Cultivating and Improving My Moral Character at Work
(Minghui.org) On one occasion at work, many of my colleagues whispered to me that my senior colleague to whom I report had been asking about my way of handling certain matters, and she had been getting others' opinions on the matter. She had also expressed her displeasure that I took the liberty of deviating from her usual methods, notwithstanding the fact that I was new to the job. My other colleagues all advised me to be more obedient and do as I was told.
I did not think I was the problem, however, as I hadn't been rude or anything. I felt that her method was not the best. But then I was reminded of Master's teaching:
“‘He's right,And I'm wrong,’What's to dispute?”(“Who's Right, Who's Wrong” from Hong Yin (III))
Even so, I was annoyed that she had talked and gossiped behind my back instead of coming directly to me.
“For instance, upon arriving at the workplace, a person overhears two people saying bad things about him, things bad enough to make him furious. We have said, however, that as a practitioner one should not fight back when being punched or insulted, but should hold oneself to a high standard. Thus, he thinks that Teacher has said that as practitioners we should not be the same as other people and must hold ourselves to a higher standard. He will not quarrel with those two people. But normally when a problem arises, if it does not irritate you psychologically, it does not count or is useless and cannot make you improve.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
True to Master's words, “...if it does not irritate you psychologically, it does not count or is useless...” A day or so later, when the supervisors came for a visit, this senior colleague dragged one of the supervisors aside to talk about my lack of obedience, while pointing in my direction. That really pushed me over the edge, so I approached another supervisor to tell them my side of the story. The supervisor told me my senior colleague had talked to her about me. She said that she actually disagreed with my senior colleague and encouraged me to follow my own way of doing things. I was so pleased with myself, not realizing this to be a sign of self-indulgence. I later heard that my senior colleague lost interest in the matter since she did not get any support from the supervisors. She even said to me that she was just learning as I was.
However, I succumbed to the temptation to show off. When other colleagues asked me about what happened, I was quick to show them how generous I had been in not making a fuss over the incident and bragged about my superior judgment which had the support of the supervisors.
That same evening, a large ulcer grew in my mouth which made it extremely painful to eat or brush my teeth. Only then did I think about looking within myself. I realized that I had been smug, boastful, and full of myself. I had been smug about the fact that I had only been at the job for two years and was better at it than my senior colleague who had been there for ten years.
The ulcer in my mouth didn't show up just by chance. I immediately sent forth righteous thoughts to eliminate my hidden attachments and asked Master for forgiveness. My ulcer went away the next day.
I soon forgot about the pain and how I got it in the first place. Sometimes I could not help myself and still gossiped about the incident when chatting with some colleagues I was friendly with. Lo and behold a week later, my wisdom tooth became crooked and my gums hurt a lot. I felt the excruciating pain whenever I talked, yawned or ate. I tried talking to my sore tooth, pleading it not to grow crooked so I didn't have to have it removed. I reminded it that its life and mine have a special connection in this lifetime and that it must remember that Falun Dafa is good. I have previously had the same conversation with my other wisdom teeth when they were having problems and the issues disappeared the next day.
My toothache worsened, however, and I even started making inquiries about how much it would cost to have it extracted. But then I remembered that everything is possible with Dafa and that this must be Master's way of pointing out to me the gaps I had in my cultivation.
Looking deeply within, I discovered that the problem was rooted in my attitude towards my senior colleague and my failure to cultivate my speech. The trouble was that deep down I still believed I had been right all along and that I was the more capable worker because I had so-called good enlightenment quality, and had the support of my colleagues. I was unconvinced and therefore unhappy all the while pretending to put myself below my senior colleague—just as my mother had put it, “Since you were little, you could never put up with anything that's contrary to your wishes.”
I initially thought that my mother’s words were meant to be a compliment, but really it was a character flaw—I had a low tolerance level. I had been puzzled as to why everyone at work had to beat around the bush when they talked to my senior colleague about the incident while she herself never admitted to being wrong on the matter. This was obviously telling me that I had behaved the same way—insisting that I was right all along. Why did I feel resentful when I had to constantly make excuses for my senior colleague? Why is cultivation so difficult? Master's teaching reminded me in time,
“Actually, cultivation itself is not difficult; what makes it difficult is being unable to let go of ordinary people’s emotions.” (Fa-Teaching Given at the Conference in Sydney)
What had I still not let go of? It was selfishness. It has always been about me—I was being treated unfairly. I was right and I was more capable and better than her, and so on. In our cultivation we aspire to become selfless enlightened beings, therefore we can't stick to the ways of the old cosmos. I should have considered that my senior colleague, being my immediate supervisor, had her own pressure in that she was accountable for my performance to her supervisor. Instead of being arrogant, I should have been more humble in my role as a less experienced subordinate.
As my mindset shifted, I started to see many of my senior colleague's positive qualities that I could learn from. Perhaps she was not as capable as I in some things, but did it really matter?
The following day at work, I managed to stop myself a few times just when I wanted to open my mouth to speak ill of my senior colleague. The urge did not go away completely, however, but I knew it wasn't me that wanted to offend my colleague, but the karma I harbored. I had to use all my will power to keep my mouth shut, lest bad words escape from it. For the whole day, in order to avoid saying the wrong thing, I tried hard to not say anything. I went so far as to stay away from all my colleagues. After that, my toothache went away.
I have enlightened from this experience that cultivation of our moral character is an ongoing process. The character tests will come in many guises and under different circumstances so as to allow us to fundamentally rid ourselves of our strong human notions and attachments and to advance on our path of cultivation.