Cultivation Practice -- Returning to One's True Self
(Clearwisdom.net) Recently "Minghui Weekly" [an electronic journal which is published by Minghui, the Chinese version of Clearwisdom.net] carried several articles in which some practitioners analyzed their own attachments of exploiting Dafa. The cultivation situation that they described is very similar to mine. During the several years of my cultivation, I always felt that there existed a barrier making me unable to truly melt myself into Dafa, and causing me to always fall into a self-reprimanding state of trying but failing to cultivate myself diligently.
Sometimes I was very sorrowful as I felt that I still had a fundamental attachment that had not been eliminated yet. However, I was unable to identify what this fundamental attachment really was. After I read the several articles and then used them to measure myself, I felt that I also had the mentality of exploiting Dafa, however, this thought just slipped away very quickly as I was unwilling to continue to dig into it. I knew that something was preventing me from cleansing my mind, and I have now discovered that it was that fundamental attachment that was afraid of being found and eliminated.
I always tried to maintain a modest attitude in front of others, and I mistook this attitude as a reflection of not attaching to fame. However, I was attached to the show-off mentality that existed in my imagination. For example, when I thought of a school reunion, I would imagine how to use my noticeable merits of good health, attractiveness, and graceful and elegant manners to prove the goodness and extraordinariness of Dafa. This kind of thought, in fact, reflected my wish to exploit my cultivation in order to make myself look flawless among human society and to get commendations and honors among ordinary people. It was, in fact, a mentality of seeking fame and showing off. Since it was covered up very well, even I myself was fooled by its superficial manifestation, so I mistakenly thought that I was not attached to fame. However, in my heart this attachment had already started to exhibit life.
As the show-off mentality that existed in my imagination rarely manifested itself, I refused to believe that there was something wrong with it. I often indulged myself in it with keen pleasure. For example, I would imagine how well I would do when I encountered something, and thereafter, how I would tell others that I am a Falun Dafa practitioner.
I thought that these thoughts were all related to validating Dafa, so they should not be deemed wrong. I had used the excuse of "for the purpose of validating the Fa" to cover up my own attachment to fame. This had actually nourished and strengthened my thought karma of seeking fame. Today I contemplated this attachment from the perspective of exploiting Dafa -- I was trying to utilize cultivation to prove my "distinction from others" and to get glory that ordinary people cannot get. Is this the purpose of my cultivation?
In looking back at my past, it was exactly the case that I entered the door of Dafa with the show-off mentality. Before I started my cultivation, I had some show-off thoughts, and I even realized their existence at the very beginning of my cultivation, but to the present I have not eliminated them yet, because in my mind I thought they were good and I was unwilling to let them go, and instead, I tried to exploit Dafa to strengthen and materialize them. Although I knew this was an attachment through studying the Fa, I still thought it was a minor problem. It appeared that I tried to inhibit it, but deep in my heart I did not want to touch and eliminate it. Without the change in my heart, were all the superficial modesty and smoothness false?
"If deep down inside a person who's cultivating is still thinking about his illness, about the part of the good life he's longed for, and is unwilling to let go of the attachment to these things of everyday people's society, he won't be able to progress diligently." (Master Li's Lecture at the Conference in Europe, 1998)
On one hand, I wanted to pursue cultivation, but on the other hand, I tightly held on to the glory found in human society. Was this studying the Fa with fundamental attachments as Master Li pointed out in "Towards Consummation?" Why haven't I realized its existence for such a long time? I believe that it was because I had carried a selfish mentality of protecting myself while I studied the Fa, and I had not studied the Fa with the pure heart of assimilating myself into the Fa.
I often ask myself why I cultivate myself. Returning to my true self, assimilating to Dafa, assisting Master in rectifying the Fa, and saving people -- these seemed to be the correct answers. But I genuinely felt that when I gave these answers, I was not that honest and pure. Now I understand that it was because I had mixed into the answers my attachments of seeking fame and exploiting Dafa. Over a long time, I have not done well in sending forth righteous thoughts. Sometimes when it was already at the exact hours, I said to myself, "Forget it. I'd be better off studying the Fa," because I could not obviously see the effect of sending forth righteous thoughts, while, when I studied the Fa, I could see how much I read. I mistakenly took reading the book as studying the Fa, and the more I read, the better I felt in my mind. I felt that studying the Fa was more "profitable" than sending forth righteous thoughts. This was because I put too much stress on my personal gains and losses, which was, in the end, caused by my selfishness.
