Cultivating Away Attachments and Striving Forward Diligently
(Minghui.org) Greetings, benevolent Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I am a 24-year-old practitioner. I began practicing Falun Dafa when I was nine, after my father introduced the practice to our family. One of my deepest and earliest memories of Dafa was when I was around ten. A video was played during an experience-sharing conference about how Dafa practitioners came down from the heavens with Master after signing a pledge. They vowed to save sentient beings, cultivate their way back home, and not leave each other behind. The moment I saw the painting Fulfilling Vows on the screen, I became incredibly inspired, and I felt something inside me change.
Over the years, I’ve seen many of my childhood friends leave Dafa and stop practicing. While I have never given up cultivation, I haven’t always behaved like a true Dafa disciple should, and my cultivation path hasn’t been free of mistakes. I thank Master for continuously forgiving my shortcomings and giving me opportunities to improve. My understanding of Dafa has changed significantly, and I would like to share some of my experiences with you.
Looking Inward at All Times and in All Circumstances
One of the most fundamental things Dafa disciples must do is look inward and cultivate ourselves. Even though Master has made it very clear what’s required of a practitioner, it is often most difficult to acknowledge my own wrongdoings and to change the way I think. It is very easy to point out flaws in others. When my parents have a disagreement or I witness conflicts between practitioners, I think to myself that they really should do better in managing their xinxing. After all, looking inward is the basis of our cultivation.
Two months ago, during our weekly Fa study, I immediately noticed that the Chinese practitioners were very scattered in their reading. Some practitioners were fast and some were slow. Others tried to pick a speed to unify the group, which only created a more chaotic sound. As I tried to follow along, I quickly felt my annoyance grow. This was the second group study in a row where this occurred, and I began to feel frustrated at the practitioners around me. Why couldn’t they stop for one second to listen and modify their pace? Was it really that hard to consider others for one moment? My irritation lasted the entire Fa study. At the end I felt as though I had wasted an entire lecture because my mind was so distracted.
During our group experience sharing afterward, I reflected and remembered Master’s words,
“Any problem that happens to you, around you, or among you is most likely related to you, and there is something for you to get rid of. No matter whether it’s your fault or not, when my Law Bodies are having you remove your attachment, they don’t care whether it’s your fault or another person’s. As long as you have an attachment, they will try everything to have you run into problems and have you recognize the attachment that makes you fall short. Yet you’re still looking around, “This isn’t my fault,” or you’re still thinking, “I’m protecting the Fa.”” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe)
I knew that Master was reminding me to look within, and I began to realize that the situation had everything to do with me. I had recently been pushing myself to take on a more active role in truth-clarification and attend our exercise site at a popular tourist attraction. I was quite proud of myself for attending multiple weekends in a row. I’d never been able to motivate myself in the past, even when I had time to participate. I thought I had improved, but I realized that I had not actually done well. Each weekend, I would wake up on time but then have an internal debate about whether or not I should go. I allowed myself to slack off. I would take my time getting out of bed, getting ready, and leaving the house. By the time I arrived, the other practitioners were already partially through Exercise 2 or finishing up Exercise 1. Despite all this, I was still proud of myself and even thought, “Well at least I went. Some practitioners never come!”
My annoyance with other practitioners actually reflected a much larger fault of mine; I was even more selfish. When I showed up late, it was distracting to practitioners in the middle of meditation and reflected poorly on us in the eyes of sentient beings who were watching carefully. Because I never made it on time, I also never helped set up the heavy tables and signs, which was mostly left to the older practitioners. Even at that Fa study that I was so worked up at others about, I was also late, having arrived in the middle of sending forth righteous thoughts. I was humbled at that moment and thanked Master for opening my eyes to my shortcomings.
I always believed that I knew what it meant to look inward, and I felt thankful when I was a bystander to conflicts. I now understand that truly looking inward is not as simple as seeing others in conflict and thinking, “Wow, they should look within,” but actually using every opportunity to dig deep and cultivate myself first.
Cultivating Away My Attachment to Jealousy
As I progressed in cultivation, I realized that I have a deeply rooted attachment to jealousy that manifests itself in every aspect of my life. Whenever I heard a friend or classmate have good news or accomplish something great, it was hard for me to really feel happy for them. I would immediately justify their success and think, “Oh they must have had some sort of outside help. There’s no way they did this on their own.” Or, “Well if I had that much time to prepare, I could have done that too.” In my extracurricular leadership roles, my jealousy often made me unable to delegate tasks because I couldn’t bear the thought of others getting credit for my ideas or efforts. Even worse, my jealousy spilled over into projects to validate Dafa, and I often had hidden animosity towards practitioners who helped out or took the initiative to get things done. I would defend my actions by thinking that the only reason I didn’t delegate was because it would take more time to explain to someone else and wait for them to finish; it would be easier and faster if I did it myself.
