Eliminating Selfishness, Cultivating Altruism
(Minghui.org) I began to practice Falun Dafa in 2016. In this final moment of the Fa-rectification, Master saved me. I felt like I was the most fortunate being in the universe, and I truly appreciated benevolent Master’s saving grace.
1. Eliminating My Selfishness and Cultivating Altruism
As a Falun Dafa practitioner, I knew that I must eliminate my selfishness from the root to return to my original, true self. After I realized this, I would focus on my selfishness whenever it appeared and then peel it off layer by layer. I’d like to share my experience with the manifestation of selfishness at my level, and how I managed to eliminate it.
In the past, I didn’t want to use my very limited spare time to help my son with his homework. I was concerned that I might not have enough time for Fa-study.
People in mainland China all know that under the current education system, academic scores were the only thing that mattered––a student's character didn't count for anything. This has made Chinese students very miserable. And parents had no choice but to cooperate with this system.
I felt that this system was ridiculous; I didn’t want to follow it. Therefore, I didn’t spend too much time on my son. I only prompted him to do his homework and gave him some guidance on how to behave himself in his day-to-day life. That was it.
I took for granted that I had already let go of my sentimentality for my son. I thought: A cultivator only needs to follow the course of nature. What’s yours, you will not lose; what’s not yours, you won't get even if you pursued it. Everything has already been set.
But under the influence of my complaining and resenting the educational system, how could my son have a good mindset about all this? He ended up drifting along in his studies and not putting much effort into things.
I couldn’t stand it when he was not diligent, or when he was irresponsible. I would end up scolding him. As a 12-year-old child, he possessed a strong ego. When I couldn’t maintain my xinxing and vented my anger at him, we would fight.
As a practitioner, I knew that it came down to my own issues. But what to do? I knew that once I corrected myself, my son would be fine. However, what should I do? I was able to forbear at a surface level, but that didn't solve the problem. This was all a big headache for me. Seeing that I was stuck, Master used a practitioner’s sharing to hint to me that this was a selfish attitude, because everything I said was about myself.
For the first time ever, I realized that this situation came down to selfishness because I was concerned about using up my time. The idea of protecting this notion also originated from selfishness.
From that day on, I began to realize that selfishness wasn’t limited to gaining more self-interest. Master said,
“But the loss we refer to is not limited to this narrow scope. For cultivators, in the course of cultivation there are so many attachments to be relinquished, such as the mentality of showing off, jealousy, the competitive mentality, and zealotry. Many different attachments must be discarded, for the loss we discuss is one in a broad sense. During the entire course of cultivation, we should lose all everyday people’s attachments and various desires.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
What Master articulated is the Fa's principle. I came to realize that the scope of selfishness is also broad and can manifest in different ways. When someone behaves selfishly, it comes from their selfish thoughts––these thoughts are what direct actions. Even though it's only an idea, it can manifest itself so naturally that we wouldn’t realize it.
During the process, another one of my notions got exposed, namely that I would often impose my opinions on others. I knew that Chinese textbooks were saturated with the culture of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I didn’t want my child to have close contact with those books, so I didn't want him to put his heart into studying the textbooks. But wasn’t this only fighting the Party’s culture with the Party’s culture itself? In addition, I forced him to do things my way. Otherwise, I’d vent my anger at him. This was using evil to fight evil, so how could my child be an upright child?
Therefore, I had to change the way I was doing things. I told him to study Chinese history. This way, he would not only finish his studies but would also see through how students were brainwashed by their textbooks. In addition, he would be able to tell right from wrong on his own. Over time, he has undergone some positive changes.
After a while, I realized that I could occasionally catch which of my thoughts were coming from selfishness. I traced it back to a kind of substance in my human shell, which concealed my true self made of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
After I saw through it, I decided to get away from it. What I needed to eliminate was this shell, or the fake me. I imagined that it was a kind of bad substance emanating from other dimensions or beings that needed to be rectified. So I must eliminate it.
Another time, my son was assigned Journey to the West as summer reading. We had a copy of the book at home. However, he said he couldn't understand that version; he wanted to get another one, which would be easier to read. So I bought a new book for him.
But the only real difference between this new book and the old one was the size of fonts and a different layout. I had picked out the first book after having done a lot of comparison among different versions, so I kept saying that the old book was better. But my son was against it.
I didn’t agree with him, but rather insisted on putting both of them side-by-side to do a detailed comparison. Then, Master used my child's words to give me another hint: “When can you get rid of this stubborn thought?”
I was shocked. Selfishness had been at work again. It had become so natural that I didn’t even realize it at all. It’s in my every thought. I resolved to look for these selfish thoughts even more in the future.
To be able to detect this kind of thought is a good thing for sure, but how come there were so many? I always failed to catch when a thought first popped up, but would only realize it after it had gone through my mind. Every time, it was as if I wasn't cultivating myself at all. Why couldn’t I be strict enough with myself? Why did I always fail? How come it’s so hard for me to be altruistic?