Reading fellow practitioners' stories of validating the Fa, I felt that their determination and sincerity toward Master Li and Dafa, which is not mixed with even a trace of impurity, is so pure and it moves people's hearts and suffocates all evils. I understand that I lacked this kind of righteous faith and righteous thought of being able to sacrifice everything for Dafa. I have not completely given myself to Dafa. I still had reservations, and pursued what I had deemed good. I did not dare nor was I willing to sacrifice everything for Dafa. But on the other hand, I wanted Dafa to bring me all the good things -- cultivation, reaching Consummation, not letting "me" go, and making "me" independent of the Fa. "I" must go to validate the Fa, and "I" must do what Dafa practitioners are supposed to do, and only then can Fa give "me" all the beautiful things, so in the end I had to have something to gain. The thought of putting emphasis on oneself, exploiting Dafa, and benefiting oneself exactly reflects a life's deviation from the Fa. Why did I have the show-off mentality? It was because I wanted to show "me" off. Why did I so emphasize "me"? It was because the existence of substance of "selfishness." Actually, as early as 1998, when Master Li gave the lecture in Switzerland, Master said,
"Self-interest and the desire for renown are both selfish." ("Lecture at the Conference in Switzerland," 1998)
It is not until today that I have truly realized the selfishness behind my attachment.
"I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others--or even future generations--along with Dafa's eternal stability." ("Non-Omission in Buddha- Nature")
My personal understanding is, from egotism and selfishness to selflessness and altruism is a journey to return to our inherent nature. Master mentioned in his teaching about "your nature in the past," as I understand, our original status in the universe, altered during the very long years, "selfness" has permeated very deep space. Before we vowed to obtain the Fa, within our own realm, we deviated from the "selflessness and altruism" of the Fa more or less, unknowingly. During this Universal Fa-rectification, we chose to assimilate to the Fa through "cultivation," we not only need to return to our original status (the past concept of cultivation), more importantly, we need to purify and rectify what we had originally, and assimilate to the Fa completely and purely. We should become a selfless and altruistic righteous enlightened being instead of just an enlightened being, as previous cultivation paths aimed at. Thinking about it, what the old forces want to do is to change others instead of themselves, and use Dafa to reach their own goals. Aren't our selfish notions the shadows of the old forces? Why can a life fall from a higher level? Why can a life deviate from its original status? Why can a practitioner have all kinds of attachments? Isn't it because of "selfishness"?
All we have is created by the Fa. To demonstrate what the Fa has at different levels is the meaning of our lives. Reflected in Master's boundless radiance, our life is as tiny as dirt, what do we still need to keep?
I have new understandings regarding "cultivation" now. For cultivation during Fa-rectification, it is not only improvement, but more importantly, it is rectification. Cultivation does not mean that we gain something from the Fa for ourselves; it means a duty and a responsibility for a deviated life to give up his or her ego and assimilate to the Fa.
Thank you Master for giving us such a place of purity as Clearwisdom.net. After sharing fellow practitioners' enlightenment, I can remain clear-headed and quickly catch up. Thank you Master for pointing out my fundamental attachment at the last stage of Fa-rectification. Master also gives us time continuously to rectify ourselves. It is hard to use words to express Master's compassion toward normal beings. I want to share a story that I have experienced here.
One day as I took the bus home after work, I had some good impression of a man sitting next to me, as if I had known him before. After I got off the bus, I suddenly felt regret. Why did not I give him a piece of truth-clarifying material? The next day after work, when the bus started moving, a man quickly sat next to me; it was the man I had seen the day before. Tears welled up in my eyes. Master is so compassionate; he does not want to leave a single being with a chance behind. Because of my limitations and staying within my personal understanding of cultivation, I forgot my responsibilities of saving ordinary beings. Master arranged another chance for me carefully. For those who do not know to improve fast, how much effort does Master have to make painstakingly?
In the process of writing this article, I feel that what I am facing is not just an article, but a gigantic project. I was inspired by a fellow practitioner's article and found my selfishness in using Dafa. I found my fundamental attachment is the thought of showing-off for fame that I have realized long ago but always ignored. Moreover, I realized deeply that all deviations came from selfishness; my mind was clear and simple. But when I tried to write, I still could not make myself clear after changing the article again and again. When I read Master's teaching, I felt that there was a huge world behind each sentence and all helped me to write this article. I wrote more and more but I still felt that I had more to say. It was as if that I was trying to use a small basket to hold too many beautiful things, I could not decide what to take and what to leave. Perhaps this is one example of how small life is and how great the Fa is. Here I only write down my thoughts at this current stage. On the one hand, I want to rectify myself; on the other hand, I want to remind fellow practitioners who always find excuses for their "little mishaps." Perhaps these "little mishaps" are just what have kept you from advancing.
Above is my personal understanding, please correct me if anything is not appropriate.