Thoughts On My Cousin's Untimely Death --Cultivation is Solemn, and One Must Let Go Of Human Attachments and Save Sentient Beings
My cousin passed away. She was from Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, and she started practicing Falun Dafa in 1997. However, she died just before the Fa is set to rectify the human world. From what I know about her cultivation, there are many lessons we can learn.
She went through many hardships in her childhood. Because her parents could not afford to raise all of their children, she was given to my Aunt. My Aunt, who liked boys better, did not like her, especially since she was sick much of the time. On top of the disrespect with which my Aunt treated her, she even beat her with sticks. Using my cousin's own words, she died so many times because of her illnesses and grievances. Before cultivating Falun Dafa, she had diabetes, and her skin was dark and grey. She was sick in many ways.
She obtained the Fa and began practicing in 1997, since then she began to change and eventually almost looked like a different person. The symptoms of her illnesses all went away, and even her selfish personality changed to one of tolerance and peacefulness. She used to have a very bad case of diabetes, but because she behaved according to the standards of Falun Dafa, her physical condition totally changed and returned to normal.
Everything was becoming better and better until, in July 1999, Jiang Zemin initiated the persecution of Falun Dafa utilizing the government and state-run media as a mechanism of control. He used lies as excuses, used fabrications as evidence and deceived many people who had just begun understand Falun Dafa.
My cousin's husband was a school principal. He was not against his wife cultivating Falun Dafa at the beginning, but started opposing it after July 1999, under the heavy pressure of new governmental orders and strict rules. My cousin told me that her husband was constantly cursing at Teacher or Falun Dafa while at home in an irrational manner. In the summer of 2000, he drowned while swimming with the family. My cousin told me later, the place he drowned was very shallow, but he died quickly, bleeding internally in one of his lungs as if it had exploded.
After a period of painful mourning, my cousin slowly understood that his death was due to karmic retribution. If she truly learned from this big lesson, diligently advanced, upgraded her xinxing (moral character) and followed Teacher's requirements, she would not have died later.
Exactly what happened that made her fail to walk the straight path through cultivation?
In 2000, when the evil was at its most rampant point, Jiang wanted to deceive the world about China. He wanted them to think that China currently had the best human rights record of any period, to make a good impression before the World Human Rights Conference. They started spreading lies and hatred in every corner of Chinese society. The educational system was the first victim. Chen Zhili, then Education Minister, followed Jiang closely by initiating a petition opposing Falun Dafa. My cousin was a teacher, and everyone in her school knew that she cultivated Falun Dafa; therefore, she was the "focal point." Heavy pressure was put on her from all directions, and unfortunately, since she did not hold a strong enough conviction in her heart, she signed the petition.
I asked her later what she was thinking to have done this. She said, "Although I signed my name, I am still firmly cultivating at home." How can a true Falun Dafa practitioner behave like that? If one does not follow "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance," how can one be "firm"? How can that count as "true cultivation?" It we cultivators cannot follow "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance," how can we validate the Fa to the world's people?
Although in 2000, we did not understand Teacher's profound meaning behind "helping Teacher with Fa-rectification", "clarifying the truth", and "saving sentient beings," I knew, that what we do, good or bad, makes an impression about Falun Dafa on people, and also impacts them on a deeper level, deciding whether sentient beings can be saved or not. It is not just a matter of one practitioner's cultivation success or failure. I saw the attachments that she could not relinquish, such as the fear of losing her job, the fear that her son would lose his mother on top of losing his father, and moreover, the fear that she would become the "real target" of the persecution. I exchanged understandings with her many times and she expressed a willingness to correct her mistakes, but I felt her attachments were not gotten rid off completely, but only hidden deeper.
Later, in 2001, I was abducted by "610 Office" agents and sent to a labor camp for two years. I did not hear from my cousin at all during this time, but I was thinking about her, hoping to see a fearless, solid, reborn cousin when we met again.
Upon my release in 2003, I rejoined the huge current of the Fa-rectification, with a deeper understanding of our mission and Falun Dafa after the hardships I had endured. I spoke about my experiences to my cousin, all the while analyzing my shortcomings and looking inward. I found that my cousin was not willing to talk about herself, only her work and her son.
