The Role of the Practice Site in Individual Cultivation and Fa-Rectification
The discussion at the practice site today on the issue of the role of the practice site impressed me very much. When I returned home, I set my mind to studying the Fa. I read Teacher's 1997 New York lecture and Teacher's lecture at the First Conference in North America in 1998.
In March 1997, Teacher said to us that practitioners in America have good inborn quality and can improve their levels quickly. However, Teacher also said, "These are advantages you have. But don't become complacent, as you also have attachments and obstacles in different forms that need to be overcome, and only then can you improve even faster." (Falun Buddha Fa - Lectures in the United States, "Teaching the Fa in New York City") I remembered that after I heard this, I kept asking myself, "What are our 'attachments and obstacles in different forms' that need to be overcome?" I realized that this must be a very important issue in our cultivation, since Teacher specifically talked about this to American practitioners. However, as one of the American practitioners mentioned, I was unable to find those "attachments and obstacles in different forms." Now, more than four years have passed since March of 1997. Like other practitioners, I have also made great breakthroughs in many aspects of my Fa-rectification cultivation. However, regarding the "attachments and obstacles" Teacher talked about during our practice in a busy life, have I truly realized those attachments and overcome those obstacles? In reviewing my cultivation over the past few years and some problems that I have encountered at the practice site, I would like to share my personal understanding of these issues.
There are a few basic questions about practice sites.
1. Why does Teacher ask us to go to a practice site?
2. What is the role of a practice site? What did Teacher say about this?
3. What are my own responsibilities at a practice site?
4. What is the role of a practice site during the Fa-rectification period?
Once I started cultivation practice, I immediately began going to a practice site, since Teacher asked each practitioner to do so. However, the purpose of my going there was to listen to other practitioners. I hoped that they would talk of things about which I had not enlightened. I thought this would benefit my own understanding of the Fa. However, after going to the practice site several times, I found that other practitioners didn't talk about very "high-level" things. Instead, I would see many of their attachments when they spoke. So, for the first time, I had the question, "Do I still need to go to the practice site?"
Through studying the Fa, I came to understand that the practice site is a cultivation environment appointed specifically for us by Teacher. There are deep underlying meanings and far-reaching implications manifested by this environment. If I felt that the practice site was of no use to me, I must be mistaken in my understanding of something. So, what was the matter? Again, through studying the Fa, I realized that the problem lay with my ordinary people's notions. Going to the practice site is different from attending an academic discussion of ordinary people. Cultivation is to fundamentally change our ordinary people's notions. Going to the practice site is to refine ourselves in an environment that provides opportunities for xinxing improvement. In such an environment, we are supposed to help each other, remind each other of any problems and learn from each other's mistakes instead of waiting for the assistants or the veteran practitioners to tell us something, or requiring others to follow our habits and satisfy our needs. More importantly, whenever we encounter any problems, we need to remember what is in the Dafa books so that we can be strict with ourselves.
The practice site is an environment for cultivation. Whenever our hearts are moved, we need to search internally to improve our xinxing. This is the most important function of the practice site. As cultivators, we all have the heart for making progress and becoming more compassionate. At our own levels, we search internally based on the Fa to improve our xinxing. The determination and purity manifested during this process are very touching. At the same time, the xinxing conflicts can be startling. So the practice site environment itself is good for one's refinement. None of the Dafa books tell us to go to the practice site in order to hear "high-level" talk or to speak to someone to find the answers to our questions that arise during our own Fa-study. If one follows human notions and has human expectations of the practice site, one will feel disappointed. This disappointment itself is an attachment. As practitioners, we need to dig out this attachment, and then we can improve ourselves in conflicts. If we respond to this disappointment with ordinary people's notions and stop going to the practice site or change to another practice site, we won't be able to remove the attachment. Sooner or later, karma will take advantage of this and separate us from the cultivation environment. We will then lose the important protection arranged by the Teacher for us to reach Consummation.
