Changing My Thinking and Cultivating My Mind
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Teacher. Greetings, fellow practitioners.
During the last year, I really wanted to address some things in my cultivation that had gone on for a long time. For example, I’ve had a longstanding attachment to comfort. And I still had so much self-interest and many human notions. And I found negative thinking and resentment. While I made progress on these things, I still had too much of them. And I didn’t know why I was stuck.
During this same time, some things got my attention as I studied the Fa.
In Zhuan Falun, Teacher said:
“Some people also know that it is not good, but they just cannot quit. In fact, let me tell you that they do not have correct thoughts to guide themselves,”
“To truly practice cultivation, you must cultivate your mind.”
In the “Lecture in Sydney,” Teacher said:
“However, why is it that people normally find it very difficult during the course of cultivation? Actually, cultivation practice is not difficult. The difficulty lies in the inability to let go of ordinary human mind.”
While Teacher is speaking in the first quote about being attached to smoking, I understand it as a principle that can apply to other attachments, and I think it applied to the attachments and issues I was struggling with. I knew that some things I felt stuck on were due to how I was thinking about them. So I began to look at how I was thinking about these things and to give greater attention to the thoughts in my mind. It turned into a process of more closely examining what was happening in my mind and making a lot of improvements.
I started to see that the human side (or the self-interest) just thought about self and didn’t value cultivation unless there was some benefit for the self. Teacher said in Zhuan Falun, “If you come to learn the practice and this Dafa with various pursuits, you will not learn anything.”
I also came to more fully distinguish my true self, which only wanted to follow Dafa in all regards and knew exactly how to follow Dafa and did so very easily. I also saw that I was fooling myself at times, thinking that it was ok to have some attachments, like I could take my time. I also saw that I was arrested by my human side at times and was avoiding cultivating.
I continue to work on my attachment to comfort and other things. Here, I want to share some understandings on a few topics that I came to see differently: the so-called “illness symptoms” and the so-called “natural disasters.” I’ll share what I experienced, how my thinking affected them, and what I came to understand. I hope to encourage practitioners to think about how to perceive such ordinary phenomena and how to react or to not react to them. And it is easier to correct these things if we can have righteous thoughts when these situations first appear.
Very Minor Situations of “Illness Symptoms”
I have been experiencing a raspy voice off and on for a while. Late in the day at work, it could occur, which seemed reasonable on the surface, according to ordinary thinking. And I found other reasons for it, like allergies, etc. If someone noticed it, I felt the need to make an excuse for it, an ordinary excuse. In many ways, my thinking was off: my thinking was ordinary, driven by attachments, and wasn’t I following along with the arrangements by the old forces? When reading the Fa aloud, my voice could also be raspy, which seemed most inappropriate. It bothered me that this occurred, sometimes due to my attachment to self-image. When I read online in a group Fa study, it particularly bothered me, and I wondered if it was disruptive to others. And typically, my voice was fine until I began to read the Fa out loud. So one Sunday morning my voice was fine until right before Fa study. I sneezed, and I felt something run down my throat, and my voice became raspy. So I thought, “This is an allergy.” My ordinary thinking about this meant that I was following along with the old forces' arrangements and falling further and further into the trap.
In Zhuan Falun Teacher said:
“As true practitioners, we should look at issues from a very high level instead of from the perspective of everyday people. Should you believe that you are ill, this may really cause you to become ill.”
“What’s not a right mind? It refers to a person’s inability to always treat himself as a practitioner.”
Then the next Sunday morning, as I was just about to go online for Fa study, I sneezed and felt something begin to trickle down my throat and thought, “Hey, wait a minute. No, you’re not going to do this again.” And I ran and spit out what almost ran down my throat. I immediately held my right hand up and eliminated this interference and negated all arrangements that were not from Teacher. My voice was clear while I read online. That was a few weeks ago, and I continue to go up and down on this. I have some self-interest and self-consciousness that surfaces around this, which I perceive as also arranged by the old forces.
