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Gaining Recognition Is Not the Goal of Cultivation

July 31, 2021 |   By a Falun Dafa practitioner in Switzerland

(Minghui.org) When I recall my path of cultivation, I realize that in recent years I have not progressed much, because I did not understand cultivation in depth. In many respects I have been “average” in my cultivation.

For a long time I have been as Master says,

“As for one who is an average practitioner, one is "an average person who hears the Tao," and one for whom it will be fine to either practice or not practice cultivation; it is most likely he will fail in cultivation.” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)

Since I had not been diligent for a long time, I now realize that I did not experience any deeper state of calm when I meditated.

Master said,

“In the future after you make progress, you will continue to improve when you again listen to this recording. As you constantly listen to it, you will always gain new understanding and new results. It is more so with reading this book.” (Lecture Three, Zhuan Falun)

For a long time it felt as if I had not “continued to improve” or “gained new results.” So why have I been like an average practitioner for so long. Was it because my trust and understanding have been too shallow?

Master said,

“In practicing cultivation, you are not making real, solid progress on your own, which would effect great, fundamental changes internally. Instead, you rely on my power and take advantage of powerful external factors. This can never transform your human nature into Buddha-nature. If every one of you can understand the Fa from the depths of your mind, that will truly be the manifestation of the Fa whose power knows no boundary—the reappearance of the mighty Buddha Fa in the human world!” (“Cautionary Advice,” Essentials For Further Advancement)

“Without Teacher here, you have no interest in cultivation, as though you cultivate yourself for Teacher and have taken up this path out of some interest. This is a major weakness of an average person.” (“Determination,” Essentials For Further Advancement)

Relying Too Much on Others and External Factors

I understood that my trust in Master and Dafa was limited, because I was relying too much on others and external factors. When I read the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, I think I found some of the reasons behind my weakness. I had been deeply influenced by socialist thinking in my childhood. My family, like many other families in Sweden in the 70's and 80's, could not resist this mighty current of socialism and the decline in morality that came with it. This had eroded my ability to truly trust, to care, and to be responsible for my actions, something one normally develops in a family that holds traditional values and beliefs. Because of socialism, this trust had been replaced by a false kind of trust and care that one can get hooked on, be it in kindergarten, in school, in clubs, in the workplace, and nowadays on the internet. Thanks to socialism, and the so-called freedom it espouses, I had lost the genuine culture taught by the family and the wisdom from grandparents and belief in higher values and the divine.

At school I often felt lost. We were not taught anything about true values or the purpose of life. We were taught that culture and traditional beliefs were primitive and underdeveloped and that humans are just a kind of monkey with instincts and needs.

The ideology taught in school had made me think that most things were just relative and meaningless. On top of that, I thought that I just needed to pass tests and get good grades and then all would be fine. We were not taught anything valuable or long-lasting. This had made me into a passive person, and I learned to just do what was expected of me. And when my soul ached, I tried to escape through whatever was offered in today's free society, which just made me more dependent on all those things and on others to feel happy and satisfied.

When I read Zhuan Falun and the Nine Commentaries, I realized that, thanks to socialism, we had lost the trust built in a family and the associated higher values. And with it came the loss of the ability to take genuine responsibility for our own lives. What follows is a feeling of meaninglessness. With more taxes, more social support, more freedom of choice, and more encouragement to identify with the group, we are taught to believe that we have been liberated. What we actually end up with is less trust, more of a victim mentality, feelings of jealousy and a sense of being wronged, a need to complain, and hard-to-solve conflicts.

In a society based on socialism and communism, trust is destroyed and with it, our true human nature.

Master said,

“...without mi xin in their schools and teachers, students would not acquire knowledge; without mi xin in their parents, children would not be brought up well-mannered; without mi xin in their careers, people would not do a good job in their work. Without beliefs, human beings would have no moral standards; the human mind would not have good thoughts and it would be overcome by wicked thoughts.” (“What is Mi Xin?,” Essentials For Further Advancement)

What mainly kept me happy was playing sports and competing in different ways. However, this was mostly to impress others. As I understand it, this was a search for the genuine values and trust that I had once lost, thanks to effects of socialism on our family. But the kinds of values I thought I could get from others just took me down the wrong path.

