Western Practitioner: How I Finally Started to Break Through Lust and Desire After Seven Years
Presented at the Canada Fa Conference, 2007
Greetings Master, Greetings Fellow Practitioners!
I obtained the Fa in 2000. After seven years, I am only now starting to fundamentally break through the attachments of lust and desire. I can sum it up by saying that this whole time I wasn't doing 2 key things well - cultivating diligently, and truly looking inside.
Specifically, lust was just a surface attachment, not the root of my problem. After I truly became determined to overcome it and took it seriously, through tribulations, experience sharing, and memorizing the Fa, I identified and began overcoming a number of key factors that worked together, as arranged by the old forces, to persecute me. They were: emotion, thought karma, warped notions, a weak main consciousness, a lack of sending righteous thoughts, not understanding the Fa from the Fa, a lack of determination, not doing what Master asked, and fear.
As an ordinary person, looking back to my first memories, even at a very early age I had a strong sexual desire. Around the age of 3 I had a large rash on my groin that left a permanent scar. At the age of 7 or 8, I strongly desired to have sexual relations and didn't think anything of it. After I began my cultivation, I realized this was all junk and karma I accumulated in previous lifetimes that I had brought with me into this lifetime.
By the age of 10 I developed many filthy habits related to lust, one including looking at pornography. At the time I didn't think it was wrong, though I knew I should hide it. Growing older, members of the opposite sex gave me a lot of attention. From grade 6 until my completion of university, this attention continued. This and my own deviated factors caused me to develop many warped notions about the relationship between men and women, sexual activity, and human conduct. I also developed extremely strong attachments to fame, vanity, and my attachment to lust grew enormous. Now I believe this was also arranged by the old forces so as to so-called "test me" when I was to begin my cultivation.
When I started cultivating, I knew I should take lust lightly, but my thinking had warped so much I couldn't even detect it, nor did I have any concept of the proper relationship between men and women. Although I stopped my promiscuous behavior, I couldn't break away from pornography.
I wanted to talk about it with other practitioners, but I was too afraid of what they would think of me. I was ashamed, and continued to hide this dirty attachment inside of me. Though I kept trying to break free from it, it seemed I made no progress. I went through many cycles of thinking I had broken through it, whether for a few weeks or a few months, to falling down again and finding the attachment was still there.
In 2003, Master lectured in New York and very sternly scolded practitioners who continued to make mistakes in these regards. Master said,
"There are some people who are still doing some shameful and filthy things, things that are a disservice to Dafa, and things undeserving of the title of Dafa disciple. I haven't treated you differently. In the end, when you can't progress to Consummation, you yourself will have to bear the responsibility!" ("Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference, 2003")
I was shaken to my very core.
Master also said in New York,
"Let me put it this way, what I said just now is for all of those who have done things that are undeserving of the status of Dafa disciples. You'd better tell people about those things openly. That way, many things of yours will be eliminated, and at the same time it will make you really strengthen your resolve [to correct your behavior]." ("Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference, 2003")
So I knew I had to tell people about my problem. But I was very afraid. I resolved to tell two practitioners, one close to me and my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time). I also sent in a Solemn Declaration to Clearwisdom.
And for a long period of time after that the bad behavior disappeared. But it came back yet again. Looking back now, I realize I wasn't truly looking within and searching my xinxing for problems, nor was I fundamentally improving myself by becoming more diligent. I never made it a top priority or devoted time to completely resolving the issue. So it came up again and again.
In early 2004, a Clearwisdom editorial came out, titled, "On the Relationship Between Members of the Opposite Sex and the Issue of Marriage." It discussed how some practitioners had still been engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, even after Master's 2003 New York lecture, and that this behavior damaged truth-clarification activities, produced immense amounts of karma, and soiled Dafa's reputation. It also laid out what one should do to correct one's behavior, stating, "... in order to truly solve the problem, the person needs to not only know that it is the requirement from Master, the person must also memorize all the relevant teachings from Master, take them to heart, and truly learn to understand why Master made such a requirement from the perspective of Fa principles. Only then, can such a person completely correct himself."
Thus I felt anxious again, and began trying to memorize the Fa, and the problem seemed to go away. And when it seemed my problem had disappeared, I again foolishly let down my guard and stopped memorizing, and it returned once again.
Though I started to realize this behavior had huge consequences I still couldn't correct myself. And my tribulations started to get big. I had vivid, terrifying nightmares, like giant reptiles and pythons invading my universe in other dimensions.
