Putting the Fa First

A Practitioner from Washington, D.C.

PureInsight | August 6, 2006

[PureInsight.org] (Washington, D.C. Fa
Conference, 2006) "
A Dafa disciple should put the Fa first in everything
he does - whenever you evaluate something you have to consider the Fa
first." - "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston."

This fundamental concept in cultivation practice was something I had
not followed for some time.  I had been rereading Master's
lectures and articles, starting with those from 1999 and moving
chronologically.  When I came across this line, I knew it should
be something I hold in my heart and always pay attention to.  In
reviewing my progress, it seems that when I truly did put the Fa first,
this is when I would truly do well.  I had reached what felt like
a plateau in my cultivation practice, but I suddenly began to have some
new realizations and breakthroughs.  This started because I made
myself put the Fa first, even technically by having Fa study be the
first thing I did in the morning.  Assimilating to the Fa should
be my first priority, and then everything else will go smoother.

In recent months I moved to a new area and got involved in many Dafa
projects.  Because of having various skills, I became incredibly
busy and felt myself getting stretched further and further.  I was
working on so many things that most weren't getting done well and some
weren't getting done at all.  Meanwhile, my Fa study became less
and the quality was poorer because I could not stay focused.  This
battle went on for too long before I started to really look inside and
assess the situation.


As I analyzed the situation further I started to see three main reasons
why I had developed so many different skills.  One was that
whenever I would reach a certain level of skill, my ears were filled
with compliments and I would soon be complacent.  Being content
with my ability, I would move on without the desire for further
improvement.  A second reason was that I was afraid to turn down a
request for help.  The fear wasn't about me not having enough time
to do the project well; rather, it was fear of looking bad in the eyes
of other practitioners and fear of conflict.  The third reason -
the most serious to me - was a fear of hardship.  


For example, when I learned to play the guitar, I practiced hard for
the first six months.  At that point, I could get by with
strumming some chords and playing some popular songs.  After a few
years of playing, I had reached a point where I had all the basics down
- to take it further, I would have had to focus on reading sheet music,
playing scales with a metronome and so on.  All of these tasks are
what I consider mundane drills and routines.  There is no glamour
or "fun" to them.  However, if you ask any true professional, they
all went through it and have mastered all of these so-called "mundane"
tasks.  That is why they are professionals.  The principle of
"no loss, no gain" is clearer to me now.  I never wanted to suffer
the hardship of going through things I didn't deem enjoyable, even
though it was for the best in the long run.  My vision was limited
to the immediate, practical interests, and was unable to see the
future.  This mentality carried through to other skills, and while
I never really gave up on any of them, in essence I did give up on
being determined to refine all of them.


As I realized how I had fallen short, I was feeling satisfied that I
was finally figuring out this long-term attachment that had followed me
into cultivation and had hindered me for so long. Then it hit me -
there was a more fundamental attachment here:  I wasn't just
avoiding the hardship related to honing and utilizing these skills, I
was dodging every form of hardship!  But if that were the case,
wasn't I avoiding cultivation?

Master said in the poem "Falun Dafa" from Hong Yin:

"Cultivating gong has a path

mind is the way

On the boundless sea of Dafa

hardship is your ferry"

So thoroughly attached to comfort, I feared hardship and ran from
it.  Rather than taking hardships as a good opportunity for
improvement, I felt perplexed and troubled by them and almost felt like
they were separate from my cultivation.  The thought of hardship
made me feel uncomfortable and it was amplified in my mind. 
Trivial anthills became mountains and the notion of "I can't overcome
it" crept in.  It was demonic interference from my own mind that
made my trials more difficult.  My human notions and fears were
leading me astray while my righteous thoughts were restrained.

