My Understanding of Practicing Silence
(Minghui.org) I recently realized that the reason I haven't done well in practicing silence was that I was too impulsive. Although I diligently studied the Fa, I was cultivating Falun Dafa in the complicated society of everyday people and was barely able to conduct myself according to Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. My sharing with fellow practitioners was merely empty talk. When we don’t pay attention to our thoughts, how can we do well in practicing silence?
While reading the Fa I came across the following words written by Master Li:
“The silence practiced in the Buddhist tradition is based on the idea that whatever words someone utters are dictated by his consciousness, and behind it there is bound to be intention. And it’s very possible that it is an attachment at work when a person’s consciousness leads him to form a thought, make a comment, do something, or use his senses or limbs out in the secular world.” (Talk 8, Zhuan Falun, 2018)
Practicing Silence Is Hard to Do When We Don’t Truly Practice Cultivation
At group study, a practitioner shared his experience after he was released from a forced labor camp. He said when he looked inside, he found that he had problems in true cultivation. He said with emotion, “Fa-rectification is near the end, and I have just begun true cultivation. I pay attention to every thought of mine and whenever I encounter something, whether it is small or big, I really truly practice cultivation. Even if it is only a change of a notion, I need to strengthen my efforts.”
I had mixed feelings after listening to him. I think if we only “enlighten”, and lack real actions, that wouldn’t be true cultivation! For each attachment, from the moment that we’ve enlightened to something until it is completely cultivated away, there is always a heart-wrenching cultivation process.
The process starts with identifying the human attachment that needs to be discarded. Then we painfully pay off the karma and persist with our efforts, maintaining our righteous thoughts at all times until we reach the standard. Only then can we call it true cultivation. Once our character improves, attachments diminish and the mind is calm. Thus practicing silence isn'’t that difficult.
Cultivating Ourselves and Not Others
I read quite a few Fa lectures during my early cultivation, but I didn’t know how to cultivate myself in a solid way. I didn’t know how to look inside. Therefore, gradually, I used the Fa to measure others instead of myself, and had strong opinions about how so-and-so wasn’t on the Fa, what attachments were surfacing, and so on. I spoke with strong notions about myself.
I have two aunties who are also practitioners. The older one was busy with her grandchild and therefore her cultivation state wasn’t good. The younger auntie became worried and said we must help her. I agreed to do so, however, when the older auntie arrived, she only stayed for five minutes. We felt bad that we were not able to discuss our concerns with auntie.
The next day, the young auntie came down with laryngitis and couldn’t talk. I was puzzled. There wasn’t anything wrong with our intentions the day before. I thought and thought. Finally, the young auntie realized that it was her own attachment of using the Fa to measure up to others. The older auntie was like a mirror for me and young auntie. After our realization, she quickly recovered and the laryngitis was gone.
A few days later, the older auntie came to my house. This time, instead of using the Fa to help her analyze the situation and telling her to do this and that, I just listened quietly. I took the opportunity to examine myself. By listening carefully I saw many of my shortcomings that I never noticed. When I met the older auntie again, she said she had a major breakthrough, and that she was able to continue to clarify the truth. I was happy for her.
Indeed, Dafa is very magical. Teacher made use of examples experienced by the older auntie to help me and young auntie see our shortcomings. I now understand that when I am in conflicts with people, or whatever I encounter, hear, or see, all of them are opportunities for me to look inside and make improvements. I learned that we don’t use the Fa to measure others and that we don’t use our own notions to judge others. Most importantly, we don’t impose our understandings on others.
Talking about Our Enlightenment Is Showing Off
As my cultivation improved, I no longer paid attention to what others did wrong nor did I casually make comments about them. I took every opportunity to look inward to see how I could improve. I felt that there were hints from Teacher every day and things I needed to cultivate away. Every single matter that occurred contained elements I needed to pay attention to. I could see that I was undergoing major changes. When practitioners shared, I talked about the process of looking inside. I’ve practiced cultivation for all these years, but it seemed that I have just managed to learn how to do this. After a period of time I realized that just talking about myself and avoiding talking to others could also be an attachment; namely, it was the mentality of showing off.
Once I was delivering something to a practitioner and she invited me to remain a little longer so that we could share. Through our conversation, I found that she was quite articulate. Among the things she talked about, she mentioned tribulations with her husband, and she spoke with an emotional tone. I made an effort not to have any comments. Then I talked about my recent experience and understanding and had no comments about others.
