Learning to Cultivate Tolerance during My Truth-Clarification Work for Falun Gong

A Female Falun Gong Practitio

PureInsight | May 16, 2005

[PureInsight.org] Over the past few years of cultivation practice, I gradually have come to understand that being tolerant means more than letting go of emotional outbursts. Today, I know one should think of others first, overlook their mistakes and imperfections and be patient. I should accept people for what they are and not expect them to behave more like a carbon copy of me. It took me at least three years to recognize my narrow-mindedness, lack of tolerance and superiority complex.

It was a gradual progression, step by step, beginning with my October 2002 trip to Houston Texas, a week before Jiang Zemin visited President Bush's ranch in Crawford. I wanted to help cleanse the field in Houston in advance. I rented a car and stayed for four days with a local practitioner, whom I will call X.

There were three practitioners staying with X who could not drive, but expected rides to the Chinese Consulate and Inter-Continental Hotel. X was glad to provide accommodations but was unable to act as chauffeur, as she was overwhelmed with the rally preparation work. I offered to provide rides until I checked into the hotel four days later.

The next day, another group of practitioners from around the US arrived at X's house, including one from my area, whom I will call Y. The minute she saw me, she complained about Houston practitioners not taking her to the Chinese Consulate or Inter-Continental Hotel. "I feel like a prisoner," she groaned. My thoughts were that of indignation about her selfishness and inconsiderate behavior. But I also gave her rides.

The following morning, we all were ready to leave, but Y. She was taking her good old time with breakfast while we wanted to go to the Inter-Continental Hotel to send forth righteous thoughts. We all stood around Y and at least I was indignant and held unkind thoughts. In my mind she clearly was very selfish. My temper started to rise, but I still kept my cool. We finally left for a hopefully uneventful trip to the Hotel. Well, it did not. Y got carsick and threw up everything she ate in the rental car.

Today, thinking back, I feel very disappointed and ashamed for my lack of compassion. But, back then I was very annoyed. Why didn't she open the window or apologize for throwing up in the car? I was worried about what others from my area would think about the stench in the car once we met up.

I didn't even relate this issue to my cultivation practice. I believed myself to be in the right for my impatience with Y. After all, I did her a favor and I was rather generous. I compared Y to my other passengers and felt that they at least were polite.

This incident stayed with me, and I had a hard time letting it go. I was not in the wrong, but I felt dreadful thinking about that particular incident for the past three years. I should have been sympathetic towards Y. Yet, I shouldn't encourage selfishness either. Then I reasoned, I didn't lose any De (virtue), as I didn't bully her. I just held unkind thoughts towards her.

Teacher said that, when we complete our cultivation practice, all the malevolent relationships we had in the past would be resolved benevolently. I didn't quite relate to what Teacher meant until this year.

Y and her husband own a van. This year, they offered a ride to practitioners from our area to New York for truth-clarification work in Manhattan. I signed up for the trip. From the minute we left, I felt nauseated for the entire trip although I didn't throw up. First, I believed it to be demonic interferences, but felt uneasy with that reasoning.

Afterwards, Y and I worked together on a truth-clarification project. I became impatient again, as I saw her as clumsy and lacking good English language skills. Suddenly, I remembered the incident in 2002 when she threw up. I remembered how unkind and unsympathetic I felt towards her and I realized that I was being intolerant of her again.

It must have been Teacher's hint. I remembered a story on Zhengjian.org/PureInsight.org. A western man suffering from a severe chronic ailment discovered during a hypnotic treatment that he was jeering and sneering at Christians as they were being fed to lions. His severe illness was the karmic retribution for his lack of sympathy towards the persecuted Christians. I suddenly understood why I was nauseated during the trip. I held no compassion towards Y when she threw up in my car in Houston. Why didn't I have instant karmic retribution back in 2002?

Teacher said, "If you are given this tribulation right away, you will not be enlightened to it at all." (From "Your Mind Must Be Right" in Lecture Six of Zhuan Falun.)

Teacher also said, "But when the punishment is just for the sake of punishing people, it only weakens people's belief in gods." (From "Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. International Fa Conference")

Yes, I cannot see anything with my Celestial Eye, and thus cannot prove my point on a supernatural level. But, I am sure that I have become increasingly more sensitive to things I think and do that are even slightly not in accordance to what Teacher has taught us. Teacher said that, when we do something bad to other people, we would not only meet karmic retribution, but will also suffer from emotional self-condemnation. My experience proves to me this to be absolutely true. I "know" when I have done something wrong and I will disparage myself for it even if others don't.

