Cultivating Away Attachments of Pride and Personal Gain
(Minghui.org) I would like to share my cultivation experience, particularly the process I went through in the last year, which taught me how to truly look within and get rid of my attachments.
My brother and sister-in-law, also practitioners, purchased an apartment at the end of 2015. They asked me to remodel it so that we could use it to provide a place to stay to fellow practitioners who had been forced to leave their homes due to the persecution.
It took me six weeks to finish the remodeling. I have a cousin named Jing whose living conditions and environment were not very good. We all agreed that she needed a place to cultivate peacefully. However, when my efforts were met with criticism from my cousin, rather than appreciation, it was a big test for me and an opportunity for me to truly improve.
Cultivating Myself in the Face of Criticism
When cousin Jing first came to see the house, she complained a great deal: the kitchen was not arranged correctly, there should be an island between the kitchen and the living room, the floor should be white, a good sized closet would have been better...
I did the remodeling based on my preference: open, bright and simple. I told her it was done and I did not have time to redo it. Later when I saw her, she complained again. She would not let up, so I finally replied: “I understand what you mean, but if you really need an island, I'll have to hire a carpenter.” She seemed to realize she was out of line and said, “Oh, never mind then.”
The next time she mentioned the remodeling again, all my attachments surfaced with force: “This is not your house, so I remodeled it without consulting you. Why are you so picky? You keep mentioning how things were in your home. Are you too attached to your home?” I instantly felt bad. “Sorry, I need to look within.”
Even though I said I would also look within, when I thought about all the time and work I put into fixing the house, my human attachments were stirred up again. To save money, I worked very hard on my own. She did not appreciate my efforts and only complained! When I vented my frustration to another practitioner, he told me that it was time for me to look within.
Master told us:
“ If the matter has absolutely nothing to do with you or doesn’t involve any of the attachments you should break, then that thing would rarely happen to you.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe”)
Once I calmed down, I carefully looked within: I truly had an attachment of wanting to hear praise. I did not take criticism well, tend to complain, and still have a strong mentality of competitiveness. I also put my personal attachments into my work. I enjoyed making all the decisions and choosing the colors and furniture according to my liking. It was me who had the attachment to a comfortable home!
I gave my apartment to my in-laws in 1999. We have been renting ever since, and have had to move many times. In the persecution, we suffered imprisonment, losing our jobs, police raids...How we longed for a peaceful and safe environment! My cousin's behavior was a good reminder for me to get rid of this attachment.
Cultivating Away Selfishness
In the winter of 2016, cousin Jing went to visit her children out of town. One day she called me and asked if she could use the apartment again, this time for her son's wedding. The apartment was on the market for sale. My thoughts began racing: how could I sell the house if it was occupied? What if they messed up the house? The longer we delayed selling, the more money we would lose... I suddenly realized, all these thoughts were attachments to personal gain. I needed to cultivate them away. I agreed to let them borrow the apartment.
Though I had agreed, I was still struggling with it. A fellow practitioner happened to mention that her child used a hotel for their wedding, which gave me an idea. I told my cousin that I would book a hotel for them as my wedding gift.
She was not as excited about the idea as I was and said that she had to ask her son. When she told me that night that they turned down my offer, I realized that I still had an attachment, because I was not happy. I still had an attachment to personal gain, and I was not able to be considerate of others. I knew it was time for me to cultivate away my selfishness.
Several days later, my mother told me that cousin Jing had asked to borrow many items, such as a bed, a mattress, quilts, and cookware. My human attachments arose right away: “How selfish can she be! I do not have extra. What am I supposed to use if I lend these things to her?!”
It took me a long time to calm down. I suddenly remembered a story I saw: There was a Budai Monk in the past. He was surrounded by a group of naughty children. They asked for his begging bowl, so he gave it to them; they asked for his shirt, so he also handed it to them; when they demanded his only pair of pants, he agreed. While in the process of undressing, he reached consummation! As a cultivator, one has to let go of everything. I realized something: “Master, my cousin is helping me to improve myself. I should not be upset at all. I still have this selfish heart that I really need to get rid of.”
I thought I had let go of all these attachments. After they had the wedding and cleaned up the place, I showed the apartment and I still saw dust and unclean areas and the buyer also noticed. I was really embarrassed. As soon as I was about to complain in my mind, I caught myself: No big deal, I will just clean it myself.
Later I shared my experience with fellow practitioners. I said, “I did not know how to look within when these issues surfaced a year ago. Now I have learned to look within as soon as a conflict arises.”
Finally, I would like to share Master's teaching:
“Cultivation is about working on the human mind and heart; it is about cultivating oneself. Only when you are able to examine yourself, looking inward amid problems, conflicts, difficulties, or when being treated unfairly, is it true cultivation. And only by doing so will you be constantly improving, staying the right course on your cultivation journey, and progressing toward consummation!” (“A Congratulatory Letter to the Fa Conference of Taiwan”)
Thank you, Master!Thank you, fellow practitioners!