I started cultivating in Falun Dafa 5 years ago, and the more time passes since that moment, the more attachments I find to eliminate. Sometimes I face the feeling that I never conquer them, but I immediately remember that as long as I still have the privilege of cultivating, I can still eliminate everything that hinders me from reaching greater heights in cultivation. Discouraged by the thought that the variety of my own attachments is endless, I sought to understand where this endless karma that confronts people, as well as cultivators, comes from.
Looking around me at ordinary people, I notice that they think of themselves in everything they undertake and seek different ways to always feel good. Even when they are already well, they look for new actions to make them feel better and happy. It's as if nothing is ever enough for them to feel good, as if they never get to be satisfied with what they have. And what actually dissatisfies them is what they don't have, as if their entire existence would be summed up in a bag of desires waiting to be fulfilled until the end of this journey called 'life'.
Unfortunately, I have also found myself in this scenario countless times, both before becoming a Falun Gong practitioner and during my cultivation. Although I am a practitioner, I still find myself on my cultivation journey running after emotions and desires typical of ordinary people. This continuous running after things, emotions, and desires, this thirst to do things and to have things, but equally to have and dominate people, I understand that they have their roots in selfishness.
My understanding is that all attachments are rooted in selfishness
Without selfishness, a person would not seek anything for themselves, would not fight with anyone, would not compete with others, would not envy those who have what they do not have. And in the absence of these manifestations, there would be neither anger nor dissatisfaction. All these things are natural for the world of ordinary people, but for a practitioner who wants to cultivate to levels higher than ordinary people, the attachment of selfishness must be eliminated, so as not to be restricted by the characteristic of the universe Zhen Shan Ren. For a practitioner, if that 'I' would annihilate itself and turn into its opposite, that is, into a purely altruistic manifestation, he could come to live the state devoid of intention – “wu-wei” – he could reach higher levels in cultivation, and perhaps even Perfection.
Master says in “Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland”: But what I want you to do is to truly, purely, and unselfishly Consummate with the real righteous Fa and righteous Enlightenment—only then can you achieve eternal non-extinction. So I’m telling you that you have to consider others first in everything you do.
Selfishness – the root of ordinary human nature: from selfishness to altruism, to correspond to the new Cosmos
If selfishness itself determines people to be as we generally see them, we practitioners must eliminate selfish manifestations as much as possible and think more about others, putting others before our own interests. But to be able to do this, every time we encounter situations where people are selfish, we must consider whether we too are selfish and behave like ordinary people.
If this is the case, we have a good opportunity to change our perspective and behave as the Master teaches us in Essentials for Further Advancement, “Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature”: “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.”
In the case of ordinary people, everything is about their own selves, their own person, about themselves and how important they are in their life, and how important they want to be even in the lives of others. But we, as Falun Dafa practitioners, must eliminate layer by layer this human shell characteristic of the old cosmos and dedicate ourselves to others, putting ourselves on a lower level than those who await our help and salvation.
When I seek pleasure and comfort, I am selfish. Likewise, when I avoid discomfort
The attachment to pleasure and comfort, as well as the attachment to rejecting discomfort, comes from selfishness. When you think of yourself, you either seek your own pleasure or try to avoid discomfort. Between these two extremes, the ordinary person oscillates countless times a day, and when the day has ended, feels tired and sad, that everything was in vain. Instead, when you think of others, the places reverse: you come second, and others come first. Thus, things become easier to bear, and maybe you don’t even face discomfort, because by dedicating yourself to others, you know that your attitude was worthy of a Dafa practitioner. When you don't think about others but only yourself, whatever another person tells you, you will not have compassion for him but will be concerned only with what you want to say or happen. Instead, if you decide to give up selfishness and consider others first, compassion comes to replace acts of selfishness.
Although I like solitude, it stems from my selfish nature
Since I was a child, I liked solitude, and I often felt that people were bothering me even in the most trivial things. When I received many phone calls and many messages that I had to respond to on my birthday this year, I realized that even those good wishes from them were bothering me instead of making me happy. I realized that the attachment to myself and the attachment to pleasure and displeasure were what made me reject people: I like solitude and when there are no people around. I understood that I don't like having people around me because I don't like their way of being and thinking, and thus I choose to withdraw, giving in to the attachment to avoid discomfort. By eliminating layer by layer of selfishness, I notice that I am indifferent whether I am alone or with people. When there are people around me, there are situations when I feel the need to be right, to say something, to please, to be like them or to oppose them. By eliminating the attachment to selfishness and combativeness, I notice that it doesn't matter so much if I am alone or surrounded by people. I understand that leaving oneself, eliminating the 'I' and the clothes that selfishness wears, could be the key to leaving behind the characteristics of the old cosmos, and a gateway into the new cosmos, where I understand that there is no selfishness. Selfishness is the characteristic of the old cosmos. Altruism characterizes the new cosmos.
