Looking Inward with Persistence
(Minghui.org) I began to pay close attention to personal cultivation in 2002 instead of merely engaging in doing things. I enlightened that saving sentient beings must start with cultivating myself well.
Learning from Fellow Practitioners
I was staying temporarily with practitioner Amy during the time when I was forced to live a life of displacement. One evening, practitioner Luke came for a visit. I was stunned when I witnessed Amy bluntly pointing out Luke’s inadequacies.
I had never dared to speak out like that even when I noticed real problems in other practitioners, as I was always afraid to offend. Amy’s frankness showed my small-mindedness.
I said to Luke, “For the sake of fellow practitioners, I should also do as Amy does. I should not look at fellow practitioners as outsiders. I should speak out with compassion and share my personal understanding.”
I didn’t expect Luke would disagree with what I said. I listened carefully to Luke’s refutation while simultaneously reflecting on my own thought process. I realized I was basically beating around the bush. From Luke’s words, attitude, and demeanor, I recognized my problems. So, I made up my mind to affect a change in myself right then and there.
I began to speak my mind, without mincing words. Surprisingly, Luke listened quietly and did not offer any counter response or contradiction.
After Luke left, I couldn’t help but worry. For someone who had been used to being timid and never wanting to offend, what I just did with Luke was quite stunning. I was afraid Luke would be upset. I was afraid I was not behaving like a cultivator.
Luke then initiated a contact with me several days later. Not only had he not been offended, he actually made another recommendation to me before he left. I took his recommendation to heart. I began to write down my true feelings and thoughts so as to better analyze them. From that process, I uncovered conscientiously a lot of my problems. For the first time, I realized my feelings and thoughts had been long-term attachments and human notions. When I finally came face to face with my deep down problems, I could feel a sense of release from the depth of my soul.
Then, from studying Master’s Fa teachings, I felt further inspired. I realized during those times when I wasn’t doing well, it was because they were moments for my self-improvement. I also realized looking at and solving problems must not be merely superficial. I must make efforts to examine everything that’s hidden.
I was then able to extract myself from problems that had long entwined me. I became aware of what I should do. From my personal enlightenment, I was also able to help Luke extract himself from his own entwining problems. It was good to hear from Luke that his recent changes and elevation were partly due to our heart-to-heart exchanges.
I truly felt that from then on I had learned how to look inward. In the process, because I persisted in looking inward, I felt my improvement was greatly enhanced. In the process of helping fellow practitioners, I felt I was beginning to understand what it means to weigh all situations against the Fa.
When I look back at that period of my cultivation, I enlighten to the fact that there is no chance encounter even among fellow practitioners. Everything has its predestined relationship that may be indiscernible to us. If we can look inward whenever problems arise, we can then negate the old forces and their arrangements, and be able to remind ourselves to improve in cultivation so as to fulfill our prehistoric vows.
Learning to Stop Looking Outward
Practitioner Bill was detained in 2003. I was in shock. I recalled, in my normal contacts with Bill throughout the years that we had known each other, that I had never pointed out anything untoward to share with him. All because of my attachments to saving face, to worrying about the possible negative outcome, and to not wanting to get involved. I also realized there were elements in those missed opportunities for me to elevate. I wanted to make amends.
Bill was released a month later. I started to share with him step by step and problem by problem what I noticed were his problems, in the hopes that he would look inward. The outcome was not what I anticipated. In fact, my efforts resulted in conflicts between the two of us. We ended up in an impasse for quite a while.
That disturbed me quite a bit so that I couldn’t even concentrate when I was studying the Fa. I kept thinking, without meaning to, about Bill and his problems, and how his problems had all been mentioned in Master’s Fa.
Once when I was dwelling on the same thoughts during Fa study, another thought suddenly appeared: “Isn’t cultivation about cultivating my own self. Yet I was thinking about Bill and using the Fa to weigh against what I perceive as Bill’s problems. Am I not looking outward?”
Despite that enlightenment, my notion of looking outward remained stubbornly strong. I had to constantly remind myself sternly, “Look inward!” At the same time, I concentrated on studying the Fa diligently and with serious attention. Gradually, the desire to look outward became weaker and weaker, until it disappeared from my consciousness altogether. The void was replaced by a wonderful feeling of peace and comfort, and of being one with the Fa.
Bill later narrowly escaped another detention but had to leave the area and became displaced. One day, he showed up at my door. He told me in all sincerity that he was there to thank me for reminding him to look inward. That further convinced me the importance of looking inward.
Looking Inward with Persistence
A practitioner once stated, “Looking inward was the former state of self-cultivation. Now is the time of Fa-rectification. We should concentrate on saving people.”
I didn’t respond, but I felt confused as if I had lost my direction and didn’t know how to go forward. For several days after that, I kept questioning myself, “We must save people, but does it mean we don’t need to look inward when saving people?”
While studying the Fa once, I enlightened to the fact that cultivation itself means looking inward. It’s only through looking inward to rid ourselves of attachments that we can be considered true cultivators.
Perhaps not all practitioners would be able to recognize that Master has already expounded on every situation that we may encounter in our cultivation paths, and that Master won’t appear in front of each of us to tell us specifically how to treat each encounter.
Consequently, I made a firm personal decision to stay firm with the Fa principle of looking inward whenever I encounter any situation.
I then thought about a fellow practitioner who was not willing to participate in group Fa study. I went to look for him and when I got to his apartment, nobody answered my knocks. I believed it was interference by the old forces. I decided not to leave but stood quietly by the door. After a while, the door opened. So, the practitioner was home after all.
We sat down for a sincere exchange. We did an analysis to uncover the root cause of his reluctance toward group Fa study. We came to an understanding within the Fa. The practitioner decided he would rejoin the Fa study group.
