Learning How to Genuinely Cultivate While Overcoming Sentimentality
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master. Greetings, fellow practitioners.
I am a young practitioner who has been cultivating for 16 years. I would like to share my experience in learning to genuinely cultivate through overcoming a test of sentimentality.
One of the fundamental attachments that I’ve been struggling with on my cultivation path is sentimentality. Over the years it has manifested in different forms, and in countless tests.
I would like to share my most recent experience that proved to be a very important and lasting lesson for me, which is how to genuinely cultivate.
Before joining the media full-time, I had just broken up with someone I thought would be my partner for life. As much as I tried to cultivate out of it, I was not able to get over the pain, sentimentality, and pursuit of happiness. The experience had a very negative impact on my whole life, and I spiraled into severe depression.
I cut ties with most of the people I knew, and for about a year I rarely talked to anyone. I locked myself in my room most of the time when I didn’t have to go to work or handle family matters.
Compassionate Master gave me many hints and opportunities to get out of that state, but I didn’t wholeheartedly let go of those fundamental attachments, and allowed the negative thoughts to fester. I eventually became a very resentful person who viewed the world only in a negative light.
But Master didn’t give up on me, and gave me another opportunity. I was asked to join the media full-time. Even though I was not cultivating on this issue, I still knew what I had to do in terms of saving sentient beings. So, after weighing the importance of such a mission, I decided to join.
Around the same time, a fellow practitioner friend I’d known since high school also joined the media. Over the years, this practitioner and I worked on many truth- clarification projects together, and held regular evening Fa-study sessions.
I also held her in high regard, because I saw her as a role model for someone who was diligent in doing the three things.
So, when we both eventually moved to America—to a place where I didn’t have family and didn’t know many people—I automatically grew reliant on her as though she was family, and my friendship sentimentality for her also grew.
But those thoughts eventually created a barrier for me and became the source of a significant tribulation.
Although I started working in the media, my depression and negativity were still a major obstacle in everything I did, including how I treated the people around me. I was resentful and complained a lot, and whenever something touched upon an attachment, I would withdraw and not talk. I became very unpredictable.
I carried this attitude in my personal life as well. This practitioner and I did many things together at the beginning, either work-related, cultivation-related, or socially. I eventually relied on her in these areas, and because I thought she was a close friend, I developed many expectations on how she should treat me.
Eventually, things between us began to sour. My unpredictability began manifesting in our friendship. Despite her good intentions to try to cheer me up on days when I was attacked by negativity, my initial reaction would be to push her away. I was so lost in my own pain and suffering that I didn’t care about the feelings of those around me.
During this time, she also became close with another practitioner friend who she began spending more time with. Over the next year, I noticed that she’d grown distant from me. I saw this in her attitude toward me, by her excluding me from social events, and when she concealed things from me.
I was deeply hurt by those actions, because my sentimentality for her was strong. She was not meeting my human expectations and notions of a friend, and I felt it was unfair that she was treating me this way, especially when I usually tried to prioritize her as a friend. I was also jealous of her relationship with the other friend and resentful that I had to constantly suffer the pain of being hurt. When she treated me that way, I would become upset, withdraw, and give her the cold shoulder.
This vicious cycle continued for about a year. Yet I didn’t do anything to stop it. There were a number of times when she shared, and said she was hurt by my suddenly being cold, and pointed things out to me, but I was too embarrassed and scared to open up to my real feelings and admit to my attachments and bad behavior.
Eventually, I became what Master described as “a wicked person.”
“A wicked person is born of jealousy. Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself.” (“Realms,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
Because the problem was not resolved, she eventually told me that she wanted to minimize contact with me. And because that became awkward, she later said she wanted to discontinue our friendship.
Over the course of that year, I had been looking within and made efforts to remove my friendship sentimentality, feelings, notions, jealousy, and resentment. I thought that if I could remove those, the environment would change and everything would be resolved. But I was not courageous enough to actually confront the problem, open up, dig deeper, and expose the attachments. I was basically not genuinely cultivating.
During that period, I became fixated on my own pain and feelings. I developed a lot of fear and didn’t want to be hurt like I was before coming to America. I was selfish, overly protective of myself, narrow-minded, and inconsiderate. I did not like suffering hardship, and I did not evaluate my actions with Master’s teachings.