“We negate even the very emergence of the old forces and everything that they’ve arranged; we don’t even acknowledge their existence.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference”)
Then, a couple of days later, I started to get a headache when I was doing the exercises. This was obvious to me, and I thought, “Mie (eliminate) all things that are not from Teacher,” and my headache went away. A short time later, it started again, and I again thought, “Mie all interference. I reject all arrangements that are not from Teacher.” And again the headache stopped. This happened three times. I should have paid attention to what I was thinking when the headache came again—to see what I was thinking that allowed it to re-occur.
It reminded me of an earlier experience I had in the park one Monday morning in January. We were trying to practice in the park for a second day each week, instead of just one. Well, one Monday morning as I was getting ready to go to the park, I found that my speaker had not properly charged and was at zero charge. It was my responsibility to bring the music. It was late and I didn’t have anything else to use, just the phone for the music. So I took a coffee mug, knowing that putting the phone in the mug would make it a little louder. I'd had to resort to this once before. After I got to the park I told the two other practitioners the situation, and one practitioner rolled her eyes and said, “If we can’t hear the music, we’ll follow you.” I said to her, “Don’t have any negative thoughts.”
I said in my mind to Teacher, “I don’t want this interference or my shortcomings to keep us from practicing today. Can you please make the music louder?” Then we started. The music did not get louder, but the park went completely silent. There were typically noises of some sort in the park, like trucks delivering to restaurants behind us, lawnmowers and blowers, and other kinds of noise. But everything was completely silent, and we could hear the music clearly. Then I began to feel good about it, like I was being validated. Then I felt large raindrops, which alerted me to this thinking. I stopped thinking that, and the raindrops stopped. This happened three times. We finished all the exercises, and one of the other practitioners commented that each time it began to rain, she started to look within. We were all glad that we could hear the music and do the exercises together. However, I realized that I was thinking highly of myself and that it was contrary to the Fa, and it could allow problems to occur.
In “The Master-Disciple Bond” in Hong Yin II, Teacher said:
“When disciples have ample righteous thoughtsMaster has the power to turn back the tide”
Earlier this year, I had the flu that was going around. Again, I had ordinary thinking about this. And it stopped me from participating in a local event I'd arranged for us to participate in. And because I didn’t participate, the others didn’t either. I also have some local and other truth-clarification efforts that I always do. However, we also need to clarify the truth to as many local people as possible. And the other practitioners have typically waited for me to arrange them, and if I am knocked out, nothing local happens beyond my own single efforts. So this is also an aspect, dependency, that we as a group also need to work on.
The illness symptoms mentioned above were very minor. That is why I overlooked them, until I realized that I should not. At the “Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference,” Teacher was very clear on this topic:
“However, you shouldn’t treat the little issues you have like they are nothing. The evil will seize upon any gaps. Many practitioners have even passed away on account of little things; it really was due to something very minor. That’s because cultivation is something serious, and requires having no gaps. If for a long time you haven’t dealt with those things through cultivation, small as they may be, if you haven’t taken them seriously for a prolonged period of time, then it is a big issue. Many people have passed away on account of such things. The old forces wouldn’t venture to directly persecute Dafa disciples at present—none of the larger beings that assume a form would venture to do that. Then what sorts of things are doing that now? Things like worms, bugs, bacteria, and all kinds of foul things like that. Sending righteous thoughts is extremely effective in these cases!”
“So you need to keep sending righteous thoughts like this, and persist with it for some time, before you will see obvious results. Don’t lose confidence just because, after feeling good following a while of sending righteous thoughts, things don’t seem to go well again. I can tell you that they are using this approach to wear you down—to whittle away at your strong sense of conviction. So you need to be alert to these things.”
Last year when the hurricane hit Florida, my thinking about it was up and down. I was out of the country on vacation just before the hurricane hit. And while I was traveling, I wasn’t diligent about studying the Fa or doing the exercises. And the only news I saw about the U.S. was horrible pictures on TV of how hurricane Hugo had devastated areas of Texas. So my thinking about hurricanes was bouncing all around.
On a tour in Paris we heard about St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris: When Attila the Hun and his army were marching towards the city, the people of Paris were panicking and beginning to flee. St. Genevieve convinced them to stay in Paris and pray to God. Attila turned his army around and went to another city.
