Notes of Cultivation: Being “Cleansed” (Part Two)

– Looking Back on My Cultivation Journey
Tian Zhen

PureInsight | December 13, 2020



Studying the Fa and Obtaining the Fa
In various Fa teachings and scriptures, Master has reminded us many times to study more Fa and study it well. We have kept this in mind and try to put it in practice. Fa study is the fundamental guarantee for our cultivation and the prerequisite for us Dafa disciples to do the three things well, “cleanse” ourselves, save sentient beings, and fulfil our missions. Every day I try to ensure both quality and quantity of Fa study. However, the time spent daily for Fa study is not fixed. I usually join a Fa study group and read one lecture of Zhuan Falun in the early morning. I then read half a lecture alone and spend another half hour reading other Fa teachings. This totals two to two and a half hours of daily Fa study. On days with in-person group Fa study, I spend about three hours studying the Fa. It is hard to find a universal standard for the duration of daily Fa study. One must decide for oneself based on one’s own specific situations.

I used to study the Fa with my legs half crossed (half-lotus position), fearing that fully crossing my legs (full-lotus position) might cause leg pain and distract me from Fa study. Frankly, I did not want to bear the possible pain and was unwilling to suffer that bit of hardship. Later I decided that this should not continue forever. It was time to change my leg position, so I started studying the Fa in the full-lotus position. As I was able to sit in full-lotus for longer durations, I barely felt any leg pain after finishing a lecture of Zhuan Falun, so my Fa study was not disturbed. I spend longer reading the English translation of Zhuan Falun than the Chinese version, and it takes one and a half hours to read the longest lecture. Nonetheless, I can still sit in full-lotus with ease until the end, and only occasionally in the last several minutes do I feel some pain in the right thigh. These are just superficial formalities, which are, of course, also important and indispensable. I have found through my own experiences that one’s state of mind during Fa study is key.

As I see it, when there is serious interference from human attachments, I might study the Fa less, negatively impacting the quantity of Fa study, which I can easily notice. On the contrary, the extent to which the quality of Fa study is compromised is normally invisible, hard to evaluate, and often unnoticeable. On the surface, everyone studies the Fa and seems to be attentive and invested, yet the effect of Fa study and quantity obtained through Fa study may differ significantly among individuals. Some absorb the Fa in their hearts because they have a tranquil mind; some may fail to absorb and obtain the Fa they study due to interference in their mind. The same person might even achieve significantly different results from Fa study at different times under different circumstances and states. However, this is difficult to detect on the surface. I deeply understand this from experience: while studying the Fa, normally others cannot tell my state or how much interference I have. Sometimes even I cannot realize what is actually happening, and even if I realize it, I can only perceive the general situation on the surface. In fact, after Fa study, it is difficult for me to see clearly how much Fa I solidly learned and obtained and how much was missed.

Human attachments are eliminated during the course of Fa study. The more attachments are eliminated, the purer the mind, the less the interference, the better the effects of Fa study, and the faster one improves. On the other hand, attachments that have not been completely relinquished yet will interfere with and compromise Fa study. This is one of the barriers for obtaining the Fa and improving. So from a certain perspective, Fa study and attainment go hand in hand with eliminating human attachments. Our conscious mind plays a key role during proactive Fa study and suppresses our attachments. This may result in a positive cycle: Fa study becomes better and attachments become weaker, which benefits further Fa study and attainment.

In the past, it was not easy for me to ensure the quality of Fa study every day, at least not as easy as I thought it would be. This was especially so when studying Zhuan Falun. When I read other Fa teachings or scriptures alone, I can stay focused for quite a long time without any interference, but when I read Zhuan Falun, I am easily distracted. Distracting thoughts would imperceptibly appear one after another, obsessing over this or that. Several seconds or longer would pass before I suddenly noticed it, and I realized I had no impression of the Fa I had just read. I would then try to eliminate interference and concentrate on the Fa, but my mind would likely wander off again later. While studying the Fa in the evening, sometimes I would inadvertently doze off, half-asleep and half-awake, and then suddenly wake up and realize that I had just closed my eyes for several seconds. The situation is much better now as distracting thoughts no longer interfere as frequently or strongly, and each time the interference lasts shorter than before and can be quickly detected and suppressed. Sometimes I realize that a transient thought flashes by while I read the Fa. I would adjust myself and ensure I am focused. It is still difficult to stay completely undisturbed by human attachments during Fa study. After all, the mind has not yet achieved extreme purity. “It is because your mind is not clean that you are unable to achieve tranquility” (Zhuan Falun).

