Cultivation Diary: Buying a Cellular Phone

Meng Xing

PureInsight | September 12, 2005

[] I think I have passed another major xinxing test over the past few days. Last Friday night I told my husband that I wanted to buy a cellular phone and asked him if I could use his credit card because the store does not accept the type of credit card I have. This was probably the fifth time I told him that I wanted to get a cellular phone. I have decided that I really need one because our home phone line is constantly connected to the Internet, which makes it difficult to make or receive phone calls. Besides, I plan to pay for the monthly phone service charge with the money I make from my part-time work. I would still be able to share our family expenses because the cellular phone service is very affordable. The first time I asked what he thought of me getting a cellular phone, he voiced his objection curtly. But last time I asked, he softened up and agreed. But this time when I asked to use his credit card to buy a cellular phone, he refused me right away!

Actually a friend of mine offered to charge the purchase to her credit card first. Then I could pay her back. However, I felt reluctant to bother her. This is something that any friend of mine will be willing to do for me. Why won't my own husband accommodate such a trivial request? My husband can be unpredictably stubborn at times, but he had already agreed with my decision last time. Besides, even if he did not agree to it last time, I would have tried to raise the issue again anyway. So I was shocked to hear that he so insistently wouldn't let me use his credit card! After I heard his reply, I felt it was necessary to communicate a few things with him, things that I had wanted to tell him for a long time. I felt it'd be good for us to talk about those issues. I said to him calmly, "A long time ago I thought that my money was mine and your money was also mine. (It is because I feel my husband and I love each other so we are one entity.) Later I decided that my money is mine and your money is yours. Now I finally realized that you think your money is yours and my money is also yours."

In our marriage life, I have asked very, very little from my husband in terms of money and materialistic comfort. He came from a poor family in a farming village in China. I understand that it is very difficult for his parents to make ends meet, so we didn't ask any money from his parents when we got married. According to traditional Chinese custom, the groom's parents have to present money to the bride as a present when she first meets them. His mother gave me 200 yuan (less than US $25) when we first met, but shortly afterwards I gave the money to my husband's younger brother for his college tuition. My husband and I didn't even hold a wedding ceremony. We spent only a few hundred yuan on a close-by honeymoon trip to the seaside town of Beidaihe. That was all. We didn't even have a camera with us. When we walked on the beach in Beidaihe, a vendor approached us and asked us if we would like to have a photo taken at the beach. My husband refused right away. Therefore, we didn't even have any photo to remember our honeymoon by.

There are many stories like that. Nowadays many women might find it unbelievable that I have made so many great concessions in our marriage. In the case of the honeymoon photo that we could have taken at the beach, I did feel that he was too cheap and I had been accommodating. But in other cases, I volunteered to make concessions or accommodations. I was willing to do so because I love my husband. To this date, I have never regretted other concessions I have made. After we got married, I have never pressured him in any way in terms of money. When he was about to lose his main source of income, I offered to share a bigger portion of our household expenses because I felt it was my responsibility as a member of this family. However, he has never recognized any of the concessions or accommodations I have made. Instead, he thinks I should have made more.

After he refused to let me use his credit card on Friday, I felt that he hadn't cared about me as a husband should and I felt he was extremely selfish. For the first time since we got married, I listed all the great concessions I have made in the past, things that he had never paid attention to or cared to remember. I wanted to tell him that many of his notions and behaviors are selfish and wrong. I decided that it would do him good to talk about those issues.

At the beginning, I truly felt that if it were not for my husband's own good, I would have chosen to suppress my grievance and anger and then try to dissolve these feelings through my Fa study. However, as I listed what he has done, grievance and loathing surfaced gradually. My husband, on the other hand, looked as though he didn't care at all. He was smiley and sassy. He didn't seem to care about anything I had just said or my feelings. The only thing he cared about was whether I would be still willing to share a bigger portion of our household expenses. I could hardly contain myself when I heard and saw his response!

