PureInsight | August 8, 2005
I. Jealousy, Self-Importance, and Tolerance
I knew in my heart when the Supreme Court denied certiorari on our Jiang case that it could have been otherwise. I think I always knew winning or losing, while hardly the goal, would at least signal to me that I had or had not treated myself as a practitioner consistently, looking inward and letting go of attachments instead of looking outward and – trying to change others.
But for the few weeks after the decision had been rendered, I was unable to look inward afraid of the pain it might cause. I simply didn't want to acknowledge that I myself was responsible for the loss to Dafa and to disciples in China.
Before I was ready to rise to the challenge, a practitioner who sent me an email, telling me (gently and with compassion) that he thought I was attached to notions of equality, that I was too attached to not hurting anyone (and hence hurt Dafa) and that while I worried about hurting others I also regarded myself in some sense as superior to many. He quoted the section on jealousy in Zhuan Falun to support all of his observations, and I have to admit I was angry upon reading his email.
I tried to discount his remarks. But it was hard as I could feel his kindness and gentle compassion. I knew he wanted to help me cultivate.
I decided to glance inward for starters, not a deep look but a quick glance. As I did I had to admit that I'd spent most of my life fighting the gods and the universe's law by trying to make everyone equal and the same. All of my jobs, even my initial work on Dafa lawsuits had been in part motivated by this notion. When I taught college, I paid more attention to the so-called less-gifted students, spent extra time working with them, and as a result, published less than I might have. As a law school graduate, I turned down offers from law firms and instead chose to advocate for poor, neglected, and abused children in the District of Columbia.
I thought of myself as the spokesperson for the less fortunate. A practitioner once told me cultivation is like having someone remove a part of your body. Letting go of this notion felt like major surgery.
What was even harder was that as soon as I began to acknowledge this attachment, and begin the process of letting go, I noticed an even worse attachment - jealousy. How could this be I wondered. I'm not jealous. I don't recall being jealous. I thought of all the times I was happy for others when they succeeded in ways that I'd failed. After all that is what teaching is about – helping others move past oneself. But still no matter how I tried to avoid or twist or change the facts, I couldn't pretend the attachment was not real.
I realized that my desire to quit cultivating oftentimes occurred when I read about the greater wisdom in Chinese culture or the ways in which the Chinese language resembled the language of the Gods or when Chinese practitioners returned from a meeting about the project that I coordinated with Teacher. Why doesn't he speak to us I wondered. Why does he speak to those who were raised within the Communist Party culture and had yet to acknowledge or fully take note of this. I questioned Dafa at these moments because I was annoyed, uneasy and a bit jealous. But as I openly shared this attachment with others at our DC Monday night Fa study, I began to feel lighter and I discovered the joy of cultivation that always occurs after we begin to let go.
I began to relax. I had broken thru a major attachment or two and now I would take a few days off from cultivation. Or so I thought.
But the very next day a DC practitioner spoke at our weekly Fa study in DC to tell us about this special meeting he attended at the Chicago Fahui. He admitted that he was happy to learn that he and not others could attend. After all how else could he feel special? As I listened to him, I wondered to myself, do I also think I'm special? Perhaps I also think I'm special? As I thought about what he said the following day, I realized that I liked the complements I had received and that while I had rejected many formal indicia of superiority in my life, at times I regarded my ability to reject – meaning I'd been invited or singled out – as signs of self-importance.
I called my insightful disciple friend and told him he was correct in his assessment, but I also shared my worry – that I had no idea how to change. Then it occurred to me to ask Teacher for help. And, not coincidentally I realized that those I most cherish in this world, those I myself regard as my superiors (in some sense) are humble and not attached to their self-importance.
I began to realize that what makes me special is not being x or y, but being able to let go of wanting to be special. I'm not there yet, but on my way –
The third attachment tolerance is not new. I've visited its painful vistas many times during the last five years of my cultivation. I am tolerant and compassionate when life treats me well. But when things get really rough, when others most need me to be tolerant, that is when it is most difficult. I judge people based on their sense of style. I finish people's sentences when I grow impatient. I am especially intolerant of other practitioners' attachments.
