Essays on Cultivating Xinxing (3): Belief and Faith
(Clearwisdom.net) Master said in Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference,
"So during this persecution, even though we've suffered huge losses and Dafa disciples have been groundlessly persecuted, I can really tell that you've matured during this persecution, and you are now composed and rational. The old attitude of saying one thing and feeling another and not being attentive to the Fa is gone. During this persecution, everyone has seriously reflected on which path he should take and what he should do."
I was very moved by the above words. Although I have advanced in my faith, I was still shocked when I heard the words "The old attitude of saying one thing and feeling another and not being attentive to the Fa is gone." I understood that I was still far behind on this subject.
This stirred me to think about the word "faith" when used during our clarifying the truth. According to the dictionary, "faith" means someone's sincere belief and respect of a religious doctrine or proposition, and their regard of it as their guide or model. "Faith" has limitations compared with our righteous belief in Dafa cultivation. But, "sincere belief and respect" and "as their guide" are the basic and essential concepts. Without them, "faith" will be meaningless, as will be the "righteous belief in Dafa" that ascends from one's "faith." It is a fundamental and extremely significant issue.
Here is the story of what I encountered in my personal cultivation. Someone who was interested in Dafa and read Zhuan Falun came to join the small group discussion. One day, that person said that he did not have enough faith in cultivating Dafa, and he hoped to solve the issue of faith first. At that time, I was a relatively new practitioner, but was the one in the group who had studied the Fa longest. Hearing the person's words, I just felt sorry for that person, who hadn't seen the many heavenly mysteries revealed in Zhuan Falun. At the same time, I felt a little strange. I asked myself, "Faith? Do I study Dafa for faith?" The answer at that time was no. I told myself, "I came to learn Dafa without any hesitation because I saw the precious principles in Dafa and I understood them. It is not an issue of faith to me."
Even so, the subject of faith hung in my mind after the discussion. My true self let me know there was a fundamental difference between the belief I had at that time and the belief I felt from the conversation that day. Regardless of the faith of a human being, at that moment, I came to realize that belief had no preconditions, and that belief based on personal understanding or experiences was conditional, and accordingly, was not right.
From the first day of my cultivation, I put emphasis on studying the Fa and devoted a lot of time to it. Every time I read the paragraph where it reads,
"At a certain point in time, you will be made unable to discern clearly whether something is true. ... It is to see whether you are determined. You say that you must be firm and sure-footed. With this determination, if you can indeed be firmly resolute at that point, you will naturally do well because your xinxing will have already improved. But you are not yet that stable at the moment. If you are given this tribulation right away, you will not be enlightened to it at all, and neither will you be able to practice cultivation whatsoever. Tribulations may take place in different respects." (From "Your Mind Must be Right," Lecture 6, Zhuan Falun),
I always told myself, "No matter what happens, I must be firm in cultivating Dafa." However, during that period of time, I still felt I didn't have a thorough understanding on the issue of faith.
On July 20th 1999, the great terror came down from the sky. During the first days, as I protected the Great Fa unconditionally and determinedly, I successfully passed a stage, such as expressed in Master's words, when
"During this persecution, everyone has seriously reflected on which path he should take and what he should do." ("Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference").
Furthermore, I could always catch myself later on in realizing that the determination I thought I had was actually incomplete and restrained. I have also understood what is meant by "ever more determined" -- a process of progressively gaining righteous belief and the happiness that comes as we attain pure righteous belief.
On June 16, 2000, Master published "Towards Consummation" and pointed out for the first time the problem of the fundamental attachments. It was such a huge shock for me at the time. After that, under Master's compassionate leniency and guidance, I again traversed countless obstacles and gradually became more mature and rational. However, I have always felt my xinxing did not go through a complete upgrade. I couldn't help but ask myself "Why?" every time similar xinxing problems occurred, "I know clearly that I should change, and I want to change, why is it that I could never do better?"
As I heard Master explaining the Fa in the afternoon of the day of the Lantern Festival, I suddenly understood it all. I have now realized that in the past, my lack of righteous thoughts and the persistence of attachments during my xinxing cultivation and whenever I did Dafa-related work were ultimately related to the question of whether I have righteous belief in the Great Fa and Master.
Zhuan Falun says,
"If one is determined, the karma can be eliminated"
(Lecture 6, Your Main Consciousness Should Predominate)
as well as,
"It is under the circumstance of demonic interference that you can demonstrate whether you can continue your cultivation, be really enlightened to the Tao, be unaffected by interference, and be sure-footed in this school of practice."
"It remains a question of whether they can understand your Dafa itself while they are in the midst of confusion and tribulations."
(Lecture 6, Demonic Interference From One's Own Mind)
For a long time, I have mechanically understood this Fa, and it led me into an inaccurate understanding: In the face of outside interference, in the midst of confusion and tribulations, I thought, "I have to cultivate my righteous belief." As a result I have always firmly defended the Great Fa. However, when faced with choices in the process of personal xinxing cultivation, I thought I didn't have to worry about whether I had faith or not. Because of this, my xinxing upgrading has suffered obstruction; and for a long time I could not fully exercise the power that should have been exercised by a Fa particle.
