(Clearwisdom.net) Here is a story about Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. Qianlong once traveled incognito to the lower Yangtze valley. One day, he stood on a hill with an eminent Buddhist monk, and overlooked the numerous rowboats on the river heading south or north. Emperor Qianlong suddenly asked the monk, "How many boats are there on the river?" The monk thought about it for a moment, and replied, "Only two boats." "Why two boats?" Qianlong asked. The eminent monk responded, "One is called fame. The other one is called personal gain."

Emperor Qianlong might have wanted to challenge the monk with such a difficult question. However, the monk was a cultivator with supreme wisdom. He was not perplexed. Instead he ingeniously revealed the most essential issue in the human world - fame and gain. He hinted to Qianlong that every day people were lost in fame and fortune, including the emperor. As a cultivator, the monk took the fame and gain lightly. He had a clear understanding of everyday society, and was able to respond brilliantly.

Dafa practitioners cultivate in ordinary society. We are different from cultivators in the past who had to become monks or nuns. We do not distance ourselves from everyday society. In other words, we are surrounded by fame, gain and emotion every day. However, we have to gradually let go of the attachments to fame, gain and emotion until they are completely abandoned. It is not easy. That's why we are able to cultivate solidly, and improve rapidly. As Dafa practitioners, we should not be moved by ordinary society even though we live in the ordinary world. Our minds shall not be moved by emotion. Of course, it is easier said than done. Without a heart-wrenching, agonizing process of removing attachments, without such a painful process, how can we possibly break away from the human shell that has formed over thousands of years? It's not possible!

In the last moment of cultivation, I've noticed that many practitioners are still attached to fame, gain and emotion and cannot pull themselves out. Some tenaciously cling to human attachments and human notions. Some are busy buying houses, cars, and expensive furniture and electronics. They regard the illusions in the human world as something real. Some work hard to accumulate wealth for their children and grandchildren, to fulfill their obligations and hope to be taken care of when getting old. In one word, they do not want to let go of their human attachments. They even find excuses for themselves with Master's Fa, claiming to maximally conform to the ways of everyday people's society.

Well, looking inside, I am also like that, to various degrees at various times. As cultivators, when we calm down, we all know that nothing in the human world can be taken to the heaven. We all understand that we can only reach Consummation after we have abandoned all of our attachments and none of them remain. We all understand that everything we acquire postnatally that is not of our original nature must be removed before we can return to the heavenly kingdom. However, we get lost when we are back to the reality of everyday life. We become confused, get carried away, or even knowingly commit wrongdoings.

The cultivation of Dafa practitioners during the Fa-rectification period is different from any cultivation form in history. In the past, if one could not cultivate to Consummation in one lifetime, he would continue to cultivate in his next lifetime. Dafa practitioners have only this lifetime to cultivate. The Fa-rectification is moving forward rapidly, and there is little time and opportunity left for us. Every minute or second wasted is an irresponsibility and a crime committed to sentient beings.

Take measure of ourselves: how many human attachments and notions remain in us? How well have we fulfilled our prehistoric vows? What is the level of our xinxing (character)? How far are we away from the standard of Consummation? The answers can be quite astonishing to many of us, including myself.

My dear fellow practitioners, fame, gain, and emotion have been imposed on us in the thousands of years of reincarnation after we have descended to the three realms. They are substances for human beings. They do not belong to us, as we are Dafa disciples on the path to the divine. They are the biggest obstacles on our path to return to our true selves. We can only return after we eliminate them. Master teaches us,

"Fame, gain, emotion--cultivate each away,
And ascend to the Firmament at Consummation,
See the human world with eyes of compassion,
Then are you freed from the spell of delusion."

("Success at Consummation" in Hong Yin)

July 10, 2009