The Search for My Fundamental Attachments
(From The Second Mainland China Internet Experience Sharing Conference)
(Clearwisdom.net) With great respect, I quote Teacher's poem "No Obstacles" and use it to encourage my writing this experience sharing article, the process of which is also a cultivation process.
"Cultivation paths are different,
Yet all are within Dafa,
With no attachment to anything,
The path underfoot is naturally clear."
("No Obstacles" in Hong Yin II, draft translation)
Dafa practitioners differ from all other cultivators in history. We are shouldering the great responsibilities endowed to us by Teacher--to do the three things well. We must study the Fa and practice the exercises, send forth righteous thoughts, and clarify the truth in this special cultivation environment created by Teacher. In this article I want to share my experiences of how I have tried to do the three things well during the past seven years.
When I first started to clarify the truth, I feared being arrested and experienced many "incidents." On one occasion after I clarified the truth, someone reported me, and my managers at work gave me a warning. When I distributed flyers in telephone booths, I was so nervous that I forgot about taking my phone cards out of the phone--one card had a 50 yuan worth of credit on it and the other had 100 yuan. While visiting Dafa websites, my heart raced when I heard any sound outside the door. My mind sometimes went blank when people argued with me as I was clarifying the truth to them, and I would be rendered speechless.
I knew this state was not right and the problem could only be solved fundamentally through studying the Fa and truly improving myself. Teacher said, "Fear is also a kind of attachment." (Zhuan Falun) If I continued to hold onto my attachment, fear would bother me forever. I put more effort into Fa study and read experience sharing articles on Minghui (the Chinese version of Clearwisdom.net). I asked myself, "What are you afraid of?" I discovered that I considered clarifying the truth an obligatory task. Deep down, I feared that if I did not clarify the truth, I would fall behind in cultivation. Consequently, I clarified the truth passively, as if I were completing a required task. Fundamentally I was selfishly seeking my personal consummation and thus lacked the compassion to save sentient beings. This attachment was my obstacle.
I tried to relinquish the attachment in the process of clarifying the truth, and my fear slowly subsided. Yet the process was far from smooth. Often, a new fear arose as I soon as I eliminated an old one. Most of the time I could face my fears and try to eliminate them through studying the Fa and actual cultivation practice. When I looked back on my cultivation path at one point, I had strong feelings about something Teacher said:
"All of you are already aware of the principle of mutual-generation and mutual-inhibition. If you are not afraid, the factor that would make you afraid will cease to exist." ("Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)" in Essentials for Further Advancement II)
From that time on, my fear gradually disappeared as I did all kinds of truth-clarifying projects. I often felt that Teacher was just nearby, very close to me. I was surrounded by Teacher's compassion and focused on the most righteous things. Miracles happened one after another. For instance, a printer cartridge functioned well after being refilled 20 times. In another case, I went to Tiananmen Square and shouted "Falun Dafa is good! Falun Dafa is a righteous cultivation way! Restore my Teacher's blameless reputation!" I then returned home safely, even after hanging large banners on an iron fence and in the airport.
Once I visited a friend in his home. Because of a case he was involved with, the police suddenly arrived and searched his house. They also thoroughly searched me. However, the truth-clarifying materials in my handbag and in a drawer were not discovered. Indeed, when there is no fear, nothing can make a Dafa practitioner afraid. The evil can never subdue the righteous, and even the most evil things mean nothing to a Dafa practitioner.
When clarifying the truth, my fear also manifested itself as my being afraid of losing face. When I attended a small gathering of school principles, I distributed truth clarifying CDs about the "Self-Immolation" incident to everyone. Some people reported my action to my managers, who gave me a strong warning. Sometimes after spending much effort clarifying the truth to people, I would hear, "You're a smart person. How could you get involved in this (meaning "politics")?" In particular, when I tried to persuade people to renounce the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), I met with more difficulties. Someone said to me frankly, "Don't try to persuade me. I know more than you do. I believe in nothing but myself." I felt I had lost face and was lost for words, and thought about never talking to that person again. Moreover, I mistakenly thought that the people around me were all intellectuals and that clarifying the truth to them and persuading them to renounce the CCP would be very difficult. Being afraid of difficulties is the fear of losing face, which is another attachment.