I remember many of the mistakes I have made since the day I first practiced Falun Gong. I think about all the mistakes I have made and feel very remorseful. My conscience suffers every time I fail to conduct myself in accordance to what Teacher has taught me.

I remember reading a story about Teacher in China. Teacher was on a bus with a group of Falun Gong practitioners in China. A small child was carsick and felt like throwing up. Teacher picked the child up and stroked gently his head. The child felt better and did not throw up, but Teacher did, because Teacher took on the child's karma. I, on the other hand, considered Y to be a burden and did not have any sympathy for her when she felt nauseated. As a cultivator, I should not think of taking on anyone's karma, but I should have been compassionate and sent forth righteous thoughts for her. I am far from what Teacher requires of me.

I am not assigning fault. It is not that simple. I know that there are veteran practitioners who think, "If someone has admitted to wrong doing, I don't have to look inward because I don't have that attachment and I didn't do anything wrong."

These practitioners do not really understand what cultivation is. Attachments are not equal to faults. Teacher is capable of arranging one single event for many Falun Gong practitioners to expose their respective attachments and notions simultaneously. For Y, Houston's trip exposed her attachment to selfishness and inconsideration. For me, it exposed my lack of compassion and tolerance. I am sure that all practitioners involved in this incidence have different attachments that were exposed during this trip. I consider myself the most fortunate of all involved in this incident, as I have identified my problem, as a cultivator should.

Also, when I lacked compassion or tolerance for Y, I could not possibly have been "truly" or "sincerely" kind or selfless when I offered the rides, because Truth, Compassion and Tolerance must coexist at all times.

More and more incidents point towards my lack of tolerance. First, I wish to get truth-clarification work done as quickly as possible, and lack tolerance for those practitioners who slow me down or do not meet my expectations. Second, I do not wish to associate with practitioners whom I do not see as my "equals." I'd rather deny them the opportunity to participate in the truth-clarification work in order to get the work done as soon as possible. I only want to work with "the crème of the crop" or practitioners with like minds, especially when it comes to truth-clarification projects I regard as important.

From my middle school days in Taiwan, I was always placed in classes with those of higher IQ, as it is norm in Taiwan. I grew up among my intellectual equals. We were always expected to finish each intellectual challenge with flying colors and at the fastest speed possible. I was expected to meet the same level of standard at home. I was expected to be perfect in every aspect. I had little experience with people of less or significantly more intellectual abilities prior to my cultivation practice.

Before Jiang Zemin traveled the world in 2002, I asked a local Falun Gong Volunteer Assistant from China for some tips on arranging hotel accommodations in Germany. Instead of answering my questions, she was very impatient with me and said very unkind things. I was very hurt and felt let down at the time. Now that I think of my attitude towards Y when she threw up, I can understand how Y must have felt. This experience opened my eyes to what my lack of tolerance had led me to. Although I didn't actually "say" anything to Y, she must have felt the coldness in my attitude.

Shortly after I returned from New York, one Falun Gong English website I'm associated with had technical problems after repeated attacks from CCP's hackers. A new website was built, but it also had problems. Everyone was at a loss, but I insisted that the problems must have caused by a practitioner responsible for loading the articles, whom I will call Z. I assumed that if the problems were the codes, they should be very consistent. Because the problems were very inconsistent, I came to the conclusion that Z must have caused these problems. Even Z was convinced that he had made these mistakes. The problem was even more complicated to fix because Z was given very limited authority to fix the problems. This went on for about one month. Infallibly, on Monday I would point out the problems, but Z would not address them until Wednesday or even later.

At first, I tried to help Z resolve the problems, but soon I realized he really was not interested on spending time to fix these problems. I began to judge Z negatively in my mind, although I knew that I was not thinking or acting like a cultivator. Sometimes I wanted to help Z solve the issue, but at other times I thought I was wasting my time. He neither had the interest nor the skill to do this job. I knew that I should not lose my patience. Therefore, I kept reciting the first paragraph in "Your Mind Must Be Right" in Lecture Six and the passages in "Cultivation of Speech" in Lecture Eight to eliminate the bad thoughts I knew were not mine.

The problems were not resolved. I could no longer contain my anger, frustration and prejudice towards Z. I started on an email to one of the website coordinators to vent my frustration and recommend replacing Z with me. But, in my heart I knew that they would never agree to replace Z because he made a lot of mistakes. I was in the middle of the email when I realized I truly resented myself for being intolerant and narrow-minded again. What gives me the right to ask that they replace Z with me? Suddenly I realized that my old thought processes were still at work. I thought, "We should give the opportunity of participating in the truth-clarification work only to the most capable, competitive Falun Gong practitioners. Those less capable practitioners will only slow us down and cause a lot of problems." I had to give up this way of thinking.

