A Bottleneck in Cultivation

A Dafa Disciple in Mainland, China

PureInsight | December 21, 2023

[PureInsight.org] After reading the article “Flattery and Demonic Interference from One’s Own Mind” published by the Minghui Editorial Board, I was deeply touched. I realized that there have been similar manifestations in my own cultivation journey, as well as around me. From this, I would like to share some personal insights and understanding.

Master said in Zhuan Falun, “To tell you the truth, the entire cultivation process for a practitioner is one of constantly giving up human attachments.”

The process of removing attachments is a continuous process of elevating one's cultivation and expanding both the physical and mental capacity. Attachments may form a hardened shell on various layers of the practitioner's body; removing these attachments also removes the corresponding shells. By removing these layers of shells, the body in another dimension will break through to higher and more microscopic levels. The more microscopic, the more expansive, and the practitioner's body will gradually expand. As a result, both the capacity of the body and the mind will enlarge, allowing one to accommodate more of the Fa and assimilate more of the Fa.

In my cultivation, I have had this experience: As attachments diminish, there is more room for righteous thoughts, and wisdom also begins to manifest.

Letting go of life and death, letting go of fundamental attachments, in the course of my cultivation journey, I have witnessed the formidable challenges of the Nine Tribulations and Ten Tests. A few years ago, after I let go of my fundamental attachments through heart-wrenching ordeals, I noticed a qualitative shift in my state of mind—an expansion of capacity. When studying the Fa, it was as if my wisdom had been unlocked, and the principles of the Fa revealed various profound meanings to me. My cultivation state also underwent a transformation. During that period, in group Fa study discussions, I often shared insights that others had not heard before. It made others appreciate my contributions in group discussions which gave me a sense of fulfillment and a feeling of uniqueness.

One day, an individual from a neighboring city visited us. He was being lauded to the skies by some practitioners around him, with claims that his celestial eye had opened remarkably and even that he had achieved enlightenment. Many fellow practitioners who heard about him were eager to meet him, requiring appointments and invitations. Those fortunate enough to have been "received" by him felt a sense of honor and astonishment. Of course, the collective flattery that followed their meetings was inevitable. At the time, I regretted not having met him earlier and had a mutual fondness for him. We believed his insights were "quite advanced" and different from the norm. I defended him fervently and even helped publicize his unconventional ideas for a period. However, over time, that person became increasingly inflated by the praise, growing arrogant and self-centered. Ultimately, he became insufferably egotistical, dismissing everyone else, claiming that he excelled in cultivation beyond anyone else worldwide—even challenging the credibility of Minghui website, and launching attacks against it. It was then that I awakened to the realization that he had demonic interference from his own mind, and no amount of advice could sway him. To this day, this individual, accompanied by a group of followers, continues to spew nonsensical and misleading rhetoric, engaging in activities that deviate from the true principles.

Reflecting on this experience now fills me with deep regret. This negative lesson has had a profound impact on me. From observing his behavior and reflecting on my own, I came to recognize a formidable obstacle for cultivators—self attachment and selfishness. This self-centered self attachment was not easily noticeable. It was subtly formed over the course of one's life.

Master said in Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature from Essentials for Further Advancement, “I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others—or even future generations—along with Dafa’s eternal stability.”

From Master's lectures, I came to realize that my previous self-satisfaction and that individual's inner demons were precisely the manifestations of this microcosmic 'self' stemming from the old nature. This self-attachment is indeed a challenging bottleneck in the cultivation process. This bottleneck is like a checkpoint. Without breaking through it or eliminating it, your capacity cannot expand. At that point, you might feel you have reached your limit in cultivation, leading to self-satisfaction, a sense of superiority, and further progression into self-righteousness, self-inflation, and inner demons.

This self-attachment appears in practitioners from time to time. Sometimes, it was unaware to the person who has the attachment but noticeable by others because of its clearly visible. Or it's less noticeable to everyone because it's invisible. There are even instances where this attachment is more concealed, but others might praise it.

For example, when someone brings a mobile phone to a group activity and is cautioned about its potential safety to the group. They might instead accuse others of lacking strong righteous thoughts and of being fearful. They may want to show their own strength of righteous thoughts and lack of fear. This obvious showing off self-attachment is perceptible to everyone.