Previously, I attributed this fear to my introverted personality. However, my heart told me that I should not use that as a cover-up for my attachments. Through continuously studying the Fa, I realized the issue was more complex than I had thought. My hidden attachments were behind the phenomenon; it was just that I had not yet found my fundamental attachments.
I read the following words of Teacher,
"That is not out of compassion, as one's attachments to fame and self-interest have not been given up at all. This person is unable to develop this compassion one bit. He is afraid of losing his reputation. He would rather have this illness himself in order to keep his reputation. What a strong attachment to fame!" (Zhuan Falun)
What a strong attachment to fame I had when clarifying the truth. I only wanted to preserve my "face." My attachment to fame and self- interest prevented my compassion and wisdom from coming out, and I was as speechless as any human being could be. Opportunities for clarifying the truth slipped away one after another, and I hoped in vain that they would return.
Where did my attachments to fame and self- interest come from? After reading the book the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, I understood that the CCP's culture and atrocities had corroded my mind and distorted my character. I was born into a "bad" family according to the CCP, so I became timid in order to bring honor to my family and insure my personal future and happiness. I followed all the rules and concentrated on studies and work. Although some people criticized me as an "expert who does not closely follow the party," I gained a "good reputation" and received many honors. People recognized me as a role model, devoted to work and willing to improve. I enjoyed a better salary than most of my colleagues. Consequently, I carefully cherished all of the above and tried my best to protect this "shell." Attachments to fame and self- interest followed and aggravated the situation. In the end, I suffered from many diseases resulting from all the attachments, and mentally I was very tired and felt hopeless.
Realizing this, I had a deeper understanding of what Teacher said in Zhuan Falun,
"In the workplace or in society, some people may say that you are bad, yet you may not necessarily be bad. Some people may say that you are good, but you may not really be good. As a practitioner, if you assimilate yourself to this characteristic you are one that has attained the Tao--it's just such a simple principle."
The CCP's culture had seriously interfered with my cultivation!
Before I started cultivation, I was judging myself using ordinary people's comments as criteria. When other people praised me, I felt happy and relieved, and when they criticized me, I felt sad and tried to change accordingly. I was cautiously living my life like this and thus my heart felt very tired.
With the understanding that I am a cultivator, that clarifying the truth to people is the most compassionate thing to do, and that Dafa practitioners are the best beings in the cosmos, I still could not do well. Even after seven years of cultivation I still ignored Teacher's words in Zhuan Falun, "Zhen, Shan, Ren is the sole criterion to discern good and bad people." For such a long time, my giant attachment remained untouched, and subconsciously I was discerning good from bad using the criteria of the CCP's culture! I was shocked and felt ashamed after seeing my gaps while studying the Fa. I made up my mind to study the Fa more and eliminate my attachment to "saving face."
With Teacher's help, I ascended in clarifying the truth. I naturally and smoothly found friends, colleagues, and managers to clarify the truth to and distributed the Nine Commentaries. I no longer cared about my "face" and made repeated efforts without giving up. I have clarified the truth to some people over and over again. When my heart is sincere, the correct words flow out of my mouth. At times, compassion has caused my eyes to fill with tears. Some people were quite shocked. They accepted the truth clarifying materials or decided to renounce the CCP. A young man who listened to me many times and read the Nine Commentaries told me with tears in his eyes, "I want to listen to you. You are so sincere and love us so much. I will renounce the CCP!" Later on the young man persuaded his wife to renounce the CCP as well.
Recently, as I was studying Teacher's news articles, I further realized the root of my attachment to fame and self-interest. It was as if Teacher was talking directly to me,
"Because human society is a place in which suffering goes hand-in-hand with enjoyment, life does abound with suffering, however wealthy you may be or however high your status. Because pain is hard on people, they try to, consciously or unconsciously, ward off suffering in hopes of leading a more pleasant life. And so it is that in the pursuit of happiness people form ideas about how to avoid harm, how to live well, how to get ahead in society and achieve fame and success, how to acquire more for themselves, how to come out on top, and so on. To this end, as they gain experience people come to form notions about life; and those experiences, in turn, come to fortify these notions as people live out their lives." ("The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be")
Looking back on my life over the past decades, I could see that these notions restricted me, controlled me, and made me ward off suffering on the path to pursue fame and self-interest. Teacher's Fa melted my hard shell, and I felt the joy of assimilating with the Fa.
