Eliminating “Self” in Cultivation
(Minghui.org) I've always thought that I have been diligent and have been truly cultivating myself. But somehow I just couldn't thoroughly let go of my attachments, especially to “self.” It seems to be deeply rooted, and it is also often exposed. I know very well that for the attachments I'm unable to eliminate completely, sentient beings in a corresponding microcosmic world could be eliminated because they do not meet the standards of the Fa. Lately, I have clearly felt that Master has been pointing things out to me. It must be because I still have many human attachments and Master does not want me to fall behind. The things that I encounter seem ordinary on the surface, but once I look inward I find many human attachments.
For example, I recently reconnected with a former classmate with whom I had lost touch for the last thirty years. I found out that one of our fellow schoolmates had become a bureau chief. After I hung up the phone with my classmate, I said happily, “One of my schoolmates became a bureau chief!” I was very happy and proud, and those around me were happy for me as well. Someone said, “Good for you! It's like a compliment to you!” His words made me ponder, “What is behind my desire of wanting to show off and save face? Isn't it 'self'?” I kept digging and noticed there were many human notions underneath this “self.” Whenever I learned of reunions amongst friends and former classmates, I often asked, “What is the highest position any of your classmates has achieved?” Why did I ask questions like that? Aren't all sentient beings equal? When the police harassed me, I would say, “I know your bureau chief or department head,” implying, “I'm not an average person, and I have some connections, so don't threaten me.” I showed myself off instead of trying to save them with righteous thoughts.
One time I went to my mother's place to have lunch. I saw my sister, who is also a practitioner, cooking, and said to her, “You are working hard!” My sister immediately replied, “I don't need your instructions at all.” I said, “I wasn't going to say anything.” She replied, “You just haven't said anything yet. Look at you. You are walking around with your hands behind your back, as if you are a higher-up inspecting things here.” I realized this attachment of “self” was deeply hidden. This “self” had accompanied me life after life, and is still hanging around even as I'm cultivating. An obvious manifestation is, wherever I go, “it” likes to discuss and critique. “It” is very talkative, likes to interrupt people's conversations, and does not cultivate speech. I actively participated during practitioners' sharings, and often talked over others even when they had not finished talking. I sometimes felt like something was missing from the sharing if I didn't say anything. As time went by, as long as I was present at a sharing, practitioners would say, “Why don't you say a few words first.” Other practitioners would say, “You are cultivating well. Why don't you share something rational.” Although I acted humble on the surface, I felt good inside. In fact, whether we have a high or low xinxing level, are diligent or not, depends on how well we cultivate, and not how well we can talk about cultivation. I used to think that I was above others, and talked about others or critiqued others during sharing, as if I was giving a lecture. I couldn't harmonize with practitioners outside of my immediate circle, and thought they weren't diligent or were only average cultivators. When I saw them I would ask, “How many lectures do you read every day? Do you do the exercises? How many people have you clarified the truth to? You should be more diligent!” I often hinted at others, “You have not cultivated as well as I have. Don't fall behind. I need to help you,” as if I was a teacher supervising the students.
My mother didn't receive any education and suffered quite a bit on her cultivation path. When I visited her, I sat on the sofa facing her, like a teacher trying to help a student. I asked her, “So how is your cultivation? Is there anything you don't understand?” Quite often, after a couple of questions, she would talk back. I figured she didn't have good enlightenment quality and had poor understanding, and was thus refusing to listen to what I had to say. I thought Master must have had a hard time saving her. My mother said to me, “You should take the time to cultivate yourself well. You are not up to par.” I didn't agree with her at all and smiled back.
I once saw my mother taking pine pollen (which has been used since ancient times as a herbal medicine). I was surprised that she had the wrong basic understanding and made a mistake. I said a few words and she replied, “I know about it. Why don't you just cultivate yourself?” I thought about her words but couldn't find any problem on my part. I later read a Minghui Weekly article to her, and added my own notion as I read, “This article is talking about you. See if you can understand it.” My mother didn't finish listening, waved her hands, and said, “Whose standard is this? Only the Fa is the standard.” I felt helpless, frustrated, and even resentful. I thought, “Why is it that while I can talk about the Fa principles my mother cannot, and she still refuses to listen to me? She is always criticizing me and saying that I'm not cultivating well. Am I really not cultivating well?”