When I show off and feel upset, and thus I am selfish
When I'm among ordinary people, I noticed that the attachment to image is strongly activated: I want to make a good impression, I want people to like me, as if my very existence would depend on what others say about me or what they think about me. Whenever I face this attachment, I understand that every time my human nature intervenes, wanting to be recognized and affirmed, but it is only about the nature of the ordinary person, who is selfish and only thinks about themselves. And in such situations, I remember that I am a practitioner, and this attachment must be eliminated once again.
When I suffer in silence and accept the elimination of karma, it is a happy situation, and although I don't enjoy that suffering (I have not yet reached that level of deep understanding of Master's teachings), I notice that things quite quickly settle nicely, but unfortunately most of the time, when I suffer, I face bouts of anger, and then I feel that it's my karma wreaking havoc because things don't turn out the way it wants. If I yield to karma, I do evil things and follow the selfish nature of the old cosmos. When I want to do something and have it turn out my way, then the selfishness in me wants things to be that way, and thus, out of selfishness, I risk making even more karma. When I accept the natural course of things without resisting, not only do I eliminate karma, but I also elevate myself a little closer to the characteristic of the universe Zhen Shan Ren. Theoretically, we all suffer because of our own selfishness that manifests in everything. If we don't consciously reject it, it will continue to manifest from the most insignificant aspects to the most important ones.
Demon nature's manifestation through jealousy, envy, and competition
While I was in Germany with some fellow female practitioners from Romania to help distribute informational materials for the Shen Yun show that was to take place in Austria this year, I was given the opportunity to discover envy in my heart. Neither before becoming a cultivator nor after starting the practice of Falun Dafa did I find in my behavior the characteristic of envy. Theoretically, I knew what it meant to envy others, I had heard in my cultivation environment about envy but had not managed to identify it in myself. I was almost happy that this feeling was not part of me. And suddenly, I found myself in a country like Germany, where I would have wished with all my being to have been born.
As I walked through the affluent areas of Germany, near Austria, everything seemed perfect. Only the weather was against us and tested us daily, sometimes even several times a day, through capricious weather, with a lot of rain. Too much rain. It rained exactly when our materials should have been dry and ready to be put in the mailboxes of the locals. As I walked from house to house admiring the simplicity of the houses, the outdoor decorations heralding the upcoming winter holidays, the simple but chic architecture of the houses, suddenly tears began to flow down my cheeks. I wore two hoods on my head and was dressed in an ugly raincoat, which perfectly protected my materials. I saw myself looking pitiful, almost like a beggar, going from door to door to put materials in mailboxes, while in those beautiful houses, some people were warm in front of a fireplace, savoring the perfection of German life. In those seconds, I realized that envy and attachment to image had surfaced in a very violent way. I felt humiliated, ugly, and poor. I cried with the materials in my arms, but I did not stop what I had to do. I continued to place advertising materials at each house I encountered in the area designated by the coordinators.
One after the other, the perfect houses lined up in front of me, and I, with tears in my eyes, remembered the mission for which I was in Germany: to help sentient beings get to Shen Yun, and to have a future. Once I thought that I am a practitioner and that I am in this situation to help sentient beings, I felt gratitude in my heart that I should not go on with such thoughts and attachments. I quickly understood that the attachment to self-image and envy must be eliminated, and I began to send righteous thoughts for that. The next day I started again: the same perfect houses, the same perfect decorations, the same almost unreal pretty sights. I looked with longing at everything I saw, and instead of enjoying all the pretty sights, I felt bad: I felt a state of sadness combined with a state of dissatisfaction. I did not understand how such striking places could sadden me excessively.
