PureInsight | December 9, 2002
Greetings to Master and everyone!
My name is Jeff Chen and I'm a practitioner from North Carolina.
In Touring North America to Teach the Fa, Master told Fa rectification disciples to do three things. The very first one is to study Fa well and cultivate oneself well. I often found that my own and some other fellow practitioners' not cultivating well has given the evil forces chances to interfere. As a result, some things that could have been done better were not done well. Only by truly purifying ourselves and assimilating ourselves with Dafa can we save the countless sentient beings in the cosmic body that corresponds to us. And only by doing so can we fundamentally break the old forces' interference and do better in assisting Master's Fa rectification. I'll share some of my experiences and understanding below.
1. Put Down the Mentality of Being "Above Others", Solidly Cultivate Myself
I've heard that some assistants or coordinators' having conflicts with other practitioners has adversely affected Fa rectification activities. Regarding this aspect, I myself have not done well, either.
It was a relatively quiet period, before July 20, 1999, of personal cultivation. There were tests, but I could be relatively strict with myself. But after July 20, 1999, I participated in Fa rectification activities and later started to do some coordination work. Then I started feeling as if I had accumulated some type of "credit." I gradually and unknowingly developed a mentality of being "above others." I was clearly aware that my Fa study was not good, yet I tended to think I was more correct than others were. Sometimes with others, I was not reasoning using Fa principles, but was rather trying to boss people by using my position as an assistant or project coordinator. During a period of time, I was even thinking that the "Fa rectification period is different from the personal cultivation period in that what's important is to get Fa rectification things done so it's OK to have a bad temper." Exactly due to such guiding thoughts, I slacked off at looking inward and became less strict with myself.
During a period of time, many fellow practitioners in my local area had numerous complaints about me and said I had put on a bureaucratic air of superiority when talking or doing things. I thought that what I said during local group discussions was quite correct, but others said I was just spouting lofty ideals and tossing around empty words. One person said so, two people said so, and eventually I found many people all said so. At first my heart was not calm, "Am I like that? Which words or actions of mine displayed an air of supremacy? Wasn't I doing this totally for the good of each individual as well as for our local group as a whole?" My mind was really seething for a while. But after calming down, I looked back at my mentality, way of doing things, and also the attitude I had when talking and doing things. I was indeed like that to a serious degree. The thought of "being a veteran practitioner and being above others" was very deeply hidden . Exactly due to this, I gradually and unknowingly developed quite the attitude and mannerisms of a petty bureaucrat, to the extent that I couldn't even sense it even after others pointed it out to me. Just like my wife said, "How can you sense it? It has already developed into your cells."
Master said, "Every one of our persons in charge needs to put special emphasis on studying the Fa. No matter how great or how extraordinary the tasks are that a person in charge shoulders, he cannot forget to cultivate himself. No matter how much work you do, you should be a Dafa disciple doing the Dafa work and not an everyday person doing the Dafa work. So you must study the Fa. A person in charge is actually an ordinary disciple as well. Each person, no matter what he does, should see himself as one of the disciples--you have to see yourself as one of the disciples." (From the "Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A.") In Zhuan Falun it states: "All practitioners are disciples, no matter when they began the practice." (From "How Should Falun Dafa Practitioners Spread the Practice?" in Lecture Three) "If you do not practice cultivation, what's the use of carrying that designation? It does not matter whether you are from the first session of classes or the second session." (From "Guanding" in Lecture Four)
The mentality of "being above others" is closely related to my attachment to seeking fame. During these three years of Fa rectification, fellow practitioners have been fully utilizing their talents and professional skills to clarify the truth. But it also exposed my attachment to seeking fame that I thought I had gotten rid of: Who has certain special skills? Which university did so and so graduate from? What titles did someone carry in everyday people's society? And so on. On one hand, I felt very happy about the fact that many are talented among Dafa practitioners, but on the other hand, it reflects my hidden attachment to seeking fame. Once an opportunity arises, after I get something that others don't have, it could easily develop into some pride as well as the mentality of "being above others."
When I was with practitioners who have certain a prestige, I could control my emotions, talk gently, and even humbly consult them. But when I was with some other practitioners, I tended to lose my temper and blame others. And even when what they said was quite correct from the perspective of the Fa, I would sometimes listen with reservations. In fact, every disciple is equal in front of the Lord of the Buddhas. Each of us represents Master's boundless expectations, we've all been given the most magnificent missions, and we're all under the Lord Buddha's boundless mercy and compassion. There's no difference there whatsoever, no one is higher or lower than anyone else. Digging to the bottom, I found the notion of hierarchy and snobbishness that manifests in ordinary human society.
Exactly because of these impure thoughts, at various critical moments, I couldn't stand completely from the perspective of the Fa and equally and objectively discuss with fellow practitioners. Sometimes I had the mentality that my words should carry more weight, consequently I was not modest. On the other hand, without thinking enough, I took advice from practitioners I respected. Because of all this, certain things that could have been done better were not done well. This was especially displayed in the recent events during October.