But nightmares weren't the end of it. Sometime in 2005, very strong and extremely evil thoughts started pouring into my head. They were thoughts of quitting my cultivation, taking my own life, or harming innocent life. I knew those thoughts were not mine, I had never had such evil thoughts my whole life. I started sending righteous thoughts and asked my wife to help me. Eventually they went away. Later on I understood what was going on when I read "Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles (2006)",
"So the old forces and all of the gods in that cosmos will not defend anyone who violates the prohibition on this, anyone who doesn't do well in this regard; in fact they will push you downwards. They know [and think to themselves], 'Li Hongzhi, you won't abandon your disciples, so we will make you abandon them.' That's why they have the students who have made mistakes make more mistakes, over and over, and in the end do wicked things and go to the opposite side. 'We will fill his head with crooked understandings and make him damage Dafa. Then we will see if you still keep him.' " ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles, 2006")
I was being directly targeted and persecuted by so-called high level beings because of my problems with lust. That scared me and the pressure on my mind was tremendous. I started to doubt if I could ever meet the standard of a true practitioner and reach Consummation. My selfishness also caused me to think about losing my own future and existence. Perhaps if I had thought more of saving sentient beings than of myself, I would have been able to cause changes to happen sooner.
What's more, personal cultivation is closely tied to saving all beings. The projects where I played a major role would often hit roadblocks when this issued reared its ugly head, some for a long time.
"When Dafa disciples themselves can't do well, they cannot save sentient beings. ... When the thoughts that you project are unrighteous, how could you do that task well?" ("Fa Teaching at the 2007 New York Fa Conference (Q&A Portion, Part 2)")
I resolved to make Fa study a priority again, and became determined to fix my problem. I studied the Fa for at least 2 hours every day. No matter what was happening in my day, I studied it first, and made sure to truly calm my mind and take it all in by reading slowly. I had almost no lustful thoughts.
But then a few weeks later, my dirty problem reappeared. This time I was utterly devastated. The pain was unbearable - I thought I had done everything I could and truly studied the Fa well, but still could not correct myself. I clearly remember that day sitting on my shower floor and just crying. In my heart I called out to Master, and said, "Master, I haven't lost faith in you or in the Fa. I know it's wrong, but I am losing faith in myself." I felt I had failed the purpose of my existence, had failed my Master, had failed to save the sentient beings, and had failed the entire cosmos. It is hard to put into words that kind of agony.
The old forces were trying to pump up my regret and painful emotions so as to control me. They could never make me turn against the Fa or Master, so they wanted to break my will, just like how they try to have practitioners in Mainland China sign repentance statements.
"It knows very well that that's all fake and can't change people's hearts, so why does it insist on doing that? Why does it insist on having you sign that paper? ... They just want to make you fall." (Guiding the Voyage, "Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. International Fa Conference, 2001")
By studying the Fa and sending righteous thoughts, I readjusted myself and broke out of their tribulation. Later, my wife told me, "Master said to tell people about your problem, but you've only told two people." I realized she was right so I decided to call a practitioner close to me and talk about my problem.
Immediately, a strong fear tried to stop me. What would this practitioner think? I read "Pass the Deadly Test" over and over to overcome my fear. In it Master said,
"Dafa disciples have made it through during cultivation and unparalleled evil persecution, so they are deeply aware of the hardships in cultivation, and they won't fail to understand the students who have gone down the wrong path. So I am telling you one more time here: All students who have made these kinds of mistakes [spying], starting now it's best that you publicly state that you are getting rid of that filthy burden and returning to Dafa." ("Pass the Deadly Test")
As I picked up the phone, my whole body was shaking. In my mind, I strengthened my righteous thoughts, "I don't care what other people think. I will do what I need to do!"
When the other practitioner answered the phone, I said hello and jumped right into talking about my problem. The things I was always too terrified and utterly ashamed to admit to, I forced the words out of my mouth. The other practitioner listened quietly. When I was finished speaking, he did not judge me at all. On the contrary, he started to share with me some of his experiences with lust. It turned out in the past, this practitioner had a similar type of problem, and had completely broken through it by memorizing the Fa as the Clearwisdom editorial instructed, and by taking the time to treat the issue seriously. Hearing this, I had a renewed confidence I had never felt before.
That day was when everything started to change. I became utterly determined to completely smash through this obstacle. I read the Clearwisdom editorial over a few times. The end of the editorial reads, "Do you really want to lose your eternal future and that of all the sentient beings who depend on you for the sake of that little bit of degenerated so-called "enjoyment" that is in front of you in the human world?" I thought to myself: No, I don't! I collected all the relevant Fa about lust, then I began memorizing it and sending righteous thoughts every hour.
In only a few days, tremendous changes began occurring. The first was, I had a two week long, extremely painful physical cleansing. I knew Master was purifying my body and that it was a good thing.