Since then, many opportunities to clarify the truth have appeared. My students have taken the initiative to talk about the existence of divine beings with me and their parents have visited me at home. Persuading people to renounce the CCP became easier. Recently, to my surprise, a bureau director wanted to see me. I had clarified the truth to him before, but he refused to listen and refused the truth clarifying materials. He even said many disrespectful things about Dafa. I was then determined not to clarify the truth to him any more. Yet this time, he wanted to see me. Knowing that this was a chance Teacher had arranged for me, I had only one thought--clarify the truth to him! The results turned out to be very good, as both he and the four young people he brought with him all listened to me attentively. The bureau director was like a different person, as he kept supporting what I said with examples. This is truly as Teacher said,
"When disciples have sufficient righteous thoughts, Master has the almighty power to turn the cosmos around." (Hong Yin II)
Under the bloody rule of the CCP, I assimilated many experiences and lessons in order to pursue happiness and avoid being hurt. I firmly held to the notion of "keep away from trouble" and concentrated on my study and work. I put too much emphasis on my family and sentiments and became attached to these things. These notions resulted in many tests and failures in my cultivation. Without Teacher's compassion, it would have been very difficult for me to come this far. All the experiences left unforgettable impressions on my mind.
In my cultivation, I was often troubled by qing and could not let go of feelings for my family and children. In particular, my children's school and marriage made me worry a lot. Subconsciously, I still had the pursuit for a comfortable lifestyle. When I met people with a bad attitude who refused to listen when I clarified the truth to them, I tended to give up my efforts because of resentment. I often recognized the seriousness of the matter and wanted to break away from this attachment.
I repeatedly studied Teacher's words:
"Since human beings have sentimentality, being upset is sentimentality, so are happiness, love, hatred, enjoying doing one thing, resenting doing another thing, preferring one person to another, hobbies, and dislikes. Everything belongs to sentimentality, and everyday people just live for it. Then, as a practitioner and one who rises above and beyond, one should not use this approach to judge things, and one should break away from them." (Lecture Six, Zhuan Falun)
When I had the wish to eliminate the attachment and made some effort, the situation improved a little. Yet when the Fa had not yet touched my soul and heart, it was like Teacher said,
"But as cultivation is lived out, when the suffering bears down on you and conflicts come up that hit upon the deepest part of you--and especially when it rattles the rigid notions you have--the test is really hard to pass. It can even be to the point that you know full well it's a test but still can't let go of your attachments." ("The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be")
In such a state, I clearly felt I had stalled at my level and wasn't improving--no matter how much I read the Fa. At these times, I often asked myself, "Why is my cultivation so hard?" When I saw myself not being able to break away from my sentiments, I scolded myself loudly several time, "What exactly do you want to do? Do you still want to cultivate?" More than once, I shed tears in front of Teacher's picture and said to Teacher, "Teacher, please help me, I want to eliminate the sentiment." I also hated myself and said to Teacher's picture in agony, "Teacher, please give me up if I still cannot let this sentiment go."
Teacher is always compassionate. Sometimes he said softly near my ear, "Study the Fa, study the Fa well." Sometimes He used my family members' mouths to give me a hint and at other times he reminded me with tests. I always found out afterward that when I was entrapped in sentiments, I would stumble or experience setbacks in cultivation.
Even though I went back and forth with the attachment of qing, I firmly upheld the thought that I should continuously eliminate this sentiment. I repeatedly asked myself two questions, "Why do I want to eliminate the sentiments?" and "Why is it so hard to remove them?"
