Divine Thinking vs. Human Thinking
Shared at Boston 2002 Conference
It has been 14 months since our last Boston Experience-Sharing Conference. When I review the path my cultivation has taken since then, there are no astounding events that jump out at me, no memorable Xinxing conflicts or tribulations. Instead, I found that I have made a small breakthrough every once in a while to a slightly higher level of understanding.
The distinction between ordinary human thinking and divine thinking has always been very blurry to me. I have had plenty of experience with human thinking but I was always at a loss to come up with a definition of divine thinking. The best I could do was to extrapolate an understanding of divine thinking by pushing my human thinking to a higher level. In other words, I was still thinking as a human and not as a Buddha, Tao, or God. In hindsight, I can see that this was in effect an example of what Master Li has described in "Towards Consummation" as "beautiful dreams and wishes." Instead of a real understanding of divine thinking, I was only working with a notion. Not only that, but this notion was a fundamental attachment for me. So, I was always uneasy in my mind and heart when I came across the subject of divine vs. human thinking in my Fa studies.
One day recently while studying the Fa, it suddenly dawned on me that human thinking is directly associated with attachments. Attachments are built in to human thinking. This was the key that unlocked the door on this issue for me. It is only when we discard our attachments as humans that our thinking becomes divine. In my understanding, attachments spring up from a universal human sea of self-interest. These attachments seal us off from an awareness of the higher realms that we exist in simultaneously. With our flesh eyes and other physical senses, we perceive ourselves as separate and distinct from everyone and everything around us in our environment. We may have a vague belief that our life and our fate are determined by unseen forces in the universe, but in our everyday living, we pretty much think that first and foremost we have to take care of ourselves because no one else will. Self-interest motivates us in practically every aspect of our lives. This is not an imagined statement. If we stop long enough to examine ourselves from the inside, we start to see all kinds of expressions of self-interest. From something as small as a reflex habit of speeding up to prevent someone who is passing us on the right from getting in front of us, to something as large as micro-managing the life of a spouse or other family member so that they fit into the image we want of them, all the "beautiful dreams and wishes" we have created for ourselves are there if we look hard enough.
Obviously, we have to do things for ourselves to sustain and protect our human bodies and this is also a social responsibility. It would be irresponsible to expect others to support us when we are fit and employable, or to neglect our personal hygiene, for example, since these are things that we are able to do for ourselves. But just below this surface reality there is the far greater reality of our interconnectedness with every living being around us. There is the reality of the interchange of karma and de, or virtue, among human beings. There is a great principle that good actions are rewarded and evil actions are punished. Viewed from a higher perspective, self-interest is a great deceiver that keeps us wrapped in attachments, and attachments are the basis of human thinking.
I would like to point out that I am not criticizing human thinking. After all, the human realm would not be the human realm if everyone thought as Gods do. However, the focus for us as cultivators is to return to our divine state and our true realm wherever that may be. Our unique paths of cultivation are oriented in this direction. If we try to hang on to our human way of thinking along our path homeward, we will never succeed. This is because something as high and noble as returning to our original divine nature is super-human and requires a super-human standard to guide us. It is like what Master Li points out for us in Zhuan Falun. "It resembles attending school; if you go to college with elementary school textbooks, you will still be an elementary school pupil."
Let me illustrate how this issue of divine vs. human thinking has affected my truth-clarifying efforts. About a year ago several of our greater Boston area practitioners formed a video team in order to more efficiently spread the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong to as large an audience as possible, with special emphasis on reaching the minds and hearts of the millions of Chinese both inside and outside of mainland China.
From the outset all of us were faced with various steep learning curves and we had to expand our visual, verbal, and technical skills in order to produce high quality films. Perhaps, our biggest challenge has been to learn to work together as a team. In the area of video editing many hours are spent usually working solo, but sometimes with one or two others, and it is easy to become absorbed in whatever project we have before us. It is also easy to become attached to our editorial choices and ideas.
These attachments are quickly exposed when our team members review and critique individual videos. Review time is definitely not for the faint of heart! I found that I was not nearly as tolerant of others ideas and observations as I thought I would be. It seemed that many comments were trivial and that sometimes no one really understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of sight and sound. I would find myself trying to "educate" my peers and the result was that I often opened myself up to frustration. I can see now that this frustration came about as a direct result of personal pursuit and attachment to certain notions I held onto. This is not to devalue the importance of personal choice and judgment in doing this work, but it was very obvious to me that I needed to change my way of thinking
I decided to remain more open to everyone's suggestions, and to at least give them due consideration. I found that some of them produced a better working result. If I honestly did not find a particular suggestion to be of any improvement, I was able to say that I had given it fair consideration. Many of the suggestions were very practical observations that made my videos a little better or more polished.
The key is to realize that the message we want to convey and the audience we want to convey it to should be uppermost in our minds. What distinguishes the video work we do from the video work done in ordinary society is that ours is done to allow as many people as possible to know about Falun Dafa and the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance." There is no self-interest involved and there is no money to be made from our efforts. So, it follows that we need to make sure that our human thinking in terms of our attachments does not find its way into our videos.
Thanks to the video reviewing sessions we have at our team meetings, I am learning to let go of the attachments I had formed over the years as a commercial artist and craftsman. I have even come to look forward to the lively exchange of ideas and opinions we all share. Most importantly, individual practitioners often point out weaknesses and strengths of my video work and this is something that I definitely could not accomplish on my own.
Now that my understanding of human and divine thinking has grown, there is a corresponding change going on inside. This change manifests as calmness, a sense of being more focused, and an enhanced ability to work better with my fellow practitioners. I see this as a direct consequence of slipping away from more and more of my human attachments. It is becoming easier to see what really has to be done at any given time in order to be a real assistant in the Fa-rectification. I am acting a little more from my heart and a little less from my intellect.
But there is still room for more improvement. I pointed out to some of my video teammates recently what I saw as an incident of poor behavior on our part, We discussed this incident during a subsequent video team meeting and we all came to an understanding of how we had fallen short and most importantly, how we could do better in the future. However, at that meeting I was too quick to criticize and some of my words were not compassionate. I spoke about the incident with thinly suppressed anger. I realized even as the words were coming out of my mouth that this was a clear test of Xiu Kou (cultivation of speech) for me and that I was not passing it at all. My choice of words was inappropriate and from the reactions I evoked from some of our team members, I knew immediately that I was not following Master Li's teaching. "Whenever you encounter a problem, you should first consider whether others can put up with this matter or if it will hurt anyone." (Zhuan Falun) As a consequence, the sting of conscience came quickly and sharply.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you, my fellow practitioners, who have help me to see my shortcomings and who have shared their understanding with me either directly or indirectly. I see such wonderful changes in all of you. It is difficult to describe the feeling I had recently as many of us were gathered together in Master's presence. As I looked around the room, I knew that this was indeed a gathering of future Buddhas, Taos, and Gods.