Cultivate Myself Well to Save More Sentient Beings - Reflections After Studying Teacher's New Article, "The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be"
(Clearwisdom.net) I wrote an experience-sharing paper after Teacher published "The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be." A fellow practitioner read it and told me, "Your article doesn't have any substance. You are reprimanding fellow practitioners." I made a lot of modifications and had it reviewed by another practitioner, but this time I was told that I had failed to treat myself as one of the cultivators.
After reading my fellow practitioners' feedback, I began to ask myself, "What is wrong with me?" I decided that I must search within.
I identified a strong attachment to protecting myself. I was reluctant to search inward because I was afraid to expose my attachments to fellow practitioners. The second reason came from a recent discussion where a fellow practitioner mentioned that certain veteran practitioners in some areas have become lethargic in their cultivation practice and that some of them do not even feel like cultivating any longer. While we were on the subject, I kept thinking which fellow practitioners matched the description. On the other hand, I felt I was not one of them so I failed to examine myself whether I was lethargic in my cultivation practice.
Now that I have identified my problems, I finally realized I had studied "The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be" with a strong attachment. I felt as though Teacher was commenting on other practitioners. As a result, I had but a very shallow and partial understanding of Teacher's new article.
Studying the Fa is supposed to be immensely serious and solemn, but I studied Teacher's new article with a filthy mentality instead. In hindsight, I feel terribly ashamed of myself. I remembered Teacher's words in "Towards Consummation." Teacher said,
"Studying the Fa with attachments is not true cultivation."
("Towards Consummation" in Essentials for Further Advancement II.)
Teacher also said,
"So although it looked like he was practicing, at his core he had the intention of getting healed. Wasn't he trying to deceive me, deceive others, and deceive Dafa? He could deceive no one--he was really deceiving himself. Only real transformation of the mind counts as true cultivation." (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe)
Now that I look at my own cultivation practice, I notice that I have been diligently doing the three things and I have often encouraged fellow practitioners to be more diligent so as not to miss this opportunity that comes only once in eternity. I have also been able to eliminate some attachments that surfaced during my cultivation practice. However, I continue to have a tenacious attachment to myself, and to protecting myself. I did not want to face it.
Am I not essentially the same as the man with the intention of getting healed? On the surface I may be very diligent in doing the three things, but deep down in my heart I have been desperately trying to protect myself from getting hurt. This is a sign that I have failed to be truly diligent in my cultivation practice. Teacher said,
"If you, as a cultivator, only part with things superficially while deep down inside you still stick to something or cling to your own vital interests that you don't allow to be undermined, I'd say to you that your cultivation is fake! If your own thinking doesn't change, you cannot advance even one step and are deceiving yourself. Only when you truly improve from within can you make real progress." (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
"Because pain is hard on people, they try to, consciously or unconsciously, ward off suffering in hopes of leading a more pleasant life. And so it is that in the pursuit of happiness people form ideas about how to avoid harm, how to live well, how to get ahead in society and achieve fame and success, how to acquire more for themselves, how to come out on top, and so on." ("The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be")
While I tried to find the things in myself that Teacher talked about, I realized that I had been very cautious to "avoid harm." For example, in many conflicts I might have presented an image that I am impervious, but deep down I was merely trying to be diplomatic, tactful and sly. I prevented myself from getting harmed by avoiding engagement in the conflicts. In other times, I thought these conflicts were none of my business so I didn't want to get myself involved. In other words, I was like a slick old man in everyday society. When I saw attachments in fellow practitioners, I was reluctant to point them out to avoid offending or displeasing fellow practitioners and to prevent myself from getting hurt.
With the end of Fa-rectification nearing, the Fa has high requirements for us. We all know that the old universe is based on selfishness. In the past few years of truth-clarification work, I have indeed purged many of my attachments and done a lot of things to validate the Fa, but in essence I have been secretly hiding my attachment to protecting myself.
Teacher said that we must meet the new universe's standards to be admitted to the new universe. Using alchemy as an analogy, we may have transformed ourselves into 90%, 95% or even 99% gold. But we will fail to transform ourselves into 100% gold and, thus, fail to meet the standard of the new universe if we hesitate to eliminate our attachment to self. We may have been walking on our cultivation path while validating the Fa, but we are still in a dangerous situation if we hold fast to our attachment to self.
PureInsight.org published an article titled "Ancient Chinese Stories of Cultivation: The 'Benevolent' Mr. Wang, a Buddhist Cultivator" (http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2005/10/10/3395.html).  The Benevolent Mr. Wang, "He was a kindhearted fellow, enthusiastic in helping people and devoted in Buddhist cultivation practice." "One day, the Benevolent Mr. Wang went to a Buddhist monastery and drew a stick from the divination lot in order to find out when he could reach Consummation. Then a monk told him, 'You must pay your respects to Buddha every day by offering incense to Buddha every day. When you accumulate nine large cauldrons of ash from the burned incense, you may take the ash to the West and present the ash to Buddha. Then you will definitely reach Consummation.'"
No one gave The Benevolent Mr. Wang any Buddha Fa lecture, so he did not know that cultivation practice is about removing 'human attachments. Naturally, he failed to meet the Living Buddha's test. He accumulated nine large cauldrons of ash by offering the Buddha incense day and night, but eventually it all came to nothing.
Today Teacher gives us Buddha Fa lectures in person and often publishes new articles to rectify the mistakes we have made in our cultivation practice. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to cultivate myself under the tutelage of Falun Gong! Teacher's immense compassion is beyond description. The only way to avoid failing to meet the expectations of our Teacher and of sentient beings is to follow Teacher's requirements to be more diligent, to cultivate well and to walk well the path of validating the Fa.
 PureInsight.org: Ancient Chinese Stories of Cultivation: The "Benevolent" Mr. Wang, a Buddhist Cultivator (http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2005/10/10/3395.html)