For the past year, my family has reached a consensus or a tacit agreement as a result of my cultivation practice: No matter who is right or who is wrong, no one should criticize or reproach another in an emotional way or a condescending attitude; otherwise, the person who is right will be as guilty. We have agreed that we must talk to each other calmly at all times.

Finally, my husband asked me, "Were you speaking to me in a peaceful manner?"

I knew I wasn't, but I had tried my best!

After my angry outburst on Friday, my husband watched my behavior and attitude carefully. At first the atmosphere between us was very awkward and stiff. Although I tried very hard to contain myself, a feeling of being treated unjustly would jump up and get the better of me from time to time.

For the next two days, there were major struggles in my mind most of the time. A feeling of grievance and loathing would surface from time to time, but I would quickly remember that it was wrong of me as a cultivator to have these negative feelings.

One time when I thought of this issue again, an idea suddenly came to my mind: I had been grieving and feeling unjust for myself! Only when I think about myself did I have the feeling of grievance and unjustness!

Each time I felt I was treated unjustly, the idea that I shouldn't feel that way began to surface right away. Each time it became stronger and more dominant. More and more I felt it is meaningless to grieve or feel unjust over myself.

Teacher said, "I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism." (From "Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature" in Essentials for Further Advancement.)

To tell the truth, I used to reciprocate the actions of mean people or behave like many everyday people in the society. I would talk back when people insulted me and hit back when I am hit upon. Even though I didn't start the insults or attacks, I was on the same wavelength as those who did. When people didn't treat me well, I would never think of treating them well. I have been a Falun Gong cultivator for a long time, but each time someone treats me nastily or verbally insults me, I would have to try very, very hard not to feel offended or not to treat him the same way. Why? I think the root cause must be my attachment to selfishness. Selfishness made me blind and unwise. Selfishness has caused me to be trapped in these conflicts and in my sentiments. Selfishness has prevented me from seeing the true and good solution to these conflicts.

After I repeatedly realized that the root cause was my selfishness, I was able to imagine how I would have responded if I weren't selfish at all: I wouldn't have lost my balance at heart. I would have felt very peaceful, tranquil and compassionate. I should have put myself in my husband's shoes right away and tried to imagine the pressure he must have felt. I should have searched inward for things I failed to do well. I should still have reasoned with him, but I should have done so out of altruistic reasons. I shouldn't tried to protect my self-interest or vent my feeling of grievance.

Now that I suddenly realized my attachment, I told myself that I must pass this test. It is a good thing that my selfish thoughts have surfaced all at once. Without this conflict, they would have remained hidden within me!

When I identified my attachment to selfishness, my aggrieved feeling towards my husband disappeared. I realized that I am far from being the gentle, feminine woman that Teacher has required all female cultivators to be. Suddenly my speech and behavior improved by leaps and bounds. I repeatedly reminded myself that I should have altruistic love towards my husband because I must attain the realm of compassion that Teacher has taught us. I felt my heart was greatly expanded all of sudden. I was deeply moved by a feeling of enormous forgiveness.

I wasn't trying to be selfless or feminine for any agenda. I tried to be a selfless and kind person because I feel that's the way I should be. Yet within just one day, my husband stopped feeling agitated. He told me gently, "You may buy a cellular phone and use my credit card to buy it."

Then we talked some more. He asked, "What made you improve your attitude so quickly?" I replied, "I realized my selfishness and decided it was meaningless for me to be selfish. It is an act of selfishness for two people to fight because of their different interests or viewpoints." My husband asked, "But isn't everyone in this world selfish?" I replied, "It is not definitive. Cultivators, for example, are supposed to attain the realm of complete selflessness." My husband then told me that he wasn't trying to ask me to make more concessions on money. I said, "If you truly need money, I would give you all the money you need. It is your attitude two days ago that broke my heart."

A genuine cultivator will be willing to even sacrifice his own life for sentient beings. If I ever attain that realm of cultivation, money won't matter to me at all.

Oh, I must really cultivate diligently from now on!

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