(Part I)

What follows is my understanding based on some recent reflections and experiences in cultivation during the past few months. Please kindly correct anything that is improper.

1. Be Clear About the Concept of Cultivation Practice

Teacher said, "The whole course of one's cultivation is to let go of his attachments unceasingly." (From Zhuan Falun) This is easy enough to understand, but is actually very hard to do. Every bit of improvement and the abandonment of every attachment is difficult and painful, deep down to our bones. I realized during a tribulation that some things drag on forever and we do not easily pass the tests because we are not clear about the concept of cultivation practice itself; therefore, we do not regard ourselves as cultivators at a deep level. As a matter of fact, it becomes a question of whether we want to practice cultivation and whether we are able to do so.

My current understanding of cultivation practice is as follows: The formation of human life is extremely complicated. A human body is itself a small universe--an idea that will never be expressed or clearly explained by modern science. It has a very complex interaction with and close relationship to the entire cosmos. It is a product of the cosmos and a part of the cosmos. Through a certain method, this complicated living being can elevate and ascend and ultimately achieve immortality--that is, it will live forever, never grow old, and attain great wisdom. It will enter a new high-level state. The method through which this can be achieved is called cultivation practice.

Cultivators and methods of cultivation practice have existed since ancient times. Having determined that I believe in the actual existence of cultivation practice, I then asked myself, "Do I want to practice cultivation? Am I able to practice cultivation?" To these questions I answered, "I am willing and able to practice cultivation." Since I wanted to practice cultivation, I then also asked, "Is Falun Dafa, which I am learning now, able to offer salvation to people?" Through careful study of the Fa and calm reflection, I confirmed my faith that Falun Dafa is able to offer salvation to people, that Falun Dafa is the universal law, that what Master has taught us is the righteous Fa and Tao, and that I definitely can improve myself, ascend in cultivation and eventually achieve eternal life and attain great wisdom. Thus, my confidence and determination in cultivation practice were strengthened, and I made up my mind to persist in my cultivation all the way to completion.

I realized that cultivation practice is the most important and most serious event in our lives, as it solves the essential problems of life. I also had further understanding of Teacher's statement, "Cultivation practice is a great and magnificent thing." (From Teacher's article "The Fa Rectifies the Human Heart") Therefore, I knew I should be strict with myself, maintain a serious attitude towards cultivation practice, follow Teacher's Fa closely, and cultivate my own xinxing solidly. After I became clear about the concept of cultivation practice, when I reflected on the tests and tribulations in my path of cultivation, I found they were all about how to give up ordinary human attachments. Without letting go the pursuits of fame and self-interest, and the emotions of everyday people, we can never ascend. With this understanding in mind, I was able to let go of all ordinary human attachments. Meanwhile, I further understood what Teacher meant by, "With attachments left behind, the lightened boats sail swiftly. With a preoccupied human heart, crossing the ocean proves arduous." (From Teacher's poem "The Knowing Heart")

2. Different Meanings of Belief

The key to cultivation practice is belief. It is a simple truth that if we had no belief, we would not have come to practice cultivation. But I realized that belief has different meanings. In individual cultivation practice, it means to be a good person by following the requirements of the Fa--being strict with ourselves in every word we say and everything we do during our daily lives and in our work, as well as regarding ourselves as genuine practitioners of Falun Dafa, both while eliminating sickness karma and when caught up in conflicts. This does not seem very difficult. But we all will have tests to pass along our cultivation way. All tribulations are a test of our faith in Dafa and they will appear in various forms. For instance, when practitioners are captured and beaten, and they face the tribulation of life and death, they can pass this test only if they have rock-solid faith in Dafa and can let go of life and death. Many fellow practitioners have had such an experience. In a severe environment, we should always keep our powerful righteous thoughts; otherwise, it is hard to pass the tribulation. However, in a relaxed environment, our righteous thoughts are not as powerful. We might unconsciously act like everyday people, we might be deceived by the illusions of human society, or we might be tempted by the everyday people's pursuit of an easy and comfortable lifestyle. At this time, under the influence of thought karma and external interference, it is easy to have fleeting doubts about Dafa. Actually, this is simply another way to test our faith in Dafa. There is yet another situation: if we are stuck with some attachments for a long time and cannot let go of them, we will be immersed in the suffering caused by those attachments. This can also make us waver in our faith. It is extremely dangerous even if the wavering is slight, because the evil will always devise a false scene that makes us doubt whether the Fa exists, and whether we can cultivate and ascend in cultivation. At this time, only our righteous faith can help us pass the test.

According to my personal experience, our righteous faith in Dafa comes from our Fa study. The more we study the Fa, the more we will assimilate to the Fa. Eventually, we will be able to obtain "...the determination that Dafa disciples have developed from their true understanding of the Fa through cultivation and from their Buddha-nature after the elevation of their benti in actual cultivation." (From Teacher's article "Coercion Cannot Change People's Hearts") This determination is indestructible. In contrast, if we believe in Dafa out of ordinary human attachments, our belief is only something like an ordinary person's wishes, which cannot withstand tests. Because there are various tests, even if we can pass one, it may be hard for us to pass others. If we believe in Dafa with ordinary people's attachments, we will immediately look for the basis and reasons for our belief to see whether cultivation is worthwhile. Such a mentality stems from weakness, and it is dangerous. Cultivation practice involves enlightening through hardship in the maze. Only when we keep studying the Fa and striving forward diligently in cultivation can we really enlighten to the principles of the Fa--and only then can the Fa's broad and immense, profound, inner meaning manifest itself.

Moreover, different understandings of the Fa reveal our varying degrees of belief in the Fa. For example, Teacher said, "A Buddha is mighty capable, and he could wipe out all of humankind's illnesses with a wave of his hand. (From Zhuan Falun) For a certain period of time, I thought this unbelievable and couldn't understand it. But now I firmly believe in it from the viewpoint of the Fa's principles. I know it is true. Another case in point: Teacher said, "At present, humankind's every day is arranged according to Dafa's needs; Dafa disciples' performance in the human world is to be left for history." (From Teacher's article "What Are Supernormal Abilities") Teacher also said, "Cherish the present time and make the best use of it--this time is meant for the disciples." (From Teacher's article "Lecture on the Fa at the Washington, D.C. International Conference") How do we understand these statements? I think the level of each practitioner's faith will determine how diligent he/she is in cultivation and how much effort he/she will put forth in Fa-rectification.

benti (bun-tee)--"own-body," "original-body," or "true being."

(To Be Continued)