In fact, more and more I see that compared with a lot of fellow practitioners, I have fallen far behind in terms of Fa study, truth clarification, and sending forth righteous thoughts as well as being diligent and giving. Many practitioners are simply doing a lot of work very quietly. I can only try to catch up and I have nothing to be proud of whatsoever. Indeed I must get rid of the impure mentality of "being above others" and solidly cultivate myself.
2. Look Within and Elevate as a Whole
A while ago, I went to another state to participate in preparing certain Fa rectification activities. Before going, I heard that there were conflicts among some practitioners there. On the one hand, I wanted to help with the activities' preparation. On the other hand, I had a subtle show-off mentality and wanted to help solve their problems. After arriving, I realized the problems there were indeed serious and felt pained in my heart. But I didn't have a calm mind to exchange with fellow practitioners, what I had more of on my mind was complaints.
What a practitioner did when clarifying the truth in a sensitive area was a bit irrational. Another practitioner harshly criticized him when talking to me. That practitioner believed that the other practitioner had damaged Dafa's image and caused a great negative impact toward future important Fa rectification activities. She didn't even want to communicate with that practitioner. I tried to mediate. I told the latter practitioner that Master told us to have immense tolerance and understanding, with kindness towards fellow practitioners, and that we should talk compassionately and kindly. Words like these were repeated several times during those days. But at the last time that I said them I realized I was actually throwing anger toward the other side of the telephone and also placing blame, and being impatient. Upon hanging up, I suddenly realized that the words I told her were like a mirror: Was I being compassionate towards this practitioner? Did I have any understanding containing kindness? Did I talk compassionately and kindly? Master said that when two people have conflicts, even the third person should look within himself. At this moment, I looked back at the problems that I had observed of fellow practitioners in the past a few days, I realized every one of them existed within myself or in my local area, with only different degrees.
Failing to look within, I couldn't be modest and kind towards fellow practitioners. Therefore, no matter how high the principles one talks about, the effect is bound to not be good. Thus, only by fostering an environment in which everyone is apt to look within and the group improves xinxing as a whole, can problems be fundamentally solved.
In the past, I often observed that this person in charge had these problems and that person in charge had those problems. It seemed that I myself was a pretty good cultivator. But later on when I started to be in charge of something, the same problems were manifested in me, even to a worse degree. From this I deeply realized that when seeing other people's shortcomings, I must look within, see it as a warning for myself and should never feel complacent since that could very well be because my attachment hasn't had a chance to be shown.
3. Put the Fa First, be Tolerant, Understanding, and Kind towards Fellow Practitioners
Reflecting back upon arguments with fellow practitioners, on the surface I was arguing for the good of Dafa. However, in digging deeper, I can always find my impure thoughts. Only by fundamentally putting the Fa first and getting rid of one's sense of self, can one truly be tolerant, understanding, and kind towards fellow practitioners. That is thus truly being for the good of Dafa.
What I usually can't tolerate is the chaotic scene happening during group activities. I like to jump out to help organize things. The motivation is for the good of Dafa, but if any impure thoughts are mixed in, the result is bound to be not good. During the APEC meeting in Mexico, practitioners held banners and sent forth righteous thoughts. Under the baking sun, some practitioners tried to sit under the few trees that were there. The scene didn't look good at the time. After thinking for a while, I felt I had to step out to help organize in order to be responsible for Dafa and because I thought we must display the demeanor of Dafa disciples. With a loud voice, I asked several practitioners under a tree to get organized. One practitioner replied, "It's so hot out there and we'll have to do this for the whole afternoon. We should preserve some energy." I said, "We came here for Fa rectification. Disciples in China walked thousands of miles to Beijing. How does this suffering compare?" Immediately two Western practitioners said, "You must talk using your heart." One of them said, "I don't like you. You're like a dictator. Go away!" I was shocked and awakened by this splash of cold water on my face. Immediately feeling ashamed, I turned around to apologize to them. Yes, Master has told us long ago about having a good demeanor, a compassionate heart and rationality. I thought my motivation was for the good of Dafa. But at this critical moment of sending forth righteous thoughts in close proximity and demonstrating Falun Gong to the delegations of most countries, my rude attitude caused conflicts and disturbed practitioners' minds. Who are the happiest now? The evil. Is this being responsible to the Fa? Also, it never occurred to me that these practitioners have been sending forth righteous thoughts day and night continuously for 3 or 4 days. If I had been a bit considerate, I wouldn't have been so rude.