Stepping into the Cultivation Environment

When I entered the cultivation environment, I was diligent at first and experienced several amazing things. Over time, memories of these things disappeared and I acted more and more like an average practitioner. The need for confirmation that others valued me still existed, and it took me many years to realize how deep it was. For example, I was often happy and satisfied when I showed others the exercises or when I participated in group Fa study or participated in activities, or even when I clarified the truth. Many times these things were not done by my true self but my ego, which was looking for confirmation.

I also often practiced, read, and sent righteous thoughts after I sensed an external pressure or felt forced from within, not from really understanding and appreciating cultivation itself. For example, when I felt that, I did not feel so good physically or I felt useless. Or, when I saw others being diligent or when I read something in the Fa that made me realize that I was not so good, then I temporarily woke up and tried to be more diligent, but I still didn’t do it with my full attention. I also only measured myself with what I thought was “good enough” when I compared myself to others. For a long time, “good enough” was for me to read and do the exercises between three and four times a week, participate in local group activities when I could, and participate in different projects I thought were rewarding.

After many years of cultivation, however, I understood that I did many things superficially to feel valued by others in a group setting. In reality, when I practiced and read alone, or even in a group, I felt tired and passive. Then, as soon as I felt that others expected something of me or that I was not good enough, I did things on the surface. But how often did I really look inward? Whenever I looked inward, it was often with an intention, I wanted to get an insight on the surface, to tell others what I had realized, and to show off to get my ego confirmed. Those times I didn’t gain anything and even went backwards in cultivation.

A Stick Warning

A stick warning for me last year came after Master’s article on pandemics in which he warned practitioners who were not diligent. A couple of weeks after the first lockdown in Switzerland, I experienced a difficult episode of karma cleansing. I had not felt something as tough as this for many years.

It started with my wife, who works in the care profession. One day she came home and said that they had a suspected virus case and that she herself had to take a test because she did not feel well. As soon as she said that, I felt that my throat was irritated. I tried not to pay any attention to it but the irritation continued. A few days later I got a sore throat and a burning sensation in my lungs. I also had pain in other parts of my body and came down with a fever. My level was low, which I realized when, instead of thinking that it was a good thing, I was fearful and thought that I had gotten the virus and was now sick.

After several more days of having symptoms, a couple of practitioners visited us, because we were not allowed to meet in groups anymore. After we studied the Fa, I felt very weak and said I needed to rest. After a quarter of an hour of rest, I thought, “This is not right; I have to break through and really see it as a test and something good.” I stood up and did exercise one despite the pain in my whole body. After that, everything suddenly felt easier, and I could join the others. The next day I still felt well, and for the first time in a long time I felt I’d really gone a more serious test where my fears were challenged and I’d had a chance to strengthen my confidence in cultivation by facing my fears. But it had taken me several days before I woke up and understood how serious it was. This really showed what a poor state I was in. I held on to those symptoms and thought I was sick. I had viewed it as an ordinary person.

When reading the Fa, I realized that I was holding on to the state of illness and did not realize that our physical body is just a small layer of all our bodies. Master said,

“I said to them, "It doesn’t matter since your body in another dimension didn’t have an operation, and in qigong practice it’s that body which is acted upon."” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun)

In my mind I was stuck in the body of this physical level. So how could I develop any higher level energy? I realized that, for a long time, I’d behaved like an average practitioner and that my trust in Master and the Fa had not been strong enough.

I finally understood that to genuinely cultivate, I needed to have much more trust in the Fa and strengthen my will and faith through painstaking cultivation, which meant reading diligently, doing the exercises and sending righteous thoughts, and, of course, looking seriously inward. I have now realized that I can't get anything for free, as socialism made me believe. If I want to make progress in cultivation, I have to give more of myself and take responsibility for my life, my cultivation, and everything I do and think.

2019: A New Chance to Become More Diligent

At the end of 2019, I was invited to work for the Epoch Times. After about a month of training, I started to work six hours on weekday afternoons, evenings, and nights. At first it was very difficult, as I had gotten used to doing things at my own pace and had become quite comfortable. As I said before, I had been just an average practitioner, and it was tough on my family with my new routine. My fears also began to bother me, and I was afraid of making mistakes, not being good enough, and losing face. This was very difficult to let go of. Many times I was nervous but tried to be calm on the surface. It was especially tough when customers criticized the Epoch Times.

