(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
Two other practitioners and I often study the teachings together. One of them, Xuan, had conflicts with me every now and then over the past ten years.
Our arguments usually circled back to the same situation in which I thought Xuan had wronged me but she thought I was the bad one. “I thought you were a good friend, but you let me down and did not help me when I was going through difficult times,” she always said.
I tried many times to explain the situation, but she always responded that I was just making excuses to defend myself, and that made her even angrier. This happened every time we discussed it.
Identifying Human Notions
I knew this was not right and that I should look inward to improve myself, but I was not clear about what attachments I should be cultivating away.
I remembered what Master said in the following poem:
“Don’t argue when people argue with youCultivation is looking within for the causeWanting to explain just feeds the attachmentBreadth of mind, unattached, brings true insight”(Hong Yin III)
Why did I have to explain myself, and what attachment was I still harboring? It seems I did not want to be wronged or humiliated. Maybe this was an opportunity to cultivate forbearance, I thought.
“Since he would be dealing with worldly folk, he might have to interact with all sorts of people. For example, there might be some who misunderstand his healing of them. Though he removes many bad things from their bodies while treating them and cures them of their ailments, that might not be apparent at first. So they might be unhappy about it or might not show him any gratitude. And they might even accuse him of swindling them. Trying scenarios such as these would thus serve to temper the practitioner’s mind.” (The Third Talk, Zhuan Falun)
With this understanding, I could handle the situation better. For a while, I was able to remain calm even when Xuan’s remarks were sarcastic. But conflicts soon arose again.
“I don’t like the way you talk,” Xuan told me one day. “I get annoyed whenever you speak.”
Facing criticism made me lose face. After all, I had cultivated longer than her and the other practitioner in our Fa-study group.
I looked within and wondered why Xuan did not like the way I spoke? What did I say? Looking back at the remarks I’d made in the past, I noticed that I had the attachment of showing off, validating myself, and acting superior to Xuan and others. I did not meet the requirements for a practitioner.
“I often say that if all a person wants is the well-being of others and if this is without the slightest personal motivation or personal understanding, what he says will move the listener to tears. I have not only taught you Dafa, but have also left you my demeanor. While working, your tone of voice, your kindheartedness, and your reasoning can change a person’s heart, whereas commands never could!” (“Clearheadedness,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
I realized that I often emphasized that my understandings on whatever topic we discussed were correct, and dismissed the other practitioners’ thoughts. That is, I tended to express my thoughts and show off. I also very often focused on the logic but lacked kindness in my tone of voice. No wonder Xuan and I often had conflicts.
I then worked to remove these attachments I identified.
Xuan said I was not kind to others. I did not get it. Since I was a child, people always said I was a nice person who treated others well. I also thought so myself. Plus, I was now a Falun Dafa practitioner following Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Why did Xuan accuse me of being unkind?
I reflected on what kindness is and what Xuan saw in me that made her say I was not kind.
“By cultivating shan, great compassion develops in one’s heart, and one becomes sensitive to the suffering of others; and this, in turn, gives rise in oneself to a wish to deliver people from suffering.” (The First Talk, Zhuan Falun)
In the past, my understanding of kindness was like an everyday person’s. Now, as a practitioner with a pure mind, I began to reflect on true compassion. After all, it must have been something I said or did that had harmed Xuan; otherwise, she would not feel that I hurt her.
“Another case involved a woman in her fifties who was on her way to my class in the city of Taiyuan, together with her husband. As they were crossing the street a large car sped by and snagged the woman’s clothes with its side-view mirror. It dragged her over ten yards before she hit the ground, hard. The car went another twenty-some yards before coming to a halt. The driver got out of his car and lectured her for being careless, which is typical nowadays; people often react to mishaps by trying to shift the blame, even if they are at fault.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
I realized that I behaved just like the driver who tried to shift blame and find excuses for himself. As a practitioner, regardless of whose fault it is, I should care about Xuan by apologizing to her, rather than shirking my responsibility. With this understanding, I went to see Xuan and apologized to her sincerely. I shared my thoughts on the above teachings and hoped Xuan could forgive me.
