What Causes Us to Fail to Look Within? (Part 1)
(Minghui.org) This article is based on my personal experience and understanding, which is limited to my level.
"What is behind the inability to look within?" When this question was asked among practitioners, I heard different answers:
"What is looking inward?"
"I have looked within and found some attachments. I have tried to eliminate them for many years, but they still seem to be there."
"Master said that practitioners should look inward. But I don't know how."
"Yes, as practitioners, we should look within. But the circumstances at that time were..."
"The problem was caused by someone else. I did not do anything wrong. What should I look within about?"
"I can look inward while dealing with everyday people's affairs. But this is Dafa work and we are saving people. Why did he not do things according to the Fa? Why did he not look inward?"
"This was old forces' interference and persecution. We should eliminate them and negate them. Why look within?"
“Whenever you come across anything such as troubles, unpleasant things, or friction with others, you need to examine yourself and search within. You will find the cause of that insurmountable problem.” (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
Whether it is conflicts between practitioners or conflicts between practitioners and ordinary people, when encountering personal difficulties or interference while doing Fa rectification work and saving people, or while under persecution, why do practitioners fail to look within? This is not a simple question.
Not Knowing How to Look Within
I cultivate with my celestial eye closed. I didn't know how to look inward during my personal cultivation stage before the persecution began. We had group Fa study every day at that time.
Master told us in Zhuan Falun,
“I’ll tell you a truth: The entire cultivation process for a cultivator is one of constantly giving up human attachments.”
“Without cultivating one’s inner self and one’s xinxing, one cannot increase gong.”
I read these words many times, but did not really think too much about them.
I understood some commonly-known attachments and their manifestation. Since I did not solidly cultivate myself, I felt that attachments were intangible and ideological in nature. I sometimes did try to suppress and reject them when they surfaced. I knew how to measure my actions with the Fa and corrected myself if I did something wrong. But when I was away from the cultivation environment, I began to let down my guard, and my actions were soon not in line with the Fa.
I had a tendency of using the Fa to measure others and looking at others' shortcomings instead of my own. I often noticed other practitioners doing the same thing. One practitioner read a paragraph of Master's teachings to another practitioner and said, “This is talking about you.”
At my exercise site back then, most of the practitioners did not fully understand what looking inward meant. After many years, there are still practitioners who don't know how to look within.
Fighting My Way Back After Going Astray
During the first few years after the persecution began, I felt a barrier between myself and Dafa. A huge closed door kept me outside of Dafa. I wondered why I was outside and if I had really cultivated in the Fa.
I always studied the Fa, and did the exercises and truth-clarification work. I persisted in cultivation and never gave up. But why did I have this feeling? I felt it was strange, but did not dig deeper for the reason. I later realized that this “strange feeling” was a bad substance that was interfering with me and keeping me from looking inward.
Due to my attachments, I was unable to withstand the persecution and gave up Dafa cultivation. I felt so ashamed afterward that I lost hope and believed that I was no longer qualified to be a practitioner. But deep down in my heart I did not want to give up the practice. My mind was filled with despair, pain, guilt, and shame. I even had the thought of ending my life. I lived in this state for a long time.
One day, I had a thought, “I must return to Dafa for the sake of my sentient beings.” I asked Master to give me another opportunity for the sake of my sentient beings, even though I had done something that a Dafa disciple should never do.
However, the path of returning was not easy.
The old forces kept bringing up memories of my mistakes so that I was unable to detach myself from guilt and shame. All kinds of thoughts arose, trying to make me give up. Some practitioners also told me that it would be very difficult to come back. I felt as if I was stuck inside a hole.
After a while, I gathered up my courage and resumed climbing up again. But after taking a few steps forward I was pulled back into the hole by my attachments. The fight between my righteous thoughts and negative thoughts was intense. I felt that I did not have enough strength to overcome my attachments.
I was unable to distinguish my true self from my attachments. I only knew that these thoughts were bad and that I must stay positive. I kept one thought in my mind, “I must return to Dafa and nobody can block me.”
I constantly said to myself, “Keep moving forward, keep going. Baby steps.” I said it several hundred times per day. At the same time, I studied the Fa a lot. I finally emerged from that state.
I continued to study the Fa and send forth righteous thoughts. After a while, when I looked back on that period of time, I felt like I had been walking in a fog, unable to see my path. The old memories became vague and I was unable to recall the details. I felt they had been erased. I realized that Master had helped me let them go completely.
Breaking Out of the Grip of Fear
The attachment of fear often interferes with and controls practitioners. Some practitioners became paralyzed with fear and were unable to do any Fa rectification work.
When I was in a depressed state, my attachment of fear did not manifest strongly. But after I made the breakthrough and began to do more, the attachment of fear interfered with me badly. I felt it every day, even in my dreams. Sometimes, a sentence, a brief memory, or a person would trigger my fear.
Fear is a substance and it made me feel badly. When it was strong, my body shook and my heart beat very fast. I lost all of my strength. I imagined that the police would knock at my door at any time and put me in jail. My main consciousness knew that practitioners should not fear anything. I suppressed and expelled it, but without much effect. It attacked my body and controlled my mind.
One day, when the fear attacked me again, a strong sense of righteous indignation suddenly welled up from the bottom of my heart. My main consciousness calmly said, “The attachment of fear is not me. I will eliminate you no matter how strong you are. I don't fear you.” When this thought emerged, I felt the fear quickly recede. Two minutes later, my fear was gone. My mind became peaceful, my heart became calm, and my body was no longer shaking.
This all happened so fast that I did not know how to react. I stood up and walked around in circles and felt strength in my body. I confirmed that the attachment of fear was indeed gone. I realized two things through this experience.
First, I had distinguished the attachment of fear and my main consciousness explicitly for the first time. Attachments and thoughts are substances formed after we are born. They are not from our true selves. Our true selves are assimilating to Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. If we treat the attachments and thoughts as if they are part of ourselves, we will not be able to eliminate them.
Secondly, the attachment of fear was a living substance in another dimension. Master said, “...matter and mind are one and the same ”(Zhuan Falun) and “All matter has life...”(Lecture in Sydney).
Through winning this battle, the attachment of fear is no longer able to deceive me and it is being eliminated through strong righteous thoughts.
Since there were many substances stimulating my fear, for some time, I kept sending forth righteous thoughts every day for more than half an hour just to eliminate them, to good effect.
(to be continued)