Advancing Beyond Our Beginning-Stage Understandings
(Clearwisdom.net) I began studying the Fa in the second half of 1997. In the intervening years I've learned some things from my cultivation experiences that I'd like to share with everyone.
1. The Main Consciousness Should Predominate
During the period from the beginning of my cultivation to the time of two years ago, I always thought my main consciousness to be predominant. My understanding of a strong main consciousness was that of not doing anything unconsciously, but knowing very well what I was doing or wanting to do. Then, one day in 2002 a practitioner reminded me, "Your main consciousness should predominate." I became very puzzled - how come my main consciousness was not predominant? I had always been "clear-minded" and was never muddle-headed.
From Fa study and practicing the exercises I started to have a deeper understanding of this. I now realize that the main consciousness Teacher spoke of is one's true and pure self, one that does not carry thoughts and things that don't belong to one's own level - this is the true self. I had previously treated all my notions, even strong attachments to doing certain things, as part of myself. I merely thought that a predominant main consciousness was about my mind and action not being controlled by spirits in other dimensions. I treated the following things as myself: various notions, passiveness and depression caused by human attachments, in addition to all kinds of interference. I was often carried away by those things, not knowing that I had been interfered with. I often wondered why I always felt so hurt.
I realized that it is crucially important to have a predominant main consciousness, knowing which thoughts are mine, and eliminating those that are not. This is the first step that we take while facing the issue of upgrading our xinxing. Teacher said,
"It is a principle of this universe that nobody should interfere with what you pursue." "There is another principle in our universe: If you pursue or want something, others are not willing to interfere." (Zhuan Falun, from 2000 translation version)
If we perceive all human notions as ourselves, recognizing them and wanting them, how can we get rid of them?
2. Meditation in tranquility
I now have this understanding of the concept of meditating in tranquility in Teacher's lecture: every time we experience something or hear something, we will generate some ideas and brain activities. We also have righteous thoughts, but they are not firm. When righteous thoughts emerge, all kinds of notions, attachments and interference will come along with them. If our minds are not clear enough, or our main consciousness does not predominate, if we perceive the interference as coming from ourselves, our minds will waver back and forth between righteous thoughts and human notions. We will either strengthen the righteous thoughts, or be carried away by various notions and attachments and conduct a misdeed.
For example, one practitioner was persecuted by the evil. During the persecution, all kinds of thoughts came out: "I should not be persecuted by evil. No one is worthy of testing Dafa practitioners. I must not cooperate with any of the evil's requests." At the same time there were also human thoughts: "If I behave this way, will I face persecution that's more severe and suffer more hardships? How do I deal with that?" Ordinary people's thoughts appeared to be strong, and the righteous thoughts were not very solid. The practitioner wavered in terms of understanding.
In this circumstance, overtly we may not have cooperated with evildoer's request, but we will suffer more severe persecution or remain trapped by the evil if we cannot maintain our righteous thoughts.
Some people cannot figure this out: they have given much of themselves and have "followed" Teacher's Fa in doing things. They have suffered much tribulation. But in the end, things still didn't turn out as Teacher had indicated,
"Dafa disciples' righteous thoughts are powerful." ("Dafa Disciples' Righteous Thoughts are Powerful" from Essentials for Further Advancement II)
They wondered why their circumstances didn't improve and why they still suffered from persecution. That is why they still couldn't completely believe and understand Teacher's lectures from the bottom of their hearts.
Here is my understanding on this issue: we should not doubt Teacher's Fa. When our righteous thoughts emerged, we didn't eliminate all the interference, and we didn't solidify the righteous thoughts. Our righteous thoughts were not firm, or the power of righteous thoughts was not unleashed. Given these circumstances, we suffered from persecution. The old forces would take advantage of those situations to strengthen our human attachments and to shake our beliefs in Teacher and Dafa.
In Zhuan Falun, Teacher pointed out,
"Sakyamuni said that one should chant the scripture with a righteous mind and undivided attention in order to shake the paradise of his cultivation practice. Only then can a great enlightened person be invited."(Zhuan Falun)
Teacher spoke of "a clear and clean mind." He told us why we are unable to achieve tranquility during meditation. I want to share my understanding about this issue.
Once, a Western practitioner wrote an experience-sharing article, in which he said when his righteous thoughts emerged, "[I] felt the strength of my thoughts could cut open a mountain." I believe that we should think back a moment. When we made up our minds about something, how did our attitudes and surroundings change, and conversely, what happened when we hesitated? We should have a certain measure of comprehension. If we are able to solidify righteous thoughts in the course of Fa-rectification cultivation, the mighty power of righteous thoughts will definitely eliminate evil elements, eradicate all kinds of interference and destroy any persecution that we should not endure.
3. We cannot make conclusions based on the appearance of things. The key point is to cultivate our inner self and look inward.
The cultivation state of practitioners as a whole body in a certain area was not good. Several practitioners who could have stepped forward to validate Dafa suffered serious persecution. For a period of time, one practitioner who was set free from a forced labor camp validated the Fa extensively in that area, making truth-clarifying materials and sharing experiences with practitionerss. One day the local police suddenly arrested her from her home.