Teacher said, "No matter whether you think you have the ability or not, you should do it." (From "Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A.")

Teacher wants to give each and every disciple the opportunity to help with truth-clarification work. Therefore, I must do my best to help Teacher accomplish this. I must support Z and help solve the problem unconditionally. I also realized it was wrong to think I was Z's superior. If I cannot treat all fellow practitioners as my equals, I don't have compassion. I also realized that all the "kind" help I had given Z must have been insincere or untruthful. I must have helped Z for my personal gain and fame.

I rewrote my email and asked the coordinator to help get Z the necessary technical assistance and coaching he needed. The tone and the language of my email were completely changed. I truly wanted to help Z do his job and I no longer saw Z an obstacle to the team or myself as Z's superior. I honestly feel now that every practitioner should be given the opportunity to do things for the Fa and I should treat all of my fellow practitioners as my equals. I feel very peaceful and kind at heart, and I feel that's the way it should be. I feel it has become effortless to be peaceful, compassionate and selfless. Things quickly improved. The English website began to run smoothly again.

Teacher said, "You say that you must be firm and sure-footed. With this determination, if you can indeed be firmly resolute at that point, you will naturally do well because your xinxing will have already improved." (From "Your Mind Must Be Right" in Lecture Six of Zhuan Falun.)

This was the first time I felt I could "naturally do well."

This experience left me with a stronger determination to cultivate my tolerance and let go of my prejudices. It took a long time for me to realize that I was raised to discriminate against less intellectual or intelligent people. I had been taught that it is okay to look down on less intelligent people.

I think it is because I obtained the Fa after July 1999 that several opportunities to improve my xinxing would often come at me simultaneously. While I was struggling to overcome my intolerance of Z, I was having another opportunity to enhance my tolerance level at the same time. Every evening I studied the Fa with three Chinese practitioners online via an Internet conference tool. As soon as we started, I noticed one of the practitioners, a Chinese woman who started Falun Gong cultivation practice in 1998, missed, added and mispronounced about 20% of words in Zhuan Falun. The first month, I thought, "It must be a xinxing test. She is less intelligent and adaptive, so she might need more time adjusting to reading Zhuan Falun through a microphone." But she still did not improve much after a few weeks.

I learned that she did not pursue her graduate study in the United States "like myself" or had not attended a good college in China. She came with her husband to the United States. I did not see her as my equal and I wanted to leave this Fa study group to study with my intellectual equals. But a little voice inside me told me that I should continue to study the Fa with her and cultivate my tolerance. This made me remembered my xinxing tests with Y and Z. It suddenly became very clear to me that I still had difficulties tolerating less intelligent practitioners. After searching inward for a long time, I realized that the root cause of my intolerance was I had not fundamentally changed my conventional thinking.

Teacher said, "In order to explore this domain, humankind must fundamentally change its conventional thinking. Otherwise, the truth of the universe will forever remain a mystery to humankind, and everyday people will forever crawl within the boundary delimited by their own ignorance." (From "Lunyu.")

I have been judging people by conventional standards, which I had been instilled with since I was little: "Intelligence is the most beautiful thing in the world." "You must be the best of everything to win others' respect." "The society does not tolerate losers." "You will not make it in society if you lack responsibility or strong work ethics." I had never truly evaluated myself or other people based on Falun Gong's cultivation principles of Truth, Compassion and Tolerance.

I may be able to read Zhuan Falun flawlessly and quickly without making any mistake, but does that make me a good cultivator? Does the ability to read Zhuan Falun fast reflect a Falun Gong practitioner's grasp of the text? No. The ability to read Zhuan Falun fast only reflects a person's intelligence level, not her level of cultivation. What good is it to be able to read Zhuan Falun fast without any mistake if I fail to actually live by what it teaches us? This is not an academic pursuit.

Teacher said, "Zhen-Shan-Ren is the sole criterion to discern good and bad people." (From Zhuan Falun) Teacher also said, "[…] female Dafa disciples' inborn quality and ability can't be distinguished by outward appearances." (From "Lecture at the Australia Fa Conference")

I think that many fellow practitioners who hold the same prejudices prefer me over her because I have a much better academic and family background, because I can do many types of truth-clarification work that she is unable to do, because I have a better facility in English and Chinese, or because I am taller, more beautiful, better dressed, etc. In other words, I have met many valued conventional standards. On the other hands, a lot of fellow practitioners dislike me and refuse to work with me in the same truth-clarification project because I fail to meet their conventional standards. But is it appropriate for cultivators to judge one another according to such conventional thinking? No. But I have, too, judged many fellow practitioners by conventional standards. I have liked and disliked fellow practitioners because they meet or fail to meet my conventional standards.