Another change was that I became more tranquil during righteous thoughts. The most notable thing, though, was how the Fa was right in my mind during a tribulation. Master said,
"Persons who have memorized the book find that whenever they run into problems they immediately recall the Fa." "(First Fa Teaching Given in the United States, 1996")
The next time some lustful thought karma appeared in my head, my first thought was from the Fa I memorized. It was,
"Most people, however, can remove and resist it with very strong thoughts from themselves (a strong Main Consciousness)." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 6, Your Main Consciousness Should Predominate)
I recited it again and again. I said in my mind loudly, "No! I don't want you! You are not me!" In a little while, the karma was eliminated.
After a few weeks passed, I was again tricked by lust and desire and failed the test. However, this time I didn't lose my confidence, nor let the old forces push me to an extremely emotional and depressed state. Master said in New York 2003,
"When problems occur, instead of searching for problems in their xinxing, fundamentally improving themselves, or truly letting go of the matter and coming through in an open and dignified manner by another route, they focus on the thing at hand..." (Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference, 2003)
So instead, I truly looked inside. I wondered, "Why can this still happen? What is the problem in my xinxing?"
"If a cultivator is not diligent and doesn't look for the fundamental motives behind his thoughts, it is going to be hard for him to tell which is which. Why do some people go a long time without being able to eliminate thought karma? It's because they don't try to distinguish which thoughts are their own." (Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference, LA, 1999)
Over the next few months, I carefully examined the motives behind my thoughts, and what I found was that emotion, thought karma, warped notions, a weak main consciousness, a lack of sending righteous thoughts, not understanding the Fa from the Fa, a lack of determination, not doing what Master asked, and fear were the things blocking me.
My biggest problem was that I didn't do what Master asked. Master said I should tell people about my problem. From my personal understanding of the Clearwisdom editorial, I felt that Master wanted me to memorize the Fa related to lust. How can I expect to overcome my problems in cultivation if I don't do what my Master says? Master said,
"With any master, if he had a disciple like that, that disciple would get sent home sooner or later, because if you don't do what your master tells you, what kind of a disciple are you?" ("Teaching the Fa at the Meeting with Asia-Pacific Students")
When I finally started doing what Master asked, everything began to change.
On the surface fear was the most terrifying obstacle, but it was actually the easiest to overcome. It just takes facing the fear. Fear tries to paralyze one into inaction or continuing down a wrong course. Hiding the omission makes it grow stronger. I memorized "Pass the Deadly Test." This gave me a deeper understanding of the issue and strong righteous thoughts - I then faced my fear and forced myself to call a fellow practitioner and talk at a local practice site. After doing these things I saw a lot of improvement in myself.
Next was thought karma. By memorizing the Fa I came to understand more about thought karma - it was generated by me in my different lifetimes. I understood that Master uses our karma to help us improve, by giving us small pieces at a time that we are able to overcome. The old forces, however, want to use our karma to destroy us, so they try to push large portions all at once onto us that are extremely difficult to overcome. This is why every 1-2 weeks, a giant portion of thought karma would dump into my mind, filled with explicit sexual thoughts and images that I could not get to go away.
Master said in Zhuan Falun,
"Since everything in other dimensions has life, karma is also the same. When one begins to practice cultivation in a righteous way, one must eliminate one's karma." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 6, "Your Main Consciousness Should Predominate")
I realized the solution was to negate the old forces arrangements, while simultaneously sending righteous thoughts to completely eliminate the thought karma I had created - which is actually a living evil being in another dimension. So I began sending righteous thoughts on the hour, targeting my warped notions and thought karma like the Clearwisdom editorial states. After a period of time, my lust thought karma in my daily life came to be almost non-existent.
What I enlightened to was, in regards to lust, the old forces need both thought karma and warped notions to persecute practitioners. They first pump thought karma into one's mind for as long as possible. They try to reach deeper and deeper into one's being, passing over the various layers that have been cultivated well or are unaffected, until they hit the warped notions that still exist in a practitioner, in hopes they can trigger that notion with the thought karma. Once the notion is triggered, all that has to happen is for the practitioner to subconsciously accept the wicked thought karma - which can happen easily because warped notions pretend to be us, though they are not. Once some kind of acceptance, momentary thinking it over, or physical reaction in the body takes place, the old forces can gain control. In Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A., Master states,
"When a person himself doesn't have righteous thoughts, all the bad things in the cosmos, or in the Three Realms, will flow around continually in the human body, and even when they stay there the person doesn't realize it. That's how people are manipulated; in other words, they manipulate people when these particles are able to connect with each other."
