Cultivation Journal: Absent-mindedness and Sleepiness

Tian Zhen

PureInsight | September 20, 2010

[] Whether studying the Fa, doing the exercises, or sending forth righteous thoughts, I was often sleepy and distracted. Human notions and all kinds of thoughts would arise. This situation is now better than before, but it still bothers me. When sharing this experience with fellow practitioners, I found almost all practitioners more or less had the same problem. Some practitioners were severely interfered with. Although they have tried to eliminate impure thoughts during Fa-study, it did not work well. Sometimes they were bothered so much they could not continue Fa-study.

The reason for not keeping calm during Fa-study was because of an impure mind. With human notions and thought karma, it is hard to maintain a pure mindset. Only after improving xinxing could interference dwindle, but improvement of xinxing relies on good Fa-study. It is impossible for one to fully clean up those impure thoughts prior to Fa-study. Therefore, in this situation one has to effectively suppress interference to ensure the quality of Fa-study. In fact, good Fa-study in itself is a process of eliminating impure thoughts. Some practitioners read aloud during Fa-study to oppose interference. This approach may vary from practitioner to practitioner. For example, I do not like to read aloud during Fa-study since it prevents me from fully concentrating, thus affecting my understanding of the Fa.

Here, I would like to share some understandings on reading the Fa speedily. If one reads too fast, it is hard to achieve an ideal outcome. Even worse, one may skip words, add words, or mistake one word for another. On the other hand, I noticed that reading too slow is not good either. This is because when one reads too slowly, it can be difficult to concentrate and thus impure thoughts could surface. In fact, even if one reads at a moderate speed, it is not unusual for impure thoughts to arise. Therefore, it is critical to focus one’s attention to a certain level of alertness during Fa study. This way, impure thoughts have no chance of creeping in. Later, as one improves through further Fa-study, much interference would be eliminated before they even have the chance to surface.

Although speed-reading could help Fa-study, this does not mean we quickly glance through the text. My experience is to read the Fa without any notions, as if reading the Fa for the very first time. By considering ourselves as an empty vessel, we want to fill ourselves with more Fa. With mind and heart focused on the Fa, no mistakes are made (such as missing words, adding words, mistaking one word for another), and we can speed up the reading a bit. Right now, I can finish reading the same pages of Zhuan Falun in approximately two-thirds of the time compared to previously when reading at a moderate speed. This may not be considered very fast for some practitioners, but probably already too quick for others. That is to say, we have to decide based on our own situation. Of course, the perquisite for this is that no mistakes be made (missing words, adding words, mistaking one word for another); otherwise, it is not worth it. Besides, adjusting one’s reading speed is a complementary approach for one to focus one’s attention; we cannot rely upon [such techniques].

When I study the Fa, because I read relatively quickly and train my mind to concentrate, I often feel my whole body heat up and sometimes I even perspire. Impure thoughts are unable to surface, although sometimes I feel their existence. Because my attention is focused on the Fa, I am not aware of and less distracted by the surrounding environment and do not feel sleepy at all. I am able to finish reading one lecture of Zhuan Falun without stopping and though I am a little tired, my mind is clear and able to remember many parts of the Fa I just read. The results are much better than in the past—probably my impure thoughts in the past interfered with or at least diluted my understanding of the Fa.

There is one practitioner who did not spend much time studying the Fa and the results were very limited. Such sluggishness left loopholes for the evil to take advantage of and as a result, she was arrested. After sharing experiences with fellow practitioners recently, she began to put in more effort to study the Fa. However, her study of the Fa was still weak and interference arose soon after she began studying. I hope these practitioners could persevere and strengthen their resolve to oppose the vicious interference. Otherwise, one can hardly improve with such poor Fa-study, and as a result, it is difficult for them to do the three things well. This not only endangers cultivation, but also wastes time, leading to losses that are too hard to recover.

Feeling sleepy in this dimension could be due to lack of rest, insufficient exercise or Fa-study. If one feels sleepy only when studying the Fa, doing exercises or sending forth righteous thoughts, this is more likely because of interference by thought karma or the old forces. By then, we should eliminate them with righteous thoughts. Some practitioners often feel sleepy when doing the meditation, and they often feel guilty afterwards for wasting time. I sometimes drink some coffee prior to doing the sitting meditation and it works for me. To ensure enough time for Fa-study and doing the exercises, for several months I slept no more than three hours a day. However, I often felt sleepy when doing the exercises, especially the second set of exercises, so drinking coffee did not always help. Therefore, we need relatively sufficient sleep, plus being strict with ourselves to be diligent in doing the three things. Only then can we fundamentally change this undesirable situation.

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