During group Fa study, it is usually easier to stay alert and focused. However, I find that sometimes it is even harder to focus in groups than alone. My mind may also wander, sometimes pretty badly. The triggers for distraction and thoughts running through my mind often differ from those during Fa study alone. Since around April 2016, almost every early morning I join an English Fa study group with fellow practitioners from different states via phone conference call. We take turns reading Zhuan Falun and one of the other Fa teachings each time we finish Zhuan Falun. What happened almost every day for a while was if everyone read correctly and fluently, I would be able to concentrate on the Fa and was seldom distracted. However, once someone could not read that well, distracting thoughts would arise and seriously interfere with me. There used to be fellow practitioners with thick accents who read many words incorrectly and read pretty slowly. When they read, I felt uneasy and could not help but shift my focus from the Fa onto their reading problems. It was impractical for the rest of the group to frequently correct the person making mistakes. That is one reason why some mistakes kept occurring, which allowed my attachments to repeatedly interfere with me. I would think to myself, “No way! He cannot read the words correctly but is still trying to muddle through. Is he aware that he cannot read so many words? Why doesn’t he do some homework in advance? He should at least learn how to read by listening to others.” When it was my turn, I was pleased with myself if I read pretty fluently, but I would feel pretty upset if I failed to read fluently or made mistakes. Every time I was distracted by my own thoughts, I would always ask and remind myself, “How come I still have these chaotic attachments? How can I study the Fa like this? It is disrespectful to the Fa! What strong attachments they are! What little magnanimity! Unable to tolerate others’ shortcomings! Attached to teaching others and showing off!” There was a battle between rationality (or righteous thoughts) and human attachments, with each side fluctuating. In fact, due to my lack of English mastery and poor eyesight, I used to read Fa aloud pretty slowly, but I have been improving since joining the group. Later when I became faster, I thought I read almost as fast as Western practitioners until a Western practitioner pointed out that I was not that fast. This perspective made it clear to me that sometimes external reminders or hints are necessary to help me realize my own problems because my self-perception usually differs from others’ perception of me. My own self-perception is subjective and may even be idealistic and thus unreliable.

Master has emphasized multiple times the importance of studying the Fa with a calm mind. Master said in Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A., “So when you study the Fa, don't just go through the motions. You have to calm your mind when you read it, and truly study it. Don't let your mind sneak away from you. Once your mind wanders off, you'll be studying in vain. If we look at it from another angle, when you study the Fa and your mind isn't on the Fa, it's not only a problem of just going through the motions, but also that the person studying the Fa is actually not being very respectful of the Fa. How could the Fa reveal itself, then?”

In my case, however, when my attachments interfered with me, my mind would wander and be hard to pull back! Whenever this occurred, I would immediately be on my guard, but the attachments were not easy to suppress, much less completely eliminate on the spot. Instead, they re-emerged, and I had to relinquish them again and again. Thus the battle went back and forth. I did not achieve significant breakthroughs in days. It was not until several months later that those distracting attachments were finally almost cleaned up.

Most of the Western fellow practitioners read pretty fast. One Western practitioner was in the group for a while but later stopped participating because there were, as she said, “slow readers.” Back then I was one of the slow readers but did not realize it. Upon realizing, I felt sorry since I contributed to her leaving, and I must have also given the other Western practitioners a hard time. In my state, another fellow practitioner joins the group every morning and is one of the veteran Western members of the group. Once he told me frankly that for a while, he also felt uneasy when slow readers read the Fa. He would become irritated, worrying that the slow readers would drag along and take extra time, which was tight in the early morning. But he knew that this was not a righteous thought, that he should be tolerant and eliminate his impatience, and that he should not be attached to saving that bit of time. He knew that cultivating the heart was more important than saving a little bit of time. Later his mind became calm and was no longer distracted. The above cases clarified to me that whether one treats a situation with human thinking or righteous thoughts based on the Fa while cultivating oneself can lead to strikingly different results.

Recently an elderly lady fellow practitioner told me a story about her studying the Fa with another elderly practitioner over the phone. The other practitioner frequently makes mistakes while reading the Fa, either by reading Chinese characters incorrectly, adding characters, or leaving them out. At first this lady always stopped the other practitioner to correct the mistakes. The other practitioner got pretty upset, sometimes denied making mistakes, and later furiously rebuked her. Afterwards, she did not dare point out or correct the other practitioner’s mistakes anymore. Even with just two practitioners studying the Fa together, there can still be xinxing tests that present opportunities to look inward, cultivate the heart, and further purify one’s state of mind for Fa study. If mistakes are frequently made, is it because we are not focused or formed a bad habit of carelessness? Do we frankly admit and correct the mistakes when they occur? Do we have a mentality against criticism from others? When someone points out someone else’s mistakes, do both parties speak out of kindness without obtrusive factors mixed in the words? Are we afraid of offending others? Do we have enough magnanimity for others? Different individuals’ attachments and clashes between attachments may manifest differently, so there may be many opportunities to cultivate. How one handles these opportunities may impact Fa study and xinxing improvement differently.

