Thoughts From Cultivation

Shared at the 2004 UK Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference

Greetings Master
Greetings fellow practitioners

My name is Alex and I am from Leeds but I now study in Falmouth in Cornwall.

During my cultivation I have had my ups and downs whilst undergoing tribulations and removing attachments.

I seemed to reach a point in my cultivation where things started to get quite hard. I didn’t quite see why this was and didn’t really change my heart according to the Fa [law or principles, the teachings of Falun Gong] taught by Master. Passing through this I can see that a big issue I have had in my cultivation is that of truly giving up the human mindset and notion of self. I hit a point where I had practised for a while and thought I had done well when I experienced some tribulations that targeted some of my attachments that I thought I had long discarded. I went on an art trip to Amsterdam in the last year of school. Before I started to practise Falun Gong I smoked quite a lot of cannabis but I thought that I had long given this up. When I got there I fell on this issue and deeply regretted it. I spoke about this with some of my fellow cultivators upon my return but didn’t really get a response. This failure really hurt my cultivation. At this point my friends all knew about my cultivation, especially since going to China, and they knew that I had stopped these bad habits after my practice and had seen the benefits that Falun Gong had brought to me. They knew that what I had done was wrong according to my practice but they also used human principles to weigh things up which I think I also partially accepted, but I was still clear on right and wrong. It was just that I still held onto my attachments. I told them clearly that what I had done was wrong and that it is clearly against the teachings of Falun Gong. Words came out of my mouth but looking back I wander what my heart truly believed. I worried greatly about them having a wrong understanding towards Falun Gong due to my bad actions and so tried to tell clarify the issue with them so that they could see that this isn’t how a Dafa practitioner should act. I have come to realise that my understanding between Compassion and sentimentality was blurred. I had a misunderstanding about cultivating in human society. Master says in Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)

“In the Fa, I have told you to conform to everyday people as much as possible while cultivating. I have never said that you should conform to everyday people [in and of itself]. If you are no different from an everyday person, are you still a cultivator?”

I thought that it was right to go and spend time with my friends who were doing these bad things and that after all I am a Dafa cultivator so I can put up with anything. I thought that if I don’t have the attachment, then how can these things affect me? After sharing with fellow practitioners I have realised that it is like what Master says in Lecture 3 of Zhuan Falun- a book containing the teachings of Falun Gong:

“There was a person who was walking on the street with my book in his hand, yelling, “I have Teacher Li’s protection, so I’m not afraid of being hit by a car. That was undermining Dafa.”

Why should I purposefully place myself in this tribulation? It would be like seeking out a hardship, which shouldn’t be the case. We should only have to overcome the hardship if we come across it and not purposefully place these tribulations on ourselves. I now find after coming through this that my friends, who always smoke cannabis and generally follow their demon nature in their everyday life, hardly ever contact me just as it is taught in Zhuan Falun:

“The Buddha-light illuminates everywhere and rectifies all abnormalities.”

When our thoughts are righteous, then our surrounding environment will change accordingly. Attachments that we once had and factors that would interfere with our cultivation won’t exist and will not be able to have any effect. It seems that I am given the chance to see all these people who may have developed a wrong understanding due to my actions so as to be able to clarify this issue and to once again show them the greatness of Falun Gong. I felt that Master’s Compassion is boundless.

I seemed to have failed on this test a fair few times during my cultivation. Once I got through it, I would find myself in a different setting with different people. Master says in Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Washington DC Fa Conference:

“With a lot of problems, if you calmly think things through, you can recognise them on your own. And once you’ve realised what they are, you should correct them and not let them happen again.”

It also seemed to be like the lust issue that Master talks of in Zhuan Falun where if you fail and don’t really care, then it won’t be so easy next time. When bad thoughts started to arise towards my view on cultivation, these were all taken advantage of by the old forces and greatly magnified. I have found that any attachment is like a free pass for evil to interfere with us. I again fell on this issue for a while and my cultivation took a dive. Since then my cultivation really went up and down. My attachment really reflected my attachments to comfort, humanness, selfishness and my general poor xinxing [heat/mind nature], which was then capitalised upon. Since that time I struggled in my cultivation with regard to this.