In reality, my jealousy prevented me from trusting others. I also looked down on other people’s abilities. I believed that I could do better, and I wanted to be praised for it. On a subconscious level, I also thought that if others were impressed by my work, they would think I was capable and had cultivated well. I burdened myself with finishing large tasks alone, setting aside sleep and other responsibilities because I could not let go of pride and my selfish notions. When my achievements went unrecognized, I couldn’t suppress my desire to show off and would casually mention, “Oh yeah, I did this whole thing. The idea was mine.” Or, “I had no help, so I pulled many all-nighters to get it done.” When people did ask about or compliment me for my work, I would even reiterate that I genuinely didn’t care who got credit for the work, just as long as it got done. In actuality, I did care, and I cared a lot. My attachment existed even if I didn’t think it did. I would tell others that I didn’t have this attachment and even tell myself that I didn’t have this attachment, but the attachment was still there.
After I significantly increased my Fa study lately, I’ve become more aware of these bad thoughts when they occur. I can recognize them for what they are, and I can reject them when they form in my mind. Especially regarding Dafa projects, I’ve realized that jealousy is a destructive and dangerous attachment. Master said,
“Dafa belongs to the entire universe, and not to any one, insignificant individual. Whoever does the work is spreading Dafa. It is not important whether it should be done by you or by others. Are you going to bring to a paradise this attachment that you cannot let go of, and contend with Buddhas? Nobody should treat Dafa as his own exclusive thing.” (“Further Elimination of Attachments,” Essentials For Further Advancement)
I realized that by allowing my jealousy to control me, I was using sacred Dafa projects to feed my attachment to worldly things. Instead of assigning tasks to the strengths of fellow practitioners, I wanted to do everything because I believed I could do it better. Instead of focusing on how to best save sentient beings, I was worried about whose name was going on the bottom of an email. As a result of increased Fa study, I’ve been able to cast this attachment aside and approach Dafa projects with a purer mind and heart. We now collaborate more smoothly, and our efforts have better results. I’ve now realized how blinded I was to my jealousy. My relationships with fellow practitioners have also improved, as I truly feel that other practitioners can sense if my thoughts and actions are fed by jealousy and resentment.
Whenever I feel my heart is moved, I can now consciously recognize and reject it. I know this will be a gradual process of fully removing my attachment, but I’m grateful that Master continuously points it out and gives me the opportunity to truly cultivate away jealousy.
Removing My Attachment to Prestige and Self-Interest
As a graduate student, I’ve often had cultivation tests on my attachment to prestige and self-interest. In college, I worked hard to maintain high grades, and I was admitted to a good dental school. Before I applied, I debated if I should switch to medical school instead. With my good grades, I wanted to prove to everyone I could get in. As I saw more of my former classmates also get accepted to dental school, I began to feel that my achievements were in vain. I knew many of them, and I felt that their work ethic was not as good as mine, their grades not as good as mine, or their intentions were not as valid or correct as mine. I felt that this was unfair and that their being accepted cheapened my efforts. After all, why did I put in so much work if we all ended up the same?
These thoughts led me to become firmly attached to the idea of separating myself from the crowd. I felt angry and regretful that I didn’t go to medical school, and I wanted to prove that I was better than just a regular dental school student. As I developed an interest in oral surgery, I began looking into the most rigorous six-year residency programs. At the end, I would have two doctorate degrees. I seriously thought about rearranging the next decade of my life to set myself apart from my peers. It was a huge time commitment, but it felt like something I needed to do in order to advance my career and myself.
In “Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland,” Master gave an example of a Ph.D. medical science candidate in China. This student was in the last phase of earning his degree and only needed to dissect a certain number of mice before he could finally have his doctorate. He had begun practicing Falun Dafa. The student told his advisor that he could not do this: he was now a Falun Dafa practitioner and did not want to take the lives of the mice, because it generated karma. Despite all his work, he was even willing to let go of his degree. Master said,
“Think about it, everyone: Human beings live in this world for nothing but renown and self-interest. If he were to receive his Ph.D. degree, he would have a good job and future ahead of him. And naturally, his salary would be high—that goes without saying. It would be higher than that of regular people or an average person. Don’t people just live for those things? He could even let go of those things. So think about it: He dared to forgo even that. He was able to let go of those things as a young person, so wasn’t it that he could give up anything?” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland)
Reading this story was a big step in opening my eyes to my attachments and towards understanding my true purpose as a Dafa disciple. I realized that I was exactly like the people Master talked about:
“Once he became well-known, fame and profit would easily interfere. He would think that he still had a long way to go in life, and he still wanted to make every effort to achieve some goals of ordinary people.” (Lecture Three, Zhuan Falun)
As a Dafa disciple, what is my true purpose? How can I cultivate well and save sentient beings when I have lost myself in the same worldly attachments as ordinary people? I also realized I had viewed things just like a regular person. In college, I earned exceptional grades through ordinary means and frequent all-nighters. I was not diligent in Fa study, doing the exercises, or clarifying the truth. I often neglected my Dafa responsibilities to feed my attachment to prestige.
