My Understanding of “Bearing Hardship”
(Clearwisdom.net) Master mentioned “bearing hardship” in the first poem in Hong Yin and how a cultivator should understand the concept of “hardship”. Master said,
“To consummate yourself, reaping Buddhahood,
Let joy be found in hardship.
Physical pains count little as suffering,
Indeed, cultivating mind is hardest.
Each and every barrier must be broken through,
And everywhere does evil lurk.
Abundant troubles rain down together,
All to see: Can you pull through?
The world’s miseries endured,
one departs the earth a Buddha.”
(“Tempering the Will” from Hong Yin)
We understand from the Fa that all humans have to bear hardships because all humans have karma. How could we not suffer hardships? People are accompanied by hardship all the time, including cultivators.
Non-practitioners do not want to bear hardship; they all want to enjoy pleasure and comfort. Yet due to their own karma, they cannot avoid pain and suffering. We cultivators treat hardship as joy. This is not just empty talk, but something attained from solid cultivation. We understand from the Fa principles, as Master has taught us, that it is a very good thing to bear hardship, as it can eliminate our karma and improve our xinxing so that we can achieve consummation in the end.
Bearing hardship is multi-faceted. First of all there is physical pain, including pain from illness, from practicing the exercises, from work and house chores, and even when you eliminate the attachment to a certain food, you will endure some hardship.
There is also spiritual pain that stems from one’s mind, thoughts, and notions. In my view, “pain in the heart” in all sorts of forms is what a cultivator feels most deeply. However, whether one can handle this well or not depends on one’s understanding and how solidly one cultivates.
When you unexpectedly hear what you do not want to hear, and what you hear is defamatory and deliberately insulting, and this happens in public, what is your first thought? For those of us in China, when you are falsely accused by your colleagues or acquaintances for clarifying the truth, and it appears that you will lose your job for doing so, what is your first thought? When your spouse and parents want to cut off their relationship with you, and when they hit you and scold you, and when the environment has turned extremely adverse, what is your first thought? Do you hold a human thought or that of the divine? If you treat the situation with human thought, you would feel uneasy, upset, indignant, or even angry, and such a feeling would linger for a long time. If you treat the situation with a thought of the divine, you would feel very calm and unmoved, being in a state of inaction, and yet, later you are able to calmly look inward, hold a firm belief in Master and in the Fa, act righteously with righteous thoughts, negate all arrangements by the old forces, and treat everything with compassion. Although this takes only take a few sentences to say, the process of putting them into practice can be truly heart-wrenching and agonizing. In fact, when people feel bitter about the hardship, it is because they cannot let go of feeling among everyday people or their reputation. However, for a cultivator, one must let go of his/her reputation, self-interests, and feelings. Even though the process of letting go of these things is extremely painful, once you have made it through, a feeling of compassion for the world’s people will well up in your heart, and you will enjoy a kind of peace and freedom, totally free of human emotion.
For example, if the old forces have grabbed hold of your attachments and loopholes in your cultivation, they would constantly create undesirable hallucinations and negative and evil images in your mind, making you feel vexed, indignant, and fearful. And they would attack your mind this way continuously. Under such circumstances, if a cultivator does not hold strong righteous thoughts, he/she would be dragged into being an ordinary person, and if this continues for a long time, the cultivator may be ruined among ordinary people. One must intensify Fa-study, strengthen his/her righteous thoughts, and eliminate the evil and various interferences, as one can only be empowered by the Fa. And one must do this in a persevering manner. All this takes willpower. Of course, one must also share with fellow practitioners and try to improve quickly on the Fa. I believe all my fellow practitioners who have made it through have experienced many hardships.
Also, in the process of letting go of attachments to comfort, fear, selfishness, and one’s post-natal notions, one will also feel pain, as it takes strong willpower to relinquish human attachment to comfort. We need to have firm belief to let go of the notions formed as we descended layer by layer, notions that are not our true selves. Cultivation is a process of breaking away from humanness to walk toward godhood. When we truly understand on the basis of Fa principles that the attachments and notions we let go of are not our true selves, then what can we not let go of? Of course, to be able to do this takes some tempering, and more importantly we need to constantly strengthen our willpower through Fa-study. When we are firmly determined to cultivate in Dafa, firmly believe in Master and Dafa without any reservation, and are able to hold ourselves to the standards of the Fa at all times and to rectify every single thought of ours so that we maintain righteous thoughts all the time, then we will be able to treat “hardship” with a righteous attitude and treat hardship as joy, and we will be able to enlighten to the true meaning of “bearing hardship” for a cultivator.