(Minghui.org) Among the three things practitioners do in cultivation, Fa-study is the most important. However, we cultivate among ordinary people, and with the passage of time, one may easily take Fa study as a mere formality and feel nothing is wrong. As a result, some practitioners slack off and all sorts of interference and the illusion of sickness karma have appeared. I also experienced ups and downs in my cultivation.
I’d like to share some of my experiences with the hope that everyone will pay more attention to Fa study and keep elevating themselves.
Reading the Fa
I used to read the Fa quickly. Then I read an experience-sharing article that suggested slowing down or reading word for word so that one could absorb the content. However, I felt that if I read faster, I would be more “efficient” and learn more.
Thinking back, I was deceiving myself as I could hardly keep a calm mind during Fa-study. While reading, I flipped through the pages of Zhuan Falun to see how many pages I had left to read. My subconsciousness was still thinking, “This lecture is fairly long (or short); this is my task for today, so I have to finish reading.” With such an impure mindset, the outcome was not optimal. Often enough, my mind wandered while I was reading the Fa. After I finished the lecture, my mind went blank; I didn’t know what I had read or, at best, I had only a rough idea.
One day before studying the Fa, I asked myself, “How many inner meanings does this Fa contain? And how many have I understood?” Immediately, I seemed to see a giant heavenly book, and so far I had only managed to flip open the cover. So I slowed down when reading the Fa, and began reading it word for word. After I finished a lecture, I realized the outcome was vastly different than before. Although it was hard for me to articulate what I understood, I felt I was deeply absorbed in the Fa. This feeling was wonderful but hard to describe.
Of course, there is no guarantee that one can achieve good results by simply slowing down. My understanding is that one shouldn’t have thoughts like: “I am catching up on my Fa study” or “What do I need to do after Fa study?” Moreover, we shouldn’t have a mindset that we already have a thorough understanding of the Fa since we have studied it for so many years; thus, there is not much left for us to enlighten to.
Adjusting My Attitude
Since we live in ordinary human society, if we don’t pay close attention to our thoughts, we are often in the same state of mind as ordinary people, and we can easily assume the state of reading a regular book. Strictly speaking, we wouldn’t be respectful to the Fa, nor would we see the Fa’s inner meanings.
So, before studying the Fa, I often remind myself: What I am about to learn is the Dafa of the universe, the most scared matter; it is as if Master is teaching the Fa in front of me. So I need to study it with the most respectful and sincere mindset.
As a result, I experienced a better outcome in my Fa study. In addition, we should respect Dafa books in our day-to-day life. That is, they shouldn’t be placed randomly around the house. We should also wash our hands before picking up the books.
Enlightening to the Fa
Being influenced by the habit of studying ordinary people’s knowledge, especially under empirical science’s rigid way of thinking, I made a big detour in my Fa study. When I first began to cultivate Dafa, the way I studied the Fa was just as Master said:
“Furthermore, upon learning that Dafa has profound, inner meaning and high-level things that can guide cultivation practice at different levels, some people even attempt to examine it word by word, but find nothing in the end.” (“Learning the Fa,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
For a long time, that way of thinking made it difficult for me to grasp even the surface meaning. Once, when I was about to take a shower, a sentence of Fa suddenly came to mind. I couldn’t understand it and sat there holding the shower caddy in a daze for more than an hour. In the end, I ended up not taking a shower.
It wasn’t until after I read “Learning the Fa” that I realized I was studying the Fa incorrectly. Master said:
“The only way to gain a good understanding of Dafa is to study it without any intention. Each time you finish reading Zhuan Falun, you have made progress as long as you have gained some understanding. Even if you understood only one point after reading it, you have truly made progress.” (“Learning the Fa,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
“Actually, in cultivation practice you ascend by improving yourself gradually and unknowingly. Keep in mind: One should gain things naturally without pursuing them.” (“Learning the Fa,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
That’s how I gradually entered into a normal Fa-study state. Also, under Master’s guidance, I continuously saw the inner meanings.
I then had another issue arise. When reading a certain paragraph, I began to recall a prior understanding from it, thinking, “Right, this paragraph means this, and that sentence means that… ” I ended up going over what I enlightened to earlier, as opposed to gaining new enlightenment.
“And with each successive breakthrough he would find, looking back, that what he had previously taught wasn’t quite right. This continued to happen again and again, with each new spiritual breakthrough being followed by a re-evaluation of what he had taught before. And this went on for forty-nine years as he kept progressing; he kept finding that what he taught before was incomplete.” (The First Talk, Zhuan Falun)
Afterwards, when I studied the Fa, I paid attention to not allowing any earlier understandings to interfere with me. I let go of every thought and only focused on Fa study.
