Setting Right the Starting Point of Cultivation and Breaking Through Tribulations of Sickness Karma
(Clearwisdom.net) Recently, many fellow practitioners in my area appear to have caught serious diseases. I would like to share with them my understandings about entirely negating sickness karma. I hope this will serve as a reference for overcoming their tribulations.
I am an elderly Dafa practitioner and I have practiced Falun Gong for more than ten years. I suffered from many health problems like gastric illnesses, heart disease, enteritis, and arthritis, but I recovered after I start practicing Falun Gong.
One day after the Fa-rectification period began, I felt ill in my chest. I felt hungry every morning even though I just had breakfast. I did not think anything about it at first; I thought I was just hungry, but it grew worse as time passed. I would feel hungry even after I just had dinner, and the ailment in my chest grew stronger. When I went to distribute truth-clarification materials or explain the truth about Falun Gong to people at night, the pain would start, and it bothered me. Sometimes it hurt so much that I had to bend over and could hardly walk. It became a serious interference with my Fa validation and saving sentient beings. I realized that such karmic tribulation could be an arrangement by the old forces to interfere with my Fa validation and that I must negate it entirely. Then I looked inside and asked, "Why would the evil take advantage of the illusive sickness karma of mine to interfere with me? Is there anything in the Fa principle about sickness karma in particular, that I have failed to see? Have I genuinely measured myself against the Fa in my cultivation as a practitioner?"
1. Discerning my fundamental attachments and setting right the starting point of my cultivation
When the pain in my chest first occurred, I thought, "Certainly this is happening because of my failure to spend enough time studying the Fa. In particular, my gong energy is not functioning fully. If it functions fully, the pain in my chest will be gone." Deeply buried in my heart was the intention to use my gong to cure my illness. Was I not doing the Falun Gong exercises as an indirect cure for my disease? On the surface I looked inside myself for the sake of diligent cultivation, but behind the surface was my pursuit of curing my illness. I was exactly like the kind of person that Teacher mentioned in his teachings:
"Yet in their minds they're still thinking, 'As long as I do the exercises, Master is sure to clear out my ailments.' You see, in their minds they're still thinking, 'As long as I do the exercises, Master will surely clear out my ailments.' That bit of thought is still there, buried deep in their minds. They still want me to resolve their health problems, which is to say, they're still attached to their ailments. " ("Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland")
"Studying the Fa with attachments is not true cultivation. Yet during the course of cultivation a person may gradually become aware of his fundamental attachments, rid himself of them, and thus meet the standard for a cultivator. " ("Towards Consummation," Essentials for Further Advancement II)
What actually is the fundamental attachment? Teacher taught:
"...through reading the books, studying the Fa, and diligently making progress, you should clearly recognize what your thoughts were when you first came to Dafa. After cultivating for a period of time, are your thoughts still the same? Are you continuing on the path because of those human attachments? If so, you cannot be counted as my disciple. It means that you haven't gotten rid of your fundamental attachments and that you are unable to understand the Fa from the Fa." ("Towards Consummation," Essentials for Further Advancement II)
Measuring myself against the teaching, I asked myself, "I set out to practice Falun Gong out of the intention to heal my diseases. After cultivating for so long, this fundamental attachment is still there. Can I be counted as a genuine Dafa disciple?" Teacher only takes care of cultivators. This is a serious problem that I must rectify. Dafa is effective in healing and staying fit, but it is not taught for that. It is for cultivating Buddhahood. Whenever I was in bad physical condition, I would casually regard Falun Gong as a way of healing, but now I had to set right the starting point of my cultivation immediately.
2. Looking inside and improving my xinxing
During the past few years of cultivation I would casually argue or dispute with others when I clarified the truth to them about Falun Gong. Due to my failure to closely guard my cultivation state, I handled conflicts just as a normal person would. When I was wronged by other people I would talk about the bitterness in my heart with fellow practitioners.
"Cultivation is about looking inside yourself. Whether you are right or wrong, you should examine yourself. Cultivation is about getting rid of human attachments. If you always reject reproaches and criticism, always point your fingers at others, and always refute others' disapproval and criticism, is that cultivating? How is that cultivating?"
