(Minghui.org) Greetings venerable Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!

I have for a long time, been conscious of my strong competitive and critical mentality. These attachments show up frequently, and are at times obvious. At other times they are subtler, yet still manifest, sometimes in other forms.

I find that I like to vocalize my own opinions, and frequently contradict and refute others. With each idea, suggestion, or plan put forth by someone else, my first thought is to judge it using my own standards or notions, which often leads to negation or dispute, rather than agreement or admiration. I’m excessively picky at times, even if the bigger idea is acceptable, and I seem to always find some small detail to pick at.

I have also realized that when arguing with others, or even when presenting my own ideas, I often come across as abrupt. The words, content, tone, or attitude with which I speak are often barbed or belligerent. I sometimes talk loudly or rapidly, with a strong sense of proving my points, with the mentality of showing off and competitiveness. I envy those people who can express their thoughts in an unhurried, organized manner, as it’s rare for me to be able to speak calmly, peacefully, and patiently.

My competitive mentality has a long history. I’ve always liked to argue over even trivial matters, even while having casual conversation. Such a competitive mentality is closely related to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) culture instilled in our minds since childhood. After reading the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party and Disintegration of the Party Culture, this became crystal clear. So I have been trying to remind myself to pay attention in this regard, but often fail to do so.

For example, recently within a 2-day period I spoke with two people, and from what I observed, they didn’t feel comfortable afterwards. The first was a conversation with a fellow practitioner from the Celestial Band who had failed to come to band practice several times in a row, and I asked, “Why do you always miss practice? Do you still want to be in the band? You should pay more attention to the band.” She answered bluntly, “Why are you so aggressive? I do pay attention to it.” I could tell that my words made her uncomfortable.

A second example took place when a fellow practitioner wanted to carpool with us to the Saturday Fa study, but his delay caused people already in the car to wait a long time. I called him and said, “In the future, you might want to fix a time for me to pick you up, or hitch a ride with someone who lives closer to you.” He explained it was a special case that day, and on other days he wouldn’t have needed to delay others. He said in the future he would get a ride from the other practitioner because he was “easier to talk to.” During the conversation, I could sense that I had again made him uncomfortable.

These two instances were identical responses from two different people, and a third person in two days had a similar conversation with me. My words were difficult to swallow, and made others uncomfortable, and this in turn made me uncomfortable. I thought, “I spoke with good intentions, and none of it was for my own gain, so why did it turn out like that?”

I immediately thought, “As a practitioner, I need to look inward. The more uncomfortable I feel, the more I need to dig inward.” Since this happened on multiple occasions, I knew the problem was with me. For example, was I really correct? Did I say it well? The answer was no. So I did need to feel uncomfortable. It was a good thing, as it allowed me to see the issues I had.

I know that I often talk in a way that disregards other people’s feelings. Even if my original intent was not for myself, hadn’t I forced my ideas onto others through the way I spoke? Did I put any thought into how they would feel? Did I ask about or care about their situations? Had I acted with compassion?

After considering this, I realized that my words contained a strong sense of self, and strong competitive and critical mentalities. These were lessons for me to learn. Furthermore, one of them mentioned that another practitioner was “easier to talk to”. Wasn’t this a reflection of their compassion? Clearly, I was still lacking in this regard.

Closely related to showing off and a competitive mentality is a critical mentality, which I've also had for quite a while. When the situation is not how I want it to be, when things do not develop as I envisioned, when others do not agree with my way of thinking or working, or when I see the shortcomings in others, then my critical mentality arises.

Of course, the faults I see may exist, but in many cases it’s due only to my assumptions – “How did it turn out like this?” “Who did this?” When I act out or speak with this mentality, it can create unhappiness for others and disrupt team harmony, and the results are never good. Sometimes I don’t express it and hide it in my heart. This creates unhappiness for me and a negative attitude that is not in line with a cultivator’s state.

I knew I needed to remove this complaining mentality. At the beginning of last year, I said to my daughter, “We should make a New Year’s resolution.” New Year’s resolutions are often written by children at the beginning of the year with the encouragement of parents and teachers. My daughter was no longer a child, so she thought I was joking, and replied, “There’s no need.” But I told her, “I have one, and I'm quite serious. It's 'no more complaining'.” I have since paid particular attention to reminding myself of this, such as using “no complaints” for the password in my computers. Consequently, there has been some improvement, but after more than a year I realized that I still had not fully removed it. It was only slightly better, and I needed to continue vigilantly stopping it from arising--and if it did arise, to swiftly control and extinguish it.

I recently traveled out of Sydney to participate in a parade. We arrived early, and two practitioners who planned to arrive on the day of the parade wanted to leave their luggage in our room before we went to the event together. The day before the event, we were notified that the assembly time had been moved to earlier in the day, not leaving much time to spare, and our accommodation was very hard to find. Would they come on time? Could they find us? If not, should we wait, or go on without them? In the past, I would have begun criticizing them for making us wait, or for causing us to be late despite our best efforts to be on time.

This time, however, I stopped such thoughts from arising. I didn’t see the negative things in others, which had always been my problem in the past. This time, all I saw were their good aspects. I knew it was hard for these two practitioners to get a day off from work, and they had then traveled all night in order to join the event. Their care for the event was admirable. So we said that since our accommodation was hard to find, shouldn't we take turns standing on the main street and flag them down? Besides, Master was looking out for us, and there wouldn’t be any problems. In the end, everything went smoothly and the two practitioners arrived as soon as we stepped out to wait for them.

When I do translation proofreading for the media, my critical mentality easily appears. When I see simple translation mistakes, or inappropriate deletion of important content, I complain, “Why is it like that?” or “How could such a simple mistake be made?” I then remind myself not to complain, and not to let the critical mentality surface. If it does arise, I push it away. Instead I think, everyone is doing their best, so there isn’t anything to criticize. Besides, if mistakes didn’t happen, we wouldn’t need proofreaders.

One evening at 7:00 p.m., I was asked if I could help proofread a few articles even though I wasn’t on the roster. Since it was a job that needed to be done, I said nothing and thought nothing of it. In the past, I would have been grumpy doing the job, and would have criticized others for not organizing things properly. I took an article that happened to have a lot of mistakes and took a lot of effort and time to correct. When I uploaded the checked article, I suddenly saw that it had already been checked by someone else, and it had already progressed on to the next stage. It seemed like all my effort had been in vain – but this time I didn’t think like that. I understood that unexpected things can happen, and the other proofreader would also have spent their best efforts doing it, so the result was good regardless. I was satisfied that I had put in my best effort doing the proofreading. Next time, I would just check carefully in the beginning to avoid duplicating our effort. It was unnecessary to get bothered about the time lost, or that my efforts had not been put to use.

I have made some progress in my efforts to remove my critical mentality, but I still have many attachments to remove, and this critical mentality is not completely gone. But at least this time, I was able to stop it from arising.

Thank you Master. Thank you fellow practitioners.