Cultivating Based on the Fa, Letting Go of My Ego
Letting Go of the Attachments to Status
In Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public, Master said:
“Human beings are just human beings, and you are thinking too highly of them. You feel it’s difficult to save them; that’s because they are too low-level, not because they are too high-level. So to those who are more difficult to talk to, you should speak at a lower level, only then can they accept it. If they truly had wisdom, they would not be that way.”
When I read this paragraph, I suddenly realized one of my attachments: I care too much about human things, such as one's educational background, skills, social status, and financial standing.
Both of my parents were intellectuals and my ex-in-laws were government officials. I had enjoyed high status for most of my life. I thought it was an indication of one's level and achievements. Even after cultivating for many years, I still didn't fully let go of such notions.
After the communist regime launched the persecution of Falun Dafa in 1999, my life was turned upside down. I lost my job, and my husband was forced to divorce me because many of his relatives worked in the government.
Because I went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Dafa and talked to people about the practice, I was arrested and sent to forced labor camps several times. My life was miserable. I took many low-end jobs just to make a living. I was often embarrassed to speak about Falun Dafa in front of my family and friends.
Searching deep in my heart, I realized that I was still longing for a comfortable and happy life. I cared too much about status. That my well-to-do relatives did not accept my truth-clarification was, in fact, a reflection of my own attachments.
“While teaching the Fa before, I discussed a principle. To illustrate the issue, one thing that they say in the CCP's Party-culture is, "Before you advise others to do well, you have to first do well yourself." So after some people have done something bad and others point it out to them, they say, "You haven't done well yourself. Don't tell me what to do. If you want to tell me what to do, you first have to do well yourself." Just like with the notion I mentioned above, their reasoning is deviant here.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. International Fa Conference,” Teaching the Fa at the Conference VII)
I realized that I didn't have to prove myself by making a lot of money or having a high social status for people to listen to me. In fact, many famous monks in the past didn't have anything except a begging bowl, but they were very well respected.
Stop Using Dafa to Cover Up My Attachments
I experienced some physical discomfort recently and stopped going out to talk to people about Falun Dafa. I was afraid that people might think negatively about Dafa because of me. I was looking for excuses not to fulfill my responsibilities and acknowledged the persecution.
I realized that I was using Dafa as an excuse to cover up my attachments. When I didn't feel well, I didn't take it seriously, look within, or send righteous thoughts to eliminate the interference. Instead, I found excuses to avoid dealing with the problem.
Master taught us:
“Actually, all that is not aligned with Dafa and Dafa disciples’ righteous thoughts has been caused by the old forces’ involvement, including all the unrighteous factors in you. This is why I have made sending forth righteous thoughts one of the three major things that Dafa disciples do. Sending forth righteous thoughts targets both outward and inward, and no unrighteous beings can escape. It’s just that we have different attitudes and different conduct in sending forth righteous thoughts.” (“On the Waves Stirred Up by the Article About Assistant Souls”)
I thought that studying Dafa was like getting an insurance policy and that I wouldn't get sick or experience any tribulation. I was counting on Dafa to protect me.
This mentality was also reflected in my truth-clarification efforts. When I talked to people about the practice, I emphasized the benefits of practicing Dafa and didn't mention that one must also endure in order to obtain the Fa.
When I felt the least bit unwell, my first thought was that I didn't cultivate well and I was not qualified to save people. This was a warped notion fostered by Party culture. The evil was then able to take advantage of my human thinking to interfere with me.
When I clarify the truth to people, it's the power of the Fa that saves them, not because of how well I cultivate or how much benefit I receive from Dafa. As long as my heart is on the Fa, Master will help me.
I also understood that the old forces are behind many warped notions, human thoughts, and negative thoughts. When those thoughts surface, I should send righteous thoughts to eliminate them.
