(Minghui.org) I had some thoughts after reading a sharing article (http://www.minghui.org/mh/articles/2012/9/22/“站在整体之外谈整体”-263049.html), and would like to respond to the practitioner who wrote this article.

Whether a person can be steadfast in his cultivation and keep up with the Fa-rectification process is not determined by the environment or whether he is getting help from practitioners who are diligent. I'd like to share my experience and understandings based on the Fa to help others raise their levels. Let's clearly understand what cultivation is, the purpose of cultivation, and its true manifestation; then we can be steadfast in our practice, do the three things well, and keep up with the Fa-rectification process.

We thought that Falun Dafa was good when we first learned the exercises. Because most of us could feel or see the miraculous power that Dafa and Master had on our physical bodies, we became Dafa practitioners. Many of us who learned the practice became healthy, had a positive understanding about Dafa, and were deeply grateful to Master.

With a heart of gratitude, we did what Master asked us to do. When Master said we should study the Fa more, we studied the Fa more and recited the Fa. For some, it became a formality, and their minds did not really change. Many practitioners did not know what needed to be changed or how to change it. Therefore, they measured their cultivation progress based on the amount of Fa they recited and the time they spent doing the exercises. When they talked about a practitioner who was diligent, they often mentioned that he could meditate for a long time and recite many Fa lectures, and everyone thought that he cultivated well. When the persecution started, many practitioners who could recite the Fa well and meditate for a long time stopped cultivating. I'm not saying that reciting the Fa is without use. What I am saying is if they do not understand Dafa rationally and merely practice superficially, or use it to show off, then they are wrong. That is why when they were persecuted, their human notions kept them off the cultivation path. I'm not sure if I have explained things clearly enough. Only after having a clear understanding of what cultivation is about can we truly cultivate.

For example, I was frustrated because I was unable to recite Zhuan Falun when I was illegally detained. One day, another practitioner was brought to the detention center, and she could recite the first lecture of Zhuan Falun. I was very excited and asked her to recite the lecture. Actually, before I was detained, I had just finished reciting Zhuan Falun. However, by the time I memorized the latter part, I had forgotten the beginning. So after I finished reciting the entire book, I could not remember everything. We practiced the exercises together in the mornings for several days. Maybe Master was pointing things out to me. Once I inadvertently opened my eyes and saw her doing the third exercise. She was moving her hands in a counter-clockwise direction. I paused for a moment and noticed that the direction of her hands was incorrect. I pointed out her mistake, and she said she had been doing the third exercise like that since 1997. She added that practitioners in her group did the third exercise the same way. Knowing that she did not want to accept my suggestion, I asked her in which direction the hands of the clock moved. She responded by moving her hand in a clockwise direction. I shared with her that Master said the hands should move in a clockwise direction four times when doing the third exercise, and she agreed. I suggested that she do it the correct way. I'm not speaking ill of the practitioner. I just want to point out that she didn't even know that she had been doing the exercise incorrectly after more than ten years of cultivation. It seemed as if she had not been paying much attention to cultivation itself.

When we talked a few days later, she said when her husband had finished the farm work, he would offer his feng shui expertise to others to make extra income. He would also pay his respects to heaven and the gods on the first day of the Chinese New Year. She added with disdain, “I don't believe in gods.” I was shocked and in disbelief. A Dafa practitioner who does not believe that gods exist? I asked her, “If that is the case, why do you practice Falun Gong?” She replied, “I practice Falun Gong to obtain a healthy body. I can carry 100 (Chinese) kilos of fertilizer up the hill and not feel tired. I cultivated some lands around the mid mountain area, and every year I harvest about six to seven thousand kilos of corn to feed the hogs.” I almost fainted and thought, “So she practices Falun Gong to obtain blessings.” I asked her, “Then why do you send forth righteous thoughts for practitioners who are illegally detained?” She replied, “Other practitioners have told me that if I don't do that, then no one would help me if I were persecuted.” I thought that her righteous thoughts would not carry much power if her intention was based on that reasoning. I asked her if she knew what cultivation was all about. She bluntly replied, “I don't know.” I continued, “Do you know the end result of cultivating in Dafa? Do you know what consummation means?” She said she didn't know. I shared with her, “The reason a human cultivates is to become a god. The end result of cultivating in Dafa is to transcend ourselves from the principles of the old universe; assimilate to the principles of the new universe, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance; become the great lords and kings of the new cosmos; and be enlightened to the higher truths. I'm quite surprised to find out that you have been practicing for more than ten years but do not believe in the gods.” I don't know how many practitioners share this state of mind, but I understand that many people are not true cultivators.

Over 20 days later, the practitioner was released from the detention center. I began to look inward to see if I understood the true meaning of cultivation and how to elevate and walk the path righteously. After practicing in Dafa for so many years, I asked myself, “Was I a true cultivator?”

Master looks after us and sees clearly what is on our minds and in our thoughts. With Master's guidance I was enlightened to recite “Cautionary Advice” from Essentials for Further Advancement. I would recite it several times a day and I obtained a different understanding each time. Gradually, I was able to distinguish human notions from Fa principles. I understood the meaning of “...as an ordinary human, have formed deep in your bones over thousands of years...” and was able to recognize human thinking. And when faced with tribulations, I was able to look at the problem with righteous thoughts and was not trapped in human logic.

