Face Up to Selfishness
(Clearwisdom.net) Teacher said, "There are a lot of things you still aren't able to do well as Dafa disciples, though, and I can tell you that this is in fact because you've neglected Fa-study." And later, "But sometimes, because we don't keep up our Fa-study, we handle like an ordinary person some of the things we do to spread the Fa and save sentient beings. This makes a lot of the sacred things we do not so sacred, it prevents us from doing them well, and it also causes people in society not to understand us sometimes. So it not only prevents you from improving, but also causes Dafa some losses." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston") Reviewing my cultivation practice over the past few years, I found that I have had many experiences directly related to this issue, giving me a deep sense of it. For example, when faced with my family's opposition, I often responded unkindly. Sometimes, I even got angry and heatedly argued with them. I thought that I was upholding Dafa, but did not think why this kind of thing was happening, and whether it was due to my own problems. When I wanted to do some work to validate Dafa, but encountered something else that needed to be dealt with urgently, I became impatient and thought that it was interference, without thinking about why I might encounter such a problem, and whether it was there as an opportunity for me to abandon some attachments. Although the old forces attempt to damage Dafa, at the same time, as Teacher said in "Lecture at the Fa-Conference in Canada": "Stay firmly cultivating Dafa under any circumstances. That's all. Why should you think of being damaged by other people? As a cultivator, if you carefully analyze whatever happens around you at the time or afterwards, you will find that it has a reason for happening."
My impatience resulted in an even deeper misunderstanding by my family members, and I failed to embody the demeanor of a Dafa disciple. On the surface, it is not wrong to think that I want to practice cultivation and I want to validate Dafa, but if a Dafa disciple is unable to conduct himself peacefully and kindly, it is wrong. Would I still be impatient if I were truly considering what the best is for others? Being impatient is one kind of demon nature; should it emerge when one wants to be good to others? In fact, it will only appear when one is acting for one's own sake. I remember when I first went to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, my family did not want to allow me to go. At that point, my selfishness was most clearly evident. I told my family, "Would you have me stop my cultivation while seeing others successfully complete theirs?" A huge selfish heart was being covered up under the name of safeguarding Dafa. Later, this selfishness became more and more concealed.
Anger and grievance are manifestations of sentimentality and so are in the realm of everyday people. Therefore, while clarifying the truth or under other circumstances, if one easily becomes impatient and uses a tone that is not kind enough, even though the words are correct, a note of complaint is embedded in the words, in contrast to having a true consideration of others. With a different tone, the message and the thought sent out would be different. Even a tiny difference in the heart, or in the thought, would result in great difference in the way it's received and the effect it has. Teacher said, "As I've said, everything that happens today in the ordinary society is the result of Dafa disciples' thoughts." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.") The more impatient I am towards my family, the more my family antagonizes me. The more anxious Dafa disciples are in their wish to complete their cultivation, the worse the situation becomes.
Being impatient and anxious is really a manifestation of selfishness. Think about it carefully: what makes us become anxious and impatient? The first thought is almost always, "They are affecting me in such and such a way," or, "How could they do this to me?" Such thoughts are generated when something makes us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, everyday people's thoughts or attitudes are indeed not so good, but their mistakes cannot become reasons for us to make mistakes. We are Dafa disciples. We are not practicing an ordinary cultivation. Thinking about the first thought that I had under those circumstances, almost each time it was related to "me." The starting point of all of my sentences was based on "me." Even each of my sentences started with "I." On the surface, I did the work for Dafa and for others, but there were many everyday peoples' attachments embedded -- ones which should be abandoned in the course of cultivation practice. Dafa teaches us to always think of others first, and when we achieve this, we should not be impatient at all.
We will encounter tribulations if we are unable to discover our selfishness and attachments, because we have to find them to abandon them. Some fellow practitioners get into arguments with their family members, or they constantly argue with their fellow practitioners. One way they think is: "For your sake, I have pointed out your shortcomings and you have to listen to me. Otherwise, I can become impatient and anxious." Another way is: "I want to make you believe that it is the government that is lying and you have to believe me: otherwise, you don't have a sense of justice." Yet another way is: "My understandings are deeper than yours and therefore, you have to agree with me. Otherwise, I can feel angry." I covered up this kind of strong selfishness in the name of validating Dafa.
Validating Dafa and clarifying the truth are such sacred things. Those kinds of thoughts and attachments are exactly the ones that make what we do not so sacred and the results not so good. Furthermore, they cause Dafa some losses and create obstacles in ordinary people's thoughts.
When these sorts of things appear in our course of cultivation practice, the key is to discover the selfishness, recognize it, uncover it and abandon it. When it becomes weaker and smaller, we will feel the power of compassion and peacefulness. As well, we will feel immense tolerance towards people who still have a sense of justice. Our diamond-firm determined heart will be given to Dafa, and we will recognize and experience the inner peace it brings. If we do not feel that we always carry compassion, it must be that some of our concealed selfishness still have not been discovered.
In retrospect, I think that, although many of us have done a lot of things that we were supposed to do to validate Dafa, we have not improved our realm. With our thoughts to validate Dafa, much sentimentality is mixed in. Sentimentality can make our first thought start with "me," and therefore, make us do many selfish things that we aren't even aware of. On the surface, it was done for Dafa, but deeper down, it was for "me to get what I want to obtain." So, we went awry and caused some negative impacts to Dafa, and hence were unable to achieve what Dafa requires of us. Wherever there is sentimentality, there is selfishness; wherever there is selfishness, one is not able to be tolerant, and can become impatient. The things we are supposed to do are sacred, but in our hearts, while doing these things we still remain in the realm of everyday people, even causing Dafa some losses. Looking back, I have a better understanding of what Teacher said about selfishness in Essentials for Further Advancement II -- "Some Thoughts of Mine": "To be honest, the students of Falun Gong are also human beings who are in the process of cultivating themselves, and they still have human minds. In this situation where they are being treated unjustly, I'm not sure how much longer they can forbear it, and this is what I am most concerned about."
I must face up to my selfishness and clearly experience the significance of what Teacher said in the article, "Further Understanding" from Essentials for Further Advancement, as well as the seriousness of the demon-nature that I had discovered in myself. That this selfishness was so deeply rooted in my heart makes me afraid. Those things that I had thought I had done pretty well included so many attachments. Here I would like to review Teacher's article with fellow practitioners:
"I couldn't have explained the matter of Buddha-nature and demon-nature to you any more clearly. The tests for you to pass are in fact meant to remove your demon-nature. Nonetheless, from time to time you have used various excuses or Dafa itself to hide it, and failed to improve your xinxing while missing opportunities again and again.
Do you realize that as long as you're a cultivator, in any environment or under any circumstances, I will use any troubles or unpleasant things you come across--even if they involve work for Dafa, or no matter how good or sacred you think they are--to eliminate your attachments and expose your demon-nature so that it can be eliminated, for your improvement is what's most important.
If you are able to succeed in improving yourself this way, what you do then, with a pure heart, will be the best and most sacred."
January 11, 2003.