(Minghui.org) The grade of gold lies in its purity. The fewer impurities, the higher the purity, and the higher the grade.

Complexity of Human Thoughts

In my understanding, the realm of a practitioner lies in the purity of his mind. The less distractions, the stronger righteous thoughts, and the higher his or her realm.

Alchemists use fierce fire in their refining work because the final impurities of a substance can only be separated at a higher temperature. Likewise, a practitioner has to go through all kinds of hardships, because his deeply hidden bad thoughts can only be exposed and removed that way.

Therefore it is extremely important to pay attention to one's thoughts, and it is especially important to examine one's first thought when conflict, trouble, or a tribulation occurs. One must examine one's thoughts and remove any notions that do not meet Dafa's standards. Only by doing so can one constantly purify oneself and improve one's level in cultivation.

However, the difficulty lies in the fact that it is oftentimes difficult to see through our thoughts because of the complexity of human notions, as well as the interference caused by deeply-rooted sentiment and self-interest. In addition, one's human thoughts tend to cunningly cover themselves up. If a practitioner cannot face conflict and tends to shirk responsibility with excuses, then he or she adds additional difficulties to the already difficult cultivation practice.

Even though some conflicts are not notable, there are many human thoughts, which, if we can discern them, provide great opportunities for cultivation. I'd like to share a recent experience of uncovering some deeply hidden thoughts.

Mistakes Are Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

My wife and I had disagreements over how our son did his homework. After one big fight, I looked inside and discovered my attachments to competition, not wanting to be influenced by others, and stubbornness. I thought, “I've found my problems. I should apologize to her.” But something deep down was trying to stop me from apologizing, which I recognized as fear of losing face. In short, I knew I was wrong, but I didn't want to admit it.

By Dafa's standards, admitting one's mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of, and being brave enough to admit one's mistake is what a practitioner must be able to do. Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is to be able to admit one's mistakes and correct oneself in the future. But human thoughts tend to go the opposite way and prevent one's assimilation to the Fa.

Conditional Apology

I'd like to analyze some deeper and more subtle mind activities that I uncovered in this situation. When I was thinking about apologizing, I was afraid my wife would criticize me. I felt I should beat around the bush and check her attitude first. If she were cold towards me, I would rather wait to apologize; if she seemed okay, then I would apologize.

You might have started laughing at me already. Indeed, my thoughts were this complex! My apology was conditional: “I will apologize if you're nice to me; I will delay it if you're unkind to me.”

When I got home for lunch the next day, my wife had already put food on the table. I realized her attitude had improved, so I decided to apologize to her. Additionally, I explained to her my thoughts. She was very understanding.

Strictly speaking, my apology was less than sincere. After realizing that I was wrong, I should have apologized in the first place, but I added a condition. This was a conditional apology, and it did not meet Dafa's standards – it is equivalent to adding conditions to my improvement in cultivation practice!

Cultivation Is More than Just Lip Service

By the evening, I decided to follow my wife's way of educating our son and let go of my self, to avoid conflicts. I watched our son doing his homework. My wife checked it when he finished and told him to rewrite some characters because they looked awful. Our son gave a lot of reasons why he did not need to do it. My wife was irritated and told him to rewrite everything.

My son asked me for help. Although I did not agree with my wife, I didn't want to create a conflict again. So I told my son, “Listen to your mom. Rewrite everything.”

He had no choice but to rewrite his homework with tears in his eyes, and my wife was still yelling at him. I thought, “What should I look inside for? I should do nothing. If he refuses to rewrite and she can't do anything about it, she will ask me for help. Then she will be proven wrong. That's why I should do nothing for now.”

I'd like to analyze this bad notion. On the surface, I did not do anything to challenge my wife, and I told my son to listen to his mom, but I did not agree with her in my heart, and there were some bad thoughts in my heart.

Instead of sharing understandings with her sincerely, my deep thought was, “I stand no chance against you, so I want to secretly see you embarrass yourself. I will wait and see how you end this when you cannot control the situation.” It has happened before: our son refused to do it and my wife couldn't do anything but stand there feeling upset, and I had to clean up the mess.

I observed the subtle changes deep in my thoughts without missing anything, as if I were outside my body watching the false me performing. I'd never looked at things this way before because most of the time I was focusing on the surface actions, with solving my problems as my goal. This time I truly felt that I was cultivating myself through this incident and not wasting the opportunity.

I genuinely saw my shortcomings. Even though I did not do or say anything, I was still attached and unconvinced. Agreeing verbally but disagreeing in my heart, and waiting to see others embarrass themselves is truly a bad thought.

I've had a lot of similar incidents lately and have truly understood that cultivation practice is not something we just pay lip service to, that it is not about how much work one has done or how many problems one has solved. Instead it is about whether one's thoughts have truly been purified. This is the essence of cultivation practice.

These recent experiences have reinforced my understandings of Master's lecture “Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference”. Master said,

“But aren’t gods watching your thoughts? You say you are cultivating, but what is cultivation? Doing things that look to others like you’re cultivating? That is fake! What really counts is what your thoughts are. Then who can see your thoughts? Can anyone see other practitioners’ thoughts? Others can only see the actions that result from your thoughts, but not what your deepest motive is. Then who can see it? Gods can see it! Master’s Law Bodies can see it! And countless lives in the cosmos can see it!” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference”)