Western Practitioner: An Intense Tribulation Helped Me Find My Fundamental Attachments
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
I am a Western practitioner in Canada, and I have practiced Falun Dafa for 13 years. I would like to tell you about one of the biggest tests I ever faced in cultivation, and how it revealed my fundamental attachments.
For over 10 years, I have worked for the Epoch Times (ET) newspaper in many different roles - from distribution and production manager to reporter and editor. For most of that time I was a full time employee. But after I had my first child I worked part time, doing some weekly editing work. I also worked part time at an ordinary job.
Earlier this year I had an opportunity to quit my ordinary job and return to working almost full time for ET. I thought the time was right for me to return and as this is a critical time for saving sentient beings. I knew it was Master's arrangement.
My Tribulation Begins
About a month after I returned to work for the paper, our media was attacked by Canada’s public broadcaster in an effort to defame it. When I read their article it had many problems and was in clear violation of journalistic standards. Many ordinary people and other media spoke out in ET's defense.
When my husband read the defamatory article and found other articles attacking ET online, he flew into a rage. He demanded I quit the paper. He had not been supportive of me working for the media or practicing Dafa in the past, but for many years he did not interfere and let me do what I wanted.
Now, it was like he was another person. He said many bad things about Dafa and our media, and told me that he would rather divorce me than stay together if I chose to do this work.
I was so shocked that it took me several days to get my bearings. I had a very clear and strong thought that this was interference. I knew I was not doing anything wrong, and he should not try to stop me or it would be dangerous for him.
Maintaining this thought got me through at first, when it felt like everything around me was collapsing.
The next time we talked he had calmed down a bit. Throughout the following weeks he continued to criticize our media, and threatened divorce a few times. I felt miserable, overwhelmed, and fearful.
At first I thought it was a test of my determination to work full time for ET, and that the old forces were trying to stop Epoch Times from expanding. But when this tribulation dragged on, I knew I had to look inside.
My Fundamental Attachments Are Exposed
I thought about the things my husband kept saying—criticizing ET’s stance on current events, and accusing us of “biased” coverage on certain issues he disagreed with. He repeatedly and strongly attacked a political figure that had a very good stance on China issues, that I thought was very good.
When I really thought about it, I realized that I had gotten too strongly attached to news events and certain political figures that I thought were doing either good or bad things in the ordinary world.
I realized that I paid close attention to ordinary news because I constantly looked for “clues” about the progress of Fa rectification. I was attached to when the Fa rectification would end. I always felt a sense of impatience deep down because I wanted my suffering to end.
When I thought about it further, I realized I had a huge fundamental attachment that remained undetected for many years: the attachment to consummation. This is why I was so attached to time, ordinary events, and when the Fa rectification would end.
But when I probed further, I found a huge “ball” of other attachments that were looped together in a big knot, connected to the source to my fundamental attachments. The more I studied the Fa and looked inside, the more I unraveled that ball.
I discovered that when I began practicing Falun Dafa I sought to experience its tangible “benefits” and as a way to “escape” the pain of ordinary life. This initial motive formed several fundamental attachments and became a block to my progress in cultivation.
“What everyday people want is personal gain and how to live well and comfortably. Our practitioners are not this way, but exactly the opposite. We do not seek what everyday people want. Instead, what we get is something everyday people cannot obtain—even though they want to—except through cultivation practice.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
Before I started practicing, my life was full of suffering, loneliness and disappointment, so I came to Dafa seeking a peaceful and happy life in the human world.
At that time, I was also not sure of my purpose in life and had no direction. When I deeply looked inward, I realized that I originally decided to practice because Dafa gave me all of these “benefits” in one: a purpose (cultivate, save people, clarify the truth), and a goal (consummation, find inner peace, happiness).
I realized that I was actually using Dafa for the things I wanted to get out of life.
My fundamental attachments played out in many ways in my cultivation. I was attached to doing things to clarify the truth but deep down, saving sentient beings came secondary to “proving” my legitimacy as a diligent practitioner so that I could reach consummation.
Even though I was involved in many projects, I was very weak at clarifying the truth in person, even to close friends and family. I often avoided it altogether or didn’t do it in depth. I became obsessed with overcoming this “weakness” in myself to “prove” I was worthy of consummation. However, I made very little progress and often felt hopeless and dejected over it.
I also often felt sad, tired, and anxious throughout my many years of cultivation. I didn’t experience the “benefits” and happiness of cultivation that so many other practitioners talked about. I also felt like my progress was slow and in recent years I didn’t enlighten very much when I studied the Fa.
I realized that my pursuit of happiness and benefits in the human world were blocking me. The old forces were trying to make me feel hopeless and unworthy so that I would give up cultivation.
“It isn't wrong for human beings in this world to yearn with these attachments for beautiful dreams and wishes. But a cultivator definitely shouldn't be that way. You may start on the path of Dafa with those thoughts, yet over the course of cultivation you need to regard yourself as a cultivator. During the course of cultivation, however, through reading the books, studying the Fa, and diligently making progress, you should clearly recognize what your thoughts were when you first came to Dafa. After cultivating for a period of time, are your thoughts still the same? Are you continuing on the path because of those human attachments? If so, you cannot be counted as my disciple. It means that you haven't gotten rid of your fundamental attachments and that you are unable to understand the Fa from the Fa.” (“Towards Consummation,” Essentials for Further Advancement II)
During the following two months as I studied the Fa and searched inside, I constantly found new attachments one after another. This time, every time I read Zhuan Falun I would enlighten to something in every Lecture. Some of the attachments I found were:
Jealousy of practitioners I felt were doing well in cultivation, or that exuded happiness and confidence, or had harmonious marriages with spouses that supported Dafa.
Attachment to vanity, reputation, competitive mentality and validating myself. This would also manifest in me being excessively proud of myself for something at one moment, and consumed by insecurity the next.
Cultivating “with conditions” and with pursuit, in order to seek resolution to a conflict and return to a “happy life”. This also manifested as my being only willing to give up certain attachments but not others that threatened my fundamental attachments.
Attachment to lust in the form of liking being admired by men. Enjoying being called attractive, craving to be noticed by others.
Attachment to validation from other practitioners to see me as a “talented” or “exceptional” practitioner, and for ordinary people to see me as unique or “special.”
I think because my fundamental attachments were concealed for so long, it gave me a feeling of being separated from the Fa, so I overcompensated by focusing excessively on these superficial things.
Now that I have discovered so many of my longstanding attachments, I feel that my cultivation is starting over again from scratch.
After digging out so many of my problems, my home environment has once again become harmonious and my husband has stop trying to interfere with my work. He stopped criticizing me and our relationship has become much smoother.
Also, for the first time I am now able to get up early to do both the exercises and study the Fa before work. I feel more calm and natural when I clarify the truth to people.
Finally, I have felt the genuine happiness that comes from letting go of the attachment to self and assimilating to Dafa. It is so much greater than the superficial happiness I pursued in the human world, because it is based on the truth of the universe instead of selfish greed.
It brings tears to my eyes to write this, and I cannot express how grateful I am to Master for not giving up on me, and showing me my fundamental attachments at this late stage.
Although I still have a long way to go and much to improve on, I finally have the right starting point.
Please point out anything that does not align with the Fa.