Human attachments can manifest many ways, and anything may become an attachment. In the early mornings, we take turns reading the Fa in order of joining time. Most fellow practitioners join on time, but I think that may feel a bit rushed and affect the beginning of Fa study, so I dial in several minutes before the starting time. I have been first to join every morning over the last several months, so I always read first. Occasionally I am late and feel bad for missing the beginning of Fa study. In fact, I have the human notion that I might give other practitioners the impression that I cannot be consistent every day. Whenever I have that feeling, I realize I have not yet completely relinquished the attachment to saving face. Attachments and human notions may be exposed at any time. However, I sometimes feel uneasy always being first because I do not like drawing attention. One morning I waited several minutes before a Western practitioner joined after the starting time. I greeted him and asked, “Shall we start?” “Okay,” he replied and started reading. According to usual practice, he should have read after me. The moment he started, I was puzzled and then immediately came to understand: “Oh, this is to remind me of my attachments. I should not be attached to being the first to read the Fa every day or form the notion that whoever comes first reads first.”

I notice that some fellow practitioners listen to recordings of Master’s Fa teachings while driving; some listen while cooking in restaurant kitchens; some listen while doing chores at home; some listen while doing other things. They listen to the Fa either because they want to make good use of time and do more Fa study or because their work is too busy to find time for Fa study, so they listen while working. My understanding is that their intention is good, but listening to the Fa while doing something else does not seem appropriate by Fa standards. While driving, you have to focus on safety and the road no matter how skilled your driving is, how familiar you are with the route, or how simple the road conditions are. The situation while cooking is also not simple and may be even more complicated as you need to consider the recipe, quantity, procedure, and so on. You must constantly cook and interact with other co-workers. Master has made it really clear in Fa-Lecture at the Conference in Florida, U.S.A., “Once your mind wanders off, you'll be studying in vain.” We must put thought into whatever we do. From the perspective of Fa study, is our mind not wondering off all the time while doing something else? Then the Fa may not reveal itself if we study this way. I assume there are no exceptions just because our intention is good. Even if we do not need to put much thought into our other activity, we are still doing something else and not exclusively dedicated to Fa study. We would hear a couple sentences by Master one moment but then hear nothing while busy working or talking to others. The recordings of Master’s Fa teachings are the Great Law of the cosmos taught by the Creator in His own voice. Honestly, I do not think they can be treated so casually. Is this not an issue of being disrespectful toward Master and the Fa? I find it really unsettling. I believe that we need to try our best to dedicate time for Fa study every day no matter how busy we are, which is undoubtedly achievable as long as we have this wish and strong righteous thoughts and manage our schedule properly. Master has also shed light on this point in Explaining the Fa during the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference, “Could it just be that you're not balancing these things well? Then just prioritize and plan things well. It's really simple. Actually, I've already discussed this very clearly in Zhuan Falun.  Studying the Fa well definitely won't affect anything of yours in your cultivation, and on the contrary, it will help you get twice the results at your job or with your schoolwork with half the effort.”

I normally do not have a very tight daily schedule, so it seems like easy fault-finding when I talk about squeezing time for Fa study. But I do believe that we can squeeze time because this is in line with the Fa, and Master will arrange for it to happen. The only question is whether we want to faithfully put it into practice. Sometimes I am stuck with a very tight schedule. After moving to my current state, I worked as a tour guide for several summers, often having to work 14 hours a day. During that time it was difficult to make time for more Fa study, so I tried to ensure what I consider the least amount of Fa study, namely, one lecture of Zhuan Falun a day, either with the group by phone or by myself. This was always achievable.

Master says in Zhuan Falun, “it is difficult to obtain the Fa.” How vast and profound is this simple sentence of the Fa? I cannot see it and can only share my limited understandings. For the beings in the cosmos, it is extremely difficult, and simply impossible for most, to enter the gate of the Great Law and cultivate in it. Master has said in Touring North America to Teach the Fa, “No matter what, though, to have obtained Dafa is the most fortunate of the most fortunate things, so you have to make good use of this period of time, bring yourself to truly cultivate and truly obtain the Fa, and ascend in cultivation. Not everybody can obtain the Fa, and not everybody can enter, because this is the Great Fa of the cosmos.” It is impossible for those who were not chosen to enter and obtain the Fa. There are roughly 100 million Dafa disciples around the world, which may sound like a large number. Yet there are about seven billion people on Earth. In other words, Dafa disciples account for only 1/70 of the global population. Then what about in the whole cosmos with countless beings? As for the number itself, 100 million is an extremely tiny number compared to infinity. This indicates how rare it is for beings to obtain the Fa. Does this mean that one has obtained the Fa if one starts cultivating in Dafa? Perhaps this cannot be simply generalized. As Dafa cultivators, we need to study the Fa, do the exercises, send righteous thoughts, and clarify the truth. These are necessary tangible acts in this human realm, but doing them does not necessarily mean we have obtained the Fa or indicate how much Fa we have obtained. Only when we sincerely study the Fa, cultivate internally, relinquish attachments, and do the three things whole-heartedly can we obtain the Fa and solidly improve. Even if one has genuinely obtained the Fa, there is still the question of how much Fa one can obtain and consequently what level or realm one can reach. Then there is the question of whether one can obtain the Fa at higher levels. Then what about the Fa at even higher levels and extremely high levels? And what about the ultimate Fa at the highest level? Can we obtain it? It gets more difficult and is directly determined by the origin of one’s being. It is definitely not something that someone can attain merely through effort.