In the beginning, I rarely thought about the first question, and I never thought about it deeply. I took my chances in thinking "the attachment to sentiment will gradually go away as I cultivate more." My lack of urgency in fact protected the attachment. Sometimes I do a large amount of truth-clarifying work just to break away from the entrapping sentiment. Yet, once I stop, my sentiment surfaces and I fall back to the same state. One day I remembered some of Teacher's words and looked them up in my Dafa books,
"Before, some retired people with nothing to do found Falun Dafa good and offered to help so as to fill an aching void in their leisurely lives. Of course that won't do!" ("It is not a Job, but Cultivation Practice," Essentials for Further Advancement)
Indeed, cultivation is cultivating one's heart, yet I wanted to replace cultivation with doing Dafa work that would fill an aching void in my leisurely life. In fact, this is not cultivation. Instead, I was distorting and degenerating cultivation with my human notions. Of course that won't do!
The essence of this so-called "cultivation" is that one only wants to obtain benefits from Dafa and never wants to relinquish attachments. This is a deeply concealed selfishness. With one hand I grab Dafa and with the other I grab human attachments without letting go. "Sentimentality is something of everyday people, and everyday people just live for it." (Zhuan Falun) Without eliminating the sentimentalities that pervade my body, I could only live like a human being and be entrapped by them--this is far away from cultivation! When I was unwilling or afraid to eliminate the attachment to sentiments, my human side found many excuses to make the existence of sentiment "legitimate." I used to think, "One person cultivates the Fa and the whole family benefits. I should care more about my family members so that they won't be destroyed." What a beautifully disguised excuse! I want to get benefits from Dafa, and I want to get benefits from Dafa for my whole family. Whenever I think of the selfishness and greediness I used to harbor, I feel ashamed. This is the biggest disrespect toward Dafa and Teacher! "If you are attached to this, you cannot practice cultivation whatsoever." (Zhuan Falun) I have painfully witnessed other practitioners who paid huge prices for their sentiments. So I don't dare to lower my guard on this issue. Without relinquishing qing, I cannot truly practice cultivation or become a Dafa disciple!
I continued to search for answers to the second question, "Why is it so hard to remove sentiments?" I found the hidden danger behind the "hard" or "difficult." First, I put too much emphasis on formality when studying the Fa, yet the actual studying is not nearly enough. I had always thought I never slacked off in Fa study. No matter how busy or tired I was, I finished the same amount of reading. In fact, although I was "reading" through my mouth, I did not pay attention with my heart when studying. I just wanted to make sure I read a certain amount from the book. For a long time, I would get sleepy when I studied the Fa or would suddenly remember things that needed to be done. Once I finished the set amount, I felt relieved as if from an obligatory task. Over a long period of time, I did not enlighten to new principles from my study. I repeatedly studied Teacher's words,
"I would say that this is your wishful thinking. You are unable to interfere with the lives of others, and neither can you control others' fates, including those of your wife, sons, daughters, parents, or brothers. Can you decide those things?" (Zhuan Falun)
Although I knew that my sentiments were big obstacles in cultivation and I experienced some conflicts that touched my heart and soul, I did not fundamentally change. The reason was that I was only reading with my mouth instead of my heart. Furthermore, I evaded the conflicts that truly hurt my attachment to sentiment.
Second, I put too little emphasis on cultivation versus practice. I seldom miss practicing the exercises and, on the surface, my cultivation seems okay, too. However, I knew deep in my heart that I had many shortcomings in cultivation. I went back and forth between a state of diligence and slacking off. I tried to protect my attachments and easily became complacent. I even tried to gain in cultivation using the skillful artifice of a human being. Compared to diligent practitioners, I had much to improve. Although I was aware of all of the above, I mistakenly comforted myself with the idea that, "I am better than some other practitioners, and I can probably reach consummation." For me, cultivation appeared to be more important than practicing the exercises.
The fundamental cause of all my shortcomings is not the above reasons. Instead, it is my selfishness. This dishonorable selfishness propelled me to pursue consummation, to pursue gains--I was cultivating for myself. No wonder I often stayed at one level for a long time; no wonder I progressed so slowly in studying the Fa; no wonder I was frequently entrapped in sentiments.