When I returned home, I continued looking within to see if there was anything else I had done that harmed Xuan or anyone else. By then I had realized that I’d done many things without compassion. For example, I was jealous and competitive, so how could I exude kindness when I interacted with people? Very often I judged things based on my human notions and looked down upon others. How then could I be truly compassionate? My lack of compassion was reflected in my words, actions, demeanor, and facial expressions. When I argued with others with such strong attachments, how could I not hurt them? I was profoundly sorry for having hurt Xuan and others and decided to work hard to remove my attachments.
Attachment to Fame
Conflicts came up again later, however, and they always revolved around the same old issue. When Xuan and I argued again, I asked myself, “What are you arguing for?” “Fame.” That one word came to my mind. I was a little surprised and knew this was a hint from Master. I nearly collapsed, thinking, “Yes, this is what I have been fighting for all along and I did not realize it until now.”
I felt empty while riding home on my bike. My body was light and I was a bit disoriented. The realization that I still harbored an attachment to fame was a blow to me. I began to ponder what exactly fame was.
I realized that one manifestation of this attachment to fame was defending myself to avoid being taken advantage of. Because of this, I could not tolerate other people’s arguments, or become truly compassionate. After all, when arguing for my own fame, how could I be considerate?
In addition, with such a hidden attachment, I was unable to take things lightly. Instead, I might show people a good side and cover up my shortcoming to maintain a good reputation. Therefore, even when I did something that looked good, my motivation was to protect my reputation instead of truly being good to others.
I realized the attachment to fame is a form of selfishness. Because of that, I argued with practitioners and did not consider their feelings. This is far from what is expected of a Falun Dafa practitioner.
“If you can always be compassionate and calm, you will handle the issues that arise in your life well since you will have a buffer, in a sense. Things will work out well if you are always compassionate and good to others, thoughtful towards people, and handle whatever situations you get into with people by first pausing to consider how well your actions will go over with the other party and whether anyone will be hurt by them.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
Master also warned us,
“Those who are attached to their reputations practice an evil way, full of intention. Once they gain renown in this world, they are bound to say good but mean evil, thereby misleading the public and undermining the Fa.” ( Cultivators’ Avoidances, Essentials for Further Advancement)
I realized I needed to work on that stubborn selfishness and let it go.
The Importance of Selflessness
Xuan continued to express her dissatisfaction with me, and several times she even tried to drive me away and did not want to see me at her home, which is where we hold our group study. But I chose not to leave.
“How many of you seated here can keep at ease when someone points at you out of the blue and berates you? How many of you can stay unruffled and search for the reason on your part when faced with others’ criticism and chiding?” (“Teachings at the Conference in Los Angeles”)
Even though I stuck around, I was not able to remain undisturbed. Since Xuan wanted to kick me out, I must have done something terribly wrong. My compassion was not strong enough to dissolve the bad elements in my field, including feeling wronged and upset, having negative thoughts about Xuan, and so on.
The situation did not improve and Xuan still demanded that I leave. She said, “If I am unable to cultivate well, you will be held responsible.” That alarmed me: “Our group is one body. Will I be held responsible if there is bad situation in our group or a fellow practitioner fails to cultivate well? What should I do for the one body? There seems to be a lot of interference.”
I realized that the evil forces were exploiting the human notions that Xuan and I hadn’t removed, and were driving a wedge between us to interfere with and destroy our one body.
I began to send forth righteous thoughts to clean up my field and the group. During the group study, I shared my understanding in hopes that everyone would think about this. During this process, when I thought it was difficult and felt upset, I thought of leaving the group. But group study is a format Master has left us, and there might be deeper meanings that I was unaware of. If I left, I would be wrong, as I would have failed to maintain a group environment where we could remind each other to do better and become more diligent. That would be an omission in my cultivation and an indication of my inability to do well.
