Letting Go of All Attachments
(Minghui.org) Master taught us:
“There is sacrifice in forbearance. Being able to make sacrifices is the result of improving in one’s cultivation. The Fa has different levels. A cultivator’s understanding of the Fa is his understanding of the Fa at his cultivation level. Different cultivators understand the Fa differently because they are at different levels.” (“Non-Omission,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
I had not been clear about the letting go in cultivation – why and what should I let go? I knew very little about it. Only after I read the Buddhist story about King Shibi who cut off his own flesh to trade for a dove's life that I learned a little bit about it.
This is the story.
There was a King named Shibi. He made a vow to save all sentient beings and attain the Bodhisattva Way. When the heavenly Śakra learned of this, he wanted to test King Shibi's sincerity. So he ordered a heavenly guard to turn into a dove, while he, himself turned into a big eagle chasing the dove fiercely. The dove flew in panic all the way to King Shibi and asked for protection. At the same time, the eagle came and asked King Shibi to hand over the dove. King Shibi refused to do so but advised the eagle not to kill.
But the eagle replied, “King, you said you want to save all sentient beings, but if you cut off my food supply today, I will not be able to live either. Do I not belong to all sentient beings?” So the King immediately drew his sword and cut off a piece of his own flesh and gave it to the eagle in exchange for the life of the dove.
The eagle spoke again: “King, you should treat all beings equally. If you want to exchange your flesh for the life of a dove, should you not use a scale to see if the weight of the two is equal?”
King Shibi asked others to bring the scale, put the dove on one end, and the piece of his flesh on the other end. But no matter how much King Shibi cut off his flesh, it was always lighter than that of the dove. King Shibi tried his best and stood up staggeringly, trying to climb onto the scale with his whole body in exchange for the dove. Then he passed out.
When he woke up, he blamed himself: “For the sake of saving all sentient beings, I must stand up bravely. All sentient beings have fallen into the sea of suffering, and I have made a vow to save them all. I cannot slack off! The suffering of mine is far less than what sentient beings suffer in hell; now that I am blessed with the virtues of wisdom, meditation, discipline, and refinement, how can I save the sentient beings in hell whose minds are bewildered and who are suffering greatly if I still cling to my transient suffering?” He tried and tried and finally threw himself on the scale and it reached balance!
At that moment, heaven and earth shook, the sea raised its waves, the dead trees blossomed beautifully, and the sky rained down perfume and fragrant flower petals. The great eagle returned to its original form as the heavenly Śakra, and the body of King Shibi was revived, after he truly fulfilled the great compassionate act of saving all sentient beings. King Shibi reached consummation.
King Shibi cut his flesh to save the dove. He put the life of the dove before his own suffering. He sacrificed completely willingly, naturally and without the slightest reservation. He had no complaint and no hesitation because he had reached the realm of self-sacrifice to save others. In fact, to truly be compassionate to all things and to save all living beings, one has to truly let go of ego, selfishness, and self-absorption – it is something that can be achieved only after one's xinxing is improved.
Of course, I know that Dafa practice does not take King Shibi's form of sacrifice, but I often ask myself: “Why did the fellow practitioners who participated in the Changchun TV interception to broadcast uncensored news about Falun Dafa nineteen years ago manage to let go of life and death, while I am still afraid to do something trivial today? Why can some fellow practitioners persuade dozens of people to quit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and related organizations in a day, while I have not even persuaded a few relatives of mine to quit the CCP? Why are some fellow practitioners able to clarify the truth face-to-face soon after they are released from prison, but I am not able to do so?”
In fact, besides their strong righteous thoughts, those practitioners are able to let go of everything in the human realm. They have cultivated to that level. They are able to do it in a dignified way. And what about myself? The mouth says that I have let go of my attachments, but the heart simply cannot let go. That is to say, all the inability to do so is that the heart has not really and completely let go. When I am not able to let go of humanness, I, of course, am not able to reach the standard of divinity.
Eons ago, when we followed Master Li (the founder of Dafa) and descended from our heavenly homes, we gave up our supreme throne and bid goodbye to our relatives in the heavens. We made the vow to assist Master in Fa-rectification, to endure and suffer, and to save sentient beings. Back then, we let go of everything without any reservation, even our divine bodies.
But now, because of our fears, we can't validate Dafa in a dignified way; because we can't let go of attachments, we don't dare to save sentient beings with righteous thoughts.
We may fight with others for a little bit of profit; we may be reluctant to give up that moment of comfort instead of getting up early to do the exercises; we may compromise with the evil because of fear of pain. We may ask ourselves the question: the great disciple of the Fa who sacrificed his life to descend to this human world, who was selfless and righteous, is he still there? Is he still willing and able to let go of that little bit of human stuff?
A practitioner who has practiced for decades and still fails to let go of human attachments, in fact, does not really understand the meaning of the Fa and cannot really let go of the human heart, much less do it with all his heart to save others.
A true Buddha can completely let go of himself because his heart is selfless and he is fearless. The truth he speaks can penetrate people’s hearts and shake the heavens and earth. That’s the power that can truly save people.
When we fight for reputation, when we seek personal gain, when we are angry at mistreatment and pain, when we are entangled in love, maybe it will be helpful if we think of our own past and the sacrifice of King Shibi.
Let’s study Master's teachings once more:
“Cultivation must take place through tribulations so as to test whether you can part with and care less about different kinds of human qing and desires. If you are attached to these things, you will not succeed in cultivation.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun, 2014 Translation Version)
“There is sacrifice in forbearance, and a complete sacrifice is a higher principle of non-omission.” (“Perfect Harmony,” Essentials for Further Advancement)