Western practitioner: Forsake Attachments and Walk Righteously on the Path of Cultivation
Greetings Master, Greetings Fellow Practitioners:
I am honored to be here with the opportunity of sharing my understandings and experiences with my fellow cultivators during this historic period of Fa-rectification. I hope that after leaving the conference, all of us have a clearer understanding of our roles and how to be more diligent in doing the three things well. I understand that doing the three things well is the basis of our cultivation and in validating the Fa and doing Dafa-related work, Master compassionately shows us what attachments need to be cultivated away.
To expose the persecution and save sentient beings, I have been working on polishing articles for the Clearwisdom website. I recently uncovered a deeply rooted attachment that has plagued me for almost my whole life. When I first started working on polishing articles, I remember thinking that it was such a simple task and I was not sure how much of a cultivation process it would be. Little did I know that Master would help me understand a fundamental attachment in the process of polishing articles. Initially while polishing articles, I felt that I had to get them done as quickly as possible so that I could do more work and have more time for other Dafa related tasks.
I would feel uneasy while working on an article, and after feeling that way a few times, I knew that there was an attachment surfacing. I can usually tell when an attachment is arising because whatever I am doing will not go smoothly and I will feel the karma from the attachment manifesting. After looking within and trying to understand what my mindset was while working, I found the attachment, and my mind was filled with thoughts of pursuit. While working on the articles, in my mind I was pursuing getting them finished quickly so that I could move on to the next project. As I looked back at my whole life, I realized how this single attachment affected almost everything I did. In school, I was always the first one to finish a test or a book, and it seemed like I was always impatiently waiting to finish one thing and start the next. I saw how it affected my Fa-study. I always try to study at least one chapter of Zhuan Falun a day, and while reading, I would always be looking at how many pages I had left in the chapter, and on days when I had a longer chapter to read, I would have thoughts of impatience. I was thinking so much of finishing things that I would not focus on how well I performed the task at hand. I felt ashamed that I had that mindset while polishing other practitioners' articles. How selfish it was for me to rush through a practitioner's heart-felt thoughts or a story of brutal torture in a forced labor camp. I immediately changed my way of thinking. Now, while working on anything, I only focus on doing my best at that very moment, without worrying about the outcome or how long it will take to finish. I find that everything flows much smoother now, and the quality of my work and my understanding of the subject has improved dramatically. When I study the Fa, I read in a much slower, calm manner, and I can feel the gong enveloping and purifying my body. I have understood the principle of "non-action" on a much deeper level than before.
I have been understanding the seriousness of personal cultivation recently. While sharing with a veteran practitioner, he said something that really made me think. I have been practicing for about a year and a half, and I was telling him about my struggles to study better, sleep less, and improve my overall cultivation state. In response to my words, he said that he hears a lot of new practitioners talking about ways they can improve their personal cultivation state and be more diligent. What surprised me was that he mentioned that after practicing for so many years, he would sometimes get stuck in the habit of just doing things, without putting much thought into the overall state of his cultivation. He had seen similar issues with some other veteran practitioners. I agreed that many of them were very busy with Dafa related projects and they did not spend as much time studying or doing the exercises. After thinking more about our conversation, I wanted to discuss a few things. I have also noticed with myself that when I get busy with Dafa projects, work, or school, I fall into the routine of mechanically studying the Fa, doing the exercises, and sending righteous thoughts.
Cultivating within society provides the best environment for cultivation and saving sentient beings, but it is also much more difficult than leaving secular society to cultivate. Aside from all of the direct interference from attachments that arise on a daily basis, I think that one of the most dangerous traps that one can fall into is being so busy that the sacred acts of studying the Fa, doing the exercises and sending righteous thoughts become mere formalities and just another task we need to accomplish every day.
While reading Zhuan Falun, Master's words stood out to me: "Once humankind's conventional mentalities form a systematic way of working and thinking, new ideas are very difficult to accept." Have we formed systematic ways of viewing cultivation? I hope that all practitioners, both veteran and new, can always be asking themselves fundamental questions such as, "Am I truly melting into the Fa when I study every day?" "Do I make every effort to send forth righteous thoughts at the four set times every day, and make up for it if I miss one?" "Have I become comfortable or complacent with my cultivation state?" Master has emphasized the significance of saving sentient beings through clarifying the truth and validating the Fa, but we cannot forget that our own cultivation and ability to study well and get rid of attachments directly affects the salvation of sentient beings in our own corresponding cosmic bodies. We must not forget Master's words discussing our personal cultivation,
"If you don't cultivate well, many beings will be weeded out, and when you reach Consummation, when you return to your place, you'll find that an extremely large number of beings who at one time put infinite hope in you have been weeded out. Then in this cosmic colossal firmament, it's very possible that the cosmic bodies you represent will be in a broken and incomplete state, and countless sentient beings will have been weeded out." (Touring North America to Teach the Fa)
I know that if I truly understood the reality of His words, I would not slack off for one second. Amidst delusion though, human thoughts and attachments do manifest and I often forget how serious it is to cultivate away even the smallest attachments. I was recently reminded of the seriousness of personal cultivation while talking to a fellow practitioner at a parade in Chicago. We were discussing attachments that we had been struggling with and she mentioned that she was still battling with the attachment to food, specifically chocolate. She went on to tell me about a dream that she recently had that she was having a difficult time understanding. In her dream, she was sitting at a coffee bar waiting on a cup of hot chocolate. Another practitioner went behind the counter to make her a hot chocolate that was supposed to taste amazing. He made the hot chocolate for her and she had a few sips and then he took it back. He also took a sip and then told her, "Because you drank that hot chocolate, many people just died in a terrible train wreck." She then had a vision of a train wrecking and many people dying. When she told me all of this, it suddenly made sense to me what Master was showing her. Even the most petty attachments could lead to many beings losing the chance to enter the new cosmos. Failing to eliminate these minor attachments such as the pursuit of sleep, comfort, food, etc, will cause a great number of beings to perish when we enter the next stage of Fa-rectification. Hearing her dream was another reminder of the seriousness of cultivating away our own attachments.