“You should always be benevolent and kind to others and consider others when doing anything. Whenever you encounter a problem, you should first consider whether others can put up with this matter or if it will hurt anyone. In doing so, there will not be any problems. Therefore, in cultivation you should follow a higher and higher standard for yourself.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
I suddenly came to realize that if I didn’t cultivate to be altruistic, compassion would not come forth. If I don’t hold myself to high standards, I will never make it. If I only understood the Fa principles without fulfilling them, it’s the same as failing to assimilate into Dafa, and would not help me improve.
I also thought about a few things, and came to experience the inner meaning of when Master said “Compare in studying, compare in cultivating” (“Solid Cultivation,” Hong Yin, Translation Version B).
In greater society, I not only needed to compare myself against fellow practitioners, but also with regular people. Through this comparison, I would be able to find everyone's strengths.
This process is also a process of cultivating one’s compassion. If you only look at other people's strengths, even for bad people (not including those who persecute Dafa), you would find that they have qualities you can learn from. That way, we'd feel less resentment, and be capable of more tolerance.
It also provides more opportunities to look inward. Maybe there are times we find that we're not even doing as well as an ordinary person, so we can use that as an opportunity to learn from that person and do better.
This enlightenment came from one of my husband’s kind actions. One day, we took our friends from out of town to the beach. My husband caught a small crab. A few hours later, when we were about to head back, I asked him what to do with it. He replied that he’d take it back to the sea.
Then he walked towards the sea for a few steps before letting it go. After that, he felt the crab was still a bit far from the sea, so he picked it up and walked a few steps closer to the sea before dropping it off again. It was a kind gesture. I felt that it was pitiful to be a crab, but I never thought about letting the crab go back into the sea. I felt that I was lacking in compassion as a practitioner. Deep down, I realized that I couldn't even think from the perspective of a crab. I was very embarrassed.
From then on, I began to learn to put myself in other people’s shoes. However, I realized that it wasn’t that easy, since conflicts would often pop up. It’s very difficult to reverse the habit of thinking from one’s own perspective.
I sell computers for a living. A few days ago, a young man offered to sell his almost new laptop for half price. But I still thought the price was a bit high compared to the market price, as his laptop was not a mainstream brand. Then, my husband wanted it. I became impatient and argued with my husband.
I later realized I didn’t think from the standpoint of that young man. My true self offered me an explanation: The young man might have run into financial difficulties and needed money quickly--that was why he had to sell his computer.
Moving forward, I will closely examine my every thought and action. I have to scrutinize whether each thought is for others or not. If it’s not, then I have to firmly eliminate it.
2. Breaking Through My Hesitation and Clarifying the Facts to My Husband’s Friends
Out of consideration for my safety and our son’s future, my husband was always reluctant to have me clarify the facts to people. He could accept that I did the exercises at home, or when I would do something for Dafa that involved very little risk. I knew that he was under some pressure because of me. So I had thought that as long as I could cultivate, I didn't really care about anything else, including my day-to-day life and work.
The three realms were created for the Fa-rectification, so what else can be more important? As a regular person, my husband did what he could. If I wanted him to be more supportive of Dafa, I had to do better. However, my cultivation state was not good enough, so when I clarified the facts, I tried to do it behind his back.
A few close classmates would bring their families to visit us every summer. Even though there was COVID-19 this year, they still came. I thought that this couldn't be a coincidence, as I haven't clarified the facts to them yet. With the Fa-rectification coming to a close, wouldn’t their knowing sides be worried? Fortunately, they knew that I was a practitioner, and I have validated Dafa with my positive behavior. This time, they must be here to get saved.
At night, when all of us had dinner, I told them in front of my husband that I wanted to give each of them an amulet. This cheered them up. One friend said that he definitely wanted it, and then put it into his pocket right away.
Before my husband tried to stop me, another friend said, “It’s great for people to have their own beliefs! Falun Dafa teaches one to cultivate Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It’s so wonderful!”
He also talked about some of the facts of Dafa that he learned. I took this chance to bring up the staged “self-immolation incident.”
One lady wondered where she should put the amulet. Another lady said that she knew that Falun Dafa practitioners are good people after she witnessed a practitioner getting hit by a car. She said that the practitioner was fine and let the driver go right at the scene.
I even got to demonstrate the five exercises for them. I truly appreciated this opportunity that Master gave to have sentient beings learn the truth and be saved. My husband, impressed by his friends’ positive attitude towards Dafa, also got a chance to reevaluate his own idea of what Dafa was.
I’ve had a lot more contact lately with senior practitioners and realized that they were all very diligent. When I saw that many practitioners managed to do things with their divine thoughts, I felt so behind.
For instance, even though I kept doing the exercises every day, I couldn’t make sure that I got to finish all five sets of exercises because of my attachment to leisure. I had reservations when it came to clarifying the facts to people. I only covered basic facts without asking people to quit the CCP. I need to improve in these aspects.
No matter what, after tens of thousands of years of waiting, Master has realized this predestined relationship for me. I will definitely do well in eliminating my fear and attachments so that I will not forsake Master's saving grace.