Self-Restraint Gave Me More Freedom
(Minghui.org) I’m a young college student who has been practicing Falun Dafa for almost three years. Even though I study the Fa every day, send righteous thoughts, and clarify the truth, I was wasting many hours every day watching movies, TV shows, and videos on the Internet, which made me lazy and weak-minded. I knew that these activities were bad, but I was addicted to them.
I tried many things to quit, but I wasn’t able to move past the level of being frequently distracted by ordinary entertainment and comfort. This lack of self-discipline affected my cultivation badly. I procrastinated often and did not do very well with my ordinary responsibilities.
My roommate is also a Dafa practitioner, and we both go to the same college. He is a new practitioner, but he is very diligent and never wastes time. He avoids watching movies and doesn’t get caught up in everyday people’s distractions.
I was watching a movie one day when my roommate came in to talk to me. He was tired of seeing me waste so much time, and so we talked for a while about this issue. After some talking, he said to me, “You know, it probably looks like I don’t put in much effort to keep focused, but actually, I spend about 80 percent of my energy every day just to restrain my negative thoughts.”
Hearing this shocked me, since I had always assumed that his diligence and high tolerance was just a natural manifestation of his personality. But he was actually working very hard every day just to control his thinking! His effort was internal, so I couldn’t see it.
When I compared myself to him, I realized how far away I was from being truly diligent. Even though I did the three things every day, I had not cultivated my mind well. Much of my energy was being wasted on ordinary thoughts and behaviors, and even more energy was wasted on constantly cleaning up the negative elements in my mind after indulging in those ordinary behaviors. I didn’t realize until then just how important it was to focus on self-restraint in cultivation.
Some people might think, “If I used 80 percent of my energy to restrain my thoughts, I wouldn’t have enough energy to accomplish my goals.” Actually, when I tried restraining my thoughts this way, I had the opposite result. It gave me more freedom, and I could get things done in half the time. I was able to easily give up watching movies and other addictive habits. I now rarely waste time, and my mind is usually very clear. It’s actually far more efficient and healthy for practitioners to make a concerted effort to restrain our thoughts.
With this change, I have been able to do more to clarify the truth and save sentient beings, do a better job at school, study the Fa more, and have more confidence in myself. I can also feel my increasingly powerful righteous thoughts break through many barriers in other dimensions.
My boss at my part-time job pulled me aside the other day, saying, “You’ve done everything we’ve asked you to do, and you’ve done a great job.” I felt like Master was encouraging me through my boss’s words and telling me that I was finally on the right track.
Sometimes, when I talk to non-practitioners about Dafa, they tell me that it’s unhealthy to repress emotions and desires, and that self-restraint and tolerance are not good for mental health. I used to think this way too, especially since Western countries emphasize personal expression and individuality.
But recently, I realized that the “self-restraint” in cultivation is actually very different from the “repressing emotions and desires” that everyday people mention. It is important that we do not cover up those bad thoughts and attachments and keep adding to them, but expose them so that we do not create more problems. That is what a cultivator should do.
“What if you can’t get rid of thought-karma? Let me tell you that a person’s notions are formed not only in one lifetime, but accumulated life after life. They even exist in extremely deep parts of your body, they’re not just on the surface. What can you do about them? As you continually cultivate, you are weakening them and getting rid of them. You are already doing that. Then until you Consummate, your thinking will still produce karma and that thing will still exist. So you should find a way to restrain and overcome it—that’s cultivation!” (“Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore”)
My understanding is that a cultivator’s self-restraint involves actively facing our bad thoughts as soon as they come up, and then restraining and eliminating them. This is true self-restraint. This takes some energy, but it is the only way to truly eliminate our bad thoughts. If we do this all the time, we will constantly make great strides in our cultivation!
Category: Improving Oneself