Changing Through True Cultivation
However, I discovered I wasn't truly cultivating by improving my xinxing and letting go of harmful notions. When conflicts occurred, I often saw the other person’s shortcomings but not my own. My understanding of cultivation was limited to my fussing less about others and learning to forgive them; that is, until about a year ago when I began to change myself and truly cultivate Dafa.
Learning to Study the Fa with My Heart
About two years ago, I came across this in one of Master Li Hongzhi's teachings:
“When some people read Zhuan Falun they are not concentrating, but rather, thinking about other things, and not able to focus their attention on cultivation. It thus amounts to wasting time. And not just wasting time—instead of it being the time when they are to be elevating, they are using their minds to think over issues and things that they shouldn’t concern themselves with, and thus, not only aren’t they elevating, but on the contrary, they are often dropping in level.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa - Fa Teaching Given at the 2011 Washington DC Metro Area Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XI)
I suddenly understood that we should study the Fa with our hearts. The process of cultivation is also the process of upgrading our character. In the past, I thought that, as long as we studied the Fa and followed the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance when encountering things, we would do well.
Master Li said,
“Although cultivation matters are discussedAttachments of the heart must be discardedWhat is given up is not one’s selfIt’s all foolishness in the maze”(“Discarding Attachments,” Hong Yin Vol. II, translation version B)
I came to realize that I didn’t truly cultivate myself. I associated myself with my attachments; therefore, it was hard to get rid of them.
After I made up my mind to truly cultivate myself, I gradually saw more of my own problems instead of others' when I encountered conflicts. There have been plenty of opportunities for me to improve.
Cultivating Myself Well to Better Help Others
Ling (alias) is a close friend whom I introduced Falun Dafa to. We could see each other’s shortcomings, as we understood each other well. I felt Ling was not only enthusiastic and generous but also kind and tolerant. Her biggest shortcoming was “not being truthful,” as I had seen more than once that she criticized others behind their backs. Ling was kind to them in front of other practitioners, while she later told me about their faults.
Whenever I saw Ling behave this way, I couldn’t let go of my thinking that she had an attachment to “not being truthful.” I felt she was two-faced; thus, I came to see her kindness as hypocritical. I told her about this problem soon after I began to cultivate. However, she didn’t accept it. Instead, she reminded me to cultivate “compassion” and “forbearance.” So neither of us changed much for a long time. Later, we weren’t often in contact with each other.
On a recent call, we had a very good sharing. When I told Ling about her problem again, I showed great kindness. I thought: “Our cultivation is nearing the end. If she still hadn’t realized this problem, our close relationship would have been a waste of time.” So I decided to remind her with kindness. This time I didn’t have an attachment to changing her. I said it purely for her own good. This time, Ling gladly accepted my feedback, looked inward, and eliminated her attachment of “not being truthful.” We thus resolved the estrangement that had developed between us.
I realized that I would be in a better position to help fellow practitioners if I cultivated myself well. On the surface, my mindset had improved, as Ling said our communication was sincere and kind. The changes in her and between us were, in fact, due to the changes in me over the past two years; it was because I focused on truly cultivating myself, and I eliminated my own attachment of not being kind and tolerant.
Through righteous thoughts, I came to realize that it was a waste of energy to look at other practitioners' shortcomings. Only by treating them with compassion will I be able to let Master worry less about me. Moreover, I now study the Fa and send righteous thoughts with fellow practitioners on the Internet every morning. I feel my dimensions are pure, and I have become more and more clear-minded in cultivation.
Taking a Second Look Within
When I looked inward again, I realized it is not enough just to be kind and tolerant to fellow practitioners. I still felt I was better than others, so I needed to discover why I was attached to this problem. Only when I dug deep into my own attachments could I really get rid of my bad things.
