The Purpose of Cultivation Is to Cultivate Oneself
(Minghui.org) Three practitioners and I headed out one evening to distribute informational materials about Falun Dafa and the persecution. I asked Ming (pseudonym) why she had not been participating in our monthly Fa study group.
Ming replied, “Sometimes I have things to say, but nobody shares their understandings after Fa study. The group does not help with elevating my cultivation level, so I don't want to participate. Especially you...”
She criticized me, saying that I had emotional attachments to my mother-in-law and practitioners with sickness karma. She said no matter how much Dafa work I did, it was in vain because of my human state of mind.
That sudden wave of criticism was a test. I wanted to argue but could not. I eventually calmed down; I thought that a cultivator should not argue about who's right and who's wrong. Master said,
“Today I am raising the issue again, and with this, I am eliminating for you the physical substance that has formed. (Applause) But you need to correct the tendency you have formed--you must. Be sure to pay heed! From this point on, whoever can't take criticism is not being diligent, whoever can't take criticism is not displaying the state of a cultivator, or at least on this issue.” (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles)
I knew that I should not let her words bother me and that I should continue to do what I was supposed to do. We headed out on our motorcycles. The practitioners who were husband and wife rode ahead of me. I had a feeling we were on the wrong path, but I followed them anyway.
It was dark, and I was not familiar with the road conditions. The road was steep. I found that I could not ride uphill, and my legs were too short to reach the ground to prevent the motorcycle from tipping over.
Strangely, I did not fall. I thought Master was helping me. I noticed that Ming held the motorcycle steady with her hands.
I thought that I had been cultivating and doing the three things fairly well. I often heard praise from others, and no one had ever criticized me like that.
I got home at around midnight and could not sleep. I thought about what Ming said and reflected on the recent events. I examined myself based on the Fa principles, looked within, and discovered my attachments.
I thought that I was better than others, and I often compared my strengths against other practitioners' shortcomings. I was attached to being the coordinator and wanted to prove myself. I was jealous, competitive, and cared about my reputation.
As a coordinator, I thought I had the right and the responsibility to “protect” practitioners. I saw myself as the leader. I constantly pointed out practitioners' wrongdoings or their attachments to self-interest. When I noticed that they were not acting according to the Fa or that their cultivation state was poor, I shared this with them. However, I still put myself above them.
Although I looked inward, it was done superficially and to show practitioners that I was looking inward. I did it to raise myself above others. I did not truly cultivate. It was not until that day that I realized that the purpose of cultivation was to cultivate oneself.
Ming's words reminded me of Master's teaching:
“When you are working together and you feel wronged or get angry, it's hard at that moment to reflect on your role in the matter or look within and realize what your state is or what attachment triggered that event. The majority of the time it's that [you are upset about] your suggestion not being adopted or that you looked down on someone. The manifestation of these two attachments tends to be the most intense.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Washington DC International Fa Conference” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference IX)
I realized why I looked down on others or avoided those who did not share my views or accept my suggestions: it was because I wanted to protect myself.
I studied the Fa and enlightened that conflicts among practitioners are opportunities for us to improve. And I failed to seize the opportunities. When I looked further, I knew I had an attachment to wanting to help others cultivate based on my understanding of the Fa principles. For example, when we read specific topics (e.g. eliminating self-interest, jealousy, or sickness karma) during group Fa study, I stopped reading and shared with elderly practitioners. I treated it as if reading Dafa books was to help others learn. I wanted to change others and not myself.
Ming's words propelled me to look within and helped me find my attachments. I further understood that the purpose of cultivation is to cultivate oneself. I have enlightened even more to Master's words, “...the whole process of cultivation is a process of constantly getting rid of human attachments.” (Zhuan Falun)
I am very grateful for Ming's straightforwardness.