Eliminating My Attachment to Fame Due to High Exam Scores
(Minghui.org) As I often got the highest exam scores at school, as well as winning awards at both provincial and national level competitions outside of school, I earned a lot of praise. Even though I wasn't initially attached to fame, this attachment grew, but was unnoticed by me.
On the surface I always appeared to be humble when being praised and I also warned myself not to become zealous. However, deep down, I felt delighted with the attention. Sometimes my feelings manifested in my words and actions, and my show-off mentality flared up.
I realized that the purpose of showing off was nothing but the pursuit of fame. I also knew that this was an attachment and not in accordance with the Fa. However, when I tried to eliminate this attachment, I ended up reinforcing it every time.
I wasn't able to enlighten to how harmful being attached to fame was for a cultivator. I understood how negative other attachments were and eliminated them. Unlike cultivators in ancient times who had to go into a monastery or temple to cultivate, we cultivate in regular society where everyday people often dwell on their own fame and the fame of others.
As a cultivator, wouldn't performing well also help validate Dafa? The hard part for me was keeping my heart unmoved and pretending to be indifferent to outcomes when I scored the highest marks or received awards. Is being famous a bad thing? Where did I fall short? This was something which baffled me for a while.
There are few opportunities for university students to be pre-selected for admission to graduate school. Everyone strove for it, including me. When my school work became really heavy, I slacked off in doing Fa-study and exercises, and spent all my time studying. In the end I wasn't selected for graduate school. I was rather confused: Why hadn't I done well?
Dealing With Attachments
Students who usually didn't do as well as me outperformed me this time. I was very disappointed and fell into a sad state for a while. Only later on did I begin to pay attention to my cultivation and realize that my failure must have been because my cultivation state was off. It must have to do with some attachments that I needed to eliminate.
I shared my feelings with other practitioners. Jing pointed out that I always thought very highly of myself and wasn't humble enough. Nan thought that I was too attached to fame. Cheng said that my negative thinking was very strong. Their comments all made sense to me. The root cause of my behavior was my attachment to fame.
I had other attachments, such as when others did better than I did in exams I felt unbalanced, especially when they didn't appear to work nearly as hard as I did, and I looked down on this and that person, feeling I was superior. When I didn't reach an expected outcome, my resentment flared up and I complained about Master not taking care of me.
Upon thinking about this, I was caught off guard that my thinking was so low. When everyone thought that I was nice and humble, it was because they didn't see through me.
“Cultivation is about people’s minds, about changing their ways of thinking. However pure your thoughts are, that is your Attainment Status.” (“Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Zhengzhou” in Zhuan Falun Fajie - The Law of Zhuan Falun Explained)
By comparing myself to the Fa, I began to look at my thinking process. When exam results were published, my first action was to wonder why my score was so low. This was so unfair! Why didn’t Master help me with something so important? My first thought was resentment and suspicion of Master and Dafa.
When I dug deeper, I realized that I was worried before taking an exam, worrying that I wouldn’t perform well this time. This was also a reflection of my cultivation state. I lacked faith in Master and Dafa.
The power of Dafa has been proven by millions of practitioners worldwide. Why was I still suspicious? I recalled that when I was a child, I firmly believed in Dafa. After I grew up, I was infused with empirical science. Thus atheism could interfere with me.
But because I practice Dafa, Master will take care of me. Master said:
“In true spiritual practice everything comes down to how sincere you are about working on yourself. As long as you are able to practice, and do so with a sure footing and commitment, I will take you as my student; it wouldn’t be right to do otherwise.” (The Third Talk, Zhuan Falun)
Was I solidly cultivating? When the outcome didn't agree with my expectations, I no longer wanted to carry on. Was this solid cultivation? The problem was in myself.
Thinking back, in high school, my attachment to fame was not obvious. At the university, my classmates were thinking that since they had been through a tough entrance exam all they wanted to do was take a break, and not work as hard as before.
So by putting in persistent efforts, I ended up being the top student, and constantly performed that way. Without realizing it, I became very pleased with myself. My attachment to fame flared up and became much stronger. I took it for granted that I was good at studying, and better than others.
My thinking was that Dafa didn’t require that practitioners not care about achieving fame. In fact, one's good performance could help validate the Fa. However, I wasn't seeing it like a practitioner should, by following the natural course and letting it go. Instead, I was pursuing fame more and more.
I always thought that I was the best. The words of praise always echoed in my mind. I often showed off. I was the “study master” like everyone said. Subsequently, I often imagined how my family would look good when I passed the exam and was pre-selected for admission to graduate school.
Because I was so attached to fame, I became afraid of losing it. I ended up losing sleep before every big exam. I was also afraid of losing face if I didn't do well. This strong attachment became a big hurdle on my cultivation path. Although I claimed I could manage to validate the Fa by writing exams well, underneath, all I was thinking about was my own fame.
For anything to happen many factors are involved. Master said:
“There is a longstanding Chinese belief about the importance of ‘timing, location, and togetherness’...” (The First Talk, Zhuan Falun)
All I focused on was “the right people.” The deciding factors lie in “the right time” and “the right place.” Should a person feel proud and show off? Is it reasonable to take oneself to be someone extremely remarkable? As a practitioner, one needs to remain humble and grateful. I was very attached to entering the top university. Was my fate really in my own hands?
“It is owing to them that when someone is born into this world he belongs to a certain family, attends a certain school, and once he grows up he works for a certain entity, and in this manner becomes linked with society in multifaceted ways. And from this we can glean that this world, on a larger scale, is in fact well mapped out.” (The Seventh Talk, Zhuan Falun)
Ordinary peoples’ lives are pre-arranged, let alone practitioners’ lives. Since my life has been arranged by Master, what's the point of worrying about my future? Master said:
“You put in the effort and your teacher will handle the rest.” (The First Talk, Zhuan Falun)
There was always a reason for Master making the arrangements. It's to help me improve. As in a god's eyes, improvement in my cultivation comes before the outcome of an exam. Therefore, Master said:
“So whether it is good things or bad things you run into, so long as you cultivate in Dafa, they are all positive, to be sure.” (Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005)
Following the Fa Principles
After I understood this, I decided to let go of all my worries and other attachments, and not pursue the outcome. I adjusted the time spent on cultivation and study. I was also not moved when facing all kinds of comments about myself.
With a peaceful mind, I wholeheartedly devoted myself to studying, and calmed my mind to prepare for upcoming exams. I then realized that being unbalanced, feeling jealous, and being afraid of this or that, had all been cast away and I felt lighthearted again.
I realized that although I wasn't selected by the graduate school, I could still be admitted to another famous university. Though the outcome was almost the same, in other people's eyes, one who is pre-selected is one of the top students. This comes down to fame that ordinary people pursue.
Some people said things that made me feel bad, such as they felt pity for me because I thought I was so excellent, or they complained that the university that I was admitted to wasn't close to my home. This time my heart was unmoved. Just as Master told us:
“What the average person considers good or bad isn’t necessarily correct.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
When an ordinary person thinks something is good, it is from their perspective and they only look at short term benefits. In one's future path, there will be many unknown factors at play and all kinds of predestined relationships intertwined with one another. How can one possibly predict what will happen?
Whether things go well or not, is for tempering one's xinxing. No matter what happens, as long as we keep in mind that we are practitioners, and are able to persistently and firmly walk on the path of looking inward and improving our xinxing, not be overjoyed when gaining things, and vice versa, we'll be walking on the path that Master arranged for us, which must be the very best!