The Pitfall of Phonetic Intonation
For a while, when I read the Fa, my voice and intonation went up and down, as I felt this was appropriate when compared to those who read the Fa in a more plain way. I felt disdain for how they recited the scriptures like a monk.
A fellow practitioner later told me that the way I read the Fa made him very uncomfortable. Only then did I begin to look inward, realizing that I had mixed strong sentimentality into my reading the Fa. Of course, when other practitioners heard it, they must have felt uneasy.
From then on, when I read the Fa, I tried to read it more naturally. I also paid attention to being clearly audible to the other practitioners. We have to be considerate of others, as opposed to only thinking about our own agendas.
Reciting Versus Absorbing the Fa
I knew that reciting the Fa could help me study more attentively. I did this for more than two years and found it beneficial. Every morning, I got up early to recite the Fa for 30 minutes to an hour. Although the progress was slow, I could see more inner meanings of the Fa. Afterwards, when I studied the Fa, I stayed more focused.
Then I had trouble reciting the Fa for a while. When I began, thoughts of “I have to recite it” or “I must recite two pages” dominated my mind, but I didn’t realize it. The effect was then greatly reduced. So, I adjusted my thinking. Rather than seeing “reciting the Fa” as my goal, I focused on “absorbing the Fa.”
Some practitioners say they have a poor memory and that reciting the Fa would be too time-consuming for them. At times, reciting it took me a long time. When I was struggling with memorizing the Fa, it was often because that particular paragraph pointed at a problem in my cultivation. Wasn’t this an opportunity for me to look inward and improve myself?
Sometimes, I didn’t realize what my problem was. After I tried reciting a passage for a long time, I still couldn’t remember it. But I thought that as long as I studied the Fa attentively, my efforts wouldn’t be in vain.
Actually, one’s format of Fa-study isn’t important; it’s one’s mindset that matters. If one focuses on using a certain form to resolve the issue of studying wholeheartedly, that is looking outward. Only by looking inward, eliminating one’s attachments and purifying oneself can one achieve effective results.
Balancing Zhuan Falun with Master’s New Lectures
Before and after 1998, many of Master’s lectures from home and abroad were published. After the persecution started in 1999, Master lectured at many experience-sharing conferences outside China. For a while, practitioners around me focused on studying the new lectures, especially the ones published after 1999. They felt those lectures were more straightforward. As a result, they hardly read Zhuan Falun in their group Fa study.
Of course, all of what Master has said is Fa, and we should study all of it well. However, among all of them, Zhuan Falun is the most important. Master said:
“Take a close look at Zhuan Falun, and [you will see that] all the Fa that I have taught after the book's publication is an explanation of Zhuan Falun. If you don't believe it, you should go and look. Cultivating according to Zhuan Falun will lead you to success in cultivation.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference at the U.S. Capital,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. VII)
Wasn’t focusing on the new lectures like putting the cart before the horse? Some practitioners went as far as putting emphasis on reading experience-sharing articles on the Minghui website, spending their time learning how other practitioners enlightened and cultivated, as opposed to studying Zhuan Falun. No matter how well other practitioners cultivate, their understandings are only what they enlightened to from the Fa and could not be compared to the Fa itself. My approach was totally wrong.
“Studying the Fa and doing cultivation are a person’s own affair. Yet often there are quite a number of students who consistently take other people as their role models—they look at how other people do things and then follow suit. This is a kind of poor behavior developed among everyday people. A cultivator has no role models. The path each person is to take is different, because each person’s foundation is different, the sizes of their various attachments are different, the characteristics of their beings are different, their jobs among everyday people are different, their family environments are different, and so on. These factors determine that each person’s path of cultivation is different, that how they get rid of their attachments is different, and that the sizes of their tests are different. Therefore, amidst the manifestations of things it’s very hard to find a path that others have made, and it’s even less possible for a person to get a ride down one. If there really were pre-made paths and effortless rides, that definitely would not be cultivation.” (“Path,” Essentials for Further Advancement II)
Of course, I don't mean to say that we should not read sharing articles; rather, the key is to study the Fa well. On the basis of effective Fa study, one can read other practitioners’ sharing articles to achieve “Focus on how you study and cultivate,” (“Solid Cultivation,” Hong Yin).
Later on, I realized I should let go of every pursuit. Such attachments may not look that bad on the surface, but they actually render us unable to absorb the Fa, which would seriously impact our cultivation.
I’d like to remind practitioners that these pursuits and incorrect states are also lives. We need to not only be able to identify them but also monitor them closely and eliminate them when we send forth righteous thoughts.
Only through diligent Fa study can we send forth pure righteous thoughts to save more sentient beings, accomplish our prehistoric vows, and follow Master to return to our true homes.
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