My father died last year in a car accident and that was a turning point in my life. I had a very good relationship with my father and I relied on him mostly financially. When the inheritance was settled it turned out that I inherited 50% of the house, and my mother owned 50% herself as well. I was very disappointed, because my mother refused to help me financially and she refused to move. I was very mad and upset, thinking that my father did the right thing by helping me, and now I am on my own and with no one to turn to. I was talking with my friends, and my friends were accusing my mother of being cruel and mean for giving me no financial support.
I knew that this incident was happening because I was strongly attached to personal gain, that I could not let go of my personal interest and that I did not think like a cultivator. I stopped complaining about her unfair treatment, but in my heart, I had not completely let go of the notion “to get help from others”.
One day I listened to Master’s 4th audio lecture where Master talks about “repay your parents who raised you." I reflected on my behavior: I am 45 years old and I have worked for more than 20 years in a stable job. Why should I expect to get help from my mother, when I have been financially independent for more than 20 years? Also, If I should repay my parents, as Master says, then wanting my mother to help me financially, isn’t that the opposite of what Master asks of me? It is also not benevolent of me to demand help, instead of trying to help her.
I slowly started to care more about my mother, to call more often to see how she was, if she needed any help with chores or shopping and if she was okay. I realized I was so absorbed with my own problems that I was not considerate of her. She deserves to take care of herself now that she is 75 years old instead of focusing on helping me financially. I realized that all of these years I grew a habit of acting as a spoiled little kid and not as a responsible 45 year-old woman, pressing for my parents to satisfy my needs as if I was still under their care. I was self-centered. It was always about me and my needs, and I did not truly care about others. I realized that with this new mindset of not relying on my parents, I became stronger, more responsible and more considerate. The loss of support from my mother meant that I grew spiritually, I became a better person.
“Our spiritual efforts, in fact, only “cost” us something we don’t want anyway: karma". (Zhuan Falun, the Fourth Talk, “Costs and Rewards”)
Also my relationship with my sister changed. After the inheritance was settled, my sister became distant with me. I confronted her asking her the reason why. She said that she preferred to not have any contact with me at all. I thought the real problem behind her behaviour was that I inherited the family house and she did not. Realizing that the real problem was caused by the inheritance, I began to think that I should demonstrate the open-mindedness that Master mentions in the Ninth Talk of Zhuan Falun about the qigong master who, when everyone wanted the apartment, said: “Then one of you can have it.” Although I thought that I should do it this way, not accept my father's inheritance so that my sister could have the house, at first and only when I had the thought that I would give her the house, I thought that it was impossible for me to show such open-mindedness.
As I moved along my cultivation path, I began to believe that behaving like this is not impossible, and as time went on I felt I could do it. As I see it now, if my sister asks for the house, I will gladly give it to her. Now I can say with a calm heart "you can have it", without thinking about my material interests. I understood more deeply that life here is a hotel. Having a house of my own was a long-term goal, a deep desire of mine and an attachment that made me unhappy many times in my life. The idea that I should possess a house now seems funny to me, my real home is in heaven, I will take nothing with me but gong.
