Letting Go of “Self”
(Minghui.org) My strong and stubborn attachment to “self” has been a huge obstacle in my cultivation of Falun Dafa for many years. When I recently looked at how my cultivation had been going I had some startling realizations that I would like to share with fellow practitioners.
I first started practicing Falun Dafa in 2013, and always thought that I was diligent in my cultivation. For example, out of respect to the founder of Falun Dafa, I washed my hands before reading the Dafa books, sat up straight with my legs crossed, and carefully read each word. I often had dreams about flying straight up. I could definitely feel that I was advancing to higher levels.
As soon as my alarm clock went off every morning I immediately got up and did the exercises. My mind was clear, without any thought of lingering in bed. When other practitioners mentioned that they couldn't hear their alarm clocks I thought, “How could that be possible?”
However, soon after I had this thought I too didn't hear my alarm clock, even though it was set at the highest volume. My husband had to turn it off and then tell me about it later.
This happened on and off for three years. When I looked inward, I found my attachment to comfort, but I couldn't change. I did a little better when I had stronger determination, but as soon as I relaxed I could no longer get up early. I knew that I wouldn't be able to pass this test without solving my problem at its root.
What was the cause of my problem? My attachment to comfort? Laziness? My human notions about needing to sleep a certain number of hours per day? All of these played a role, but none of them was the root of my problem.
I reacted strangely to other practitioners' talking about the lessons they learned. But instead of being motivated by their diligent cultivation, I slacked off. For example, I used to have no attachment to playing on my cell phone or the Internet. However, I became more engrossed with my cell phone and the Internet after reading an article about how some practitioners stumbled over this issue. I wasted days surfing the Internet.
Another example was online shopping. After some practitioners talked about how they wasted time shopping online, even though I didn't have this problem, I too started browsing online and wasted a lot of time doing so. I just kept picking up other practitioners' bad habits.
At first, I laughed at myself for copying others. But why did I keep doing this?
Many of the practitioners who had stumbled over these kinds of issues were veteran practitioners. These issues were things that I thought even a new practitioner like me could easily pass. But I realized that I often looked down on others. I was complacent and believed that I was doing better in cultivation than these veteran practitioners.
After identifying my problem, I realized how superficial my cultivation had been. I thought that I was doing pretty well in my cultivation, but I hadn't even touched my acquired notions regarding “self.”
Looking back, I saw that I always thought I was better than others and had followed a higher moral standard, even before I began practicing Falun Dafa. Though I was very willing to look within and had been able to eliminate some attachments after I started cultivating, my complacency prevented me from seeing many of my attachments.
I had the highest respect for Master and Dafa since the beginning when I started cultivating. However, recently I had very bad and disrespectful thoughts. I knew that this wasn't my true self, but for days I simply couldn't get rid of these thoughts. The thoughts subsided a bit right after I sent forth righteous thoughts to eliminate the bad substances where these thoughts evolved from, but they soon returned. I was deeply disturbed.
When the bad thoughts came to my mind, I thought, “Oh, no! How can I have such nasty thoughts?” I refused to recognize that they were mine. As I studied “Your Master Consciousness Needs to be Strong” in Zhuan Falun and sent forth strong righteous thoughts, I realized that the old forces were trying to persecute me. I asked myself, “Do I really have such disrespectful thoughts about Master?” The answer was “no.” “Are these nasty thoughts mine?” The answer was “no.”
These notions have been following many of us lifetime after lifetime, and we think that they are ours, but they aren't. A truly pure being doesn't have these things.
It also dawned on me why I couldn't concentrate during meditation or Fa study, and why I felt sleepy while sending forth righteous thoughts. I had been attached to the false “self” that looks like me, and felt good about me.
My attachment to this false self had prevented me from cultivating solidly. I had treated cultivation as part of my life, but failed to treat my life as part of my cultivation!
Sentimentality, Selfishness, and Jealousy
My mother is a Dafa practitioner, but she died as a result of being persecuted. Her death was a huge blow to me, and I even thought about leaving this world. I knew that committing suicide was wrong, but my overwhelming emotions made me want to give up everything.
I managed to let go of some of the sentimental attachment to my mother after I started cultivating. I had a dream about her soon after I began practicing. She was ascending slowly, but I had already ascended above her, leaving her further and further behind. I realized that my emotional attachment to her was a serious obstacle to my cultivation, and I was determined to let go of my attachment to sentimentality.
“Breeding demons in your own mind also comes in other forms. Maybe you see deceased family members who interfere with you, they cry and weep, and they tell you to do this or that—all kinds of things come up. Can you stay unaffected inside? Maybe you dote on your kid or you love your parents. Your parents have passed away, and now they tell you to do certain things… things that you shouldn’t do, and it’d be a disaster if you did them. That’s how hard it is for a practitioner.” (The Sixth Talk from Zhuan Falun)
My attachment to my mother, which had entangled me for years, suddenly disappeared. I became clear about our predestined relationship and was finally free from human emotion regarding my mom.
I also thought about my predestined relationship with my husband. We had been friends for years before we got married, and I started practicing Falun Dafa soon after our marriage.
My husband and I had actually been together in many of our previous lives. We have been husband and wife, lovers, classmates, or friends in different periods of time. We had many meaningful relationships throughout history. As soon we met in this lifetime we bonded together as if we had never been separated. No wonder we both felt as though we knew each other for a long time upon first meeting in this life.
As I gained a deeper understanding of my feelings for my husband, I also came to understand my sentimental attachment to my mother. Emotion exists within the Three Realms. As long as I'm attached to emotion I won't be able to leave the Three Realms. Humans live in illusion, entangled by emotions. However, Falun Dafa practitioners can abandon these attachments as long as they are determined to cultivate.
While sending forth righteous thoughts to eliminate the old forces' interference, I saw some scenes in another dimension. There was a range of tall mountains with sheer cliff faces. Clouds covered the mountaintops, and a vast plain spread across the valley. I watched as this tranquil scene began to shrink, only to be replaced with new scenes. My body grew larger and larger, and the mountains looked small and smaller. My whole body glowed with a bright, golden light. A golden lotus appeared in the sky, radiating dazzling golden rays. Everything shone with a golden hue. It looked so bright and peaceful.
As I watched the scene, I realized that my husband and I were destined to come to this world for the Fa after reincarnating together so many times. The roles we have played and our ties have never changed.
I've come to the conclusion that we cannot reach consummation unless we eliminate sentimentality, as it is rooted in selfishness. Sentimentality and selfishness rely on each other and support each other. Together, they can generate all kinds of human notions – including jealousy.
“There’s a rule: a person who doesn’t get rid of jealousy while cultivating cannot achieve a True Fruition—he definitely won’t achieve a True Fruition.” (The Seventh Talk from Zhuan Falun)
Jealousy is both emotional and selfish. Humans are buried in feelings because they are selfish.
It's an enormous challenge to let go of these attachments. I could have avoided many detours in my cultivation if I had realized this long ago.
The above is my limited understanding. Please feel free to point out anything inappropriate.