When I first began cultivation I had a lot of misunderstandings of what cultivation was, and what Falun Dafa was. Even now, I am still working through some of the initial misconceptions that I had about cultivation practice. Before I obtained the Fa, I was really struggling with my role in society. I knew that our society had become very deviated and it saddened me to see so many people chasing after material gains and false appearances. I did not want money or material possessions, and I lost all of my drive to get a degree and find a good job after school. Even though I was going to a great art school, I felt that it was useless for me to be there and I wanted to drop out, sell all of my possessions, and move into a monastery. Many of my friends thought that I was a little out there because all I wanted to talk about was the universe, reincarnation, afterlife, cultivation, etc. There was something that told me that I needed to stay in society, and after I started to practice Falun Dafa it all made sense. When I started the practice, I did not understand a lot of the core aspects of what it meant to cultivate in society. I instantly gave up many things in my life and spent most of my time in my room reading Master's lectures. My Mom had a hard time with it and was always telling me that I was not the same as I used to be.
I understand now that this was a manifestation of zealotry. I slowly understood more and more the role that I have in society as a practitioner, and how my actions validate the Fa. I thought that I corrected most of my actions and words around people, and did not think much more about it. When in ordinary society though, whether it was my job or school, I had a lot of anxiety and difficulty when talking to people. I would even stutter my words a lot and feel very awkward. I could not understand it though, because I had always been a very outgoing person before cultivation, and I never had a problem carrying on a conversation with a stranger. Even though I looked within, I could never really see where I had a problem with my xinxing. Master gave me a very noticeable hint. My older brother who recently started practicing was staying at my place for the night. He had just got back from a concert, and while I was sitting at my desk writing a paper, he came in my door and said, "Man, we really need to talk. Mom thinks you're going crazy. She can't understand your actions at all and she is blaming it on Falun Dafa. She thinks you are becoming a monk."
Hearing that was a huge surprise to me because I thought I had been handling our relationship well recently. Knowing that the whole situation was no coincidence, I looked within and truly asked myself if I had gotten rid of all zealotry. It suddenly all hit me at once and I grasped where my problem was hidden. Looking at my thoughts and interactions with people, I started to see that I was still harboring a major attachment of zealotry. I had become very self-righteous and felt that if I was not talking about Falun Dafa or the persecution with people that it was just some boring old conversation and I would not take must interest in it. When people asked me about how my life was going, I just talked about how busy I was with clarifying the truth and doing Dafa related work. I failed to comprehend how my actions would affect people's view of me, but more importantly how they would affect people's view of Dafa. I failed to recognize the importance of living a normal life and not becoming a quasi-monk. In many areas I had not genuinely cultivated away attachments, but instead I would remove the exterior element that I was attached to. I would avoid a lot of social interactions and parties that my friends often invited me too.
Recognizing and starting to eliminate that attachment felt like lifting a huge burden off of my chest. I no longer always feel anxious and nervous around people, and I know that it is fine to go out and socialize with my friends, as long as I keep my mind righteous and on the Fa. I called my mom the next day and had a long talk with her and I apologized for my actions and explained that it was a misunderstanding on my part, and not something taught in Falun Dafa. My older brother actually read her the chapter from Zhuan Falun that addressed zealotry to help her understand what Master expects of us. I am now making a lot more effort to become more sociable with my friends and family, and truly show them the magnificence of Dafa. I am so thankful that Master helped me see such a filthy attachment.
After walking my cultivation path thus far, I look back and see how much progress that I have made. Even though I know that I am still struggling to eliminate many attachments such as self-validation, selfishness, lust, the pursuit of comfort, and many others, I feel thankful that Master has let me see those attachments and given me the opportunity to break them away piece by piece. I still fall short in many areas, but I know with my heart that as long as I keep up with studying the Fa well and doing the three things, Master will guide me on this difficult path. Whatever the path is that lies ahead of us, with righteous faith in the Fa in Master, He will show us the way back home. Thank you.