Reflecting upon the Difficulty of Spreading the Fa

Zhang Tianliang

PureInsight | January 10, 2005

[] When I read Records of the Grand Historian (or Shi Ji) [1] by Sima Qian (145-87 B.C.), China's most famous historian from the Western Han Dynasty, I came across a passage in the "Biography of Confucius" that really spoke to me. I closed the book and reflected upon China's genocide against Falun Gong.

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) [2] was born a pauper and had difficulty in making ends meet throughout his life. At about the age of fifty, Confucius "began a twelve year journey around China, seeking the 'Way' and trying unsuccessfully to convince many different rulers to endorse his beliefs." [2] He was once stuck between the Chen State and the Cai State with no food or money along with many of his disciples. His disciples were emaciated and had lost the strength to stand up, but Confucius continued to give lectures and play the Chinese zither peacefully. One of his disciples named Zi Lu started to lose his composure and questioned his teacher, "You taught us to become a man of virtue. Is this the rotten place where you are leading us to?" Confucius replied, "A man of virtue will continue to govern himself with virtue even at his darkest hour, but a depraved man will stop at nothing to secure his interest when he encounters difficulty."

Confucius knew his disciples were starting to doubt his philosophy, so he threw a question in the air. He said, "The Classics of Poetry (or Shi Jing) [3] says, 'I am not a rhino or a tiger, but I am wandering in the wilderness.' This is exactly what I have become. Have I done something in violation of virtue? Why am I reduced to this state?"

Zi Lu tried to answer the question first, "Perhaps we are not virtuous or wise enough for people to trust us. They even put us under a siege." Confucius refuted, "That cannot be true. If a man of virtue were accepted everywhere and by everyone, Bo Yi and Shu Qi (the two sages) would not have starved to death on Shouyang Mountain, and King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty would not have snapped the heart of Bi Gan (a virtuous court subject) from his chest."

Then another disciple named Zi Gong said, "Teacher, your philosophy is so profound that no country will accept it. Why don't you lower your standard?" Confucius sighed. "Zi Gong, you lack noble aspirations. Instead of cultivating yourself to attain the Tao, you are asking the Tao to lower itself to meet your level!"

Finally Yan Hui, the disciple that Confucius was most proud of, spoke. "It is true that our teacher's philosophy is so profound that no country will accept it, but a man of virtue ought to cultivate himself regardless. If we do not cultivate our virtue well, that's our problem. If we have cultivated ourselves well but are not accepted by any country, that's the shame of those countries. That they do not accept men of virtue distinguishes our virtue!"

Confucius had 3,000 disciples and 72 of them were very distinguished. Zi Lu and Zi Gong were among Confucius' 72 distinguished disciples, but Zi Lu lacked faith in his Teacher's philosophy and Zi Gong even wished his teacher to alter and lower his philosophy to meet the standards of the secular world. Only Yan Hui had a steadfast belief in Confucius' philosophy.

Confucius was known as the greatest educator in the Chinese history, but this dialogue reveals how difficult it is for a man to persevere in his faith and abide by virtue during tribulations.

Lao Zi, the famous Chinese philosopher and the author of The Book of the Way and its Virtue (Tao De Jing), might have foreseen the problem, and perhaps that's why he decided to live in obscurity and hide his wisdom from others. But the true wisdom cannot be hidden. Confucius found Lao Zi and paid him a visit. During the visit, Lao Zi gave Confucius a piece of advice, "The real treasure should be hidden. A man of virtue should carry himself like a dumb and foolish man." Although Lao Zi's Taoism continues to be prevalent today, Lao Zi worked as a lowly archivist in the Imperial Library of the Zhou Dynasty court at his time. No one knew him or noticed him.

Lao Zi would not even have left his philosophy behind if it had not been for a guard at Hangu Pass, the western-most gate of China. As Lao Zi traveled on his water buffalo towards the west, the guard saw a long purple cloud in the shape of a Chinese dragon trailing behind him and was convinced that Lao Zi was someone special. When Lao Zi reached Hangu Pass, the guard stopped him and convinced him to write down his wisdom before heading out into the desert. Lao Zi's response to the guard's request was The Book of the Way and its Virtue. At the end of the book, Lao Zi said, "My words are easy to learn and easy to do, but the secular people will find it difficult to learn and difficult to follow."

Buddha Sakyamuni shared a similar thought on the secular people's receptiveness of the Truth.
According to multiple Buddha scriptures, after sitting under a Bodhi tree for 49 days in meditation, Sakyamuni eventually became enlightened. He once became frustrated about spread the Buddha Fa to the secular people. He said, "The Buddha Fa I have enlightened to is invisible to the secular eye and difficult to understand for the secular people. How will I ever make them understand the Buddha Fa? They are overcome with their greed, emotions, stubbornness, wickedness, arrogance, insincerity, and countless other attachments. They have poor enlightenment quality and wisdom, how will they ever understand the Buddha Fa I have enlightened to? If I start giving them Buddha Fa lectures, they would not understand or accept it. They would even start to attack and slander the Buddha Fa and me and go to Hell because of it. Instead of offering them the salvation, wouldn't I be pushing them towards the opposite direction? To prevent them from suffering in Hell, why don't I just enter nirvana and depart with the human realm quietly without spreading the Buddha Fa at all?" When the King of the cosmos saw Buddha Sakyamuni's doubt, he hurried to see Sakyamuni and convinced him to stay in the human realm spreading the Buddha Fa. Thus Buddha Sakyamuni stayed in the human realm for 49 years after he reached enlightenment. During the 49 years, he endured countless tribulations.

When Jesus Christ spread Christianity, he had 12 disciples. When the Romans seized Jesus Christ, all of his disciples ran away from him. When he entered Jerusalem, he foresaw that he would be nailed to the cross and let out a sigh, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you!" (Luke 13:34)

When Confucius traveled around China, he was stuck between the Chen State and Cai State without food and money. Lao Zi said the secular people will find his Tao difficult to learn and difficult to follow. Buddha Sakyamuni wanted to enter nirvana without spreading the Buddha because he knew it was difficult for the secular people to understand and accept the Buddha Fa. Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross for offering his salvation to the secular people. All the saints, enlightened beings and prophets encountered tremendous tribulations when they spread their Tao or the Buddha Fa.

I often wonder: If today's people could learn from history, wouldn't they have less biased judgments or misunderstanding of Falun Gong?


[1] Records of the Grand Historian:
[2] Confucius:
[3] The Classics of Poetry:
[4] Lao Zi:
[5] The Book of the Way and its Virtue:

Translated from:

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