Why is it that sometimes I believe more so in people's experience and personal opinions, and in human society's illusions? It is because my righteous belief in the Great Fa is incomplete. Why is it that I cannot honor the Fa and Master 100 percent? It is because my righteous belief in the Great Fa is incomplete. Why is it that sometimes I still dare to have an attachment to myself? Why is it that sometimes my personal opinion is so strong? It is because my righteous belief in the Great Fa is incomplete. Why is it that sometimes I have less-than-compassionate thoughts toward fellow practitioners and ordinary people? It is all because my righteous belief in the Great Fa is incomplete.
In the past, I noticed that some fellow practitioners have really cultivated very well; once Master has made public some teaching of the Fa, they will always unconditionally act by following the Fa. When they occasionally fail in doing that well, they would correct themselves right away once they were reminded of and understood the problem. They attach more importance to the overall situation, and their hearts are very pure and clean. Comparing myself with these practitioners, I knew that they had a stronger faith than me; in spite of recognizing this, I still failed to do well right away. Later, I recalled that when we once discussed our work, someone mentioned the following: Some young Western Dafa practitioners have been living in societies that believe in gods, and their faith in and respect of gods comes naturally and without competing thoughts. After they encountered Dafa and understood what Dafa is for, their faith in and respect toward Master and Dafa is even more unconditional and pure. Although they are, in many aspects, not as experienced and tenacious as the practitioners from China when doing Dafa work, they never try to find excuses for themselves whenever they fail to do well. Instead, they always sincerely and whole-heartedly acknowledge their mistakes and admit that they failed to follow Master's words and do well even though Master has already told what to do.
For our practitioners from China, although we have sometimes done a lot of work and even contributed a lot in accomplishing certain important works, there still exists, deep in our hearts, the problem of having the righteous faith in Dafa. Hearing these words, I suddenly recalled the cultivation story of Milarepa. I also realized that I have been enlightening to the same principle through Master's teaching of the Fa. I suddenly realized that every intellectual who has grown up under the socialist ideology in the closed society in China where information flow is blocked, has, in fact, received many notions of atheism. In addition, under the influence of the anti-god elements of modern science, and during the compulsory education in China, the practitioners from China have unknowingly accepted many warped human notions. If we cannot recognize these elements, they would be manifested during our cultivation and become obstacles. Haven't the tribulations that I have experienced just proved this point?
Master said in the "Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference,"
"Then when we do everything righteously, should we expect there to be no interference? It can only reduce a lot of the losses. And that's because your gaps would be taken advantage of due to the fact that you yourselves still do have undetectable elements, and the old forces insist on forcing in what they want to do."
I am not clear how much of the atheism toxin and its influence still exists in me after this elevation of my understanding, nor am I clear if these belong to the "undetectable elements" Master mentions. However, I know that after my listening to Master's lecture in Los Angeles, I have made breakthroughs in my understanding of the issue of having righteous faith. On the basis that in the past I generally had a firm faith in Dafa, I finally came to understand from the bottom of my heart that there still exists the issue of having righteous faith in the face of those concrete conflicts that do not appear to be that critical. I came to understand why I have no excuse for not letting go of any of my past attachments, and what the life with righteous faith is. I came to understand why the Fa-rectification disciples should correctly position themselves in relationship to Dafa work, Dafa and Master, for that relationship is a real existence in the cosmos; our failing to acknowledge it will bring disharmony and create many different problems, with ourselves as their source. Only by conforming to and acknowledging this sacred and genuine existence can the mighty power of Dafa, during our continuously assimilating to Dafa, be displayed through each individual Dafa particle. Only this way can we understand and do well what we are supposed to. Even though we are able to achieve the above understandings, we still should never take things for granted or take things lightly, for even when we have done things correctly on the basis of our current understanding, we can only greatly reduce the losses, since "you yourselves still do have undetectable elements." Only by continuously doing well the three things, especially, in studying the Fa, or understanding the Fa from the perspective of the Fa, can we keep cultivating ourselves diligently and do well in reducing the damages and saving people.
Since I mentioned "understanding the Fa from the perspective of the Fa," I also want to point out, by the way, a situation that I have heard about wherein some elderly practitioners feel that they do not quite understand this expression. What does it mean? Can it be expressed in other easy-to-understand ways? With regards to what it means, my personal understanding is that no life who is still in the stage of cultivation can explain it. Nonetheless, my very limited understanding of this expression is that this is, first of all, an issue of understanding what righteous faith is and how to establish righteous faith. Only with a righteous faith can a life be able to understand things from the perspective of the Fa; otherwise, that life is just learning Dafa on the basis of his own attachments and human notions, and the things he knows are usually the subjective explanations complying with his notions. In that way, he will be unable to understand the boundless meanings and content of the boundless Fa; that is to say, he cannot "understand the Fa from the perspective of Dafa."
Today, I finally summarized and wrote out some of my understanding and my cultivation process on the essential issue of having righteous faith. I hope that it can be a positive reference to others. Although the pace of Fa-rectification is very fast, there still are many areas in which we need to do well and the situation still is very complicated, and from this perspective, we still have a long way to go. We should make the best use of time in cultivating ourselves diligently and steadily and live up to the wide and far-reaching Buddha's grace of Master Li.
March 20, 2003