The incident brought on major fluctuations among local practitioners. Some practitioners couldn't understand: Why was such a practitioner who was so diligent and walked her path so righteously still severely persecuted?
My personal understanding is: First, we shouldn't draw conclusions on what is happening with a practitioner, good or bad in cultivation, from the appearance of things. Everything has its real reason in other dimensions. When something happens, in addition to righteously denying the old forces' persecution, we should still search inward and find our own shortcomings and loopholes. What thoughts do not conform to the Fa's standards? What is our focus of attention? For example, some practitioners do something for Dafa for the purpose of upgrading their levels; some practitioners do things to avoid the evildoers' persecution, thinking that if they don't do things for Dafa, the evildoers will have an excuse to persecute them. There are all kinds of thoughts.
Besides this kind of reasoning, are there things happening because one ignores cultivation in everyday life or even lets human attachments drift and follows one's inclinations? We cannot find the true reason from the appearance of something. There are many illusions in the human dimension. One cause may induce a variety of human behaviors but it only manifests differently in the human society. If we come to a conclusion from only one thing, we may deviate more and more from the Fa. So, I think we should look inward in everything and measure things with the standards of the Fa.
I understand that no lives are allowed to interfere with and damage the Fa-rectification. Yet the old forces and those evil factors would rather die than not do things according to their demands. It is true that the evildoers ought not to persecute us, and we don't acknowledge the old forces. However, we are still cultivating in the human society. During our cultivation in the Fa-rectification period we haven't completely met the standards required by the Fa. We have loopholes so that the evil can take advantage of them. But, that shouldn't be our excuse not to cultivate our inner-self, but to look for external causes.
Master told us in Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore (August 22 & 23, 1998),
"If you can examine yourselves with every thing you come across, then I'd say you are really remarkable, and nothing can block you on your path to Consummation. Yet when we run into problems, we often look outwards--"Why are you treating me like that?"--and feel that we've been treated unfairly, instead of examining ourselves. That's the greatest and most fatal obstacle for all living beings. In the past, some people said that it was impossible to succeed in cultivation. How could one succeed in cultivation? [They couldn't succeed] because that was the biggest obstacle, and nobody was willing to find faults in himself amidst problems. When a person feels hurt, or when he encounters misfortune, it's really difficult for him to still examine himself and see if he's done something wrong. If a person can do that, then I'd say that on this path, on this path of cultivation, and for the eternity of his existence, nothing can stop him. It's truly the case."
4. Upgrading Xinxing
For a long time I've simply understood the upgrading of xinxing as something like this: if one can understand the Fa Master taught, one has high enlightenment quality and good xinxing. Recently I read in the first lecture of Zhuan Falun, "Why Doesn't Your Gong Increase with Your Practices?" where Master teach us,
"What is xinxing? It includes de (a type of matter), tolerance, enlightenment quality, sacrifice, giving up ordinary people's different desires and attachments, being able to suffer hardships, and so on. It encompasses various things. Every aspect of xinxing must be upgraded for you to make real progress. This is a crucial factor in improving gong potency (gongli)."
Only then I did truly understand that xinxing encompasses many things. That we are good in some aspects doesn't mean that our xinxing is good. It is not easy to truly upgrade our xinxing, either.
Not until then did I suddenly realize that I had regarded good enlightenment quality as meaning a high xinxing level and that I had this understanding for many years without improvement. I found that sometimes I could understand a principle Master taught, but I couldn't put it into action and couldn't cultivate and improve from it. Sometimes it did not happen because that I encountered problems and then had to change myself. I was not clear minded about what was involved in upgrading xinxing.
Then I began to try my best to pay attention to everything. When I set my mind on xinxing improvement with a clear sense of purpose, I felt that I could understand the Fa, yet the human emotions, notions, and attachments I had developed in human society blocked me and prevented me from changing. They were reluctant to change. It was really difficult to make it at times; it seemed particularly difficult when I did things according to the Fa for the first time after I had understood the Fa. But as long as I accomplished it once, it was much easier for me to do it later when I ran across the same kind of thing. Gradually I could do things according to the Fa and could cultivate myself well.
When I shared my experience with other practitioners, especially younger practitioners, I found that a few practitioners had the same misunderstanding as I had before, regarding understanding certain contents Master taught as they related to a high xinxing level. I understood the concept of xinxing in a simplistic way instead of improving my xinxing with a clear mind and taking the initiative. We didn't pay enough attention to upgrading xinxing, either. So, I wrote down my experiences and discussed it together with other practitioners.
5. Choosing between being a human or a cultivator with every single thought
In our cultivation process, we come across all kinds of things, and they bring us all kinds of thoughts. I found that with each situation we encounter, we are either removing attachments or strengthening attachments--that is, either improving or regressing.
The human mindset would move me when I came across certain issues and they followed that mindset. By following the mindset, I had then already strengthened the attachments. If I often acted this way, the attachments would become stronger and stronger. On the other hand, when I could realize that it was an attachment and refused to acknowledge it each time and did things according to the Fa, gradually I found that the attachment became weaker or disappeared all together. In the course of strengthening my righteous thoughts and rejecting the interference, after a period of time, I improved.