For example, I could not help liking one of the news anchors of NTDTV's Asia Brief [1], more than other anchors of the news program. Her voice and looks are very appealing to me. I immediately made a biased judgment that she must have a better disposition than other anchors based on my conventional standards and wish all the fellow practitioners in my truth-clarification teams would be as pretty and pleasant as this anchor person. Take another example. I remember reading an article on Zhengjian.org/PureInsight.org, Predestined Relationships with Falun Gong: Anna and I" [2]. The author is a veteran Falun Gong practitioner who obtained the Fa before 1999, but she concluded within five minutes of her first meeting a non-practitioner, Anna, that she was too shallow to think about the meaning of life, and hardly able to pursue a cultivation practice. She showed a distain for "shallow" people like Anna" and made self-serving statement that all of her friends are sophisticated thinkers. She could not belief it when Anna began practicing Falun Gong the next day and was a very diligent cultivator ever since.

I felt very uncomfortable to know a veteran practitioner such as the author would quickly form such as biased opinion and be so intolerant of a person who she had just met. Then I quickly realized that I resented the author because I had the same prejudice she had. We both judge people based on the conventional thinking or the conventional standards that had been instilled in us. Sometimes I do not openly admit that I want to form a more "exclusive" group, but I will make those who I do not approve of feel somewhat unwelcome if they try to join us.

Teacher said, "There is a small number of students who are privately becoming like buddies and pals—"we do things together, we're a little group"—and they often talk about a bunch of useless things, wasting large amounts of time." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference")

Why have I been having so much difficulty in fundamentally change my conventional thinking and truly embrace the principles of Zhen-Shan-Ren instead? I thought for a long time and concluded that it is because conventional thinking is a "smart" way of living.

Should I live by the conventional thinking, my life would be considerably "easier" or "more pleasant" when I do truth-clarification work. It'd save me a lot of time from helping less intelligent fellow practitioners participate in truth-clarification work. I'd be more comfortable with interacting with my intellectual equals. More importantly, my life would be considerably more pleasant to interact with fellow practitioners I approve of and those who approve of me. I would have a very time-efficient, comfortable and very pleasant life when I do truth-clarification work.

Teacher said that everyday people only want to have a good life. Isn't this a fundamental test whether I want to be a genuine cultivator, an everyday person, or a hybrid of both to our "convenience"? I have been such a "smart" everyday person and such as a "foolish" cultivator.

I had foolishly thought myself as a very smart, analytical person. In fact, I once thought of pursuing a career as a therapist because I think I have excellent perception of and an innate ability to analyze human emotions. As a result of this self-perception, I used to think that I would be much quicker in identifying my attachments and, thus upgrade my xinxing level faster than many practitioners lacking similar abilities. I am very good at writing cultivation experiences the same way I would write an analysis or an essay on a literary work or on organization behaviors back in school. In other words, my so-called cultivation practice had been an "academic" or "philosophical" pursuit. I didn't fundamentally change my conventional thinking. Instead, I have candy wrapped it with the Buddha Fa to make myself appear to be more sophisticated or more philosophical.

Teacher said, "[…] this person should also be able to endure the toughest hardships of all. He must have a mind of great forbearance, too, and be able to sacrifice. He must be able to preserve de as well, have good enlightenment quality, and so on." (From Lecture Nine of Zhuan Falun.)

As I read the above passage of the Fa, I knew I possess none of the qualities Teacher described. I have been intolerant of others in many ways because I was reluctant to abandon my conventional thinking or because I was not ready to give up my comfortable, pleasant life. Now that I have decided to fundamentally change myself, I must not use conventional thinking to help me change either. I must solely rely on the Fa, the principles of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.

I had debated with myself for three months before I decided to share my personal insights on the subject of tolerance. I eventually overcome the fear of being judged because I truly wish to help those highly educated, highly intelligent fellow practitioners that have the same problem to face their attachment and upgrade on their cultivation practice. They have been unsuccessful in their attempts to become more tolerant. I know it has to do with their previous education. This is why I finally decided to risk criticism and share with everyone my humble insights. In addition, by putting it down on paper, I feel I have made a pledge to Teacher to fundamentally change my conventional thinking and to cultivate my tolerance. It would give me a great momentum to persevere because I know it is a terrible sin if I fail to fulfill my pledge to Teacher.

[1] NTDTV: Asia Brief
[2] PureInsight.org: "Predestined Relationships with Falun Gong: Anna and I"

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