When I returned home, everyone was in hurricane preparedness mode and panicking. The news on TV was very threatening. At times I thought, “That’s ridiculous, that hurricane will not devastate Florida.” Nonetheless, I had to respond to a lot of ordinary things, like calls from clients who needed to reschedule because they were leaving town, and I had to deal with the question of the building I’m in being open or not and clients who wanted to see me before the hurricane, etc. And ordinary people and family I interacted with were in fear mode. Since my perspective from the Fa would be too much to share with most of them, I wanted to tell them all about St. Genevieve and how she helped the people of Paris by asking them to turn to God. However, at that point all I could do was to reflect on how I was handling it. I was not afraid at all, and I did know, “Teacher determines these things, not anyone else.”
Other practitioners in Florida were all over with their thinking: some were in great fear about how this could affect next year’s Shen Yun performances, some were sending forth righteous thoughts, and others had different fears and ordinary thoughts. At times, I was in an ordinary thinking mode, “At least, it will not be any worse than the last hurricane we had.” I was especially thinking this as the hurricane got closer.
The outcome in my area was exactly the same as the last hurricane. The damage was mainly a lot of downed trees. Some homes also had roof and pool and screen damage, but it seemed like a low percentage.
In hindsight, my thinking should have been better than this, and the outcome would have been better. However, compared to what was forecasted, the outcome was remarkable. People were amazed and surprised at the outcome. It reminded me of what Teacher said in Zhuan Falun about the practitioners who were in accidents, but nothing happened to them. Ordinary people in my city were amazed at the outcome, “I can’t believe nothing happened.” Or, “I can’t believe that I just had some yard debris.” Another one said, “First my tree blew down, then it blew back up, and now it is fine.” In a nearby city, one person said, “The large tree in my yard blew down, but the chair that was sitting under it is fine.”
The really strange thing was that the water was drained out of the bay, pulled out to the gulf by Irma. Then it came back in. None of the expected flooding occurred. It was a very strange sight. I saw this reported in at least one other city and with some beaches along the gulf coast. I wondered if it had the effect of cleaning the water or some other positive effect. All of these occurrences reminded me exactly of the practitioners’ accidents mentioned in Zhuan Falun.
“We have said that good or evil comes from a person’s spontaneous thought, and the thought at that moment can bring about different consequences.” (Zhuan Falun)
After the hurricane, I went outside and saw that the tree in front of my house didn’t seem to have lost a branch or seem affected at all. However, something hit my roof and caused a small leak, which I caught in a bucket. To me this pointed to my thinking. There was some suffering and enduring after the electricity was off, but I really did not have to endure much. My community was already cleaning up the damaged trees and yard debris that day.
However, the city did look like a third world country for a little while. This pointed to appearance, which is something else I found in my thinking—ordinary concern about my appearance. I actually find that everything I see around me in others are things I need to address in myself. So I also look within for my attachments when things happen. At any rate, I later realized that I cannot acknowledge anything that’s not part of Teacher’s arrangements or react to ordinary things with anything other than calm. If I see things like hurricanes, I need to say, “This is up to Teacher,” “It’s not my business. My business is to assimilate to the Fa and do the three things.”
Prior to the hurricane, there were the fires.
Earlier in 2017, we had a couple of fires east of my city. One of them occurred around the time of an Earth Day event that we were going to participate in. The fires created a lot of smoke that blew right to where the event was to be held. And I let it stop me from participating in the event. My thinking on this was simply ordinary. I thought to myself, “It’s hard to breathe with all this smoke and ash, and it may look strange for us to be there in this smoke. So I think it is the best decision to cancel our participation in the event.” But I felt bad about not being at the event to clarify the truth to people.
To my understanding, it is just like the old forces' arrangements or sickness karma, or an accident. At the outset, I should not have acknowledged or reacted to them and should have just done what I am supposed to do.
This Year It’s Red Tide
At first I had physical reactions to the presence of red tide (a dense and sometimes toxic algae bloom in coastal waters), as I had in the past. So my thinking followed along from before and along with the physical reactions. I acknowledged it, thinking it was harmful and could affect me. (As if I was acknowledging and buying into the persecution and the old forces arrangements.) Then I thought, “If this is not part of Teacher’s arrangements, then I don’t want to acknowledge it; I need to ignore it. Teacher determines these things.” I can also eliminate things that interfere with saving sentient beings and reject anything that is not part of Teacher’s arrangements. I also looked within and asked Teacher if there was anything I needed to address in myself other than my thinking.