"… he starts thinking about which room will go to his son, which to his daughter, which to his wife and him, or how they might share the room in the middle as a living room. It’s exhilarating to him, and he might even start thinking about how to turn this dream into a reality. But calm of mind is hardly possible if your mind is preoccupied like that. Contrast that with the following view: coming to this world is like staying over at a hotel, which we quickly leave after a short stint. Yet some people are so caught up in this place that they have no interest in leaving. They have forgotten their true homes." (Zhuan Falun, the Ninth Talk, “A Pure and Serene Mind”)
I was also very attached to money itself. Before I became a mother, I did not save money. When my baby was born, I changed my thinking. I was saving money to the point of being unwilling to offer help or gifts or anything connected to spending money for friends and relatives, for fear of spending my savings. This attitude showed that I grew greedy in my heart and that was clearly an attachment. I knew it but I could not free myself of greed. I justified my behavior to myself by saying that I am a single mother raising a kid on my own, so I need to behave that way. But my heart was heavy, It was a constant struggle not to spend money. Then one day, I got robbed by a hacker with all my savings being robbed. The moment I saw my bank account was robbed, I felt a deep relief. The relief was that I would no longer be attached to saving money, I would no longer be controlled by it. The second thought was that it would be better if I still possessed this money, without being attached to it. With this new circumstance, I realized that balancing being generous and at the same time careful in saving money, is the key to not develop the attachment to greed and to possessions. With this new mindset I am now happy and grateful for what I have, I feel I have everything I need and if some mishap occurs I am confident now that I will face it. In the old mentality of saving money, I was afraid of losing my money and I was afraid of mishaps. Now I realize more deeply that my strength lies within me, that my mental attitude is crucial and not how much money I possess.
"karma is directly connected with attachments. If you want to free yourself of this undesirable thing, you will first have to change your ways". (Zhuan Falun, The Fourth Talk, “Costs and Rewards”)
Letting go of communist notions
As my father's memorial service approached, I began to see my ex-boyfriend in my dreams. At first I did not pay attention to my dreams as Master talks about in Zhuan Falun, the Ninth Talk, “Thoughts and the Mind”, “you needn’t concern yourself with what happens in dreams where everything is hazy and confused, since those dreams aren’t significant”. However, the dream persisted. One day, after again seeing my friend in my dream, I woke up with this thought: In my 10 years of cultivation, no person has been so shocked by the persecution of Falun Gong as much as my friend. He didn't sleep all night, he said he would never do business with the government of China, and that I should go to file a complaint to the UN and that he would help me if needed. He also said something that even now I say when clarifying the truth, "Well, Li Hongzhi teaches people Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, and they persecute him for that? This is horrible!” A second thought also came to mind: Of all the partners I had in my life, no matter how badly I had treated him, he always kept kind and had no resentment in his heart. I thought to myself I should contact him. It had been eight years since we had contacted each other so I decided to send a message instead of calling, saying that whenever he felt like it he could contact me. In three minutes, he called me back saying he was very happy to hear from me. I asked him how he was. He said he and his wife overcame a family crisis and after that he decided to be more devoted to his wife and children. One thought came to me spontaneously ”I apologize to you. I misjudged you all those years we were together."
At the beginning of our relationship, my mother told me that he was "a spoiled rich kid." Although we had a relationship for more than three years, in my heart I never let go of this notion that he was "a spoiled rich kid." My childhood friend realized that this notion of mine was creating an extra burden on our relationship. So she pointed out to me that for those who are wealthy, expensive cars, yachts and swimming pools are just their lifestyle and I shouldn’t think of them as something important. I, however, considered these external issues very important and considered that this different lifestyle divided us in the sense that there was a "class difference" between us. This impression of the "class difference” was reinforced by the left-wing education I received at university. I firmly believed that it was a disadvantage to be wealthy and that every wealthy person was an "enemy of the people". I thought that he must give money to the poor and not pay attention to his wealth, because after all, the money was not his, it belonged to the people. He accumulated wealth by oppressing people. This was a notion “rich oppressing poor people” created by talking with my communist friends. I thought my opinion was right since I justified this notion of mine saying that Jesus after all talked about people giving away their possessions to those in need. I did not fully understand the higher meaning of enlightened beings. I incorporated in my value system along with Christian values, the values of “class struggle” by Karl Marx. This “class struggle” culture reinforced the competitiveness inside me and being extreme in my thinking. I evaluated my friend in “black and white terms”. The notion went “Rich people are bad people and poor people are good and mistreated by rich”.