Because Master saw my righteous thoughts, I was able to break through the old forces' arrangement and walk on the path that Master had arranged for me. Although the path was treacherous, I was able to pull through. Under the protection of Master and the righteous gods, I was not moved while being detained and thought and acted with righteousness. After reciting “Further Understanding” from Essentials for Further Advancement, I realized that the most important thing for a practitioner was to upgrade xinxing. Because validating the Fa, clarifying the truth to save sentient beings, and speaking out against the persecution are all based on our cultivation, only when we raise our levels are we able to accomplish the mission of saving sentient beings.

I think that having a better cultivation environment is not that important, because cultivation is about cultivating the heart, which can be done in any environment. Inside the detention center, practitioners are not allowed to talk to each other and thus cannot help each other. We are not even allowed to look at one another. So how can we raise our levels in such a harsh environment? I realized that as long as we do everything according to the Fa principles, we are able to raise our levels. Master said,

“The above are the two reasons for not being able to increase gong. Without knowing the Fa at high levels, one cannot practice cultivation. Without cultivating one’s inner self and one’s xinxing, one cannot increase gong. These are the two reasons.” (Zhuan Falun)

Therefore, in cultivation, we must look inward, work on our xinxing, and truly raise our level by putting things into practice. When we study the Fa, the Fa principles will point things out and guide us when we encounter tribulations. We must use the Fa principles to guide our thoughts and actions so that when we run into problems we will know what to do. Everyone's path is different and there are no role models for cultivation. Thus, when encountering problems, asking other practitioners is not much help. Looking outward for answers will not help us elevate ourselves or get out of the detention center. We must follow the Fa principles to look inward and this should not become a formality. We need to find our human thinking, notions, and attachments, and distinguish the “things that were formed deep in our bones over thousands of years” from our true selves.

How do we learn the Fa at high levels? We should study the Fa more, learn about the traditional Chinese culture, and read the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party to eliminate the influence of the Party culture and its atheist theory.

Mainland Chinese practitioners are deeply poisoned by the Party culture and blinded by atheism. Many of them who are not diligent or who used to practice do not believe that gods do exist. They know that practicing the exercises can improve their health, but they do not really believe that humans can cultivate into immortals. They also don't believe in karmic retribution. When they were being persecuted and were not miraculously released, or when they suffered tremendously and did not see any blessings, they stopped believing in Dafa and gave up the practice or became lax at cultivation.

These are all manifestations of not having a clear understanding of cultivation and thus not realizing that cultivation is solemn. Master has been lecturing about the truth of the universe and telling us the kind of glory that will be ours when we consummate and the fate of those who fail to cultivate. But many practitioners have not taken it seriously and have treated Master's compassion lightly. They have ignored Master's cautionary words and have taken things for granted. If practitioners do not think of themselves as true Dafa disciples, then Master cannot do much about it, and the old forces will drag them down. Master can only take care of true cultivators, and when practitioners choose to stop cultivating, then there is nothing Master can do to help them. However, compassionate Master has given former practitioners many chances to come back. If practitioners are able to come back, they should treasure the opportunity and truly cultivate to raise their levels. Merely distributing fliers and clarifying the truth will not work, because everything is based on our understanding of the Fa principles.

Those who have come back to Dafa and those who are still not diligent should not do the three things in an attempt to compensate for their past mistakes. I suggest that they calmly study the Fa as much as possible. This way, they can raise their understandings based on the Fa principles. Master said in Zhuan Falun, “As long as you practice cultivation and make up your mind to practice cultivation, you will recover all of what you have lost.”

Many practitioners do not have a clear understanding of cultivation. The biggest problem is that they cannot truly look inward to find their attachments and are unable to look at things based on the Fa principles. They may have done a lot of Dafa work but are unable to catch up in their cultivation. Master has reminded us many times that our cultivation is the most important thing. Since I truly elevated my understanding, I'm able to see that Zhuan Falun teaches us to cultivate into Buddhahood and consummate to our highest fruit status level. In my understanding, the persecution of Dafa practitioners also plays a role in helping practitioners to consummate.

For those practitioners who don't know how to be diligent, you can study Essentials for Further Advancement and Essentials for Further Advancement II repeatedly. Several years ago, a practitioner shared with me his thoughts on the meaning of Essentials for Further Advancement: the books give us the secret of how to be diligent. Master has given us the secret of cultivation, and we will not be confused as long as we study the Fa often.

In regard to the concept of “one body,” I think that as long as we are cultivating, whether we are diligent or not, whether we have the correct enlightenment or not, Master does not treat us differently. We are the ones choosing the path. Whether we do well or not, are steadfast or have given up, we are not cultivators as long we are standing outside of the “one body.” How can we clearly understand the essence of cultivation if we do not cultivate? I would like to share a fact with you all. Many of the prison guards who are in charge of “transforming” practitioners have read Zhuan Falun and other Dafa lectures. But Master has not treated them as practitioners. Although they have read the books, no one has changed their life paths for them. They will become ill or run into problems when it is time, because they are unable to see the Fa principles. We are able to learn the Fa, and Master has been treating us as his disciples. So how could we not treasure the opportunity? Let's be diligent, fellow practitioners, and let us encourage each other with Master's words,

“So how can Dafa disciples--who are to achieve the Attainment Status of a being who is saved by Dafa and who have the most convenient cultivation way--not be even more diligent when they are given this most glorious honor of Fa-validating cultivation in a brief cultivation period that passes in the blink of an eye?” (“The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be”)

These are my understandings; please kindly point out anything inappropriate.