When I was about to leave, somehow, she couldn’t unlock the door. She tried to open it with a key, but it still didn’t work. I thought, “This is not a coincidence. Perhaps I shouldn’t have stayed so long. I didn’t do well today.” As soon as the thought came out, I grabbed the doorknob and the door opened right up! I knew this was a hint from Teacher: I should have watched my speech, and I spoke too much. After I got home, I felt a bit dizzy. It took me several days to correct myself. In fact, I only knew that I should have cultivated my speech, but in reality, I didn’t know in what way.
After talking with another practitioner about my tribulation she said, “You look inside a lot, which means Teacher is looking after you. But not me. I didn’t feel anything. Maybe I haven’t done well and Teacher doesn’t look after me.” I was shocked to hear that. What was it in my conversation that prompted her to think this way? Later, when I recited Zhuan Falun, I got to the part about Showing Off.
“Owing to the fact that they practice in the secular world, a number of practitioners have a hard time breaking many attachments, which have become second nature and aren’t detectable. A tendency to show off can be a part of many actions, including even good deeds.” (Zhuan Falun)
“We see something like this, too, such as when someone is making better progress with the exercises, has vivid visions, or does the movements a little more gracefully—and it leads to showing off.” (Zhuan Falun)
I began to understand that when we share cultivation experiences, we can talk about what we have enlightened to, but at the same time we must pay attention to what we say and observe proper restraint. Everyone is at a different level and cultivation state. We could be facing the same issue but understanding things differently and therefore have different ways of handling issues. When we talk too much about our understanding, we can easily fall into the state of showing off; moreover, we would interfere with practitioners’ different understandings and even cause jealousy.
Do Not Do Things with Intention
In the past, I often helped practitioners organize articles written to celebrate Falun Dafa Day. Submitting a sharing article, I felt, was keeping up with Fa-rectification. I had an urge to write my sharing article also. The next day, I found that my keyboard was broken. I thought, “Is this happening to stop me from typing? Is it wrong to share about what I intend to write?” I was puzzled.
Several days later, when I met with another practitioner, she happily gave me several sharing articles. She said she talked with some practitioners, and everyone was eager to participate. So they ended up writing the papers to catch up with Fa-rectification as I had suggested. When the due date came, we received and organized dozens of submissions. There were some very good ones. But at least half of them didn’t have actual content. They merely talked about appreciation toward Teacher and were not what Minghui was looking for. Although we didn’t submit them, I couldn’t help think, why would this happen? What did I do wrong? Suddenly, Teacher’s poem came to my mind.
“Exclusively doing good deeds is still action,Attachment discarded is true inaction.”(“Inaction,” Hong Yin)
I saw that my wanting to write a sharing was with intention. I wanted to do it because I was afraid of not catching up with Fa-rectification. This is an attachment, and it was my notion. When I shared with others, these intentions were obviously displayed in what I said, which influenced others, especially those who didn’t see Minghui’s announcement themselves. They only became aware of it through us talking about the matter. Everybody became a part of the writing because nobody wanted to be left out of Fa-rectification. This almost became an interference. It was a big lesson.
“The entire cultivation process for a cultivator is one of constantly giving up human attachments.” (Zhuan Falun)
“One's gong level is as high as one's xinxing level, and this is an absolute truth.” (Zhuan Falun)
If we don’t cultivate our character, anything we do with intention will not help us improve. For example, in the past, there were practitioners that felt that they had to participate in suing former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin; if they didn’t do it, they believed that they wouldn’t consummate. There were also those who believed that saving more sentient beings would help to accumulate more virtue.
This reminded me of a poem that Teacher wrote,
“Building temples, worshiping deities—things, truly many things,How would one know that with action all comes to naught;Foolish, lost, vainly dreaming of the road to the Western Paradise,Blindly groping, night walking, scooping for the moon in water.”(“With Action,” Hong Yin)
What I Have Learned
I now understand that all Dafa disciples are taken care of by Teacher’s law bodies. We are Fa-rectification disciples. We are to do the three things asked of practitioners solidly every day, look inside and do things according to a natural course with no intentions. When we share with others, if we mix in human attachments and our own notions, and let our desires run rampant and do things at will, we are driven by actions.
Dafa disciples are to take the Fa as the Teacher. We have group Fa study, and having cultivation sharing afterward is indeed necessary. At the same time, the sharing is serious, and we are to pay attention to what we say. When we don’t pay attention, we interfere with others and their ability to cultivate diligently.