Looking back at the Jiang lawsuit, I am trying to discern how these attachments affected my ability to work together with others on the Jiang case - to enable me to cultivate better and to help others who perhaps share some of these attachments.
1. Illusions of superiority necessitate equally strong feelings of inferiority . The principle of mutual generation and inhibition so require as does our human make up. I needed to feel very talented to handle such a difficult case. Whenever outside attorneys or other practitioners told me I could not handle the case, I was devastated by a self-doubt that itself was generated by a desire to be special. I needed to believe in my ability to handle well whatever was on my plate. I say this somewhat calmly now. But this itself caused more misery, more tears, and more pain than anything else. Moments of total paralysis. Teacher tried to help me get past this. Whenever I let go of needing to be in control and asked Shifu for him, help was forthcoming.
For example, after two famous outside attorneys had drafted an appellate brief on Jiang that was below standard, and after I was unable to find anyone else to draft it, I realized that I had to draft the appellate brief. I was not calm. After much legal research and an approaching deadline, at our western Fa study in DC, and as we all watched the Dalian lecture together, I said to Teacher – how do I fit all these ideas in my head together. Immediately I was given three points, which became the chapter headings of the three parts of the brief.
What stronger lesson do I need to let go of this attachment? Why is it taking so long – I still ask myself that question.
2. Resentment towards Chinese because of their closeness to Teacher and/or their access to a language and culture that is closer to Dafa, closer to the Gods and closer to the place we know to be our real homes. This clearly made it hard for me to work with a considerably large part of the one body. When Chinese practitioners stumbled because of their attachments, instead of reaching out with compassion, I pulled back in a fury. Shifu asked me to teach you more about due process, but instead I complained about your ignorance. I didn't just complain, I screamed about it. I planned to move to Chicago as soon as I had time to find a job as most of the most outspoken opponents of due process seemed to reside in DC. I blamed DC for all of my own shortcomings and the one body project we could have had – thanks to me was conflicted, chaotic, and replete with gaps and therefore open to lots of Old Force interference.
3. Related to the above, is an inability to maintain a benevolent mind and kind heart. I seem able to tolerate my gaps. But when others do things I don't like, I lose patience. What bothers me the most is when others are arrogant. It offends my notions of equality. But it's more than that. It operates as a mirror reminding me of my own attachment to self-importance. It challenges my own need to feel special.
The first time I read Zhuan Falun I was in a state of joy and elation. I had searched for wisdom everywhere. I had even hoped myself as a child to write a book to persuade others to be good. But the more I studied it seemed the less I knew. As I read Zhuan Falun I knew instantly how lucky I was and what I had discovered. But I also thought, and yes, its hard to believe, that I'd have an easy cultivation because unlike most I had very little karma, few if any attachments.
Its better to know than to not know. But it's also hard to look at the demons I attributed to others and to realize these demons – all of them are also part of me.
On a more positive note, I am more tolerant than I was. Calmer than I used to be and more willing to look inward. I am no longer trying to move to Chicago. I know for now that I belong in DC.
III. One Body
As the Jiang case was a one-body project, I thought I would conclude with a few ideas about how we might become one body. I'll begin with an image I saw during the San Francisco Fahui, while Teacher spoke.
I saw all of us in another place together, participating in Fa Rectification work. Some of us were distributing fliers. Others were speaking in public. Others were calling China, and so on. But as we worked, we also moved together as dancers on a stage. What mattered was not what we did but how we moved. When one of us became self-conscious, wondering, am I doing a good job or thinking, wow I am doing a good job, or observing that another were not doing very well (not with compassion but intolerance), we would stumble and the dance became chaotic and lacking in grace and splendor. What mattered was not what we did but how well we harmonized with one another.
To me what this means is pretty clear. Its important that we respect ourselves and other practitioners because we are all trying to get past our humanity and yet also using our humanity and Fa wisdom to save others, and not because we file lawsuits or make films or distribute fliers. And of course as we know it's important to continue to do the three things well.
I'm not there yet myself, but I sense we are all diligently moving together in that direction.
Thank you Teacher –