"In passing, I will tell you that this thing has become quite pronounced for us overall. With some people it has gotten so bad that nobody can say a word about them. It looks like I can't go any longer without addressing it. Some people have become like matches--one stroke and they ignite. They're like land mines--one step and they detonate. [They are acting like,] "You can't criticize me. I can't take any criticism." They no longer listen to any expression of disapproval or disagreement, whether it was meant out of good or ill will, was intentional or unintentional; they reject everything flat out, and even less do they examine themselves. It has gotten quite severe."
"Be sure to pay heed! From this point on, whoever can't take criticism is not being diligent, whoever can't take criticism is not displaying the state of a cultivator, or at least on this issue." ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles")
I was quite moved by this teaching. Because I was quite busy working every day, I could hardly spare any time for Fa study. My mind became unbalanced whenever I was wronged by my family members. Sometimes they might treat me badly and I would be in bad mood and even angry. I wanted to talk back but stopped by reminding myself that I was a cultivator: If I did that I would fail the principle of "not fighting back when attacked and not talking back when abused." Although I kept silent, I could not keep my mind balanced. Sometimes I was even in tears I was so upset. Was that really being a cultivator to have such a mentality? To endure with tears is the forbearance of an everyday person who is attached to his concerns. To endure completely without anger or grievance is the forbearance of a cultivator. From this point I came to a clear understanding that I could only accumulate virtue as an everyday person if I failed to improve myself as a Dafa practitioner in saving sentient beings and Fa-rectification, no matter how many things I did. If I failed to live up to "not fighting back when attacked and not talking back when abused," I would be nothing more than an everyday person. Teacher takes care of Dafa practitioners. If I failed to do what Teacher requires, then I could be walking the path arranged by the old force and it could be very dangerous.
When I realized this, I enlightened that I should take my personal cultivation of seriously. No matter what Dafa things I do, I should follow Dafa and closely guard my xinxing. As far as I know, many fellow practitioners suffered from sickness karma because of their failure to closely guard their cultivation state. The old forces will not hesitate to take advantage of such failures.
3. Discerning the beings behind sickness karma, negating them, and resolving them with righteous thoughts
When my chest first began to hurt, I did not take it seriously because it was just a minor problem. Such a notion lent the evil excuses to step in and caused endless interferences later. When the problem persisted as time went by, I worried that I might have never really recovered from my previous heart disease at all, or perhaps something was wrong with my stomach. Then I changed my thinking, telling myself, "As a Dafa practitioner I should be free from any disease. All the manifestations of diseases are not real. The real cause of the problem is the beings behind the sickness karma."
"Let's just talk about what's most common. When a person has a tumor somewhere, an infection somewhere, a bone spur somewhere, or whatever, in another dimension there's a being crouching at that place. In a deep dimension there's a being there." (Zhuan Falun, Draft Translation Edition (Feb. 2003, North America)
I enlightened to the understanding that diseases are actually nothing more than the work of some filthy beings in some deep dimensions, which manifest in this dimension as diseases. I thought, as a person cultivating Buddhahood, I should not let the filthy beings take control. They are not part of myself, but things that do not belong to me. When my chest hurt I thought, "You want me to feed into this illness, but I definitely will not do what you want this time. I will negate you no matter how much pain you cause me. I will not go home to stay in bed, either. You will not interfere with my truth clarification." I treated them as something nonexistent and I made breakthroughs in my truth clarification.
"...and back then I had other ways to handle coldness. This is what I'd think: 'You're cold, and you try to make me cold--are you trying to make me freeze? I'll be even colder than you, I'll make you cold.'" ("Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference")
This reminded me to actively hit the stronghold of those beings. I said to them, "You want me to eat but I will not do that to nourish you and instead you will just die of starvation. I will, unlike before, treat you seriously and will not let you take advantage of my shortcomings in my cultivation. If I just passively tolerate you and feed into you, you will become more rampant. Now I will take action to resist you." As a cultivator I knew that I had the power to smash all evil in the cosmos and the tiny beings would be nothing to me. "I will destroy them all!" With this righteous thought, the beings were resolved right away and the pain in my chest was gone. I now can do the three things better than before to save sentient beings .
These are just some personal understandings about the sickness karma that the old forces impose upon us. I hope it will be helpful for fellow practitioners dealing with sickness karma tribulations.
Please kindly point out anything improper in my understanding.