That experience, plus my recent state of cultivation, taught me that all practitioners rely on the personal enlightenment of Master’s Fa to walk individual cultivation paths and work on different projects. Having a variety of understandings is normal. What becomes an issue is when we become critical of each other.
If we do not take a step forward to look at issues within the Fa, if we fail to recognize that all our understandings come from Master and Dafa, we will easily insist on our personal notions. We will find it hard to adjust our relationship between ourselves and Master and Dafa. Then, all sorts of problems can manifest.
“You are one body, just like Master’s gong…It’s just like my gong, which does different things at the same time…In other words, one body doesn’t necessarily do one thing. But no matter what you do, you need to be worthy of being called a Dafa disciple.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Washington D.C. International Fa Conference” in Guiding the Voyage)
Master also says:
“Different approaches are in fact the all-encompassing way in which roles are dynamically distributed in the operations of the Fa, and the Fa-power is a reflection of the one body.” (Comments on a Student’s Article” in The Essentials of Diligent Progress Vol III)
We are now in the process of standing up against the persecution to save sentient beings. If we cannot weigh everything against the Fa to look at issues, then our human notions will take over. We will insist on our own viewpoints based on our different understandings. We will see only the others’ problems. Our looking inward will remain at the surface.
When we are walking our personal cultivation paths, we should all the more look at the bright spots of our fellow practitioners, so that we will know to cherish each other, support each other, and harmonize together. We can then coordinate well in fulfilling our responsibility of saving sentient beings.
Getting Rid of Attachments
I knew a husband and wife who were practitioners that had persistent conflicts with each other. I believed I had been helping them resolve their long-standing issues. When I found out they were really feeling resentment toward me, I couldn’t believe it. I felt wronged. I also felt there was some substance that was forcing an irreconcilable wedge between us.
I passed by their house one morning on my way to work and couldn’t help but think about them. I remembered their faces and their smiles and felt they were very kind and good people. I mused, “What happened between us must have been my problem. Otherwise, they would not have negative thoughts about me.”
I started to recollect what had transpired, including my thoughts, my feelings, my words, and my demeanor. I looked inward and realized I normally felt a sense of uncertainty and timidity when I came into contact with them. When I searched for the reason, I vaguely sensed that a cluster of substance was lurking in my consciousness and that what I was looking for was hidden within.
I told myself, “I must scrutinize everything carefully. I must not just look at the surface but must arrive at the root cause.” Gradually, I realized when I was in contact with the practitioners, I was very warm and positive on the surface, but deep down, behind my uncertainty and timidity, there seemed to be something else.
That was when I uncovered my attachment to lust. I further uncovered my attachments to name and fame as a result of my attachment to fear of being discovered as inadequate and being a laughing stock. What was worse was, not only did I have those attachments, but I was also actually protecting those attachments because I had been looking at the attachments as part of me.
The revelations helped me to feel as if awakened from a dream. I became relaxed. I sensed the substance that had shrouded me was quickly dissipating.
The evening after I uncovered my various well-hidden attachments and faced them head on to dispel them, I dreamed I was with the couple. All of a sudden, a big animal looking like a rat or a hedgehog fell from the sky. When I awoke, I came to the understanding that when I worked to rid myself of my attachments, evil had no place to hide.
After that experience, I realized that whenever Dafa disciples encounter conflicts, we should all make a sincere effort to look inward at our own problems, to check out the inadequacies of ourselves, and recognize these problems are not our real selves but a reflection of evil beings in other dimensions.
Letting Go of Human Emotions
An elderly husband and wife team in 2005 was working in the materials production site where they were in charge of coordinating the distribution of Dafa materials to local practitioners.
Practitioners Cindy and Dianna were not diligent in studying the Fa and seemed to spend all their time and effort merely handing out Dafa materials.
The coordinating practitioners brought the issue up with me. Together we discussed how to handle the situation. We came to the decision that we would temporarily not provide materials for them so that they could have more time for Fa study.
After a couple of weeks, Cindy and Dianna became unhappy. So, I took the matter into reconsideration.
I shared my thoughts with the coordinators, “Although our intention is to help Cindy and Dianna, but Master requires us to save sentient beings, which is one of the three things we have to do. We have the responsibility to provide practitioners with the necessary materials so they can save people. If we notice any inadequacy, all we can and should do is point it out to them with compassion and help them understand.”
The coordinators agreed. Yet, several days later, I had a strong suspicion that they had developed distrust in me and had gone so far as to avoid me altogether.
I was at a loss what to do. After I looked inward and weighed the whole situation, I was able to let go of the notion of self-importance and of attachment to sentimentality among fellow practitioners.
I realized, “It’s wrong to hold any personal opinion about fellow practitioners. Whatever happens, no matter the issue or conflict, it is but Master’s arrangement to provide me with opportunities to elevate myself.”
I told myself, “My job is only to safeguard Dafa and Dafa’s materials production site. Nothing else matters.”
I decided I would concentrate on harmonizing with Dafa, to quietly send forth righteous thoughts for our Dafa materials production site, and to cooperate well with fellow practitioners. And so, we were able to come together to work closely with each other toward saving sentient beings.
“Society’s form may change, yet the requirements for cultivation will never change, because they are the standard of the universe, the standard of Dafa.” (“A Reminder”)
I will do my best to cultivate in accordance with Master’s Fa and negate any arrangement by the old forces to walk the path Master arranged for me.
My greatest enlightenment is of the importance of trusting Master and Dafa without fail. The other is to study the Fa with firm and persistent diligence. In addition, no matter what I am faced with, I will look inward, to work on my every single thought and notion, to weigh everything against Dafa, and to cherish every fellow practitioner under whatever circumstance.