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Attaining Selflessness and Altruism

January 19, 2003 |   By Qingfeng

(Clearwisdom.net) Once, when I was sharing experiences with a fellow practitioner, I said, "We strive to become selfless and altruistic, so we must eliminate 'self'." At that time, he didn't agree with me. He thought, "Doesn't it mean that there will be no existence of self? Isn't it the same as the Zen Buddhist theory 'no image, no self'?"

Gradually, I came to the understanding that the "self" in selflessness and altruism that our Teacher mentioned is formed by postnatal notions, and it is not the innate and original self (a person's actual self, a pure and righteous life that meets the requirements of the cosmos). I remember that a fellow practitioner stated in his article that while he was purging himself, he saw two beings, one was selfishness and the other he didn't recognize. After eliminating his selfishness, he realized that the other one was his "self" that came into being gradually during his life. "Selfishness" and his postnatally built-up "self" were both degenerated lives in other dimensions.

We cultivate to return to our true self. What we have to do is eliminate this accumulated "self", and return to the innate and pure "self" that is assimilating to Dafa. However, our current ways of thinking, various thoughts and attachments mostly originate from the accumulated "self", which was formed after the cosmos deviated from the Fa, and which is composed of selfishness. Only by eliminating selfishness, can we eliminate the accumulated "self".

It is not easy for this "self" to be perceived or distinguished. It is very natural for us to take this "self" to be our actual self. The old forces will then take advantage of our gaps, magnify them and disrupt us. Then in what ways does this "self" manifest? For example, once a fellow practitioner's words, behavior, methods or opinion articles do not conform to our personal notions, we react negatively. When another person says that we didn't do well in a certain way, and we cannot accept it calmly and rationally, but immediately talk back, or even lose our tempers, and have even less compassion and tolerance to speak of. It is actually because the accumulated "self" is being challenged and hurt. However, various attachments and bad concepts are rooted in this "self", which causes our hearts to be uncomfortable. Degenerated thinking makes us protect this "self" out of instinct. Therefore, various forms of behavior will manifest, such as arguing endlessly, getting irritated, insisting on one's own opinion, protecting oneself irrationally and being unable to accept others.

Before, when I couldn't conduct myself very well, I didn't realize that my accumulated "self" was having an effect. Now I have realized it. In my future cultivation, I will eliminate it from its root, and attain selflessness.

The above is my personal and limited understanding from my current level. Please correct me if I have said anything inappropriate.