I Realized the Difference Between Cultivating Ourselves and Validating Ourselves
(Minghui.org) Master said,
“If you, as a cultivator, only part with things superficially while deep down inside you still stick to something or cling to your own vital interests that you don’t allow to be undermined, I’d say to you that your cultivation is fake! If your own thinking doesn’t change, you cannot advance even one step and are deceiving yourself. Only when you truly improve from within can you make real progress.” (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
Master’s words caused me to think about my cultivation. Have I truly been cultivating and eliminating my human mindset, or was I holding onto my fundamental attachments?
When I reflected on my interaction with others over the years, I realized that I'd been using a human state of mind to maintain a calm relationship on the surface. Whenever my opinions differ from those of other practitioners, on the surface I humbly accepted their opinions, but in my heart I was indignant. My tolerance was mixed with anger and grievance.
I seldom thought about why I reacted this way or examined the things I secretly hung on to. I felt I had a harmonious relationship with others because I had cultivated so well. After I read Master's teaching, I realized that I hadn't been truly cultivating. Instead, I'd been hiding my stubborn attachments. When I truly examined myself, I discovered many attachments, such as selfishness, avoiding criticism, showing off, ego, etc. I knew if I looked deeper, I'd find even more deeply hidden attachments. I felt that I was a far cry from the cultivation requirements for a Falun Dafa practitioner.
When an article I wrote was published on Minghui.org, I felt validated. After I thought about it, I realized I shouldn't feel smug. If I didn't practice Falun Dafa, I wouldn't have had the wisdom to write a cohesive sentence. I was able to write that article because my understanding came from the Fa and Master enlightened me. Master gave us our abilities and is helping us so that we can save people. I'm just cultivating myself and doing my part as a disciple.
After I read the following teaching, I questioned whether I was truly cultivating myself. Master said,
“Some people are always stressing that they’re right, but even if you are right, even if you’re not wrong, so what? Have you improved on the basis of the Fa? The very act of using human thinking to stress who’s right and who’s wrong is in itself wrong. That’s because you are then using the logic of ordinary people to evaluate yourself, and using that logic to make demands on others. As gods see it, for a cultivator to be right or wrong in the human world is not important in the least, whereas eliminating the attachments that come from human thinking is important, and it is precisely your managing to eliminate those attachments rooted in your human thinking as you cultivate that counts as important.” (“Fa Teaching Given in Manhattan,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. X)
Because I always insist that I'm right, I may miss many opportunities to cultivate myself.
For example, when I clarify the truth at tourist sites or participate in Dafa projects, I've sometimes had arguments with other practitioners. When I feel that I'm correct and aligned with the Fa, I stubbornly insist that I'm right. When I get into this mindset, it's difficult to look inward for my own shortcomings. I forget to have compassion for the practitioner I'm having a disagreement with. If that practitioner also feels that they are aligned with the Fa and also insist on their point of view, we may be forming a barrier. Over time, our conflicts may deepen and form an almost insurmountable barrier between us. This in turn may affect the overall project.
I recently went to a tourist site to clarify the truth, talk to people about Falun Dafa, and practice the exercises. I had a conflict with another practitioner. It started out as a trivial matter, and I just voiced my opinion. But the other person did not accept it. I tried to validate my position by referring to Master's Fa about how being right or wrong is not what's most important. Instead, eliminating our attachment was what Master looked at. I suddenly realized that our conflict was not a coincidence. Instead of pointing to that practitioner, shouldn't I use Master's words to examine myself? Wasn't this an opportunity for me to improve? When I calmed down and examined myself, I noticed that my tone of voice was harsh, and it was full of CCP culture. It makes people feel that I'm emphasizing that I'm correct, and it sounds like I'm forcing my opinion on them. It's filled with ego.
I recalled my interactions with that practitioner. In the beginning, I felt that things should be done my way. Even though I wasn't sure I was correct, I tried to share my thoughts to justify my position. The longer I spoke, however, the more certain I was that my understanding was very correct. In the end, I was certain that only my way was correct.
When that practitioner did not agree with me, something seemed to get stuck between us. When I analyzed what was wrong, I realized that when others did not accept my point of view, I was not happy. I was unhappy because I was unknowingly validating myself. I finally understood that the stubborn attachment that I had been covering up was my ego and to validating myself.
If a cultivator is validating himself instead of validating Dafa, isn’t their cultivation fake? This is dangerous. Wouldn’t it mean my years of cultivation were for nothing? This is definitely not a small matter. When we aren't trying to validate ourselves, we're able to speak calmly. We shouldn't try to force others to accept our opinions. If we do, then it's a sign that we may be validating ourselves.
I kept thinking about how to eliminate the barrier between that practitioner and me. One day, I read an article on Minghui.org. A practitioner saw that practitioners’ bodies in another realm are golden and shining, and they sit on lotus flowers. Below their golden bodies are bodies that are made up of karma and acquired notions. But these bodies are already very, very small. If we constantly examine other practitioners' shortcomings, we will be gathering their karma into our own bodies. This may cause our own karmic bodies to increase in size. When that demonic self becomes big, it may cause a barrier to form between practitioners that will prevent us from saving people. On the other hand, if we focus on other practitioners' merits, our body that is made up of karma and acquired notions will shrink. Kindness and a heart of compassion will prevail, and the barrier between other practitioners and us will disappear. In this way, more sentient beings can be saved.
After I had these realizations, I started to focus on other practitioners' strengths. We're all capable, and some of us have done a lot to save people. I was surprised by how quickly my negative notions and the knots in my heart were dissolved! I immediately felt relaxed.
Thank you, Master, for your great benevolence and helping me eliminate my attachment! I now truly understand how important it is to cultivate myself.
I will continue to work hard to stop validating myself. I will cooperate with other practitioners so that we can save even more sentient beings.