Although I realized this, I was still far away from actually cultivating to this stage. Just yesterday, I was moved by my child's marriage. I am only starting to realize the seriousness of the matter and have every intention to catch up quickly. My understandings are still pretty shallow, and I feel I have not found my fundamental attachment(s). By writing these experiences down, I hope I will receive hints from Teacher and help from my fellow practitioners.
In a period after July 20, 1999, I felt a lot of pressure in my environment. My friends made comments about me and tried to persuade me to give up cultivation. My work unit managers followed the orders from above and told all the schools not to rehire me after my retirement. (In the education system in China, it's common for teachers and principles to be rehired after their official retirement.) Some related work units deleted my name from the textbook writing team. A previous manager invited me to his home and then warned me not to commit "wrongdoings." My husband turned from supporting me to being against my cultivation, saying repeatedly, "Don't practice Falun Gong any more! The CCP is the master of persecution, and no one can defeat it!" My husband would become unhappy whenever he saw me practicing. When he saw me studying the Fa, he would comment with anger, "You are still reading that!" Feeling helpless, I could only avoid him. Yet he was always able to find me studying the Fa. Once, while I was concentrating on my reading, he suddenly said loudly, "You're still reading!" I was shocked and quivered. At that moment, I asked myself, "Why can't I read the Fa? Why do I want to avoid him? Just exactly what am I doing wrong? Why should I quit studying such good Fa? Who can tell me why I cannot study the Fa?"
Why was the environment like that? Teacher said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.,"
"As I've said, everything that happens today in the ordinary society is the result of Dafa disciples' thoughts. Even though the old forces do exist, if you don't have those thoughts they can't do anything."
Searching inside, I found my fear. I did not understand the Fa well enough and lacked the capability to realize the persecution. In order to continue my cultivation, I left home and went to teach out of town. As a result, I was late in participating in Fa validation compared to many other practitioners. The pressure I felt from the environment was actually from within.
I decided to follow Teacher's words, face the reality, and correct the environment with my firm righteous thoughts. Since then, I have stopped avoiding my husband at home when studying the Fa and practicing cultivation. When he was sick, I read the entire book of Zhuan Falun to him. In my work unit, when everyone was required to state their attitude toward Falun Gong, I openly talked about my cultivation of Falun Gong, and why I cultivate it. I talked about Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. I talked about the fact that Falun Gong practitioners are the best people. I went to a provincial research institute and clarified the truth to the head of a textbook writing team, telling her about the truth of Falun Gong and that Falun Gong is righteous. I also went to my past manager mentioned above and told him my experiences of practicing Falun Gong. I told him that Falun Gong has spread far and wide all over the world. I also said, "I will never give up my practice, even under threat of death." I met with many friends and clarified the truth to them, leaving them truth-clarifying materials.
The environment was rectified gradually. My husband stopped interfering with me. Instead, he even helped me buy supplies and solve computer problems. When their superiors asked about my situation, managers of my work units dodged the issue. They also refused to participate in the meetings related to persecuting Falun Gong using various excuses. The manager stopped "warning" me and only asked me to be careful. All of these are manifestation of Dafa's power and Teacher's mighty virtue!
Indeed, "Even though the old forces do exist, if you don't have those thoughts they can't do anything." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.") Environments are created by Dafa practitioners, and we should be in charge of our cultivation!
Last year, I decided to make a trip to the U.S.A. I wanted to see Teacher and my fellow practitioners overseas. I also wanted to get help on some difficult computer problems and take a look at the Minghui schools. I said to Teacher in my mind, "I will follow your decision about whether I should go to the United States." Miraculously, the process of obtaining a visa took only a week, although it usually it takes about a month just to make an appointment. I went to the States and fulfilled all my wishes. In particular, I saw Teacher in an experience sharing conference! I broke into tears and cried.
The unforgettable experience reminded me of Teacher's words,
"I am rooted in the universe. If anyone can harm you, he or she would be able to harm me. Put simply, that person would be able to harm this universe" (Zhuan Falun).
In conclusion, let us encourage ourselves in our paths of cultivation by studying Teacher's words,
"I'll tell you a truth: the whole process of cultivation is a process of constantly getting rid of human attachments." (Zhuan Falun)