Cultivating to Attain Selflessness and Altruism
(Clearwisdom.net) Recently many Dafa disciples discussed on websites how to handle our family situations well while balancing daily life, work, and clarifying the truth as a part of Fa-rectification. I felt quite inspired after reading these articles. Non-practitioners will invariably consider their present losses and gains above everything else. However it is the attachments to fame, profit and selfishness that our Dafa disciples need to get rid of. Especially during the Fa-rectification period, putting the Fa as the first priority and saving as many sentient beings (including our own family members, relatives and good friends) as we can, is the responsibility of every Dafa disciple during the Fa-rectification period. At the same time, it is required of us that we should cultivate and conform ourselves to the ordinary people's society, and should cultivate as harmoniously and completely as we can. Looking from this perspective, if we encounter many problems with our families, this might remind us of the places where we should upgrade ourselves--whether we have enough kind-heartedness, understanding and compassion in treating our family members? Whether we are strict with ourselves in every single word and behavior as practitioners are supposed to be in our daily lives? I wanted to share my understandings regarding handling our family situations harmoniously, especially for overseas practitioners. Please help me to correct anything that is improper.
First of all, we should understand from the Fa's perspective that "selflessness and altruism" does not mean that we can give up cultivation so that our family members will not endure hardships, nor can we take it as an excuse not to fulfill our responsibilities as Fa-rectification disciples. Cultivation is very serious. When we are stopped by our sentiments, why do we not cultivate and rise above it? What does it truly mean to be kind to family members? Our family members who do not cultivate, no matter how much they understand, if they share our sufferings in some way, they have laid a good foundation for their future. On the contrary, if they stop us from cultivation, aren't they doing something terrible? And how can they ever pay back the karma that they have caused in forcing a practitioner to give up cultivation? Of course, the responsibilities lie mainly in the practitioners themselves if they do not cultivate well enough. However, if we do not have strong righteous thoughts, we will implicate them and also many other sentient beings that have predestined relationships with us. In fact, we are destroying their future.
After studying Master's article "Pacify the External by Cultivating the Internal" (Essentials for Further Advancement), I realize that the Fa-rectification should start within ourselves and also from our families. When I met difficulties in clarifying the truth to my family members, I always tried to stay away and even escape from the difficulties. The idea to give them up always occurred to me. My mind kept on thinking what methods I should use to free myself from this entanglement. After I calmed myself down, I realized that for me to retreat from the difficulties is not the attitude that a practitioner should have. It shows that I am not thinking of others first. If I truly want to think for the others' future, I will have every single word and behavior of mine show the tolerance and compassion of a cultivator. After seeing our behavior day after day, our family members will understand that Dafa cultivation is beautiful and pure. In "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston", Master said: "If we don't pay attention to our own behavior in our daily lives, everyday people will see our actions and, since they can't get to know you at a deep level such as by studying the Fa, they will just look at how you act. And it's possible that one sentence or one action of yours will make them unsavable or create a bad impression of Dafa. We need to think about these things." Our family members understand the criteria of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance" and will unconsciously use this criteria to judge us. It might be just because we are bothered by our sentimentality, some of our daily actions are not pure and righteous, or do not even reach the standard of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance" in our family members' eyes, and this will make our family members fail to understand Dafa. This has caused some of us to suffer in family conflicts for long periods of time.
The foundation for cultivation is to cultivate our hearts, which should be constantly improved. In handling family conflicts, the biggest mistake that I have made is trying to separate cultivation from our daily lives. I thought it was cultivation when we were studying the Fa, spreading the Fa and doing things related to Fa-rectification. I thought that the trifles that we have in our daily lives were not a part of cultivation, so I failed to use the criteria of a cultivator to strictly conduct myself in my words and actions. We did not do well in some aspects, and this led our family members to fail to show respect for cultivation. On the other hand, sometimes we only ask our family members who do not cultivate to agree with us and neglect the care that they need in their ordinary people's daily lives. Here I refer not only to the care taking of their daily lives, but also achieving some level of harmony on a spiritual and emotional level. I remembered that for a period of time, I was so busy in spreading the Fa that I could find no time to talk to my husband and educate my child. I could only say a few words to him before we started to quarrel. He said I was selfish and always tried to stop me from going out to spread the Fa. When I started to send forth the righteous thoughts at the top of the hour, my child would often ask me to do this or do that. In the beginning, I took it as interference and resisted it firmly. However this problem kept occurring, and I realized that this was due to my own shortcomings -- this was caused by the fact that I was lacking compassion for my own family members.
Compassion will replace sentimentality when we go beyond sentimentality. Then what is compassion? My present understanding is that it is unconditionally giving from oneself. Dafa disciples can give up all they have in rectifying the Fa and clarifying the truth. However sometimes we forget that our family members are also among the sentient beings that are waiting for our saving. They do not cultivate and they do not have the same understanding of the Fa-rectification as Dafa disciples. If some of their reasonable requirements are "sacrificed" because of us, they will naturally think that we are selfish when we neglect to find common ground with them with compassion and understanding. At the beginning of my cultivation, since I did not have a deep understanding of the Fa and went to extremes, I did not take my family members' thoughts into consideration and neglected them. As my cultivation progressed, I've understood the importance of giving up selfishness and the importance of always caring for and understanding others.
I remember a story about a cultivator in ancient times who read the scriptures all day long, and he never wasted his time to do any chores in the temple. Afterwards an older monk pointed out to him that cultivation is meant to cultivate one's own selfish heart. Only when you always think for others first can you complete cultivation. This awakened him to his selfishness and gave him a whole new outlook.
Master also taught us in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston",
"You probably remember something I've said to you often: a Dafa disciple should consider others first in everything he does. Whenever something happens or whenever a situation comes about, even if it's a minor thing, my first thought is of others, for it's already become natural for me--I just think of others first."
If we can do this, then our family conflicts will be resolved and we will upgrade our xinxing (moral character) in the processes. Only on the foundation of better xinxing will we be able to fulfill our historic responsibilities. On the contrary, in facing family conflicts, if we are not willing to look inside and discover our shortcomings, and we cannot overcome the obstacles proactively, if we keep hoping to change others, hoping that our family members will improve, then we will forever be passively reacting to the old forces' interference. In fact, our family members who do not cultivate may just be waiting for us to improve ourselves so that they will be able to better understand the truth of Dafa.