I had become one of those people who subconsciously saw problems as
hindrances to my cultivation.  I would think, "Let me fix this
problem and then I'll go read, and so on."  But really, wasn't I
like that person in Zhuan Falun
that wants to settle down his family first and then go cultivate? 
This was my wishful thinking that I could have a peaceful cultivation
environment.  The place with a lack of peacefulness is exactly the
place to cultivate!  I recall that when I first started
practicing, while exercising I would think, "If I could just move my
arm down a little bit, it wouldn't hurt so much and I could become
tranquil."  I was trying to find a comfortable way to
suffer!  Yet, if I could truly reach a state of tranquility in any
situation, then wouldn't my level rise?


The process of working on projects as a cultivator is different than
ordinary projects.  Even if one is the best in a certain field,
one must still cultivate.  Since everything is related to
cultivation, how could the issues arising within the work not
relate?  Yet sometimes I would find myself going about things in
an ordinary way, with my main goal being to complete the task. 
Was I truly considering it as sacred Dafa work?  Was I trying to
look within, elevate and harmonize the project?  Was I putting the
Fa first?  When I realized that I couldn't answer any of those
questions with 100% affirmation, I knew I had gotten off track.  I
had become like a monk building temples and doing things, but not
really improving my heart.  My work had taken precedence and most
of my time, but the sacred essence was lacking because my starting
point wasn't deeply rooted in the Fa.

Examining my daily life, was I carrying myself as a Dafa disciple in
all situations?  Perhaps the superficial demeanor I projected was
of a high standard, but that is only what other people can see. 
What I contain is what truly determines my level.  In that sense,
isn't every moment and every thought a test in cultivation?  
I had dismissed bad thoughts in my mind for a while, considering them
as unimportant.  Later, however, they became worse and more
intense.  Soon, human emotion was leading me along.  I had a
new realization about what evil enlightenment is.  In my case it
was when I came to an understanding based on emotion and then emotion
convinced me that I was correct.  Why couldn't I judge with the
standard of the Fa?  I had let my mind indulge in the ordinary dye
vat of human society for so long that my clear thinking had been
dulled.  Human things will drag us away from the Fa if we let
them, but Fa study strengthens all that is righteous, and only thoughts
based on the Fa can truly effect positive changes.  The path is so
narrow and now I see what can happen if a single step is taken in the
wrong direction.

One day I realized why it works when a practitioner says, "I don't
acknowledge the old forces' persecution."  It's not that it is
actually those words taking effect like an incantation; it is the
righteous thoughts behind them.  In that moment, righteous faith
and a steadfast will emerge sending forth godlike, righteous energy,
completely eliminating the human notion that had been so thoroughly
bound to the evil's arrangement.  Why is it that it is so
difficult for some to overcome an illness?  Dafa is boundless and
it isn't that this person is a special case; it's just that this person
is so accustomed to having the illness and going through the hardship,
he or she cannot let it go.  Before, when I read Clearwisdom, I went through the articles looking for so-called "key phrases."  "Oh! This person said this, and the interference was gone!"  Or "she thought that
and she escaped from the evil!"  But why wouldn't it work for
me?  My thoughts were human and could only imitate words on the
surface, but I wasn't sending forth divine righteous thoughts that
could truly effect changes.

I further realized that nothing on our path affects us by chance, and
none of it is human.  On the path to godhood, how could something
of human origin play a major role?  Of course, all these things
may look human on the surface, but nothing is by coincidence - it was
all arranged.  So isn't it of a higher realm?  Human thoughts
can't budge these things. Human thoughts mislead, while righteous
thoughts transcend.

A practitioner once told me her story about facing life and death with
her daughter.  It was such a moving story of sacrifice,
steadfastness and righteous thoughts. But the biggest thing it taught
me was determination.  She was trying to get her visa to go
abroad, but the visa system, which never breaks, had broken.  If
it didn't start working soon, she might miss her flight.  How easy
it would have been to follow the human mindset of "ifs."  "If the system doesn't start working, I can't get my visa.  If
I can't get my visa I will have to cancel my flight and postpone the
trip."  And so on.  Looking at it from within the situation,
it would seem hopeless, but as a true cultivator with righteous
thoughts in heart, it was only a test.  She strengthened her
resolve to go on the trip and refused to follow the tricky human
thoughts in that downward spiral.  She thought to herself, ‘I am
going no matter what.'  Miraculously, the office clerk brought
back her passport with a new visa in twenty minutes.

Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. Fa Conference:"

"Those who do well will change the environments around them, and those
who do poorly will make the environments around them change according
to their states of mind."

Master also said in his lecture in Los Angeles in 2005:

"If upon encountering trying circumstances your thinking can be truly
righteous, then, when faced with the evil's persecution and when faced
with interference, just one sentence of yours fortified with steadfast
righteous thoughts can instantly make the evil disintegrate (applause),
and it will make those who are being used by the evil turn and flee, it
will make the evil's persecution of you dissolve, and it will make the
evil's interfering with you disappear without a trace. One thought born
of righteous faith is all it takes. And whoever can hold firm that
righteous thought and go the distance will become a magnificent god
forged by Dafa."

Every moment is a test of whether our thinking is human or
divine.  In the beginning of cultivation, it seems easier to
improve because we are clearing away the big chunks of filth. 
Later on it becomes more difficult because we clear away the details
and firmly-rooted attachments.  It's like playing an instrument:
After a short initial stage, one can play some simple songs and achieve
the effect of playing an instrument. However, to truly ascend, one must
focus on the details, refining techniques and mastering scales.  

The attachments can be elusive and evasive!  They can be so
evasive that we cannot even find them, or when they surface, they seem
so complicated.  For instance, my attachment to being the best
designer isn't the actual attachment.  The attachments are really
to competition, jealousy and selfishness.  I could see competition
and selfishness, but jealousy evaded me for a while.  When I would
hear someone say, "Wow! That person is so talented!"  My first
thought was, "I need to learn that! I could do it too!"  I wanted
that same respect, which revealed another attachment—to reputation.

One last understanding I would like to share is about failing
tests.  Along my path, I have not passed some tests well or have
failed them altogether.  Quite often I would get so upset and down
on myself, it was hard to go on.  In extreme cases, I would spend
much time in regret and self-pity.  While I was in this state, I
could do nothing well.  This mentality is rooted in emotion. 
When I was younger, I used to act sad so I could get attention from
others when they tried to cheer me up.  I subconsciously brought
this mentality into cultivation, thinking that if I talked to other
practitioners, they would cheer me up.  Actually, what would
happen when I spoke to them was not that they would patronize me or say
what I did was ok.  Rather, they would encourage me to do better,
study more and keep righteous thoughts.  That is indeed what I
needed to do.  Those self-defeating thoughts only serve to slow me
down on my path of Fa-rectification, and the sentient beings that are
counting on me cannot wait.  

Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in 2003:"

"Just do well next time, that's all, and don't dwell on it as if it
were so grave. If in your mind you take it to be so grave it'll create
another situation where you feel pressured by regret and worry, and
then you will sink into the attachment and you won't be able to break
out of it. The whole cultivation process of a Dafa disciple is a
process of removing human attachments. No matter what it is you've
experienced, as soon as you realize the problem just correct it
immediately; if you fall, just get up and continue to do what a Dafa
disciple should do."

I came to a new realization of this when I had a conflict
recently.  It was something minor that was inconsiderate of a
fellow practitioner, but I felt really bad about it.  But then I
realized that I should keep it in mind in the future, and become more
selfless.  Thus, instead of letting it interfere with me, I
enlightened to a new understanding and strengthened my will to improve
and become a more determined practitioner.

I would like to close with a poem from Master called, "Righteous Thoughts, Righteous Actions":

"A Great Enlightened Being does not fear hardship

Having forged an adamantine will

And with no attachment to living or dying

He walks his path of Fa-rectification openly and nobly'"

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