Letting Go of Self
(Clearwisdom.net) Many practitioners realize that they need to let go of self, but they don't understand how to achieve this. I will offer my own limited understandings on this very broad and deep cultivation issue.
When we have strong attachments of yearning and pursuit, we are constantly thinking, "I must get this! How can I obtain it?" However, if we let go of our attachments, pursuits, and desires, our hearts will be much more relaxed, and our lives much simpler. Thus, I won't be overjoyed when I get what belongs to me, or too worried and sorrowful when I lose what does not belong to me. In cultivation practice, all material things should come and go naturally and without pursuit or regret.
When we judge and observe the world with intense human notions, we actually fall into a very narrow way of thinking. It's as if we view the sky from the bottom of a well. When we let go of ourselves, only then can we understand that what we see is really not even worthy of mentioning. We will then be able to truly respect all life and face everything with a calm and gentle nature. As an enlightened being, we should not be moved by things around us in the human world.
When we have hatred, wickedness, and discontent in our hearts, wherever we go, these things will be found all around us. Sometimes we complain in tears, "I am so good to him, yet he still scolds me" or "I've done so much, but have gained so little." If a practitioner doesn't have a calm and peaceful heart, he will have many complaints about his life. Actually, its not that others make trouble for us, but that we have karma to pay back. The situation is not merely that we have gained too little, but rather that we are pursuing too much.
When we only look at the shortcomings and faults of others we fail to see their talents and positive sides. When we consider things from the perspective of the Fa, we realize that everyday people don't have the Fa or practice cultivation. We should also be aware that fellow practitioners are also human and may make mistakes during their cultivation. An enlightened being has the ability to be tolerant and forgive anything.
When we fill our hearts with the attachment of competing, we may find ourselves having disputes and conflicts, and fighting with others. During those times, our words may be sharp and cause others pain. If we are unkind to others, they will naturally treat us likewise. A practitioner may continue with the everyday person's struggle of who is "right or wrong" and argue and vie for supremacy, but when the attachment of competing is abandoned, we realize that the things in everyday society are not worth fighting for. When we have a higher understanding of universal principles, the battles of everyday people seem quite pitiful.
When we have strong attachments to time, our hearts are fearful and we do everything possible to treasure time. We go to great lengths to "save time" and "get things done," which indicates a strong attachment to self improvement and consummation. We try to get everything done, but family or others may still complain about us. Why does this occur after we try so hard? The reason could be that we didn't abandon our attachment to time. When we stop such thoughts as, "I need to read" and "I want to improve," we are letting go of selfishness. Only by putting down selfishness can we consider others first. When we regard ourselves as practitioners we have the calmness of enlightened beings, and regardless of what we do, we do it well with a stable and earnest mind.
A fearful heart leads us to dread the loss of benefits, happiness, and comforts, and everything we have becomes a burden to our moving forward in cultivation. When we are fearful, we become timid, lose courage and strength, and lack righteous thoughts. Practitioners regard completing their mission as a sacred responsibility, and will naturally put down fear to protect lives and save people. Really, how important are our small comforts and benefits compared to the life or death of the universe and all living things?
When we think we possess the truth, we may be arrogant, lecture people, and despise and look down on others. When we say "he is too stupid," "his inborn quality is not good," and "he is nothing," we are regarding ourselves as better than others. This is already a strong manifestation of the attachment of superiority and is harmful to ourselves and others. One who appears to be smart superficially may not necessarily be of a high level. Likewise, one who seems rather dull may not be of a low level. Thinking oneself infallible is not a good thing, as this may invite demonic interference. Therefore, practitioners should not be arrogant or complacent and should avoid letting success go to their heads. It is better to be modest and respectful of all lives.