(Minghui.org) I’d like to share with you my experience learning Chinese while studying the Fa for the last two and a half years. I studied English literature in college and am now an English teacher. While I still can’t speak Chinese in conversation or entirely read the original Zhuan Falun, my recognition of spoken Chinese words and written characters has slowly but steadily improved, and a greater understanding of the original language of the Fa has made me feel inspired, like finding shining treasures along the difficult path of my cultivation.

I started practicing Falun Dafa when I was 17, and studied Chinese for two years in college. I received As in my classes. However, this kind of book learning did not stick very well in my brain. Learning Chinese outside the classroom always seemed like a good idea but was too low on my list of priorities to enter into my life significantly. There was doing the three things that Shifu (the Chinese term for “Master” that combines the characters for “Teacher” and “Father”) requires of us, and all of the ordinary responsibilities that kept me busy.

This was the early 2000s, and at the time I was unaware of translation software and had no pinyin copy of Zhuan Falun, so when I studied with other practitioners I just studied in English. Sometimes I asked practitioners for help on my Chinese homework, but that was all.

After college I worked at the English Epoch Times as well as an ordinary job, where I found not much use for Chinese on a day-to-day basis. I learned some Hong Yin poems in Chinese on my own, but not much else.

A significant change occurred in 2015, when Shifu published the new “On Dafa.” I had been reciting Lunyu in English at least once a day for over a decade. When the English translation of the new Lunyu came out, I memorized it immediately. Then there were changes to the English translation, so I memorized those. Then there were changes again, and also multiple translations, which seemed closer to the original Chinese.

All these changes made me a bit frustrated, and I enlightened that these were hints from Shifu that I should read the original Chinese. By this point in my cultivation, I was aware of translation software and pinyin versions of the books, and I was more frequently around Chinese practitioners. The conditions were ripe, so I set my mind on memorizing the Chinese Lunyu.

I memorized the Chinese version after months of arduous study, and I also memorized the English translation. Still, however, when I recited the Chinese Lunyu, the words mostly did not connect with their meaning in my mind. I realized I still had a long way to go in studying the Fa in Chinese. However, I somehow did not move forward, feeling again too busy and complacent in my cultivation.

A few years later in 2018, I started to suffer sudden back pain while I was doing the fourth exercise. The pain didn’t go away. I thought, “This is very strange since the fourth exercise usually feels very good, and in principle, should improve my health and physical condition, not make it worse!” I enlightened that this must be for a positive reason, but I didn’t know what. Shortly afterward, I had the opportunity to join a Chinese-only Fa study, and I realized that I should join no matter how difficult it was. As soon as I had this thought, the back pain went away and my whole body felt light.

Finding Treasures in Chinese Fa Study

While studying Lunyu, I noticed just how many times the character for “people” or “human beings,” ren (人), appears in Lunyu. I thought, “Shifu is teaching the great high-level Fa of the universe, so why is it full of a character referring to human beings?” I counted and found that this character, ren, appeared 26 times. In comparison, I counted words that on their own were entirely divine. Specifically, I looked at Dafa (大法) and shen (神), which means “God” or “divine.” These two words are also the first and last words in Lunyu, respectively. Dafa and shen altogether appear 13 times, which is exactly half of the 26 times that ren appears.

I enlightened that Shifu is using the human world as a starting point and then introducing Dafa and divine principles into the human world, which allows human beings to turn into gods, or shen, via cultivation. My understanding is that this is not to disrupt the human world or take over the human world, but to introduce a new element into it and use cibei (慈悲) (mercy, benevolence, or compassion – further discussed below) to harmonize with it, hence having half the proportion of divine words, Dafa and shen, compared to the human word, ren. This harmonious proportion also complies with the balanced compositional theory of the rule of thirds, making the divine one-third of the focal point.

The treasures in the Chinese language are too many to number, and I suspect my weak Chinese language abilities have only scratched the surface. However, I’ll mention a few here that I’ve come across, in case it is helpful for other practitioners.

The word for immortal in Chinese, xian (仙), features two radicals. The left side is a person and the right side is a mountain. In English, we only have the sense that an immortal is one who does not die, but here the word contains the rich meaning of leaving the secular world and going to a mountain to cultivate. Furthermore, the character actually kind of looks like a person and a mountain. Thus, in this character, there is the rich beauty, symbolism, and elegant clarity that seems to leap from the character into life even when looked at from a superficial human level.