Once while looking at Zhuan Falun, I tried to gain a better understanding of Master’s Fa in Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland, “I’ve often said that I have incorporated into this Fa everything that can allow you to cultivate and advance, and everything that you can attain through cultivation. Although you are in different realms, none of you can truly understand the weight of my words. You will obtain everything so long as you cultivate. But do you know how many things of mine are incorporated into what you obtain?” Looking at the book, I felt it really incredible that I was actually holding in my hands the boundless and omnipotent Fa that the Creator used to create the cosmos! However, I also felt lost because I knew that I would never be able to see how vast it is or how much I had obtained, not to mention how much I would ultimately obtain.

At the same time, I also saw my curiosity and pursuit. Master has put it very clearly in Lecture at the First Conference in North America, “You should take this book and just read it. It’s called ‘attaining naturally without pursuit.’” In fact, as for the Fa that has already been obtained, the cultivated side is well aware, but the human surface does not know and cannot feel it. How much Fa a Dafa disciple will ultimately obtain must have been predestined and arranged. Most factors involved are transformed and fulfilled by Master, so we should not wonder about them. We should study the Fa well and as much as possible, which provides a prerequisite and fundamental guarantee for us to obtain the Fa. Of course, for Dafa disciples of the Fa-rectification period, we cannot obtain the Fa merely through Fa study. We must also eliminate our attachments and do the three things well.

Some fellow practitioners have already memorized Zhuan Falun many times, which I find really admirable. Memorizing and reciting the Fa is a great way to study the Fa. I understand from experience that while memorizing and reciting the Fa, human attachments can be effectively repressed, and the Fa is imprinted in the mind more clearly and intact. I am embarrassed to say that years ago I finished memorizing the first eight lectures but stopped there without further progress.

Master has said in Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference, “Meanwhile, everything discussed in Zhuan Falun is encompassed in ‘Lun Yu.’” This gave me an idea: would it not be great if I often recite “Lun Yu”? So I started to recite “Lun Yu” once before bed and used to do it twice a day when I was illegally incarcerated. In fact, I initially harbored the inappropriate motive to clear distracting thoughts from my mind by reciting the Fa in order to fall asleep faster. Of course, this impure motive disappeared shortly. I cannot remember exactly when I started reciting, perhaps back in 2009. I failed to recite every day, and I remember forgetting at least a couple of times before bed. Initially I did it while lying in bed. I later realized that was disrespectful to the Fa, and I could be very easily interfered with by drowsiness, so I would fully cross my legs and clear my mind before reciting. It took just a few minutes to finish. However, even such a short time was always a significant test of concentration. While reciting the second or third paragraph, or sometimes even the first one, I would suddenly find that I was distracted, either thinking about something or dozing off. When I became clearheaded, I found that I had no impression of the sentences I had just “recited”. It was as if my subconscious was reciting while I was distracted. Even now I still find it impossible to be completely free of interference every time. “And the depth of ding indicates one’s level” (Zhuan Falun). The process of reciting “Lun Yu” helps me gain an even deeper understanding of this Fa principle.

When the new “Lun Yu” was published, the moment I read the very first sentence “Dafa is the wisdom of the Creator”, I could not help but think in awe, “How high this heavenly secret is! If the Creator did not unveil it, which being in the cosmos would be able to know it? Am I not assimilating to the Creator’s wisdom?” While reading it, I felt as if the micro- and macro-cosmos were unfolding before me by Master, extending boundlessly and endlessly, and my capacity was instantly expanded … While reciting “Lun Yu” with a pure mind, I feel rational and gain deeper understandings of the boundless Great Law. I still cannot see how much reciting “Lun Yu” helps me improve in cultivation, but I can see one point clearly: my depth of concentration while reciting “Lun Yu” every day indicates my cultivation state or at least how clear and clean my mind is at the moment.


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