Understanding the Phrase: “Outwitting the Old Forces at Their Own Game”
(Minghui.org) In my personal cultivation, for many years I struggled with basic attachments of sentimentality, lust, personal gain, certain foods or tea and coffee, comfort, casually browsing the web and social media, and playing video games or watching TV. I didn't know how to untangle myself from the intense tribulations caused by my attachments, which caused me to get lost on my path of cultivation for many years.
I used to see the manifestations of bad thoughts, notions, and attachments as interference, and would fight against these thoughts constantly. I sometimes spent a lot of time sending righteous thoughts to eliminate these elements, but they would come back even stronger, and eventually I would break under the pressure and give in.
When facing interference I could not understand why I wasn't able to overcome all these bad thoughts, and I always wondered why my main consciousness wasn't strong enough to deter them. I tried certain strategies, such as forcing myself to limit the time I spent on these activities, or forcing myself to abandon some of them. And I also tried spending more time studying the Fa, doing the exercises, and sending righteous thoughts.
Discovering the “Magical Tool”
I did see some progress, but the situation couldn't be completely resolved because I was still missing the “magical tool” that Master gave us in cultivation: Looking inside. I always felt as if I was stuck, progressing too slowly, or going forward and then backwards, being very unstable, and I sensed no real progress in my cultivation.
I would like to share about the mindset that allowed me to break through this long-term plateau in my cultivation.
I was once sharing about my cultivation state with another practitioner, and he said, “These things are happening to you because you're not considering yourself a cultivator when facing interference. Your mind isn't righteous.” His comment left a deep impression on me.
Master said in Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six, Section: “Your Mind Must Be Righteous”:
“What's not a right mind? It refers to a person's inability to always treat himself as a practitioner.”
Master also told us in “Expounding on the Fa” in Essentials for Further Advancement:
“For a long period of time the sentient beings in Dafa, especially the disciples, have had a misunderstanding of the Fa at various levels regarding xinxing improvement. Whenever a tribulation comes, you do not see it with the side of your original nature but view it completely with your human side. Evil demons then capitalize on this point and inflict endless interference and damage, leaving students in long-term tribulations. As a matter of fact, this results from an inadequate understanding of the Fa by your human side. You have humanly restrained your divine side; in other words, you have restrained the parts that have been successfully cultivated and have prevented them from doing Fa-rectification. How can the uncultivated side restrain your main thoughts or the side that has already attained the Fa? Having humanly fostered the evil demons, you allow them to capitalize on the loopholes in the Fa.”
I looked inside and realized that the reason I couldn't overcome interference in my cultivation was because I wasn't facing it with the mentality of a cultivator, by seeing any form of interference as a great opportunity to improve in cultivation.
Seeing interference as something bad for me actually made things worse, and it was just like Master said in Zhuan Falun, Lecture Seven:
“It is known that what actually causes people to become ill is seventy percent psychological and thirty percent physical. Typically one experiences a mental breakdown, the mind cannot handle it, and one suffers a heavy mental burden before the illness' condition drastically worsens. It is usually like this. For instance, there once was a person who was tied to a bed. They took one of his arms and claimed that they would slit it to make it bleed. Then they blindfolded his eyes and scratched his wrist once. (He was not at all cut and bleeding.) A water faucet was turned on so that he could hear water dripping, and he thus thought that it was his blood that was dripping. The man died shortly afterward. In fact, he was not cut and bleeding--it was running water that was dripping. His psychological factors caused his death.”
My understanding from the above quote is that interference in cultivation is 70% psychological and 30% actual interference, and we can make things worse if we don't regard the situation as cultivators.
Opportunities to Improve
I then realized: “If these bad thoughts didn't manifest, how could I separate myself from them? How could I show Master that these thoughts aren't me? And when I separate myself from these thoughts, I'm eliminating them, so isn't it a good thing? And wouldn't I then be progressing in cultivation? If these thoughts manifest themselves over and over throughout the day, then aren't they all opportunities? The more they manifest, the more opportunities available to improve.” When I turned around my way of seeing the situation, I came to realize that throughout the day, at all times, I constantly have countless opportunities to elevate myself in cultivation the way Master described in Zhuan Falun:
“But for a cultivator, that’s not the pinnacle of his Fruition, because he’s constantly moving up, constantly rising, and constantly improving.”
“No matter what it is you have encountered as you've gone about validating the Fa, it is all, I will tell you, a good thing--and that's especially so in these years of persecution--for those things have come about specifically because you do cultivation. Those ordeals and the suffering, no matter how great or harsh you find them to be, are good things, because they take place solely on account of your cultivation. A person can eliminate karma and shed human attachments when he goes through ordeals, and through ordeals he can improve. Whether your motive is to save sentient beings, to validate the Fa, or to make progress in your own cultivation, they are ordeals all the same.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2008 New York Conference”)
After I learned to see the good things for what they are, and the bad things as good things because they help me improve, I no longer feel sad, discouraged, or concerned when I face tribulations. In fact, I feel like I'm constantly progressing very fast and always see things positively, thinking, “Ah, I feel some pain in a certain part of my body, this is a good opportunity for me to eliminate my attachment to fear of illness.
My body is being purified. One cannot raise one's level without a bit of hardship, so as I'm feeling this pain, I'm actually raising my xinxing and improving in cultivation.” Or I would smile and think, “My supervisor or a fellow practitioner scolded me in front of others for not doing a good job. Great! This an opportunity for me to work harder and get rid of my attachment to comfort and reputation.”
Having a Positive Outlook
My understanding at my current level is that with this positive mentality, what evil could possibly affect a cultivator? With this mentality aren't we be beating the old forces at their own game? If we could act this way at all times, I think we would be able to reach the level of xinxing that Master asks of us in Zhuan Falun:
“As you know, when a person reaches the Arhat level, in his heart he is not concerned about anything. He does not care at all in his heart for any ordinary human matter, and he will always be smiling and in good spirits. No matter how much loss he suffers, he will still be smiling and in good spirits without any concern. If you can really do this, you have already reached the entry-level Fruition Status of Arhatship.”
In “Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference” Master said of the old forces:
“That’s why I have been saying all along that I am outwitting them at their own game.”
I think that if we want to effectively assist Master in Fa rectification, we should continually outwit the old forces at their own game by taking any interference as a good opportunity to improve.
This is my current understanding. Please point out anything that is not in accordance with the Fa.
Category: Improving Oneself