Master says in “How Humankind Came to Be” “Everything that happens in one’s life—whether it seems warranted or not—is, in reality, the karmic consequence of what one did in one’s past lives, for better or for worse…..This is the fundamental reason why some people are wealthy and others poor, why some hold positions of high rank while others are destitute and homeless. It’s nothing like the diabolical nonsense that sinister communism spouts about equality between rich and poor.
When I became a practitioner I truly understood how false this notion of mine “rich people oppressing poor people” was. I realized that my friend being born in a wealthy family was the result of his good deeds in his previous life and that I should not consider it a matter of “luck” or “his family is rich due to mistreating poor people to get on top”.
Though I realized my mistake, the notion of “class struggle” was so strong inside me, that when I became a practitioner the enemy in my mind was not the upper class anymore but those who are drifting along with the communist party. I insisted on convincing my friends to denounce communism and I was reluctant to clarify the truth to communist party members because I saw the communist party as a threat. So in every conversation with people I spoke badly about communism and I did not cultivate my heart to be calm and moderate when I was attacked with communist propaganda. When I heard people defending communism, I became upset and I quickly badmouthed communism saying that those who are drifting along with the communist party are deceived or “they are being fools”. As a result people who truly believed in communist propaganda were offended by my harsh tongue and my relationship with them became distant.
All those years in my cultivation I truly regret judging my friend with this “class struggle” notion. I came to realize that this false communist propaganda damaged our relationship and separated me from my friend. Even though I regretted this “class struggle” notion all those years in my cultivation, I never thought I should apologize to him. I thought it was enough that I truly regretted my bad behavior and I enlightened that those notions were misleading and away from “Zhen-Shan-Ren”. But now that I did apologize to him, I felt that with this apology a piece of black matter left my body and also my heart became lighter.
"With a change in character will come a significant change in your body; physical changes in your body are guaranteed to accompany positive changes in your mind. What will happen is that the bad things that have led you to form attachments will be cast away." (Zhuan Falun, The First Talk,“When Practicing Doesn’t Bring Results”)
After saying, "I'm sorry, I misjudged you," my friend replied, "I never misjudged you. With all these ideas you had in your mind, you trapped yourself." I realized that he knows how notions can distance yourself from your true self. That these notions are a“trap” and a “prison” of your true self.
My friend insisted on meeting for a coffee. During coffee, he asked me if I still voted for the national left-wing party. I said no. He was very happy to hear that. He told me that our dear friend Andreas – he was the one who introduced me to him – still believes in the left-wing national party but they are still friends and he sees Andreas' belief in the leftist ideology as a minor flaw compared to the other good qualities he possesses as a person.
I reflected on myself. Even among practitioners, if someone has a different opinion from me, I become upset and secretly despise the practitioner. I no longer consider him close to me or I think he shouldn’t be trusted, even if he or she possesses so many good qualities. I realized this competitive mentality, being a part of me for so long, and being reinforced by the notion of “struggle” from communism, is a major gap in my cultivation and a huge attachment to be abolished: The attachment is pride. I think too highly of myself and become competitive when someone does not agree with my way of thinking.
With these new realizations, I am now more focused on building bridges with people, instead of focusing on what divides us or that I am right and others are wrong, as I did in the past. I try to use logical thinking to examine my thoughts: to see if they are compassionate or divisive or selfish, and I express my ideas based on my recipient’s understanding. I try to avoid saying words that might hurt my colleagues or friends. If I do not behave as a cultivator, or I do say divisive words that I understand later hurt others, I sincerely apologize and correct my behavior immediately. And if there is friction with a colleague or relative or friend, I sincerely try to understand their point of view.
I also realized that to say "I am sorry” is very powerful and has many levels. It is an attitude that shows the willingness to make peace inside and outside of me, and to be modest enough to put relationships first and ego second. I realized deep inside me that I have no enemies and all my encounters are people to be saved. All my encounters are here to help me let go of attachments and to finally reach consummation.
These are my understandings at my very limited level.
Thank you Master!
Thank you fellow practitioners!
(Submitted to the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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