I have also come to enlighten to many things that I want to share with you. I spoke at the last conference, but it wasn’t truly from the heart and it was more like telling a story. I felt that it didn’t really carry any inner meaning and was rather something external. My heart wasn’t really in it due to my cultivation state. I can’t quite understand those who say they have nothing to write about. I have to ask, “Is your cultivation just plain sailing?” Have you not experienced or enlightened to anything during your cultivation?” I have come to realise that sharing, not just at conferences, but with others is a manifestation of Truth; one of the three main principles that we follow. If we cannot share our thoughts with other practitioners then I think that we normally hold on to fear and an attachment to self. Master says in Zhuan Falun,

“the Tao School believes in the cultivation of Zhen to nurture one’s nature; one should tell the truth, do things truthfully, become a truthful person, return to the original, true self, and in the end, become a true person through cultivation.”

I have found that if I could have been more Truthful in my cultivation, then a lot of problems would have been easier to overcome.

I feel that I can talk about this side of my cultivation now as it is something of the past and something I have overcome. It is something I have only really shared with a few practitioners before. I have realised that my attachment to fame and image and most importantly to self. I feel that I have been quite disrespectful towards Master and the Fa. I really haven’t followed the principle of Truth, neither to myself or to others. It was hard to do something bad when you knew full well what you were doing, not to be able to look at Master’s picture and to frequently cry at the state of your cultivation. It was horrible to fall back into old ways, into that humanness, to see different attachments creep back in. It was like a battle in my head between my Buddha nature and demon nature.

For instance one of the first things I learnt in cultivation is not to swear as it doesn’t make sense for a cultivator to do so because it shows that my heart and emotions have been moved. I found that a few words came out of my mouth on separate occasions and this really frightened me as I knew that it reflected something so much deeper. It reflected a general poor attitude to cultivation and showed the degradation of my xinxing. This really made me sharpen up my attitude.

I can normally always feel when I am doing something wrong as I think most of us can. It just depends on whether we are going to act upon it or not. If we don’t, then over time we develop a way of hiding it. Really we are just fooling ourselves. I have learnt that we shouldn’t worry about what other practitioners think with regards to our image and our thoughts of being perfect. After all, we are all just cultivators in this Great Fa, trying to return to our true homes. We shouldn’t have these thoughts of self and fame. We all hold faults somewhere. Isn’t it best if we can all try and help each other rather than just negatively judge each other or spread some gossip about each other? I often think of Master and wander if I would act that way in front of Him, and I then realise that actually Maters Law Body's are always next to us and so many divine beings are watching us, especially during this period of time. When I think of what Master has done for me, the hardships He has borne, I dip my head in shame and my heart feels heavy. It is easy to think of it in human terms and read it in writing, but when we really think about it then it cannot be explained in words. I read about those who have seen Master drinking jugs of poison for us, which is only at one level of understanding, and it makes me think about how much Master has really done for us and how we take it for granted. Just because not all of us can see this, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t take place. Sometimes I think we forget about these things. With an attachment like mine, I can see the demons laughing as we stumble around, goading at our Master who still Compassionately guides us and watches over us waiting for us to make that improvement, to give up that attachment that we cling onto so selfishly. I can see how Master truly “cares for us more than we care about ourselves.

Even after doing such bad things Master is still there for us. But I also understand that there is a limit to everything and rules for everything not to mention what the old forces are trying to achieve. I realise that cultivation is full of tribulations as we are, after all, starting of from everyday people so it is an attachment to think that you are perfect or should be perfect because we are still cultivating and yet at the same time we can’t be lax, we must just take the middle way going to neither extreme and as Master has told us to “strive forward vigorously”.

I could see the arrangements made and the choices of the two paths I had. That of the old forces or that of following Master by His side to return to my original true self. Sometimes I wander what my role was originally meant to be in this period, but then I realise that this isn’t important as Master and the Fa is here, so anything is possible. One thing I have learnt from Master’s teaching is not to again develop another attachment by having a massive feeling of guilt, which will be taken advantage of by the old forces. We must be rational and realise what it is we are truly here to do, Master wants us to do well and get back on track so as to fulfil our roles- not to mill about spinning around in a circle not knowing what to do or how to act, lying on the floor. I don’t know what I have agreed to in the past but it’s without a doubt that I will follow Master to return home and truly accept this Fa.

I had a dream when I picked myself up out of a tribulation. In the dream I failed on he day of Consummation. The feeling was, well not an ordinary one, a deep regret can best describe it and I was greatly saddened. It really reminded me that the day of Consummation will come and time has a limit. If our cultivation isn’t up to scratch we will fail and there won’t be another chance. This is it. What if it were tomorrow? It’s not like that there is going to be a warning.

