Letting Go of the Attachment to Self and Personal Gain
(Minghui.org) I started practicing Falun Dafa in October 1997. In the past 20 years, I have never taken a pill or seen a doctor. Falun Dafa didn't just better my health, but my spirit and morality as well.
Of course, there have been ups and downs on my journey. I would like to share two particular cultivation incidents that truly tested my xinxing and forced me to face my deeply rooted attachments to self and personal gain.
A Sudden Storm
One tribulation stood out because some of our local practitioners thought I had deviated from the Fa. It came to me like a storm and taught me the meaning of gut-wrenching pain.
Some practitioners spread rumors about me; some were mad at me; some insulted me with ugly words; some even tried to force me to announce that I was not a practitioner; some called me “evil” and “an agent from the 610 Office;” some said I had transformed other practitioners before and tried to force me to sever ties with Dafa.
It was the first time in my life that I had such a feeling. I couldn't believe what had happened to me. I could hardly stand it. At the very beginning, I was furious and had many grievances, but I still tolerated it. I remembered that I was a practitioner after all, and I remembered what Teacher said:
“You will be made to abandon all those attachments that cannot be given up among everyday people. As long as you have them, all of those attachments must be removed in different environments. You will be made to stumble, whereby you will become enlightened to the Tao. This is how one goes through cultivation practice. ” (from Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
I knew this was a test that I must pass.
Look Within to Identify Human Attachments
I calmed down and studied the Fa. Some fellow practitioners reminded me to look within. We shared cultivation experiences from the Fa's perspective.
Of course, it was not all smooth sailing as I worked to identify my attachments. Teacher said,
“But normally when a problem arises, if it does not irritate a person psychologically, it does not count or is useless and cannot make him or her improve.” (from Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
There were moments when the scenes of other practitioners criticizing me flashed into my mind, but I soon remembered what Teacher said,
“That Buddha, of course, will not do anything for this person because that problem is arranged by the Buddha, intending to improve his xinxing and upgrade him by way of the tribulation.” (from Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
A wicked person is born of jealousy.Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself.A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion.With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy.(Realms, from Essentials for Further Advancement)
As I studied the Fa more, I was able to identify one attachment after another. My most obvious attachments were to comfort, dependence upon others, competitiveness, contempt, and self. I was also imprudent in my interactions with the other gender and quick to resent any type of criticism.
As I rectified myself little by little, Master removed the bad substance from me. I felt as if an invisible net that had constrained me was being torn apart. All of a sudden my heart became light and bright. I was so grateful for Master's grand compassion and infinite grace!
Attachment to Self Is the Root Cause
I also looked inward to identify the deeper reason for why I encountered such a tribulation. I recalled the path of my life: Since I began cultivation, I have been trying to let go of fame, personal gain, lust and anger. Why did the evil attack me so much? What was I stuck on?
Finally I realized – the tribulation fell on me because of my attachment to self.
I was arrogant when I was a child. My arrogance became stronger as I grew up. I took it for granted and thought I was smart, strong and talented. I attached importance to myself, resented criticism and pursued comfort. Even how I saw cultivation was mostly for me to be free of illness and disasters, and my perpetual happiness.
I've been protecting the self that was acquired after birth. I would not let anyone touch it. What's more, if people were jealous of me, I looked down upon them even more and treated them with contempt.
A strong “self” blocked me from being diligent in Dafa. I lost my path back home.
Every fight I got into and every competition I wanted to win only fortified that “self”. I took the false me as my true self. Actually, that self was only an illusion created by my strong selfishness. It consists of notions and karma that formed after birth. It was not compassionate.
Master taught us to safeguard our true nature and compassion. However, I always complained when conflicts arose. Driven by my false self, I couldn't stand in other people's shoes and place them before myself.
When others might be hurt, my false self would be indifferent; thinking back now, that must have created so much karma. And who is to pay for that karma but me? Since the tribulation arose from myself, it was high time to eliminate that false self.
After I realized this fundamental cause, I sent forth righteous thoughts and prayed to Master for help: Please give me strength so that I can fortify my true self, eliminate all layers of my false self, and remove my bad thoughts.
I felt that the substance that was causing my pain was fading away, slowly.
I was awakened as soon as my true nature came to surface. It's not that other people were evil. It was me who was not kind. My “self” was not kind. If I tried to protect my false self, someone will get hurt. This time I was able to identify it and disintegrate it.
Discarding human attachments is a painful process. It's a process of emerging from humanity and going towards divinity. It's an elevation of realm and a transcendence of self.
In hindsight, it's really all my fault. I would like to express my sincere apologies to those whom I have hurt – I am genuinely sorry.
“While people feel that living a life of comfort is a good thing, cultivators believe that, for the sake of improving themselves, the opposite is a good thing. Isn't that an example of a righteous principle existing alongside a reversed one? ” (Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005)
After I experienced this tribulation, I had a better understanding about the excerpt of Master's Fa in the above paragraph. I no longer complained at fellow practitioners who made me feel bad – instead, I thank them.
Without such a big tribulation, that false self would have continued to block my true nature and prevent me from emerging beyond human shortcomings.
I was enlightened to one point: I should be tolerant at all times, look within unconditionally, cultivate myself and accept others' differences.
Taking Personal Gain Lightly at Work
Another tribulation that really tempered my xinxing was when my workplace gave out apartments to employees [it was common in the 1990s for state-owned enterprises to assign housing units to employees].
It was not easy facing my attachments to personal gain, but during the whole process, I regarded it as an opportunity to improve my xinxing in cultivation. I kept in mind one principle: I am a Dafa practitioner, so I would consider others first. I gave things up again and again.
At first, they promised to assign me a new apartment. I gave it up because of its limited quantity.
Then my supervisors proposed to assign me an old apartment on the fourth floor. I accepted it and signed the agreement. It's a nice apartment and does not need to be remodeled or decorated. However, when it was time to move in, another employee insisted on taking it. I stepped back and agreed to take a different apartment on the sixth floor.
The sixth floor was at the top. The inside needed work. Some colleagues complained on my behalf, but I was not concerned about it.
I made a new window in a side wall, since all the apartments on other floors had windows on that side. As soon as I had it done, supervisors ordered me to undo the change. I didn't say anything and did as I was told.
It was painful to get rid of human attachments during the process. I caught all the attachments that I detected: ego, hatred, personal gain, competitiveness and many more. I didn't want to miss any of them.
As the remodeling of that apartment on the sixth floor was more than half done, supervisors stopped me and assigned me an apartment on the fifth floor, which had a great view. My colleagues were all happy for me.
Master said,“You are a cultivator, so you need to have mighty-virtue. And where does your mighty-virtue come from? Doesn't it come from letting go of self and being selfless in this grueling environment, and being completely responsible to the Fa as a Dafa disciple? Isn't that, itself, mighty-virtue? And what's more, you did it in a grueling environment.” (Teaching the Fa at the Meeting with Asia-Pacific Students)
I also told people about Falun Dafa at my work place. My supervisors witnessed my behaviors and were all in agreement that “Falun Dafa is good!”
Please don't hesitate to correct me if any of the above is inappropriate.