(Minghui.org) I have practiced Falun Dafa for almost 21 years. I have read numerous experience sharing papers and have seen many of the challenges fellow practitioners face. Many practitioners were dedicated to truth-clarification projects, while some others were arrested and some even passed away. I was puzzled as to what it means to truly cultivate.

In recent years, in the more secure and stable environment outside China, I was able to study the Fa with a calmer mind and truly think deeply on how to search within. I realized that there is no role model in cultivation. The Fa tell us that, even if we do things to clarify the truth, if we do not change our own hearts, it will just be ordinary people doing Dafa work.

I think there are three main reasons why some practitioners are diligent when it comes to doing the three things but do not truly cultivate based on the Fa.

First, they just follow Master’s requirements mechanically, not from the bottom of their hearts. This prevents them from seeing the manifestations of the Fa. They do the three things with selfish intent, so it is easy to be taken advantage of by the old forces.

For example, they might be using cultivation as a way to escape the human world; clarifying the truth to gain more virtue; viewing cultivation as a more noble lifestyle than that of everyday people; and so on. With all these notions, how can one understand what true cultivation is? The old forces won’t let go of you easily. Therefore, it is not cultivation that results in persecution. The root cause is human attachments.

Secondly, I have heard from some practitioners that, although a person has cultivated for many years, he or she may still not know how to truly cultivate.

In the past, I always separated cultivation from my daily life. When I clarified the truth, I was a Dafa practitioner. In my daily life, I was just myself. I did not realize that the things I encountered every day were all arranged by Master. They seemed to be incidental, but they were all arranged to improve my xinxing So there are tests everywhere to help us improve.

When we improve, our environment changes accordingly. Just like Master says:

“I would say that it is high time you seriously examined yourselves in terms of cultivation. Don’t take so lightly those things that you brush aside and consider not that big of an issue. In terms of standards for cultivation, the things you may consider minor, [if you go] by the old forces’ way of looking at Dafa disciples, are not minor whatsoever. When you think certain things are nothing significant, oftentimes that’s based on evaluating yourselves with ordinary standards, rather than with the Fa!”(“Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference”)

Another important aspect is that we don’t know how to truly search within. Our xinxing level determines the level of our gong. If our gong is high, our truth clarification will be effective. In the past, when I noticed an obvious attachment and wanted to eliminate it, I then tried hard to control it, thinking that was cultivation. After a while, however, the same attachment would rear its head again, sometimes even stronger. This happened many times, and I was frustrated.

When I tried to share this with fellow practitioners, they would calm me down by reminding me what Master said:

“Human thoughts are eliminated layer by layer in Dafa cultivation. You know, it’s just like the layers of an onion being peeled off one by one until eventually the core is reached.”(“Teaching the Fa at the Conference in New Zealand”)

In fact, my “controlling” approach was not really peeling off the layers of the onion. On the contrary, I was covering up the leaves of the attachment with layers of dirt. On the surface, it was hidden. But the right conditions were right, it would come up again. This is because I did not dig down and eliminate the root of the attachment.

I would like to share an example.

For many years, I cared a lot about being clean. For example I had to wash my bedsheets often, and I had to change clothes every single day. When others pointed out that I was only being clean superficially, I never acknowledged it. Sometimes I even argued with my detractors.

Master says:

“But if you don’t look within, think about it, aren’t you an ordinary person then? Does any ordinary person look within? Which ordinary person can look within? Suppose someone tries to reflect on where he did wrong in any disagreement he comes across, and apologizes to the other party after figuring things out, well, if he’s in China, people will think he is crazy. That’s because the morals of the whole society have been ruined by that evil Party. No ordinary person would look at problems that way. Instead, when he gets into a disagreement he usually points fingers at the other party, and tensions escalate. Dafa disciples aren’t like that.”(“Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference”)

I searched within and found out several shortcomings. First, I was extremely selfish. I always thought about things from my own point of view and was never considerate of others.

When the clothes or bedsheets are dirty, we can wash them. However, I did it the way I wanted to and didn’t care if it was necessary or not. I did things without thinking about the results.

Digging deeper, I realized that I often did things to show off, that I was satisfied when others felt good about what I’d done. For example, I viewed doing the exercises every day as a task. When I studied the Fa, I did not really focus. However, studying the Fa without a calm mind shows disrespect for the Fa.

Further, I found myself to be very self-centered. It was more important for me to feel comfortable, rather than pay attention to what Master taught us. If the Fa conformed to my notions, I would go along with it. If it was too difficult to follow, I would rather not do it than make myself suffer. I understand now that this is dangerous.

What made me so self-centered? I found that I did not truly believe in the Fa and Master. I did not believe that Master’s Fa could fix me and bring me to consummation. Even when Master said he would not give up on any single disciple, even when I had witnessed many examples demonstrating how wonderful Dafa is, I still did not fully believe.

What caused this lack of true belief in the Fa and Master?

I realized that I had been self-contained over the years. I never truly believed in anyone. I did not even trust my own parents. I felt the world was not trustworthy. I tried hard to open up. I realized that the world was not fake, it was only my thought about it.

After I let my guard down, I found the world to be wonderful and my family being nice to me. Fellow practitioners were very supportive.

When my mindset changed, my body also changed. People saw a different healthy me and they were more receptive when I clarified the truth to them.

In the past years, the reason why I cultivated so slowly was mainly because I did not search within when facing conflicts. Even when I knew I was wrong, I did not want to suffer or to search within. Every time others pointed out my shortcomings, I chose not to listen or even argued with them.

Master says:

“When any conflict arises or anything happens, I've told you that not only should the two parties in the conflict look for reasons on their part, even any third party should think about himself--why are you the one who observed it? When you are a direct party in the conflict, that's even more the case, but why won't you cultivate yourself?”(“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference”)

Master says,

“Cultivation is about cultivating one's heart and cultivating oneself. When there are problems, conflicts, difficulties, and unfair treatment, one is still able to search oneself and look inside, and that's real cultivation, and only then will one be able to continuously improve, walk straight on the path of cultivation, and head toward Consummation!”(“A Congratulatory Message to the Taiwan Fa Conference”)

In order to improve one’s xinxing, when others point out our problems, we should listen. Our first reaction should not be to reject what we are told. Master gives us hints through the words of others. Only when we face the issues and accept them can we improve.

Master says:

“Shouldn’t you care about the well-being of others when you cultivate? You should think of others first. When you see someone else’s shortcomings, why not tell him, since he too is cultivating? No matter how he takes it, if it’s necessary to tell him, you should let him know. You had a kind intention and Master saw that, and it’s not necessary for you to show it to others. In the event that he doesn’t accept what you say, whether he accepts it or not, you have touched on the attachments he needs to eliminate, and I think it will serve as a catalyst for his improvement. He may not enlighten to it right then, but later on he might. If he then still doesn’t enlighten to it, I will use other people’s mouths to alert him to it. If he still doesn’t get it, he will hit his head and get a big bump on it.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Conference in New Zealand”)

Master gave us an environment of group Fa study and group exercises so we can openly share our thoughts. Many times, it is very difficult for us to find our own issues, so it is important for fellow practitioners to point out issues for one another.

Over the years, I have been improving myself gradually and rectifying myself from the standpoint of the Fa. The improvement usually happens when I have to face conflicts. It is very uncomfortable to be in the middle of a conflict, but, looking back, I’m so grateful for Master’s arrangements to push me forward on my cultivation path.

As a Dafa disciple in the Fa-rectification period, I have to fully use the time left to fulfill the mission Master gave me.