Her physical condition had deteriorated greatly since 2000. The symptoms of her diabetes had returned, all her teeth had fallen out, she had become very thin and she had lost her eyesight. She walked like an old person, though she was only in her 40's! I asked my mother how this came about. She told me that my cousin refused to talk about her own health and would always deny anything when fellow practitioners asked. It was as if once she told them, they would know how bad her cultivation was.
Now I realized that my cousin's fear of speaking about her personal health was due to human notions that she could not let go of. Just like Teacher pointed out, she was using one human notion to cover another, layer upon layer. My cousin lost so many opportunities for fellow practitioners to help her upgrade her xinxing. This kind of long term suffering from sickness caused by karma, is a manifestation of the evil forces taking advantage of the gaps in her cultivation.
Besides all of the above, there was a more important cause, which I learned after she passed away. She went to Beijing with another practitioner in 2000 and tried to appeal for Falun Dafa. But due to fear, she said something disrespectful of Teacher and Falun Dafa when police tried to arrest them. They were not arrested, but she never told anyone in all these years. That practitioner told this to my mother, and I asked my mother if my cousin had ever published a solemn declaration on the Clearwisdom website. My mother told me that she realized that she had done wrong, and one to two days before she passed away, asked her fellows to publish the declaration for her, but it was too late! It is not simply a formality to publish a declaration to correct mistakes. If practitioners' xinxing did not reach the standard, it won't do.
My mother told me that everyone who knew my cousin (outside of her job) knew that she practiced Falun Dafa. When they saw that she had died in the hospital, many people pointed their fingers at my cousin, and said, "Look, she died because she refused to take medicine while she practiced Falun Gong." My mother's heart ached, because those behind the persecution had reached their goal easily and so many predestined people would now not be savable due to my cousin's death. The result of her death is exactly what those behind the persecution wanted. My cousin did help pass on Teacher's new articles and warmly helped other practitioners, but her colleagues and her students were not at all aware that she still practiced.
I asked her before if anyone in the school knew that she still cultivated? She said no one knew, otherwise she would not able to teach any more. However, if no one knew she still cultivated, how could she validate Falun Dafa in a dignified manner? How could people feel the power of Falun Dafa changing their hearts through her? Revealing her identity as a Falun Dafa cultivator may have meant losing many things, but if she only wanted to benefit from Falun Dafa while refusing to sacrifice for Falun Dafa, would she not be "stealing from Falun Dafa" like Teacher pointed out? Teacher told us a long time ago that being able to let go of ordinary people's attachments is an important step on the path of a cultivator and is necessary to go beyond the realm of ordinary people. Knowing this teaching is one matter, putting it into practice is another.
The whole summer vacation before my cousin died, she was busy with her son's transfer of schools. She was visiting friends and relatives and going through the necessary procedures. My mother told her that she was much too attached to her son, but she always replied that her son had lost his father and needed more protection from being mistreated in life. As an ordinary person, this thought is fine, but as a cultivator in Falun Dafa, this fear of losing ordinary people's benefits and going to any lengths to obtain benefits, is very far away from the requirements that must be met by practitioners. How can we do the three things (1) Master assigned us well without strictly upgrading our xinxing?
Maybe my cousin was trying to do more things for Falun Dafa to make up for her mistakes. Maybe she was thinking that as long she was still cultivating, Teacher would remove her karma? Although I have no way to know exactly what her thoughts were, the impression she left on the world's people carries with it a lesson from her memory that is deep and heavy.
Whenever I think about her death these days, I feel an undeniable responsibility.
I was eager to exchange my understandings with my cousin, but when I saw her taking care of her son all by herself, my sentimentality took over, and I would swallow my words. I was not truly compassionate towards her. I know similar incidents have happened in other regions as well. In order to prevent such things from happening again, I wrote down all of the above, and am hoping it will provide a reference for my fellow practitioners.
(1) Study the Far (Law and principles), send forth righteous thoughts, and clarify the truth about Faun Gong to the world's people.