Getting Rid of Jealousy and the Need to Validate Myself
I found it very hard to remain diligent in my cultivation. Now I have realized that part of the reason was because of jealousy and the desire to validate myself. When I didn't get the results I wanted, I lost my motivation to be diligent and became lax in my cultivation. I was still pursuing.
“You should make sure this jealousy is removed. This mentality is really dangerous, as it can make you slack off in all aspects of your cultivation, destroying you. You cannot have jealousy.” (Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public)
I suddenly enlightened during Fa study one day that, when I signed the statements renouncing Dafa during my detention in the forced labor camp, it was because of my jealousy and the desire to validate myself. When the guards talked about how well I had cultivated and how high my level was, I became complacent and bought into all the disruptive materials they fed me, which led me to make the most serious mistake in my cultivation.
My desire to validate myself would also emerge when I heard that other practitioners had been arrested or persecuted. I thought that perhaps they didn't cultivate well or had some attachments that led to their being persecuted. For a long time, I failed to recognize my attachments in that kind of thinking. But now I'm able to catch them as soon as they manifest.
I often helped other practitioners write or edit articles, and they gradually became dependent on me. With my strong attachment to validating myself, I rarely turned them down. I got so busy that I slacked off in my cultivation and began to experience physical problems. But when that happened, my first thought was always how to solve the problem with human methods, rather than to look within and rectify myself.
A senior practitioner did well in many respects, but she was very attached to watching a commentary program on New Tang Dynasty TV. I encouraged her not to spend so much time watching TV every day, but she wouldn't listen to me. I developed some negative thoughts about her. While working on her sharing article, I lost my temper with her. It was my jealousy at play and I wasn't being benevolent or compassionate to her.
I helped another practitioner to proofread her hand-copied Zhuan Falun. My heart was full of complaints when I saw that it had many errors. I thought she was wasting my time and I was upset. I didn't even think that this was an opportunity for me to improve my xinxing. I was rather mean to her.
“I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others—or even future generations—along with Dafa’s eternal stability.” (“Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
“You should always be benevolent and kind to others, and consider others when doing anything. Whenever you encounter a problem, you should first consider whether others can put up with this matter or if it will hurt anyone. In doing so, there will not be any problems. Therefore, in cultivation practice you should follow a higher and higher standard for yourself.” (Zhuan Falun)
“Whenever something happens or whenever a situation comes about, even if it's a minor thing, my first thought is of others, for it's already become natural for me--I just think of others first.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference II)
I realized that only after we get rid of our egotism and selfishness can we be truly good to others.
From then on, cultivation became very easy for me. I stopped wondering what specific attachments I had. I only looked at whether my motivation to do something was based on the Fa, for myself, or for others. No matter what happens, I can take it as a good opportunity to improve myself.
Helping a Fellow Practitioner Overcome a Tribulation
One of our local practitioners, Ann, suffered a severe physical tribulation and could hardly move. We relocated our Fa study group to her home and took turns studying the Fa, doing the exercises and sending forth righteous thoughts with her. Even an 83-year-old practitioner who had some difficulty walking insisted on joining the group to study the Fa with Ann.
I spent three days each week studying the Fa with Ann. We studied two or three lectures of Zhuan Falun in the morning and then Essentials for Further Advancement. We also shared our understandings of the Fa.
After two weeks, her condition began to improve and she could walk by herself slowly.
But one day, she suddenly had intense pain in her legs and she couldn't stand again. We weren't affected and continued to study the Fa with her and help her strengthen her faith in Master and the Fa.
After a period of time, she was able to stand. I encouraged her to do the exercises with me. Despite the enormous pain, she finished doing all five exercises. I was really happy for her and also admired her determination and perseverance.
The pain in her spine and legs gradually went away. She was able to move normally.
During the two months of studying the Fa with her, I also made a lot of improvement in my cultivation. I learned not to criticize others and to be considerate and understanding.
Ann's recovery strengthened my own faith in Master and the Fa. I became more confident that I could also overcome any physical abnormalities.