PureInsight | April 12, 2004
[PureInsight.org] Once I talked to a fellow practitioner who was feeling upset because he believed that he was still holding onto numerous attachments, and he hadn't improved in his cultivation as much as he had hoped. He felt he had not achieved a good cultivation state and thus he didn't have confidence in his cultivation practice. He looked dejected and defeated, and he was in a severe state of depression. This was not the first time that I had seen him in such a state. Every time I talked with him, he spoke in a critical tone of his cultivation. He even mentioned on several occasions that he felt so hopeless that he "wanted to give up cultivating in Falun Dafa altogether." Yet it appeared to me he was very diligent in his cultivation practice and was working hard on ending the persecution against Falun Dafa practitioners. In fact, he did most of the work very well. Despite his merits, it seems he felt he had reached a standstill in his cultivation although he had tried very hard.
As I helped him analyze his situation, it suddenly occurred to me that, each time he exchanged cultivation experiences with fellow practitioners, he criticized himself endlessly and blamed every mistake on himself. In fact, I cannot recall him ever saying anything positive about himself or mentioning anything he has done well. Then I remembered I used to have the same problem. Often times when I searched inward, I went to the extreme and started to look at things from a negative perspective.
Sometimes I overlooked my intrinsic worth and improvements in my cultivation practice and only saw my shortcomings. When I saw my attachments or something that I didn't do well, I often jumped to the conclusion that I didn't cultivate well, and I would be overcome by pessimism and self-criticism instead of immediately starting over and doing it well the second time. I would also fail to see fellow practitioners' good qualities, but only their shortcomings and attachments. I would grow increasingly annoyed with fellow practitioners' attachments and even developed stubborn prejudices against those practitioners, instead of believing in their will and ability to improve. The truth is that fellow practitioners are also cultivators and that they will eventually do well because of their continuing efforts to improve.
Searching inward when encountering difficulties is completely different from looking continuously at everything from a negative perspective. Searching inward is not about solely looking at our shortcomings and those things that we haven't done well. I believe that searching inward also includes identifying the virtues we have attained through cultivation practice, recognizing our accomplishments in our cultivation practice, and encouraging ourselves to keep these qualities while continuing to improve ourselves. I feel that, by doing so, we will also build up our confidence in our cultivation practice. Every cultivator definitely has some shortcomings. If a cultivator always looks at his shortcomings and chooses to ignore his better qualities, he is likely to lose his confidence in the cultivation practice. I believe in that case, the evil from other dimensions might arrange for and constantly show you demonic illusions of your shortcomings, in the hope that you would completely lose confidence in your cultivation practice and in the end give up on your cultivation. Looking at everything from the negative perspective is also a reason why a cultivator keeps seeing fellow practitioners' shortcomings and attachments all the time, and turns a blind eye to their better qualities.
Searching inward is also not about criticizing ourselves or blaming everything on ourselves excessively and irrationally. Rather, it is for us to find our shortcomings, eliminate them and continuously strive forward. Excessive self-criticism might bring us temporary solace in the sense where we feel we are behaving as cultivators. On the other hand, it can weaken our faith and confidence in our cultivation practices. Besides, those who overly criticize themselves are likely to judge and criticize others.
I believe that we should look at things from a positive perspective, and search inward confidently and rationally during our cultivation practice.
Isn't it a good thing that we discover our attachments? We wouldn't be able to improve if we could not discover our attachments. If someone admits that he has a bad temper but he does nothing except feeling grouchy and critical of his own bad temper, he wouldn't be able to improve his temper.
Teacher said: "If your temper is not good, you should change it..." (From "People with Great Inborn Quality" in Lecture Nine of Zhuan Falun)
Consequently, when we recognize our attachments, we should study the Fa more, pay attention to our cultivation practice, and get rid of the attachments while holding a positive attitude.
