(Clearwisdom.net) The idiom "Good-looking outside, but shabby and bad on the inside" came from Liu Ji's "The Orange Seller's Words" During the Ming dynasty. The original writing is "You see they live in beautiful houses, sit on big horses, have good food, and drink good wine. They look like big figures and are scary. They actually are good-looking outside, but shabby and bad on the inside." Liu Ji used the orange seller's comments to criticize and expose the flashy yet deceptive lives of government officials and bureaucrats.

The concepts of beautiful and ugly, and good and bad in the world are all relative. Some people look ugly, but are kind hearted. Some say good words, but are hypocritical and murderous. Then, how can one distinguish good people from bad ones? It depends on a person's fundamental nature, or heart. If a person has a kind heart, even if he or she looks ugly or is very poor, this person has hope to improve because doing good deeds will certainly accumulate virtue, and accumulating virtue will be rewarded. However, if a person is insidious, and his or her mind is set on harming others, eventually this person will suffer, as harming others is the same as harming oneself.

Cultivation is also the same. Cultivating one's fundamental nature, one can improve fast, have fewer tribulations, and can overcome obstacles easily. The fundamental requirement in cultivation is to improve one's xinxing, or character, and get rid of attachments. If one's xinxing does not improve, even if one says kind words, it is only kindness on the surface. It is not true cultivation, and it cannot escape God's eyes. God only looks at one's heart.

For a long time, we have been discussing the issues of sickness karma and persecution. Why are there people who continue to have sickness karma and cannot get rid of it? Why are people persecuted repeatedly? Of course, the causes are many, but we also want to ask ourselves whether we have the problem of "Looking good on the outside, but shabby and bad on the inside?" That is, have we paid attention to true cultivation and to cultivating our xinxing?

Any tribulation we meet can be passed when our xinxing improves. On the contrary, if our xinxing does not improve, we will be trapped in the pain of tribulations. Everyone wants to make rapid improvement. Master Li says in Zhuan Falun,

"Why don't they let you move up? It is because your xinxing has not improved. There are different criteria for every level. If you want to reach a higher level, you must abandon your ill thoughts and clean out your filthy things in order to assimilate to the requirements of the standard at that level. Only by doing so can you ascend." (Zhuan Falun)

Just as Master Li said, if you can promptly "abandon your ill thoughts and clean out your filthy things" you can ascend to higher levels, make breakthroughs and overcome tribulations in cultivation.

For example, when a practitioner experiences sickness karma, he says, "I can abandon anything. This is all an illusion. I do not have sickness." In his daily life, however, he needs assistance from others. Although he does not mention "sickness," he does not let go of it in his heart. This is very clear in God's eyes.

Another example is how some practitioners do many things to clarify the facts about Falun Gong and expose the persecution. They distribute a lot of truth clarification materials and they think they have cultivated well. The purpose of clarifying the facts is to save sentient beings, to cultivate ourselves, to bring out our benevolence, and to get rid of our human notions. You can't face danger with human thinking. We should gradually relinquish our human notions. If we pursue formalities externally, our hearts will be empty. The most important thing in our cultivation is to check if our starting point is correct, our mind is clean, our thoughts are correct, and our hearts are pure. Our cultivation is not about formalities. If we disregard our fundamental nature and pursue only superficial beauty, aren't we stressing form over substance?

People can have shortcomings. A cultivator may also have flaws. It is better to be dirty on the surface rather than in one's heart. We are deceiving ourselves if we use excuses to hide our impure hearts.

Original article date: 11/25/2008.