For a few days, I was hesitant about whether I should quit the group study for a while.
I then had a dream about an exam. There were many problems on the test that I did not know how to solve, so I decided to quit. When I woke up, I knew this was a hint from Master: The situation I was facing was like an exam. How could I quit? So I decided to focus on Fa-study. I knew that only by studying the Fa well would I find solutions to my problems.
One morning, Master’s words came to my mind,
“With Zhen Shan Ren nestled in the heart,Cultivating oneself, in turn, betters a society.With Dafa never off the mind,Surely you will transcend others in time.”(Hong Yin)
My heart was happy because it was filled with Falun Dafa principles. But where should I start?
I gradually developed a better understanding of my situation. Yes, I felt bad, but how about Xuan? Maybe she felt even worse. In the past, I only paid attention to my feelings and emotions. If I failed to consider Xuan’s feelings, how could I really understand her and do good things for her? Wasn’t my failure to put myself in another’s shoes a manifestation of my selfishness?
I began to work on letting go of my selfishness and on understanding Xuan better. I pondered what would be the right way to go about things that would be good for Xuan and our Fa-study group.
“I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others—or even future generations...” (“Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
I gradually gained a better understanding of these Fa principles. Master helped me recognize that the capacity of my heart was too small. These conflicts with Xuan were nothing, and I should just focus on the group to fulfill our mission as Falun Dafa practitioners.
With that thought, I rode my bike to Xuan’s home. I was no longer concerned that our conversation might turn unpleasant—I just wanted to open my heart and talk to her. I shared my understandings and she said, smiling, “My resentment is now gone, too.”
I had thought about cultivating forbearance over the past ten years, but was unable to. I have now realized that only by relinquishing selfishness and other attachments can I have forbearance, which is a natural reflection of one’s level, and not something forced. Forbearance will naturally emerge when we are no longer attached to whether other people are good or bad, right or wrong. Only by aligning with the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance can we break free of the old universe’s selfish nature and reach the new cosmos’s requirements of selflessness and altruism. Only then can we have great forbearance.
After writing the above, I thought I was done with my article. Then I came across the story of Lu Hongjian, an ancient sage in the Tang Dynasty.
Lu and his friend Li Jiqing once needed water from Nanling River, which is near the Yangtze River. Li’s aide rowed a boat to the deep part of the river and fetched some water.
As he poured some water out of the bottle, Lu said, “This is not from Nanling River. Rather, it seems to be water from the banks of the Yangtze River.”
“I went to Nanling River in a boat and saw hundreds of people there,” the aide replied. “Why would I deceive you?”
Lu did not say anything and began to pour water from the bottle into a basin. He then stopped halfway and ladled out a few more spoonfuls.
“The rest of the water in this bottle is from Nanling River,” he remarked.
The aide was shocked. He knelt down and said, “After taking water from Nanling River, I returned to the riverbank. Because the boat was rocking, I lost about half of the water in the bottle. To fill it up again, I took water next to the riverbank. I did not know the sage was so extraordinary!”
Thinking through my conflicts with Xuan, I realized it was as if I was the aide and Xuan was the sage Lu Hongjian. Probably her enlightened side could see all of my attachments. She was pointing out the impure part of me (which was like the water from the riverbank) while I insisted on the good part of me (which was like the water taken from the deep part of the river). So why didn’t I tell her about my “riverbank water” earlier on?
I realized that it was due to my pursuit of fame. I did not want to face my shortcomings or admit my mistakes. I just wanted to protect my image of being “perfect.” But this was wrong. After all, my impure parts cannot be concealed and Master sees that. He is probably using Xuan’s words to point out my loopholes so that I can improve in these areas.
After ten years of cultivation, I have finally learned what it means to let go of human notions and attachments.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
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