Looking from another aspect, tolerance, understanding and putting the Fa first can also be tested when fellow practitioners point out one's problems using a poor attitude. One time, a practitioner harshly criticized me and some other practitioners who were planning some important events. He pointed out our lack of planning, not being thoughtful, lack of prioritization, etc. I clearly realized all he said was correct, yet simply couldn't accept his attitude, and thus developed some resistance and arguments. Consequently, we couldn't discuss things with calm and peaceful minds to achieve better results. Looking back, I can see it was because he touched my attachment of "saving face." What I thought and said were all out of a strong mentality of trying to protect myself from being hurt, rather than treating with tolerance and understanding the not so well cultivated aspects of that fellow practitioner. I didn't put down my ego and truly put the Fa first. I didn't see whether what he said was truly for the good of Dafa.
The evil forces use discord among practitioners to interfere. When not being careful, we can easily fall into its traps. But when being strict with ourselves, we can break through it without much difficulty. Recently, after having realized this, there were several times when fellow practitioners had bad attitudes. If I hadn't watched my xinxing, arguments would have occurred and interference would have been a natural inevitability. But these times, when I immediately tried to think from the other party's perspective and thought more of the other party's strong points, the negative thoughts disappeared instantly, possible arguments were avoided, and the interference arranged by the evil was naturally broken.
In "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston", Master told us "to be tolerant and broad-minded, to be able to understand others, and to be able to consider all perspectives." It is stated in the article "To Fellow Practitioners" from Clearwisdom.net that, "If we can think about whether it is possible to reach the result that we want to achieve using the other party's suggestion, consider their ideas before ours and carry out the task together as one, then this thought is displaying our realm. The Buddhas, Daos and Gods in the heavens see this as very important, yet as for how this specific task is carried out, it actually becomes secondary." I once thought to myself, "What if the other party's suggestion cannot reach the result that we want to achieve?" Now my understanding is that when arguing due to different opinions, each often grasps the other party's incorrect points, stresses his own correct points, and thinks the other party is blinded by attachments and even developed one's own speculation and imagination. But in fact everyone has both correct and incorrect points. If we can do the opposite and try hard to see the other party's correct points and find our own incorrect points, and look more at his sincerity towards Dafa, then the two parties can discuss with calm and peaceful minds and compliment each other to work out the best solution. When getting stuck, try to think, "Who would be happy about this? The Buddhas and Master, or the evil?" When not being able to overcome certain small obstacles, try to think about the great Fa rectification mission we carry on our shoulders, think about a piece of sawdust versus a furnace of molten steel, think about a speck of dust versus the entire colossal firmament.
4. Be Strict With Oneself and Cultivate from the Small Matters
From the preparation of some Fa rectification activities, I learned that the bigger an activity the more interference and the bigger the tribulations. Not to mention that the evil forces all target practitioners' omissions and attachments. When one or many practitioners have certain aspects that haven't been cultivated well, get into conflicts, and cannot have righteous thoughts, other people can see it very clearly yet sometimes feel quite helpless. In the meantime, things happen very quickly one after another, all of which have to be addressed immediately. Before you know it, another tribulation has come before the previous one gets addressed. It's truly correct that without a solid foundation of cultivation, one simply could never chant the Buddha's name at the critical moment. Yet a solid foundation is built up little by little in daily life. One must catch every single small chance to cultivate. If one doesn't pay attention to quizzes and can't do well, how can he pass the big exams?
I truly feel that in these recent two or three years, I have not been as strict with myself as I was 5 or 6 years ago when I first obtained the Fa. For example, back then I rarely made negative comments on others and paid good attention to cultivation of speech. But in recent years, other than the times when I did need to talk about other practitioners' situations, I indeed sometimes gossiped about others, especially when there were conflicts. I didn't take it seriously. Most times, it was not a calm and objective talk that was truly for the good of others. Instead it would be mixed with a lot of complaints and grievances coming from negative thoughts. When reading the section "Cultivation of Speech" (From Lecture Eight) of Zhuan Falun, I often thought, "Sigh, it's bad. I failed again to do well in most of the cases Master mentioned here." But for the next time I still lacked strong enough determination in order to tighten my mouth. Clearwisdom.net had an article called "A Female University Student's Fa Rectification Journey", which had something that really struck me hard, "One of our obligations for every practitioner is to 'bond,' which means eliminating crevices among particles so we can form an indestructible particle group." What we say carries energy and even our thoughts are material. If we often think or talk negatively, isn't that the opposite of a bond?
I also slacked off in some other aspects. These seem to be small matters about personal cultivation and not spectacular like many big Fa rectification activities. But just like Master Li said, "as long as you still have everyday people's attachments, those are what demons can use, and when you're not paying attention they can be used at any moment." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston")If we don't cultivate on small matters, as the problems gradually grow bigger, they will directly and severely affect the big things in Fa rectification at critical moments. In order to fundamentally break the evil forces' interference, besides determinedly sending forth righteous thoughts, one must be strict with himself and cultivate the small matters.
The above is only my shallow understanding. I have a lot of room for improvement. Even the same problems will sometimes recur. If anything is inappropriate or you see problems in my future cultivation, I'd appreciate fellow practitioners to pointing them out.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, everyone!