Once a week we are also expected to attend a staff meeting, which for us in Europe was between 2 and 4 a.m. I often only got a couple of hours of sleep, and each time it took a couple of days before I felt clear in my head and body. As a practitioner who works on the Epoch Times, the requirements are also high, and we should preferably write down for all to see our daily progress in reading, doing the exercises, and sending righteous thoughts. This is, of course voluntary, but for me it was a test, because my attachment to compete and show off surfaced. Since I often had a hard time getting enough sleep, I thought that I was losing face. My ability to handle fatigue, my attachment to comfort, and laziness were also severely tested.

Things at home were sometimes also quite difficult. We live in a five-room apartment without an office, so I have to work in the living room. So as not to disturb my wife and daughter in the evenings and at night, every evening I put up a soundproof box with boards, pillows, and blankets. My wife still heard the calls in the evenings and at night and complained. I also needed to comfort and take care of my daughter when she woke up in the middle of the night. It sometimes gets quite warm in the box, and I sweat. Most of the time I sit in the half-lotus position because the space is so small.

All this, together with the fatigue in the evenings and nights, put pressure on me. Sometimes I got upset and angry and argued back. Selfish thoughts came up, like, “I do something important—why can’t you let me work?” In those moments, I forgot to look inward and think of my wife and daughter’s situation. My wife works at a care center for people with dementia and has to get up early in the mornings. It’s physically and mentally very strenuous. She also assumes a heavy burden as the work ethic there is often poor, and others do not do their jobs responsibly.

At first, I often compensated for my wounded attachments by sleeping more; eating more; eating more sweets, cake, and chocolates; or spending more time on the internet and on social networks. When I fell for these temptations, I later felt even more tired and even faced tests in dreams. It was hard to wake up in the mornings. I also noticed that I often became extra happy when I had positive conversations and worried when I had difficult conversations. Behind it was, again, a fear of failure.

Even though I later became more diligent about reading and doing the exercises, I did not always reach a genuine practitioner’s standard. To really look inward and take suffering as joy was something I did not achieve very often. I also often read the Fa as an intellectual—with an attachment to gaining new knowledge and then getting confirmation from others for this knowledge.

Slowly but surely, however, I have realized and passed these tests and gradually my compassion has also become more stable at home and at work. I have also been able to support my family better. By doing the exercises more, reading more, and sending more righteous thoughts, it feels like I have made progress, and it feels like a lot of karma has been eliminated.

Now we have more harmony in our family. I have also become better at taking suffering with a calm mind and can meditate and do the second exercise longer. Before, since my mind was not really calm enough, my body was actually not relaxed enough to develop higher energy.

Master said,

“It is best if you do not think about anything. This is because during low-level qigong practice, a foundation must be laid. This foundation will play a critical role, for human mind activities have quite a part to play. Think about it, everyone: What are you adding to your gong? How can what you are practicing be good?” (Lecture Five, Zhuan Falun)

I understood that this “foundation” and state of “no thoughts” is only achieved when I am able to have a state of deep trust, with no intentions but still a strong willpower. That every suffering I go through is really the greatest gift to strengthen my trust in the Fa, to understand that every feeling or thought that wants confirmation in order to feel valued is a test to see if I can let go of the fear and instead find the real value and become more compassionate.

Master said,

“Cultivating Buddhahood is to eliminate your demon-nature and strengthen and increase your Buddha-nature.” (“Buddha-Nature and Demon-Nature,” Essentials For Further Advancement)

“One’s Buddha-nature is Shan, and it manifests itself as compassion, thinking of others before acting, and the ability to endure suffering.” (“Buddha-Nature and Demon-Nature,” Essentials For Further Advancement)

I now understand that when I look inward and look at things with compassion, I can dissolve my demon nature, as the energy and particles of compassion are more powerful than anything else. Only if I have compassion in my mind can I save myself and others and can I dissolve the karma that stands in the way of the truth.

When I understand and feel more reverence for the Fa and life, I can better value the innocence and trust that we had as children. This innocent trust can only be nurtured and strengthened with genuine care in a family with righteous belief. This innocent trust is something the universe itself has, and to find this nature in me again—and to strengthen it by letting go of more and more of my attachments—is my way to return to my true self. The master can show us the door but we have to walk through it by ourselves, because no one can cultivate for someone else.

Thank you, esteemed Master and fellow practitioners.