Later in the evening, as I lay in bed looking inward, I gradually discovered that I had many problems in my cultivation. I didn't see the process of helping others as a process of cultivating myself. The mentality that we have when we help others comes from the realm that we're at. When I tried to help my mother, it didn't come from the mindset of being selfless, and doing things completely for her own good. Instead, I was condescending, and my words lacked compassion. So how could I move or change anyone? Moreover, I constantly focused on her shortcomings and not her strengths, so whatever I shared contained elements that made her feel uncomfortable. So how could she accept that? I was sad when I found so many human notions, and thought that my mother was a better cultivator than I was.
My mother is eighty years old. Prior to practicing, she only recognized a few words. She can now read all the Fa lectures. When her karma was being eliminated, she could not sleep for days, but was still able to read one to two lectures each day, and could sometimes go out and clarify the truth to the neighbors or the vendors. If she was unable to stand up, she did the second exercise sitting down, and finished the exercises! She was very diligent! How high of a level did I want her to reach? Once I recognized that, I felt so little, and was able to put down a lot of things. When I saw my mother again, I thought she was kind, generous, and diligent, and I could talk to her, heart to heart. When I noticed that, I clearly felt that I had elevated.
I went to my mother's house yesterday, sat on a small stool next to her, and we casually and calmly shared our cultivation experiences. I realized that we had never truly shared from our hearts in the last ten years. She said, “I'm no longer taking pine pollen. I felt itchy every time I took it.” She realized it was not the right thing to do, and shared some of her experiences in overcoming sickness karma with righteousness. I thought she was really cultivating well, much better than I had.
A few days ago I read this article on the Minghui website, “Some Thoughts on Submitting Experience Sharing Articles to the Minghui Website” (http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2012/12/8/136568.html), and was very touched and felt regretful. The author shared many rational understandings. The article was simple and sincere, especially the author's self-analysis when looking inward, and the truthful and selfless realm. I saw where I fell short. I have often submitted articles to the Minghui and Pure Insight websites in recent years. Most of my articles were published in the Minghui Weekly, and some were even selected as featured articles. After a while, my “self” was exposed and I often thought I was better than average. In addition, a practitioner whose celestial eye was open said that I was once a famous cultural person in history. I often thought that I was an unusual person, and didn't cultivate myself when I wrote articles. I even thought that as soon as I had accomplished something, my cultivation level was raised substantially, perhaps by many layers in the cosmos. I was haggling and bargaining like an everyday person.
Dafa and Master gave me so much. Let's eliminate the humanness and the “self” that came with the old universe, and return to our true homes. Every now and then, these thoughts came into my mind, “I came from a high level, I'm on an important mission, I have great virtue, and I have a high fruit status.” When I accomplished a bit in a Dafa project, I thought about the many layers I had broken through. How selfish that was!
“I said that a cosmic body is still but a speck of dust in the universe. Whatever I told you that you could understand and what is larger than that by billions or trillions of times is still but a speck of dust in the universe.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference”)
Master also said,
“As for how massive the cosmos ultimately is, suppose we considered a massive universe that consists of a trillion layers to be one domain, and then grouped a trillion of these one-trillion-layer domains together—we could then call this trillion one-trillion-layered domains a particle of air. Such particles permeate the conference hall here. Although that amounts to a massive number of universes, this is still but a small, insignificant particle in just one dimension of the universe.” (“20th Anniversary Fa Teaching”)
A being that can become a speck of dust or particle in the new universe is extremely fortunate. So is there anything pertaining to the “self” that I cannot let go? I often worried that I could not reach the standard required by the Fa, especially in these final moments. But I have noticed that “self” and “I” have gotten smaller. As soon as the thought emerges, I'm able to catch it. I shared with fellow practitioners, “No matter which Dafa project needs my help, I will do my best to harmonize with it, supplement it, and do it quietly. At the same time, I won't insist on 'my' opinion, or impose it on anyone else.”
These are my recent understandings, please kindly point out anything inappropriate.