The term for a spiritually accomplished person coming out to the public is chushan (出山), which could literally mean “leaving the mountain,” suggesting leaving the sacred world and entering the secular world. From the perspective of this character, in my understanding, one’s entire private life seems permeated with the holiness of a cultivator in a mountain, and only when public affairs are involved is it necessary to leave the mountain, so to speak.

The term for “paradise” in English Zhuan Falun translations in the original Chinese is typically just “world” (世界). This made perfect sense to me since the word “paradise” always brought to mind images of palm trees and beaches, something like a tropical island paradise. Instead, the idea of an enlightened being having a “world” made more sense to me. When I was young, I used to play a game that involved creating a world before playing, but I always found that simply creating the world to be the most intriguing part, and rarely got to actually playing the game. Thus, the original Chinese word resonated with me in ways that the translation did not.

The Chinese term cibei (慈悲) appears many times in Zhuan Falun and can be roughly translated as mercy, benevolence, or compassion. I knew Shifu had emphasized how profound this term was in one Fa lecture, but I could not fully comprehend it, until, while studying Chinese, a Chinese practitioner explained it to me in terms of the characters and their components, which are also known as radicals. It seems that ci and bei each have two radicals. The lower radical in both of them is the radical that means “heart” (心). The other two radicals are arranged in such a way that the implied meaning is “within heart, no heart.”

In my understanding, this suggests that cibei means a kind of noble compassion for others that contains no emotional attachment. There is no word in English that quite expresses this. We have the term “mercy,” but that implies releasing someone from immediate, often physical, suffering. We have the term “benevolence,” but this only implies a good (“bene”) action (“volence”). We have the term “compassion,” which suggests sharing (“com”) strong feelings (“passion”), and is very different from having “no heart” as in cibei.

Looking a bit deeper, the term “compassion” has a richer meaning in traditional Western culture, which is that it originally refers to the “passion of Christ” or the “passion of a saint,” meaning the suffering Jesus or a Christian saint went through in completing their cultivation paths. However, this meaning is generally out of use. The beauty of Chinese is that the radicals’ meaning of “no heart” in cibei cannot be changed.

Also, even with the original meaning of compassion or passion, there is a difference since the “no heart” in cibei does not carry any intrinsic “suffering.” Instead, in my understanding, “no heart” suggests having no attachments, and it suggests elevation in one’s level and cultivation, which leads to a more tranquil state in meditation and unlocking of higher abilities and gong—the opposite of suffering. This meaning behind cibei is quite different from suffering or sharing suffering, which is the deepest and richest meaning an English term can, on its own, seem to carry.

This is only my limited understanding of English terms, Chinese terms, and Fa principles. Please correct anything inappropriate.

The above are a few treasures I have discovered. In general, the Chinese language Shifu uses has much less emphasis on grammar, verb tenses, and fancy words. The meaning is presented so simply and straightforwardly that all that is left for us to do is change our hearts and cultivate diligently.

Perhaps all of the above is why Shifu said in 2015:

“As to surface things, I haven’t asked you to focus on them much, for those will be things addressed during the period of the Fa’s rectification of the human world. They are of too low a level for you to concern yourselves with—that’s the idea. The requirements will be high, however, during the Fa’s rectification of the human world, and at that time it won’t work if you aren’t reading the Fa in Chinese, if you don’t understand the meaning at the source.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference”)


Looking ahead in my journey of learning Chinese while studying the Fa, I still have to overcome the same attachments that prevented me from taking up Chinese study earlier on. There is laziness and there is complacency. There is a kind of thinking that this world in the West can fully function on its own, that it is the most powerful and advanced, that conveniences should come to us, and that it is simply wuwei (無為) to take only what is readily available in English as sufficient for cultivation. This is hiding laziness and complacency behind the profoundness of wuwei, in my understanding. We should strive forward in cultivation diligently.

The above is only my limited understanding. Please point it out if anything does not align with the Fa teachings.

Xiexie Shifu. Xiexie dajia. (Thank you, Master. Thank you, everyone.)

Category: Journeys of Cultivation