Master says in Zhuan Falun:

“There once was a person who became an Arhat after much effort in cultivation. As he was just about to attain Right Fruit in cultivation and become an Arhat, how could he not be happy? He was going to transcend the Three Realms! Yet this excitement is an attachment, an attachment of elation. An Arhat should be free of attachments, with a heart that cannot be affected. But he failed, and his cultivation ended up in vain. Since he failed, he had to start all over again. He resumed his cultivation, and after much painstaking effort he again succeeded in his cultivation. This time he became scared and reminded himself in his mind: “I shouldn’t get excited. Otherwise, I’ll fail again.” With this fear, he failed again. Fear is also a kind of attachment.”

Will these sorts of thoughts arise in our heads at that time? This was only an Arhat after all. Are we really up to scratch? Master says in Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference:

“Yes, you are clarifying the facts, are busy doing a lot of things, and there are many things to do; that has demonstrated the extraordinary side of Dafa disciples. But don't forget to cultivate away the most basic things! It's not like "at the critical moment I'll be good enough"--that's not necessarily true.”

When I think back to this, it really wants to make me do better in my cultivation. It’s not so much for myself but for what I represent- the countless beings I am responsible for. During my cultivation I have come to have a deeper understanding about selflessness and giving up self. I have come to realise that it is not only myself who I cultivate for, but it is equally for those who I have clarified the truth to and their sentient beings, not to mention the sentient beings within the expanse of my own body. If I don’t do well, what about them? How will my attachments and poor conduct affect other Dafa practitioners as we are after all connected as one body? What about those Fa Kings and other great beings we are responsible for? It’s easy to think about, but the reality of it is unimaginable. We must do well the three things we have been asked to do by our Master. We must study the Fa unceasingly as this is like water to a plant. If this is cut off, then the plant will wither and the tree won’t bare any fruit. I have learnt that you may think that you are doing a lot of Fa-rectification activities but that means nothing if you are not truly cultivating, nothing, as it’s just like a human doing these things. They are no longer sacred.

I have also found that thinking about our attachments alone won’t work, action is also needed. Remembering Master’s words in poem, The Knowing Heart,

“Grand talk counts for naught when it comes to life and death.
Actions reveal what is true”

Sometimes I am shocked when I see others’ attachments but I must look at myself and always turn these thoughts around. What is it that I have done wrong? What haven’t I done well?

I feel that I have improved by sharing this as I know that by Truthfully sharing with you all, I have gotten rid of a lot of bad things but I also know that this is just a part of it and that I still have a lot to improve on. Sometimes I think that my cultivation is quite high or sometimes I feel stuck but it is only because I refuse to see my true attachments and to truly deal with them in a righteous way .The Fa is boundless and I feel so lucky to be here. Let’s not waste our time anymore. We have waited and endured a great deal for this time period. As Master says in Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference:

“This thing hasn't ended yet, so for any being it still presents an opportunity and a chance.”

As I understand from Master’s words that “our path is narrow”, we must be so strict with ourselves without going to any extreme, yet we must remove our fundamental attachments. Why are we cultivating? To make friends? To socialise? Because our spouses or parents do or are we cultivating to truly save sentient beings and cultivate ourselves? Have we really followed Master and the Fa principles or do we just read them and find them good but don’t act on them? Or do we not actually read at all? Do we fall asleep during righteous thoughts? Do we take the initiative with regards to Dafa activities? Are we truly cultivating or have we got lost in our Fa rectification activities whilst forgetting about cultivation? The universe has its standard. How can something dirty be allowed to enter Heaven? Do we think we deserve to go to Heaven and reach Consummation if we can’t get rid of our attachments? Let us take every opportunity we have. This Fa is so great that we can improve so quickly if we truly study it and take it to heart. So much improvement can be made in just a day that it always amazes me. I find that I quite often have tribulations in my dreams, so I can also improve whilst sleeping. In this world we have a great environment to improve in. How lucky we are to be here during this time period! Everything has been laid out for us. We just need to make those changes ourselves. No one will do it for us. This is true cultivation.

I still have many improvements to make, but when I look to the future I smile as after all I am cultivating in Falun Dafa.

Thank you

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