I think when we notice fellow practitioners' attachments and shortcomings we should also react with a positive frame of mind. We may tell them what we have noticed with compassion so that they would be able to improve quickly in their cultivation practice. Even if they are not receptive to our feedback or don't see their attachments, we should have confidence in our fellow practitioners believing that they will eventually correct their mistakes and improve in their cultivation practice as they persist in studying the Fa and cultivate in their mind nature according to the Fa. I think that when we truly believe in our fellow practitioners' willingness and ability to improve, we are also manifesting our faith in Falun Dafa because it shows that we truly believe in Falun Dafa's power to improve its practitioners.
If we haven't done something well, we shouldn't carry too great of an emotional burden. Instead, we should just discipline ourselves not to repeat the same mistake. Besides, making a mistake shouldn't be the end of the world, as we usually get a second chance after we start over again.
I want to share my experience when I encountered a problem with my student visa and had to ask assistance from the international student services center at my college. I thought I would also take the opportunity to clarify the truth about Falun Dafa and the persecution to a female staff member. However, I was attached to the notion that I was begging for her help. So I fidgeted, stumbled over words and was not making myself clear while I tried to clarify the truth to her. After I returned home, I felt very frustrated and embarrassed because I failed to tell her some of the key facts about Falun Dafa and the persecution. Several days later, I took hold of myself, maintained self-assurance and decided to clarify the truth to her again. I tried to overcome feeling embarrassed and my deep concern that she might be busy with other international students' requests, before I visited her at the international student services. Although my speech was much improved this time and included more factual information concerning Falun Dafa and the persecution, I still felt I hadn't clarified the truth satisfactorily or clearly. I wondered what the problem could be. I tried to be clearer about my objective. Therefore, I analyzed the previous two communications. I realized that I had clarified the truth to her for a purpose and that purpose was to resolve the problem with my visa. I immediately decided that I should go see her again and this time I should go with no intentions. But now there arose another dilemma. I understood that although I shouldn't clarify the truth because of my visa problem, my visa problem did provide me with a very good reason to go see her. But, by then, I had resolved the problem with my student visa. What excuse could I use to go see her for a third time? Also, would she be willing to or be patient to listen to what I had to say when I don't have a good reason to go see her and when she has obligations regarding other students' requests? I finally decided that these insignificant concerns should not prevent me from telling the truth. I should let her know the truth about Falun Dafa and about the persecution. So I found a lame excuse to go see her for the third time. This time I didn't clarify the truth to her with a personal purpose and I had prepared well for this meeting. As I turned the pages containing the photographic evidence of practitioners suffering from tortures, I explained the photographs slowly and patiently to her while I was careful not to take too much of her time. I was very pleased with this meeting because she finally understood the truth about Falun Dafa and the persecution. During the entire meeting, she didn't show any sign of impatience and in fact she seemed very glad to learn these facts. I was very glad to see her receptive to the truth as well.
It's not a big deal if you haven't done well. Just do things well next time and try to find out where the problem was. There's a prominent phenomenon in you folks' cultivation, which is, after you haven't done something well, you're only overwhelmed with regret, and you don't do it over. If you regret it too much then that's another attachment. Once you've done something wrong, seen where it was wrong, and recognized it, then do it well next time, do it over. If you trip and fall, and just keep lying there instead of getting up, (audience laughs) then that's no good.
(From "Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference")
My understanding of that passage is that, when I fail to do something well, I should not waste time regretting my mistake or criticizing myself and become depressed. Instead, I should get up promptly and correct my mistake. In other words, I should do it over again until I do it well. I don't believe that I will continue to fall if I improve upon myself diligently. I believe that the process of starting again after falling down and improving thereafter is cultivation practice. As long as I keep trying to improve my mind nature, I believe I will eventually upgrade my mind nature. Some fellow practitioners and I share similar experiences. It was as if the same people and the environment where I had tripped and fallen had been waiting for us to upgrade our mind nature and clarify the truth to them again and that it was as if they also wished for a second opportunity to accept Teacher's salvation.
I believe that when a cultivator encounters an obstacle, he should face the obstacle with a positive perspective and overcome that obstacle.
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/3/22/26360.html