At the same time, I obsessed over changing my path instead of thinking about how I could walk my cultivation path well. These were Master’s arrangements, and being jealous of other people was a selfish attachment to fame and renown. I hadn’t even thought about the opportunities I would have as a dentist—in the future, I would have the option to be my own boss, which would mean more time to focus on truth-clarification and Dafa projects.
I now understand that everything I’ve achieved is because of Dafa. My true responsibilities lie in Dafa and not my career. I must do well in my career in order to spread and validate Dafa, but I should never lose sight of my true purpose.
Dafa Disciples Are One Body
As the CCP virus (coronavirus) descended on the world and it seemed every city was quarantined, I began to worry and feel dejected about my future. With school closed, I had no patients to see and no reason to leave the house. It became increasingly difficult to get out of bed and not spend most of my day napping. The thought of an indefinite quarantine was almost unbearable, and I desperately wished for the pandemic to end.
After reading Master’s recent article, “Stay Rational,” I knew that I needed to use a cultivator’s mindset to approach this situation, as nothing on our cultivation path happens by chance. Instead of obsessing over when this would all end, I should cherish all the spare time I have and use it to become a more diligent Dafa practitioner.
Through the help and encouragement of other young practitioners, I have increased my Fa study and exercises significantly. I haven’t missed a single day of Fa study in two months, and every day I read at least one lecture with other young practitioners online. I now understand concepts that I never picked up on before. I now feel as though I hadn’t truly read the Fa at all in the past.
At one of my low points in cultivation two years ago, I had a long period of tribulation where I could not sit in the double-lotus position. This was a great source of embarrassment for me, to the point that I didn’t tell anyone, and I didn’t try to dig deep and find the reason this was happening. Master’s answers to two questions in “Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore” stuck out to me as I read this teaching:
“Question: My leg was injured before, but I’ve managed to sit in the lotus position. Yet of late I can’t sit like that no matter how hard I try. What’s the reason?
Teacher: Actually, you should ask yourself what the reason is. Is it because you aren’t being diligent with Fa-study? Or have you done something wrong but refuse to mend your ways, or haven’t recognized the problem?” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore)
“Question: I’ve now done cultivation for a year, but still can’t sit in the lotus position. The longer I can’t do it, the more anxious I get.”
Master said, “But, being a cultivator, you should sit in the lotus position. Let me tell you—and this isn’t a joke—if a cultivator has cultivated pretty well but can’t sit in the lotus position, the Bodhisattvas above cover their mouths and laugh at him. It’s true.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore)
I felt very embarrassed after reading this. Gradually as I became more diligent, I was able to sit in double lotus again. With online group exercises during this pandemic, I have finally achieved one hour of the sitting meditation, and I can forbear every single time. As someone who used to routinely sleep in late and take multiple naps a day, I am also now able to wake up to send righteous thoughts in the morning and complete two hours of exercises afterwards.
I mention all of these changes because I want to thank all of my fellow practitioners. I have never been able to reach this point of diligence in cultivation, and I know that I could not have done this without the help of Master and other practitioners. I now truly understand what Master meant when he said, “Dafa disciples are one body” (“Following Master,” Hong Yin III). Having this group cultivation setting has aided my cultivation so greatly in this uncertain time, and I would encourage all young practitioners to reflect and use this time wisely.
While I’ve mentioned several instances where I’ve improved, there are still many areas where I still need to cultivate well. I am confident that even after this pandemic, we will continue to motivate and support each other, make strides in cultivation, and fulfill our sacred vow. I’m grateful for Master’s boundless compassion for creating the cultivation environment I have with fellow young practitioners.
Above are some of my limited understandings and experiences. Please compassionately point out anything that is not in line with the Fa. Thank you, Master. Thank you, fellow practitioners. Heshi.
(Presented at the 2020 International Falun Dafa Young Practitioners’ Online Fa Conference)