A True Cultivator Does Not Avoid Tribulations
(Minghui.org) Master Li Hongzhi said:
“Remember that our practice doesn’t try to avoid the secular world, nor should you try to avoid or escape from its challenges. Rather, you are to practice while part of this world and stay alert to all of its pitfalls around you; to knowingly get shortchanged and be indifferent to it; to not fight with people when they try to take what’s yours; to keep your composure when people do things that are trying; and to, in this adverse setting, strengthen your will, perfect your character, and rise above all of the bad and worldly tendencies of thought that you are exposed to.” (The Eighth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
After 10 years of stumbling around, I finally realized that, as a true cultivator, we cannot take any detours in our cultivation. We have to face any adversity or conflict with courage and not seek to avoid difficulties. We need to look within in the midst of interference and remain firm on our cultivation path, despite great suffering.
A Hard Lesson
I was arrested and escorted back to my workplace when I went to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong in 2001. My managers ordered me to sign the guarantee statement that I would give up cultivation. I was under tremendous stress and my righteous thoughts were starting to waver.
After a few days of mental struggle, I thought, “Why not sign the document and avoid these incessant attacks?” I failed the test, and my xinxing plummeted. I wasn't only “transformed,” I also began to slander Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa), which had a very negative impact on the people around me.
After I came to my senses and realized what I had done, my shame and regret tormented me beyond words. I had done myself and others irreparable harm. If I had remained firm and refused to give in, no one could have done anything to me. But instead of using the opportunity to validate Falun Dafa, I made a serious mistake and left a permanent stain on my cultivation path.
Conflicts Escalate When We Seek to Avoid Them
A fellow practitioner was repeatedly harassed after he filed a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the communist regime, who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
He was physically and mentally exhausted. Under tremendous pressure, he left his job without telling anyone. His manager was very angry about his unexcused absence. When he returned a few months later, his employer took him to a brainwashing center. He gave in and, against his will, wrote a statement that he was giving up Falun Gong.
By trying to avoid conflict, the problem often escalates. In fact, that is exactly the time for us to elevate our xinxing. Only by looking within and elevating our xinxing can we truly pass the test and do well.
If that practitioner had clarified the truth about the persecution to the police and explained that filing a lawsuit against Jiang was a lawful action, maybe the old forces would have not found a loophole to seize upon and the police would have stopped the harassment.
There was another practitioner whose parents were domineering and overbearing. Depressed and resentful, he couldn't handle the pressure and did everything he could to avoid them. But the more he tried to avoid his parents, the worse they behaved. Eventually, he calmed his mind and faced the problem directly. After his heart changed, his parents also changed.
Finding Joy in Cultivation
Master taught us:
“In spiritual practice you have to go through ordeals, and they serve to test whether you can become free of your emotions and desires and the sway they hold over you.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
“What will you cultivate without any troubles? How can you improve yourself?” (“Practicing Cultivation After Retirement,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
In my understanding, when a cultivator chooses to avoid tribulation, he is like a deserter on the battlefield and his defeat is certain. It is also a reflection of one's xinxing level and cultivation state. As cultivators, we need to look at tribulations positively and find joy as we overcome it.
In their daily cultivation, some practitioners are still attached to comfort. Instead of getting up early and doing the exercises, they stay in bed and play on their phones. If they can overcome laziness and get into a routine of doing the exercises every morning, they will find it actually very rewarding. They will feel at ease, cheerful, and more energetic all day long. But if they continue to slack off, they will become lazy and undisciplined, eventually falling behind in cultivation.
There are all kinds of tribulations and difficulties that we might encounter in our cultivation. Whether they are due to the persecution, conflicts among family members, or being treated unfairly at work, we need to be clear about one thing: “The tribulation is for us to overcome – it is our own karma.”
The tribulation might be a test arranged by Master, but it could also be interference by the old forces. Whatever the case, we should face it with dignity and a righteous mind. As cultivators, we are taken care of by Master, and we have the Fa teachings to guide us. As long as we are determined, nothing can stop us.