Besides, Teacher told us to go to the practice site so that more people would obtain the Fa. The responsibility of helping people to obtain the Fa belongs to us, not others. If we ask others to take care of it, aren't we shirking our historical responsibility?
We have become busier during the Fa-rectification and have higher standards to reach. Due to more time-conflicts, many practitioners have chosen not to go to the practice sites anymore. Among them are some relatively new practitioners who find excuses not to go to group practice whenever they are busy, because they didn't get the help they expected and they don't take the practice sites as their natural responsibility. They have separated themselves from the important environment arranged by the Teacher, and it is a huge loss.
Teacher said, "You are often unwilling to part with the various notions developed through living in human society for a long time. You think that you've made some achievements in various fields, and you're unwilling to let go of them. You also hold on to those "accurate" concepts learned among everyday people. It's usually these things that hold some people back. Moreover, impediments extend to include: the habitual forces of various kinds that many of you develop in the society of everyday people, a person's established way of life, and those things that everyday people are supposed to pursue. These things are the most sensitive and the most afraid of being changed." ( "Lecture at the First Conference in North America")
With regard to practicing outside and going to the practice site, a lot of practitioners have not thought about what Teacher has told us and why the Fa has such a requirement for us. Practicing outside and going to the practice site became a burden and many practitioners found it very difficult to achieve. Also, in order to avoid conflicts, some practitioners try very hard to create a comfortable atmosphere that is similar to a social environment in which the practitioners tend to say, "I'm OK, you're OK." The veteran practitioners from Mainland China generally have different opinions of this. They think that many overseas practitioners are not striving forward hard enough and are too comfortable and too undisciplined. However, the practitioners abroad think that they have a different environment, so they are not willing to "copy the way of doing things from Mainland China." Actually, there is only one Fa. The formality is not important, but the principles are.
Teacher said, "I've said time and again that our practice of cultivation in any part of the world should follow the way and form taken in China... during the course of teaching the Fa over the years, I've told persons in China how they should do things. I rectified problems when they arose to ensure a smooth and healthy development. All of you from other countries and regions should follow suit so that the Fa takes fewer detours and practitioners suffer less harm. This is the purpose." ("Lecture at the First Conference in North America")
There is no "solitary cultivation" in Falun Dafa. The environment of the practice site is very good for breaking through our degenerate notions and helping us melt into the Fa. Now, practitioners abroad are working on many projects together. However, for various reasons, working together doesn't necessarily create a cultivation environment equivalent to a practice site. If practitioners give up the correct cultivation form such as the practice site because they are busy, they are actually depriving themselves of important protection on their path to reaching Consummation.
Teacher said, "For intellectuals, the obstacle is modern science. If something conforms to this science, they can accept it; if it doesn't, they cannot accept it. They are severely impeded. No one knows why I incorporate modern science in teaching this Fa. Why do I do this? The reason is that I want to break that shell of yours that prevents you from obtaining the Fa." (Lecture at the First Conference in North America")
At the human level, because of the influence of the Western liberal and democratic environment, many practitioners in America have a strong attachment of "self" or "expanded self" (like our team, our project, our area and etc.) Particularly on the issues of practicing outside and going to practice sites, the need to improve in these areas becomes paramount. Actually, the issue is not whether we should go to the practice site or how others need to take better care of the practice site; rather, the issue is how we, as Fa particles, should use righteous thoughts to treat the practice site and be responsible for this cultivation environment. If one accepts the idea of the practice site only when it conforms to his/her understanding, and is not accepting when the idea does not conform to his/her understanding, this is a manifestation of human attachments.
Being persistent in going to the practice site and cultivating in that environment can break through many of our ordinary people's notions. This improvement can in turn enable us, as Fa particles, to exert a more pure influence in the Fa-rectification process and to form a strong unified body. As a unified body, we will then be able to do well in what we are supposed to do, including the Dafa projects that need cooperation among practitioners in different areas.
Please kindly point out any gaps in my understanding.