PureInsight | June 7, 2004
[PureInsight.org] I was recently browsing through a copy of the magazine, Scientific American, at a friend's house. An article called "The Enchanted Glass" caught my eye and I started to read it [Reference 1]. This article really interested me because I saw how closely it was related to my personal cultivation.
The article is about how people view other people or events with unbiased views, but when it comes to themselves, they use biased views to support themselves. As the author says, "In what is called the introspection illusion, people do not believe that others can be trusted to do the same: okay for me but not for thee."
Here are some scientific surveys that the author cites in his article
"In one College Entrance Examination Board survey of 829,000 high school seniors, less than 1 percent rated themselves below average in "ability to get along with others," and 60 percent put themselves in the top 10 percent."
"… according to a 1997 U.S. News and World Report study on who Americans believe are most likely to go to heaven, 52 percent said Bill Clinton … and 79 percent selected Mother Teresa. Fully 87 percent decided that the person most likely to see paradise was the survey taker!"
"In one study on Stanford University students, when asked to compare themselves with their peers on such personal qualities as friendliness and selfishness, they predictably rated themselves higher. Even when the subjects were warned about the "better than average" bias … 63 percent claimed that their initial evaluations were objective, and 13 percent even claimed to be too modest."
After reading the article, I came to understand how I apply the "enchanted glass" to myself even in cultivation during the Fa-rectification period.
Over the recent period of time, I have felt very complacent and self-satisfied with how I have done in the Fa-rectification. Even though I made many mistakes and didn't pass personal cultivation tests well, overall, I felt that I had done very well in my overall cultivation and Fa-rectification.
This became a problem when I worked with other practitioners on truth-clarifying projects. When the other practitioners' points were not in harmony with mine, even if they made sense, I would still feel that I was doing so well and that the other practitioner was not doing as well as I was, and so he should listen to me.
Or if it came to an issue in personal cultivation, even when another practitioner pointed out my attachment, I would tell him or her that they didn't understand my situation and how hard it was for me. Behind this, of course, was the mentality that I was doing very well and didn't need to do any better.
I looked at myself as being perfect and flawless, and doing very well in a difficult situation. But at the same time, when I looked at other practitioners, I saw their attachments very blatantly and would think to myself, "Why can't they do better?"
After reading the article, my attachment was clearly exposed. I came to realize how much this attitude of self-esteem and self-praise is an obstacle in our cultivation and validating the Fa. By thinking of myself as being "all too perfect" and being unwilling to listen to others, I was actually trying to validate myself and make excuses for not wanting to let go of attachments and make improvements in cultivation.
Master warned us in "Teaching the Fa at the Meeting with Asia-Pacific Students,"
There's something you must pay attention to: you are validating the Fa, not validating yourselves. A Dafa disciple's responsibility is to validate the Fa. Validating the Fa is cultivation, and what you remove in the cultivation process is none other than the attachment to self; you can't, instead, go and exacerbate the problem of validating oneself, even if you do it unwittingly.
The Scientific American article clearly pointed out that this problem is common with a lot of people, and I believe that it also exists among cultivators. Let us work together to point out each other's attachments, and truly look inward and let go of self while validating the Fa.
 Michael Shermer, "The Enchanted Glass", Scientific American May 2004