please don't confuse ultimate with conventional reality.
You could say that conventionally speaking, Buddhism just happens to be the only path, despite being empty and lacking a special essence, in the same way that America just happens to have the only Superbowl, though America lacks an essence which specially qualifies it to have a Superbowl, but I would ask 'how on earth can you know that?' and you would probably answer 'because it says so in the scriptures' and I would at that point roll my eyes and ask 'but doesn't it say that in all the other religions' holy books?'
Ben: so what is the difference that makes Buddha's path exclusive? And what of Zen, based as it is on the flower sermon and just-sitting? Are its practitioners of a simple way only at the 7th or 8th Jhanas? I have never found anything in the Buddhist path that appears to me unique, I have only found better presentation than most other paths. It seems that Buddha said that the seventh Jhana led to a long life in bliss, but afterwards samsara continued. What is the difference between his path and the path of the seventh Jhana? In my experience meditation doesn't 'stop' at any place, there is no volition in it, it just happens.
You have definitely got my ear though
To me the Theravada tradition is a sanctuary within Buddhism where things are allowed to make sense, where meaningful work is allowed to be done, and where we're allowed to take real reality as the working hypothetical basis for our practices.
To hide inside a box in a burning house.
Karma Dondrup Tashi:
The same way that someone can say on the one hand we are all "going nowhere" and on the other that "all paths ascend the same mountain".
Samsara goes nowhere, ego goes nowhere, desire, logic, thought, ignorance, hatred, fear... all go nowhere. All paths that follow nibbana lead up the mountain. But you need to get a grasp on nibbana that is more than conceptual, one that is as deep and familiar as a lover's touch. You have to recognise that nibbana is not a kind of happiness, it is the foundation for all happiness, all the joy you have ever experienced, and when understood as the ground of being it has an inexorable effect on that being, dragging one up the mountain through gullies and thickets and snow, scraping the ego across rocks, slicking it over glaciers and casting it down ravines to trawl it back ragged up along the path, with no care except for the journey at hand. That is practice. That is what lies before us.
If that was the point enlightenment would be very easy, no?
"Going nowhere" and "going somewhere" are equally empty.
I see enlightenment as very easy. It's so easy, you couldn't stop it if you wanted to.