So what specifically are the warped notions? For myself, they were that sexual activity is a key part of the romantic male/female relationship, and that degenerate sexual behavior is so-called "enjoyable." When the thought karma was especially severe from the old forces dumping it into my mind to try to trigger my yet-to-be completely eliminated warped notions, when I felt my heart begin to move I would yell in my mind, "Who said it's good?! I didn't say it was good! My Master didn't say it was good! You say it's good but you are not me, you are eliminated!" If my mind was truly firm, the thoughts were gone.
Since I did not truly understand the Fa principles myself, even though I knew it was wrong, I could not correct myself. Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the Meeting with Asia-Pacific Students",
"But when you've realized things from the Fa's principles and have understood the effect that doing that might have on your existence, only then have you truly improved, and only then are you truly able to do it." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York")
I knew I had to break my warped modern peoples' notion that sexual activity exists for pleasure. I also had to understand what the punishment is for breaking the rules gods laid down in regards to this.
I realized that indulging lustful thoughts without action is just as bad. An old excuse I used to give myself was, "It's not hurting anyone." But actually, it hurts everyone and causes serious, tangible damage to society. If more people think that way and indulge lust, the entire society's moral code will fall. Master said in Essentials for Further Advancement I,
"A person's behavior is dictated by his thoughts. With a mind full of such things, what's a person able to do?" ("Melt Into The Fa", Essentials for Further Advancement I).
Sooner or later, a person with such warped thoughts will engage in warped behavior, and that will destroy families and children's lives. And the children born into that society will be immediately warped by the prevailing warped culture. Master said,
"Dafa disciples are to intercept and put a stop to the world's descent! It's about not letting mankind slide downward, so why is it that you yourself for such a long time now haven't managed to step out of that?" ("Fa Teaching at the 2007 New York Fa Conference, Q&A Part 2")
If cultivators don't do well in this regard, we will actually hinder and damage the salvation of those people who came to obtain the Fa. So, what kind of punishment does a person deserve for ruining the entire human life of a child, warping society's moral code, or blocking people from obtaining the Fa? From this perspective I began to realize why it such a serious problem.
My strong attachment to emotion was another key problem. Emotion underlies all attachments - I knew this, but only superficially. The fundamental reason I was still attached to emotion was because I still wanted things in the human world. Master said,
"Whatever a person wants is up to him, and only when you don't want that stuff can it be eliminated for you." ("Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference, 1999, Los Angeles")
But why did I want those things in the first place? Master said,
"Actually, human beings are passively attached to emotion. And when you are attached to it, it will create all kinds of attachments in your mind." ("Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference, 1999, Los Angeles")
Why can I sit in front of a computer all day for work while others may not be able to? Why could I develop an attachment to something like pornography? Because I encountered those things as a child, and with the one thought during encountering them thinking it might be good, a notion and attachment developed. The issue is, following that action that stems from emotion is not done from a rational thought, but rather simply becomes one "feels like it."
In a question and answer about sexual attraction, Master said,
"[Those people are] driven by human feelings and emotions way too much." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference")
I realized my whole life I've been driven by human feelings and emotions. I just "felt like" eating something sweet, I just "felt like" lying down because I'm tired, I just "felt like" degenerate sexual behavior. This was the key as to why some old attachments kept re-occurring. Acting based on feelings is like indulgence, and I've found that each small action of indulgence weakens one's main consciousness and determination. Making a conscious choice to not indulge, not wanting things in the human world, and doing the exercises more are good ways to strengthen one's main consciousness and reduce emotion.
Finally, I found problems could still occur if my Fa study dropped. The human surface is constantly being assimilated to the Fa and partitioned off. Master said,
"When a cultivator's mind departs from the Fa, the evil will find its way in." ("Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A.")
Master also said,
"You must not let the old forces' factors and the wicked beings take advantage of your gaps and persecute you to a point where eventually you can no longer cultivate." ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles, 2006")
Therefore I realized as long as I have this human body, at some layer I will have gaps and wrong understandings, so it is crucial that I not let my Fa study drop for even one day.
So to sum it up, I feel that breaking through lust and desire requires two key things: Cultivating diligently, and truly looking inside. And for people with serious problems like myself, it takes memorizing the Fa and sending righteous thoughts more often. I haven't totally let go of sexual desire, I am still working on it. But I know now I can do it with Master's guidance, and I won't feel hopeless anymore like I did in the past. Saving beings is so urgent now with morality's downslide - I want to hurry and catch up so I can have pure righteous thoughts to save sentient beings. Master said,
"As your Master, I have never kept account of the wrong things you have done in your cultivation; I remember only the good things you have done and your accomplishments." ("Pass the Deadly Test")
I will never be able to repay Master for his immense mercy, for saving me, and for still giving me this wonderful opportunity to cultivate.
Thank you Master, thank you everyone!
Category: Journeys of Cultivation