Someone (a non-practitioner) was recently talking to me, telling me with a lot of fear, negativity, and anger that the red tide has become a major health hazard in Florida, and they went on and on about it. I began to tune her out and think of Dafa. She stopped and completely calmed down, as if she had not said anything. It was as if something was trying to ensnare me. It seems that these can become interference in our cultivation or in our saving people. Let us please consider how not to give the interference any loopholes to take advantage of.
Last weekend we had a tropical storm named Gordon. I am paying less and less attention to these things and watching the news less and less. That Monday morning I went to the park as usual to practice with another practitioner. We planned to do the first four exercises together before she went to work. The weather was fine. As soon as we finished and were leaving, it began to sprinkle. It rained for most of the day. My sister called me to ask me if I was going to work the next day. I said, “Of course, why do you ask?” She said she'd heard on the news that my city was going to have a tropical depression. I told her there was nothing but a little rain here. Later on, a practitioner emailed me and asked if Gordon had hit my city. I didn’t know what she was referring to because I didn’t know the storm had a name. Actually, it was reported that this weather pattern ended up pushing the red tide further away from my city. So it was a good thing! Thank-you, Teacher!
Teacher said in Zhuan Falun II:
“Discernment comes first, seeing follows. Cultivate the mind and eliminate karma, and then, once your innate nature emerges, shall you see. But, seeing or not, the superior man can achieve Consummation by relying on discernment alone.”
And at the “20th Anniversary Fa Teaching”:
“I’ll tell you, for years I have been continually saying that Dafa disciples’ abilities are tremendous, yet many people don’t believe this since those abilities were not allowed to be seen. Under the effect of righteous thoughts, everything around you, as well as you yourself, will undergo changes. Yet you have never thought to give it a try.”
While I have read about changing my thinking and cultivating the mind in Zhuan Falun again, and again, and again, I didn’t assimilate those principles into all areas of my life. There were attachments I wasn’t letting go of, ordinary notions I wasn’t aware of, and while I was eliminating karma, I was also adding in more karma. While I have noticed more and more of my true self and less and less of my ordinary side, I still have much to cultivate and many people to clarify the truth to. I only included the above two areas of where my thinking was off and perhaps consistent with arrangements by the old forces. At times I did not treat such situations as a practitioner should and instead used ordinary thinking. Ongoing self-interest especially kept me following, instead of negating, arrangements by the old forces. Self-interest kept me from seeing things from the Fa, as a cultivator.
Teacher tells us how we should view things:
“When you take each test and difficulty as an opportunity to elevate and let things go, you will be able to pass the test. Some people think that they face difficult hardships when they cultivate, but actually, the hardships aren’t that difficult. The more you think that it is difficult, the larger it actually becomes, and the smaller you become. If you pay it no heed and don’t take it to heart, thinking, “As long as the green mountains remain, I’ll always have enough firewood. With Master and the Way by my side, what is there to fear? I’ll just forget about it!” As soon as you let things go you’ll find that the hardship shrinks and you grow, and you will be able to cross it in one step. The hardship will become nothing, and it’s guaranteed that this is what will happen. When a person can’t get past a hardship, it’s because he’s unable to let go of the attachment or doesn’t believe in the Way. Most people have one desire or another that they can’t let go of, and it’s because of this that they can’t get past it. The person can’t get past it because he can’t take that step back from humanness.” (“Fa-Teaching Given at the Conference in Sydney”)
Since I haven't yet discussed Fa study, I will finish with a quote from Teacher:
“And in order to enable you to do cultivation practice and improve, I’ve infused this Fa throughout with every element that can enable a person to improve and ascend through cultivation. As long as you study, any problem can be solved. As long as you cultivate and as long as you’re able to understand the Fa from the Fa, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.” (“Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A.”)
Please point out anything incorrect in my understanding.
Thank you, Teacher. Thank you, fellow practitioners.
Category: Improving Oneself