we can be apart from it or other than it in reality, hence it is our minds, imaginations, thoughts that have created a story of separation. This enthrallment which can be likened to a fall, a fall into sleep and dreams, only has the conditioned reality of our believing it. It is a powerful sleep but not as powerful as What Is.
If you have any response to this I would very much appreciate hearing about it. I know you are busy. I feel I am finally getting a clearer verbal expression of my path. And given the dualistic subject/object structure of language it's very difficult to find words that are at all adequate.
Re: We have to worship God in the way he wants, not the way we want.
Well, it's obvious Paul was wrong too. It's all more of the same religion created by people.
God doesn't speak Hebrew, or English. These words you love are by humans for humans. They are abstractions and not truth. The truth is beyond language and concept and in the reality of being. The Truth is What Is, not what we think about what is. But you and the other religionists will quibble and quarrel over these utterances and pronouncements each feeling themselves to be right and the other wrong. This may be God's sense of humor, or it may be his suffering, or both. It's all instrumental, relative. Languages have a word for absolute but that is just a sound or a symbol in a relative system. What Is is pointing beyond language to being. Call it absolute, call it what you will, but it is beyond names.