On the other hand, I did not understand how these houses and landscapes impressed me so deeply, because over time I had visited many countries and seen a variety of scenic places. But here, on the border of Germany with Austria, I felt as if I had never left my country, as if I had never seen such pretty sights. A conscious part of me kept me rational on the outside, but inside it was as if I was in other dimensions where everything is absolutely sublime, perfect, and infinitely beautiful. And yet I was sad to see those scenic places, instead of feeling, as they say, on cloud nine. And so another day of tears and sadness passed. I knew that something was not right with me, but I couldn't figure out what. Yesterday I recognized the pangs of envy, but what about today? On the third day, while walking from house to house with advertising materials in my arms, I sat on a bench in front of a house. I was not tired; I just wanted to sit for a few moments without any thoughts. And at that moment, I understood that the sadness I experienced was a pure form of envy: I was resentful that I was born in a poor country, where although I lack nothing, I would still like to have those beautiful places for myself. My envy was born out of selfishness: it was not enough to see them; I wanted them for myself as if I had enough space to put them. I wanted to have more than necessary, just for the sake of having them. And not only did I want something like that, but this desire hurt me; I felt that this desire created a state of sadness instead of helping me enjoy what I had in front of my eyes. From that moment on, I began sending righteous thoughts to eliminate the attachment of envy and continued to do so every night. During the days I stayed in Germany, I no longer faced those bizarre feelings of envy and the desire to have everything for myself, nor after returning to my country. Moreover, this experience, along with the constant sending of righteous thoughts, helps me identify envy in the people around me, and on these occasions, I look inside myself and eliminate layer by layer the attachment to envy.
I have also discovered that envy can give rise to the attachment to competition. You are competitive because you want to do or have what someone else has, and thus you enter into competition with others. Since I live in a very crowded city, day by day, I unconsciously choose to compete with the drivers in traffic. If I were to eliminate this attachment, I would drive in a civil way. When I entered Dafa, I quickly understood that the way I drive my car is not honorable. For an ordinary person, I drive well and can easily navigate through traffic, but for a practitioner, the way I drive is not correct at all: I slalom between cars, I cut others off suddenly, all under the pretext that I am in a hurry. Over time, I noticed that I have this behavior even when I am not in a hurry. So, it's not haste that drives me to act this way, but the fact that I can't stand someone getting ahead of me, meaning that attachments to envy and competition are what drive me to act this way. I have aimed to improve these aspects, and I have noticed that when my thoughts are upright and full of compassion, when I look at other drivers and am aware that I am a Falun Dafa practitioner and that I should act accordingly, traffic clears up wherever I go, if I stay where I am without seeking ways to compete with other drivers. Traffic in my lane clears up, although it remains congested around me, and I thus arrive at my destination very easily, in a shorter time than usual. On the other hand, when I am impatient, when I become competitive, no matter which lane I choose, it seems to get congested all of a sudden. I understand that good thoughts lead me on a good path, while selfish, envious, and competitive thoughts lead me down a winding path.
From attachment to competition, I have noticed that attachment to superiority arises. I think you cannot be competitive without feeling that you are better than others: I enter into competition because I believe I am better than others and want to prove it. I discovered this about myself when I offered to help correct the mistakes in the texts published on the Shen Yun website in Romanian. At first, my attachment to criticism emerged: how can there be so many mistakes? After this state of indignation generated by the attachment to superiority appeared, I then thought: what an honor it is for each of us to contribute to such a grand project! And so I understood that no matter how small someone's contribution to this project may be, it is in fact an immense honor for each to contribute as they can. On the other hand, if those who had worked before me had done things perfectly, I would not have had the opportunity to help. I continued to correct the texts and although my patience was tested many times because the state of indignation reappeared in my mind, I managed to keep in mind that it is precisely this patience that needs to be honed, and thus I continued to do what I set out to do. By eliminating the attachment to criticism and superiority, I noticed that I detect more subtle details to correct, and I understood that if I truly want to be part of this grand project, if I want to do things as well as possible, I am helped by the gods and Master; everything is about being mindful of my thoughts and constantly elevating my xinxing. Also, whenever I think I am above other people, besides eliminating the attachment to intelligence, science, and superiority, I should remember with a humble heart that everything I say and everything I do well is due to Dafa. I owe everything to Dafa and Master.
Compassion is the state of the divine, where no branch of selfishness finds its place. Sending righteous thoughts every day to eliminate the attachment to selfishness in all its forms and always putting others before oneself, I believe, can bring us closer to the characteristic of the universe Zhen Shan Ren.
The above are my understandings, limited to my level of cultivation. If you find anything inappropriate, please kindly point it out to me.
Thank you, Master, for your boundless compassion!
I also thank my fellow practitioners for the support given in this special life that we have all awaited.
(Submitted to the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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