Sometimes I fell into bad habits, for example calling practitioners at home. Although it did not happen too often, I had never done this before. After keeping in touch with a practitioner for a period of time, that practitioner had a weak sense of security and called practitioners at home or with a cell phone. I was also influenced. In another example, after keeping in touch with a practitioner for a period of time, although I felt that the practitioner was somewhat wasteful and I was not in favor of it, gradually I also became less mindful of waste in some aspects and was a little wasteful.
Talking about these things seems to be searching outward. The real meaning is that when I did something later on, some thoughts came up: How convenient it is making calls at home. There is no need to go out to make a call from a public phone. It saves trouble. Making such calls only occasionally won't affect anything important. Initially I did not become aware of this thought. I still followed this thought later on and thus strengthened it. Gradually I developed this bad habit. Actually, many things, many so-called "habits," were gradually developed this way. They are all attachments and human notions. I did not realize this course of developments at first, until one day I suddenly found I had already changed. I thought that the influences between friends, between fellow practitioners, or between couples are all exerted this way, slowly and without realizing it.
6. Cultivating by Taking the Initiative
For a long time, many fellow practitioners and I held the thought that only when encountering a specific conflict or hitting an obstacle will we be able to cultivate and look inward. Now I realize it is just one aspect of many for improving ourselves, this format only emerges when we do not know where our problem lies. Improving cannot be limited to just one such aspect. We should cultivate ourselves more proactively, taking the initiative to look inward to improve ourselves. I find there are still many things for us to think of and look for inside to improve, even if we only have few contacts with people that day. For example, when walking on the street or hearing or seeing people talking or doing something, a thought may occasionally arise in our mind about the event and our opinion about it. Sometimes I am aware of my thoughts, and thus I am able to judge it according to the Fa and to correct it. Sometimes, I think irrationally by following other people's words and allow my own improper thoughts to further develop.
I believe that in our cultivation we should take greater initiative to look inward and cultivate ourselves well. To a cultivator, nothing is accidental. We should more proactively cultivate and improve ourselves. When I truly look inward, I find I will not be easily stuck on the attachment of loss or gain. When this happens, my mind is more at peace and more reasonable.
7. Cultivation of speech
My understanding on cultivation of speech fundamentally amounts to if one can guard one's xinxing. It is the issue of cultivating one's mind. For example, those who work on truth-clarifying materials should not become involved in certain issues that are security risks. I think this non-involvement should also extend to gossiping about a fellow practitioner, what his daily life is like, what his cultivation status is, what he said, what kind of a job he has or what he encountered. I find many practitioners often purposefully or unconsciously add their opinion or understanding when listening to such stories. When they repeat the stories to others, they may mix their opinions and attachment into the stories.
I once saw a cartoon where two mouths were talking about a chicken feather. More and more mouths repeated the tale. Eventually the chicken feather became a phoenix and flew away.
It is the same with this experience-sharing article I am writing - at certain points I wanted to make the article more attractive and intended to add more adjectives to describe certain things; then I found the meaning of the some words became corrupted and my understanding became impure. Then I had to modify it again. Many human thoughts and attachments also manifested during the writing. I feel that this is also a process to cultivate my xinxing.
Cultivation of speech is a part of cultivating one's xinxing. I think if I can guard myself during the process of speaking or listening [or writing] and truly think of others and truly want to help others, it is okay. If, however, I intend to talk or gossip about something, certain attachments of mine will come into play. If I do not pay attention to my xinxing when I say something, it may have bad consequences. All of us know that thought is matter. If more people think the same way, it can form a large field of matter, interfere with the relevant practitioners and create a bad effect. We should pay attention to such things. If we are not certain about something, we should not guess according to our own understanding and pass hearsay around. Many things may be stirred up by a small attachment. When the consequences have already happened and avoidable damage has been done, then it is too late.
The above are my cultivation experiences and understandings that are different from the early stage of my cultivation during the recent few years. I realize our present understanding should not remain at the early stage of our cultivation. Through this long period of cultivation, we should not still keep our beginning-stage understandings. We are studying the Fa. We should act according to Master's words,
"The only way to gain a good understanding of Dafa is to study it without any intention." ["Learning the Fa" from Falun Dafa Essentials for Further Advancement]
We should also give up our understanding of certain words or sentences. When we read the book, do not think what this meant to you before. When we exchange different opinions with other practitioners we should not always think that our understanding is correct. We should ask: is it correct according to the Fa?
I think it is not proper to list each of my understandings. The Fa that Master taught us is all encompassing and these principles are not isolated. There are many reasons behind them and they can be understood from many different angles; however, making a list can help one think more clearly, so I did so. Some of the issues here are what I was not clear on during five or even seven years of cultivation. Some of the issues also exist among other practitioners, so I wanted to share some understandings about those attachments. Let us share experiences and improve together.
Please kindly point out anything improper.
October 22, 2005