Master teaches us to think of others first in all that we do, and yet I completely failed to listen.
I was also unable to differentiate my true self from my human self, as well as my true thoughts from external interference. It is my human side that wants to protect self and ego. It is fearful of being hurt or criticized. It is also very emotional and seeks comfort, validation, and desires.
My true self, on the other hand, has righteous thoughts, is rational, would not let negative thoughts take control, and puts other people first.
When I felt upset or depressed, I was repeatedly letting my human side and attachments control me, and I did not make efforts to regain control of my body and thoughts.
In terms of attachments related to friendship sentimentality, I found that I was constantly seeking validation from others, that I feared rejection, was not open to communicating my thoughts, was not appreciative, and was too reliant on others. I was also looking at my practitioner friend as a role model for cultivation and did not work hard enough to come to my own understandings.
Every time I was rejected, I felt like my reputation and ego were being hit upon, and I developed a heart of complaint.
Because my heart was too narrow, I could not immediately forgive people when I suffered hurt or losses. I lacked compassion and the heart of great forbearance.
Master told us in the “Fa-Lecture During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference:”
“Question: Master has told us that we should have immense tolerance, but occasionally I’ll still get hung up on little things.
“Teacher: Then just make a change. You should exhibit compassion and tolerance, and consider others more, and here among human beings it will become a habit for you. I don’t like it when you blame yourselves, it’s completely pointless. I’ll just repeat what I said: If you’ve fallen don’t just lie there, get up right away!”
During the process of removing these attachments, I have really felt Master’s mercy, and compassion from fellow practitioners, who have been sharing with me and encouraging me to strive forward.
Of course, I also have to pick myself up. I’ve been sending extended righteous thoughts to eliminate my attachments, reflecting on incidents in the past to see where I went wrong, and apologizing to those I have hurt. I also need to be stricter with my thoughts, use the Fa to control any negativity or depressing thoughts, and develop the habit of exhibiting compassion and tolerance.
I realized that friendships can foster sentimentality, and as such are not truly important. They may also breed and manipulate other attachments.
“Qing is the fundamental source for the breeding of attachments.” (“Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Guangzhou,” Zhuan Falun Fajie –The Law of Zhuan Falun Explained)
Sentimentality is extremely unreliable and is the root of people’s capricious behavior. The wonderful feelings and beautiful images stemming from this attachment are all illusions.
I truly understand now that many things I do, including my decisions, are rooted in sentimentality, such as whether I like to do something or not, whether I like to eat something or not, whether I can get up in the morning or not, and whether I feel like talking to someone or not.
“If this qing is not relinquished, you will be unable to cultivate. If you break free from this qing, nobody can affect you. An everyday person’s mind will be unable to sway you. What comes and replaces it is benevolence, which is a nobler thing.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
Sentimentality is something ordinary people place great value on, but as a cultivator, I must discard it quickly. I need to make all my decisions rationally, and constantly consider whether my actions will harm or benefit others, while disregarding my feelings and elements of self in the process of it all. Instead of using sentimentality, I need to treat all people—ordinary people and fellow cultivators—with unconditional compassion.
Meanwhile, sentimentality can also easily be latched onto by the old forces so that they can sow discord and interfere with Fa-rectification.
At this final stage of Fa-rectification, I cannot let this sentimentality and other associated attachments interfere with my work in saving sentient beings.
Master is very compassionate. In the days leading up to when the practitioner told me she wanted to discontinue our friendship, I was in a lot of pain stemming from sentimentality and other attachments, and I was crying almost every night. At one point, I regained righteous thoughts and vowed to stop crying. In my heart, I had a thought that I would take any hardship required to remove this sentimentality, and quickly remove the other attachments, but whatever the test is, the attachments and the old forces must not interfere with my vow to save sentient beings. During the course of that hour, all the pain and sentimentality disappeared completely. I would like to wholeheartedly thank Master for helping me eliminate this layer of my fundamental attachment!
Through this experience, I have learned how to cultivate toward becoming “a benevolent person,” and I will work hard toward reaching the state of “an enlightened person.”
“A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion. With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy. An enlightened person has no attachments at all. He quietly observes the people of the world deluded by illusions.” (“Realms,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
Let’s work hard to save sentient beings!
Category: Improving Oneself