Master Li said:
“Our practice has a focus and truly points out those attachments. By abandoning them, one will make very rapid progress in cultivation.” (Lecture Five, Zhuan Falun)
I felt like I was cultivating on the small paths when I looked at this problem in the past. I was just cultivating my heart of endurance. I didn’t truly cultivate myself. I asked myself why I was moved when I saw others being two-faced. Why was I especially guarded when it came to such people? I was especially guarded because I had learned to do so from past experiences. I was afraid of being fooled and cheated again. So I developed a human notion to protect myself, and then I took this notion as a principle of life.
“A notion, once formed, will control you for the duration of your life, influencing your thinking and even the full gamut of emotions, such as your happiness, anger, sorrow, and joy.” (“Buddha Nature,” Zhuan Falun Volume II)
“A human notion is usually selfish—or worse—and thus generates thought karma which, in turn, controls the person.” (“Buddha Nature,” Zhuan Falun Volume II)
“Karma doesn’t have the standard Zhen Shan Ren; it evaluates things according to the standard held at the time when notions were formed. It may turn a person into what ordinary people call a “cunning fellow” or “worldly” person. When this happens, it is a case of different forms of thought-karma produced as a person cultivates acting up, and they will impede cultivation. If people were not impeded by karma, cultivation would be easy. Karma such as this was formed under specific circumstances and in the context of the moral standards of the past few years, so it evaluates things in light of those standards. If large amounts of this material are formed, the person will be under its sway for the rest of his life. When the notion that was developed thinks that something is good or bad, that person will think so as well and think that things should be done accordingly. But his real self no longer exists. His real self is completely encased and smothered by his unkind, acquired notions. He no longer has his own, true standard for telling good from bad.” (“Buddha Nature,” Zhuan Falun Volume II)
Moreover, when fellow practitioners showed both good and bad sides, I chose to believe the bad side. I didn’t realize that Ling's intention was to be kind to others. Why didn’t I strengthen the side of her kindness and ignore her bad side? Why did I instead choose to pay attention to her side that was not kind, or just not kind at that moment? Wasn’t it reflecting my own shortcoming? I found that I had this kind of negative thinking in other respects, too. Whenever I encountered a problem, I always prepared for the worst and thought about the difficulties first.
I was ashamed that I realized this so late. Ling’s problem was actually helping me to improve. I thank Master for giving this hint to help me to get rid of this big attachment. I felt relieved and extremely light in my body and mind.
When I removed the “fake me,” I found that Ling actually is a very down-to-earth person. It was I who made things complicated due to my own attachments.
A Gift from Ling
A few days later, Ling sent me a link to a video about interracial marriage. It was about a Chinese-born daughter-in-law who thought she had done a good job, but her Japanese mother-in-law was dissatisfied with her. The daughter-in-law struggled to figure out why. Ling said the video was a gift for me, and I should be able to learn from it.
When I first watched the video, I thought my parents-in-law’s past prejudice against Asian women was much greater than that of the Japanese mother-in-law in the video. (The past prejudice occurred before I began to cultivate Dafa.) I felt I had suffered and endured a lot. I only argued with my mother-in-law once when I thought she was lying. I told Ling about this, and I didn’t know why Ling still remembered it and even mentioned the issue to me several times. In fact, apart from the cultural differences between my in-laws and me, we get along well, especially after my husband and I moved out.
My first thought was that Ling compared my situation to the girl's in the video because she didn’t know my situation very well. My second thought was that I should look inward when encountering any problems. Besides, this was something that other practitioners have mentioned more than once. So there must be something for me to cultivate, regardless of whether the matter in the video was the same as mine on the surface.
When I watched the video again, I noticed something the daughter-in-law said: “My mother-in-law doesn’t like me because I don’t have a low profile.” I think this was very important for me to hear. I didn’t have a low profile either. My understanding about a low profile relates to the qualities that women traditionally had. Women were humble, meek, and friendly, and at the same time, they could tolerate and endure.
I reflected on myself. Even though I was calm on the surface, in fact, my heart was still very strong; I lacked a traditional cultural manner. We women born in the communist society in mainland China have some of these problems, more or less, and possess a kind of rebelliousness. I understand that I have to change this kind of mutated thing and restore the dignity and grace that comes with being a woman.