Another instance could involve someone repeatedly discussing how remarkable they are for overcoming various persecutions, yet they fail to introspect and identify any potential loopholes that the evil might exploit for persecution. While their unwavering determination during tribulations is inspiring, the mixed elements of showing off and a sense of joy are signs of self-attachment that might not be as easily noticeable.

Furthermore, some coordinators of Fa study groups may proudly promote their unique practices. Although their intentions might be good, aiming to elevate everyone collectively, they inadvertently promote their own ideas and attract followers, unconsciously leading the group astray.

Of course, there are also those who are attached to what they see with their celestial eyes, attached to the principles they understand with great delight. They are attached to their eloquence and prowess in speech, and the sense of 'authority' and satisfaction that comes from being praised by fellow practitioners. There are also those practitioners who exhibit imposing behavior. They emphasize their own performance excessively but fail to harmonize within the collective. All of these manifestations of self-attachment among cultivators often overlook the principle in Zhuan Falun, “Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master.” They excessively emphasize their own abilities, whereas in fact, everything comes from Master. Your righteous thoughts during tribulations, your observations with the celestial eye, your insights into new principles of the Fa, your wisdom—all of these are bestowed by Master.

At times, I ponder: Why would some individuals who seem to be cultivating 'quite well' fall into the trap of astray? Even some practitioners in a semi-enlightened state can succumb. This is indeed lamentable and thought-provoking. I realized that these individuals often stumble at the 'self-attachment'. Essentially, their pre-existing nature of 'for me, for myself' has not been eradicated. This becomes an insurmountable bottleneck in their cultivation. Once these self-attachments gain recognition and praise within the cultivation community, and if some practitioners excessively flatter and magnify their importance, these individuals often develop feelings of grandiosity, self-inflation, self-righteousness, and even inner demons.

During the period of the latter days of the cosmos, all sentient beings in the old cosmos deviated from the Fa, and life was entangled in tribulations. To enter the new cosmos, life must undergo a rebirth, a fundamental transformation, shedding the old nature's self-centeredness and embracing the new cosmos' selflessness—prioritizing others before oneself. This must be a profound and substantial change.

From the Fa, I understand that the ultimate thought of the highest, final-level old forces led to a series of methods for self-preservation (self-display) by the layers below. During the Fa-rectification, they do not want to change themselves (the attachment to the selfishness), only others. They desire to maintain their mountains, their rivers, their gods even after the Fa rectifies the cosmos. The behavior of self-attachment on unwillingness to the fundamental change becomes a significant hindrance in their assimilation to the new cosmos's principles. Their fate is ultimately to be eliminated within the Fa-rectification.

Therefore, the ability to relinquish self-attachment, selfishness, is a significant bottleneck for cultivators during their cultivation journey. Without overcoming this, cultivators become stuck, like hitting a plateau. If they do not rectify this microcosmic self-attachment, it becomes a big obstacle to enter the new cosmos. To offer an imperfect analogy: Imagine you have a bottle containing the Fa and it is almost full. Due to the inability to relinquish self-attachment, you cannot replace it with a larger bottle. Consequently, as you advance to a certain degree, the original bottle runs out of space for the Fa, and your cultivation progress halts. You might feel you have reached the pinnacle, you might feel exceptional, especially when you stand out within the cultivation community and receive praise from others. In combination with this praise, you might inflate your sense of self and even generate inner demons.

In reality, it is this extremely microcosmic 'self' that holds you back because you could not eliminate it. Recognizing and rectifying this 'self' will remove this bottleneck. At that moment, it is like swapping your small bottle for a larger one, increasing your capacity. You'll realize that what you initially contained in the small bottle was merely poured into the larger one, but it only filled the bottom; you'll discover that your previous understanding was trivial, even 'incorrect,' embodying the concept in Zhuan Falun that 'No Dharma is definitive.'

In the boundless Dafa, a cultivator in the midst of practice should never feel exceptional, even if he is in a state of enlightenment. It is akin to being in the vast ocean—would you feel like you have captured the entire ocean in a small bottle of water? No, you would not! If you do sense such an extraordinary feeling, it is actually a sign that your capacity is limited, your vessel is too small, and your comprehension of the Fa is inadequate. You should strive to improve and increase your capacity.

A truly solid cultivator is humble!

This is just my own modest understanding, with its limitations. Please compassionately correct any mistakes.

Chinese version: https://www.zhengjian.org/node/284657




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