Recognizing and Letting Go of Self
(Clearwisdom.net) I learned about Falun Dafa in 1998 at the age of 12. Therefore, I still call myself a “little practitioner.”
During the past years, I acted just like everyone of my generation. I lacked any sense of self and was still irresponsible although I was now an adult practitioner. I also was not as pure and innocent as a little practitioner. There are a many reasons for having turned out that way, the foremost being selfishness.
After I graduated from college, I immediately started to work for a small private company. My boss was smart and strict. He often criticized me because I was prone to making lots of mistakes. Most of the time I accepted his comments and corrected what was wrong. However, at times I felt wronged and tried to refrain from defending myself. My understanding at the time was that I should eliminate my attachments and that this difficult situation was good for my cultivation. Besides, I could gain valuable experience. I had already decided that, once I had learned everything, which would take a couple of years, I would resign and work part time. That way I would have more time for my cultivation and save sentient beings.
For a long time, I didn't think that there was anything wrong with my understanding. But now I realize that this understanding arose from selfishness. I was honest with my boss and tried to improve my skills. However, my boss still thought that everything I did was wrong! Eventually I was fired because I did not perform well. Others had worked on the task before and there was ample documentation. I didn't know that at the time because I was too impatient to finish the work. I didn't realize that the files were right in front of me. I was frustrated afterward. I tried to look within but did not find much.
I went home and studied the Falun Gong teachings calmly and readjusted my mind. I found my answer in what Master said:
“The goal they want to reach is that they want to restore the cosmos in Fa-rectification back to the way it was before Fa-rectification, back to that system of theirs--still their mountains, still their water, still their Gods, and still the states they were in before. They did things in that way, so they don't want to make changes. The change they want is to have the surface appearance be better, just like washing a soiled piece of clothing clean. It's still the same piece of old clothing. Well, that's the meaning, but the analogy isn't totally accurate. That's the only way to describe it. They just want to, on the basis of not losing anything they originally had, through their careful arrangements, be able to cleverly dodge this catastrophe. But that will never happen. That's what they wanted.” ("Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference")
I enlightened that, because of selfishness, the old forces did not change. They just wanted to look as if they had changed, which was not what the Fa asked of them.
In retrospect, I now realize that I made the same mistakes as the old forces. I was thinking about how I could benefit from work. I never considered what was good for the company or what my boss wanted. I only wanted my boss to help me improve my xinxing and eliminate karma. I was selfish.
When reviewing my past cultivation path I realized that I was selfish, too. I only wanted to benefit from the practice. I wanted Falun Dafa to purify my body and rectify what was wrong with me. When Falun Dafa was persecuted and my fellow practitioners were faced with the unprecedented persecution, I did not step forward to validate the Fa, tell people the facts about Falun Gong, and save sentient beings. No wonder I was fired for not doing a good job. I had committed so many wrong things out of selfishness.
The most visible display of selfishness was that when I looked within, I thought, “I must do well so that the old forces can't exploit my gaps ... I want to save sentient beings in my universe ... I should do more things to build up mighty virtue.” In hindsight, I never let go of the “I” and no matter how well I thought I did and progressed, I never escaped the principles from the old universe, which are based on selfishness.
“The better he lives, the more selfish he becomes; the more he wants to possess, the further away he moves from the characteristic of the universe. He then heads for destruction.” (Zhuan Falun)
“One’s Buddha-nature is Shan, and it manifests itself as compassion, thinking of others before acting, and the ability to endure suffering. One’s demon-nature is viciousness, and it manifests as killing, stealing and robbing, selfishness, wicked thoughts, sowing discord, stirring up troubles by spreading rumors, jealousy, wickedness, anger, laziness, incest and so on.” ("Buddha-Nature and Demon-Nature")
Selfishness is a demon-nature and if one hold on to it, he/she will head for destruction just like the old forces.
I also acted out of fear of being hurt physically or losing my life. When I felt that I was not in the best cultivation state, I was always afraid of being persecuted. I often used the excuse of looking within when I stayed at home to study the Fa and do the exercises instead of being involved in any Dafa work. The sentient beings are waiting for our salvation eagerly. When I was not eager to save the sentient beings, I didn't look at them as my responsibility, and this was because I was selfish.
Another result of selfishness is that we neglect to do what Teacher asks of us. Everyone wants to do what Teacher asks of us, but many of us are still making far too many mistakes. Teacher spoke of the story in which Shakyamuni asked his disciple to clean the bathtub. Now I understand that the disciple in the story not only made the mistake of being overly cautious in the issue of killing, he also was selfish. He was afraid of gaining karma because of killing and hence did not listen to Shakyamuni's instructions. He complicated the simple thing Shakyamuni asked him to do and intensified his attachment to self. This is just like when Teacher asks us to save sentient beings: we often use our human notions to find excuses and not give 100 percent of ourselves.
In our everyday lives and cultivation, when we do or consider things with even just a little bit of selfishness, we are already are not listening to Teacher. Teacher said:
“I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others—or even future generations—along with Dafa’s eternal stability.” ("Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature")