Qigong and Athletics
When people are on an average level, they tend to think that qigong and workouts are closely related. Of course, if you're going to talk about it on a low level, when you look at it in terms of having a healthy body qigong is pretty much identical to workouts. But when you look at the specifics of how it exercises and what approach it takes, then it's very different from a workout. If a person wants to get healthy by working out, he has to exercise more and step up his workouts. But qigong cultivation, it turns out, is just the opposite—you don't have to move, and even when there is movement it's relaxed, slow, and smooth, or it's even motionless or still. So that's quite different from how workouts are done. Now if we want to talk about it on a high level, then qigong isn't just about healing and fitness, it has higher things and profounder meaning. Qigong isn't just about those few little things that are at the level of ordinary people. It's a higher thing, and it manifests differently at different levels. So it goes far beyond ordinary people.
Now in terms of the fundamentals of their exercises, there's also a big difference. Athletes have to increase how much energy they expend. And that's especially true for today's athletes. They have to ready their bodies for today's level of competition and meet its standards, so they have to keep their bodies in top shape. And to do that, they have to increase how much energy they expend so that they'll have enough blood circulation in their bodies, and that will increase their metabolic abilities and ensure that their bodies are always going in the direction of improving. Why do they want to increase their metabolic abilities? Because athletes' bodies always need to be in a state that's progressing toward the best condition for competition. The human body is made up of countless cells, and those cells go through a process like this: the newly divided cells are full of vitality and they're in a state of growth. When they reach their limit, they can't grow anymore, and they can only start to decline. When they decline to the lowest point new cells replace them. Let's use 12 hours of the day as an analogy. From 6 o'clock in the morning on, when a new cell divides it keeps growing and growing; 8 or 9 o'clock, or even past 10 o'clock are really good periods of time for it. When 12 o'clock rolls around, it can't go up anymore, and it can only slide down. In the time that remains that cell still has half of its vitality left, but that half of its vitality isn't suitable now for the competitive form an athlete needs to be in.
So what do they do? They step up their training and increase their blood's circulation so that they'll generate new cells and replace the old ones. That's the approach they take. So in other words, before the cells finish the full course of their life, when they're halfway through it, they are excreted out. That's why their bodies are always strong and improving. But a human being's cells can't keep on dividing like that forever. There's a limit to how many times a cell can divide. Suppose during a person's lifetime his cells can each divide 100 times (actually, they can divide more than even a million times), and let's suppose that when a normal person's cells divide 100 times he can live 100 years. But now his cells have only lived half their lives, and so he can only live 50 years. We haven't seen athletes having too big a problem, though, and that's because nowadays athletes are weeded out from competition before they hit 30. That's especially true nowadays when the competition level is high and a large number of athletes get weeded out, and they just go back to a normal life and they don't look like they've been affected that much. At least in theory that's basically what happens—it keeps them in good physical shape but shortens their lives. On the outside athletes who are in their teens look like they're in their twenties, and the ones in their twenties look like they're in their thirties. Athletes often give people the impression that they grow up faster and age quicker than other people. So there's both pros and cons. We should look at both sides of the coin, right? So what I described is in fact the approach they take.
Qigong cultivation is exactly the opposite of working out. The movements don't have to be vigorous, and when there are movements they're relaxed, slow, and smooth. They're really slow, and people are even motionless or become still sometimes. You know, in the cultivation method of sitting in deep meditation, a person stays still, even his heart rate slows down, and everything else, like his circulation, even slows down. There are a lot of yoga masters in India who can sit submerged in water for days or be buried underground for days, they can make themselves completely still, and they can even control their heartbeats. Let's say people's cells divide once a day. Then, if a cultivator makes the cells in his body divide once every two days, once a week, once a half month, or even longer, then he's extended his life. And what we're talking about here, are just those practices that cultivate only a person's nature, and not longevity. They too can achieve this—they can extend their lives. Now maybe some people are thinking, "Isn't your life pre-set? What makes you think somebody who doesn't cultivate longevity could live longer?" That's true, but, it's because that kind of cultivator's life can be extended when his level breaks through the Three Realms, although he'll look really old.
Practices that truly cultivate longevity constantly store up the collected high-energy matter in the cells of the human body, and as its density constantly grows, it is gradually able to suppress the cells of an ordinary person and slowly replace those ordinary human cells. When that happens there are fundamental changes and you will stay young forever. Of course, it's a very slow process that happens over the course of cultivating, and you really have to give a lot of yourself to it. You're working the body, tempering the will, and it's really not easy. When you're in the middle of tensions that test your character, can you stay calm inside? Or when things that directly impact you come up, can you stay calm inside? That's really hard to do. So it's not like when you want to do that you just can. You can only do that when your character and your virtue have improved by cultivating.
There have always been a lot of people who lump qigong in with ordinary workouts, when the truth is, they're incredibly different. They aren't the same at all. The only thing in common is that at the lowest level, when somebody is working on qi at the lowest level and trying to heal himself and get fit so that he can have a healthy body, there it has the same goal as working out. But when it gets to a high level, that's not what it's like at all. There's a purpose behind purifying the body in qigong. And what's more, qigong practitioners have to follow higher truths—they can't just follow the truths of ordinary people. Now working out, on the other hand, that's just an ordinary people's thing.
To talk about thoughts is to talk about the activity in a person's mind. How does the cultivation world look at the thoughts that go with the activity in a person's brain? What do they make of the different forms people's thinking (thoughts) takes? And how does it come to be? There are still a lot of questions modern medical science hasn't answered in its study of the human brain, and that's because thoughts aren't as easy to grasp as what's on the surface of our bodies. On deeper planes and in different dimensions they have different forms. But they aren't like what some qigong masters have said either. Some qigong masters really don't know what's going on, so they can't explain them well. They think that when their brain makes a move, or when a thought is produced, that they're able to do something, and so they go and say that they used their mind to do that, that their thoughts did that. But in reality it wasn't done by their thoughts at all.
Let's first talk a little about where a person's thinking comes from. There was a saying back in ancient China, "the heart is thinking." Why did they say the heart was thinking? The science in ancient China was really developed, since it directly studied things like the human body, life, and the universe. Some people really do, beyond a doubt, sense that their heart is thinking, while other people really do sense their brain thinking. And why does that happen? There's something to this "heart is thinking" that they talked about. The reason is, we can see that an ordinary person's master soul is very small, and that the real message sent by a person's brain doesn't come from the brain itself. It's not sent by the brain, but by the person's master soul. A person's master soul doesn't just stay at the Niwan Palace (the Niwan Palace that Daoists talk about is what our modern medical sciences call the pineal gland), if our master soul is at the Niwan Palace we'll really, truly sense that the brain is doing the thinking and sending out messages, and if it's at the heart we'll really, truly sense that it's the heart doing the thinking.
The human body is a small universe. The many, many beings a practitioner has can switch positions. If his master soul shifts its place, say, if it goes over to the belly, then he'll sense that it's really his belly that's doing the thinking, or if his master soul goes over to his calf or his heel, he'll sense that it's his calf or heel that's thinking. Guaranteed. I know it sounds pretty hard to believe. Even when your cultivation hasn't reached that high a level you can sense it happening. If a person's body doesn't have a master soul, if he doesn't have his temperament, disposition, or characteristics, if he doesn't have these kinds of things, it's just a hunk of flesh, and he's not a complete human being with his own distinctive traits. Then what function does the human brain serve? If you ask me, in the form of this material dimension of ours the human brain is just a processing plant. The real message is sent out by the master soul, but what he sends out isn't language. What he sends out is a type of cosmic information, and it conveys certain meanings. After our brain receives that command it processes it into today's language, into this form of expression, and we express it through gestures, or the expressions in our eyes, and with all our body language. That's what the brain does. The true commands and the true thinking are issued by the master soul. People often think that it's directly due to what the brain does on its own, when in fact, sometimes the master soul is at the heart, and some people really do feel that their hearts are thinking.
Today people who research the human body think that what a person's brain sends out is something like an electrical wave. For now we won't talk about what it actually sends out, but we can say they've acknowledged that it's material. So that's not blind belief. And what does the thing that's sent out do? Some qigong masters say, "I can move things with my thoughts," or "I can use my thoughts to open your Third Eye," or "I can use my thoughts to heal you," and so on. But in fact, some qigong masters are clueless about what abilities they have, and they're all confused. They only know that when they want to do something they just need to think about it and it works. What actually happens is that when their thoughts are at work, their abilities are being directed by their brain's thoughts, and they do specific things under the command of their thoughts. His thoughts can't actually do anything by themselves. When a qigong practitioner does certain things it's his abilities that do the work.
Abilities are innate to the human body. But as our society develops, the thoughts in people's minds become more and more complicated, people take practical things more and more seriously, and they come to rely more and more on so-called modern tools. And so people's innate abilities have been atrophying more and more. Daoists talk about returning to one's original, true self, and in the process of cultivating you have to strive to be true, eventually return to your original, true self, and go back to your original nature. That's when these innate abilities of yours display themselves. Today we call them supernatural abilities, but they're actually all just a person's innate abilities. Our society seems to have been moving forward, when in fact it's been going backward, and it's moving further and further away from the nature of the universe. The other day I mentioned that Master Zhang Guo rode his donkey backward. Maybe people don't know why he did that. He realized that going forward was actually going backward, that people are going further and further away from the nature of the universe. Over the course of the universe evolving, and what I'm about to say is especially true now that people have been forced to ride the wave of commercialism, a lot of people's morals are a wreck, and they're moving further and further from the nature of the universe—to be True, Good, and Endure. The folks who've been pulled under by the wave in the ordinary world can't sense just how bad mankind's morals are now. And that's why some people even think it's a good thing. People can only realize how horrible mankind's morals have gotten by taking a look back after they've improved through character cultivation.
Some qigong masters say things like, "I'll develop your abilities for you." Develop what abilities?! A person's abilities don't work without energy, and when they haven't emerged yet how could you develop them? When his abilities haven't been strengthened and shaped by his energy, you think you could develop them? Forget it. That "developing abilities" stuff he's talking about just has to do with connecting the abilities that have already formed with your brain so that they'll act at the command of your brain's thoughts. And he thinks that it counts as developing your abilities. But the truth is, he hasn't developed any abilities for you. He's just done that little thing.
With a practitioner, his thoughts direct his abilities to do things. But with an ordinary person, his thoughts just direct his four limbs and his sensory organs to do things. It's like a factory whose production office or general manager's office sends out instructions, and the different, specific operational departments carry out the task. Or it's like the headquarters of an army, where the command center gives orders and directs all the troops to carry out a mission. When I was giving classes in other regions I often talked about this with the officials of local qigong research societies. They were stunned—"We've always been studying how much potential energy and latent consciousness the human mind has..." But that's wrong in fact, and they've been off track from the get-go. I've said that to do human-body science a person's thinking really has to change, and you can't try to look at higher things with ordinary people's ways of reasoning or understanding things.
So now that we're talking about thoughts, I can tell you that there are some other forms of them. For example, some people talk about latent consciousness, the subconscious, inspiration, dreams, and so on. Now about dreaming, there isn't any qigong master who wants to explain it. When you were born, a "you" was born at the same time in many dimensions of the universe, and they're part of the complete you, they're interrelated, and their thoughts are interconnected. And you also have your master soul, subordinate souls, and other beings, all kinds of them, and they have their images and exist in your body, and every cell and each of your organs assume the forms in which your image and messages exist in other dimensions. So it's just extremely complex. In your dreams things are one way one moment and then different the next. Where on earth do they come from, anyway? In the medical sciences they say that this is due to changes taking place in your cerebral cortex. That's how it is in this material form, but in reality, it's the result of your being affected by messages from other dimensions. That's why you feel all foggy-headed when you're in a dream. But none of those things have anything to do with you, and you don't need to pay attention to them. There is one kind of dream that does directly have to do with you, though, and we can't really refer to these dreams as dreams: it's where your master consciousness, meaning, your master soul, sees your family approach you in your dream, or you have a real-to-life experience, or you see or do something. If that's the case, your master soul really did do something or see something in another dimension, it's you who did it, and you were clearheaded and you had a real experience. Those things really do exist. It's just that they exist in other dimensions and they were done in other space-times. So can you say they're dreams? You can't. Your physical body on this side was definitely sleeping, so for you it's just a dream. Only those dreams have a direct bearing on you.
As for people's inspiration, the subconscious, latent consciousness, and all that, I'd say those terms weren't coined by scientists. They were made by wordsmiths and they're based on the states of mind that ordinary people know. They aren't scientific. So just what exactly is the latent consciousness people talk about? It's hard to explain, and it's pretty vague. All the different types of messages in a person are really complex, and they look like some on-and-off vague memory or something. Now as for the subconscious that people talk about, that's pretty easy for us to explain. If you go by how a subconscious state is defined, it's usually about a person doing something while being foggy-headed. People will often say that he did that thing unconsciously, or not intentionally. The subconscious is exactly the same as the subordinate consciousness that we talk about. So when a person's master consciousness relaxes and stops controlling the brain and he's in a foggy state, almost like he's fallen asleep, or when he actually is asleep, while he's in that unconscious state there's a good chance he'll be controlled by his subordinate consciousness, or his subordinate soul. At that time the subordinate consciousness can do certain things. So to put it another way, those things are done when you're foggy-headed. But usually those things won't be done wrong, and that's because the subordinate consciousness can see the essence of things in another dimension and he isn't deluded by the ordinary world. That's why when you come back to your senses and look at what you did, you'll say, "How'd I do that so badly? I wouldn't have done it like that if I was clearheaded." But, even though right now you say it's bad, when you look back at it again a little later, maybe in ten days or half a month, you'll say, "Wow, I did a great job! Now how did I do that back then?" That happens a lot. The reason is, the subordinate consciousness doesn't care about the immediate result, but what it does will have a good result later on. And then there are things that don't have any impact later on and that just have an effect right then and there. Then when the subordinate consciousness does that kind of thing he'll probably do it really well right then.
Then there's another form of thought, and it has to do with those of us who have great bases. Often those people are more likely to be controlled by higher beings and made to do some things. Of course, that's something different and we won't say more about it here. We're mainly talking about the states of consciousness that come from us human beings ourselves.
So now about inspiration, this is again a term that wordsmiths came up with. In general people think that inspiration has to do with all the knowledge somebody's gained over the course of his life shooting out like a spark in the flash of an instant. I'd say that if you look at it in terms of the theory of materialism, as a person gains knowledge over time, the more knowledge he gains and the more he uses the brain, the sharper his brain should get. And when he needs an idea it should just flow right out, and there shouldn't be a question of inspiration, right? Whenever people call something "inspiration," or when inspiration comes, that's not how it happens, though. It often comes when somebody is thinking hard, he thinks and thinks, and finally he feels like he's run out of knowledge and it seems like he can't come up with anything, or it comes when he just can't go on writing an article, or when he's all out of ideas composing a song, or when he just can't get anywhere on a scientific research project. Usually at that point he's so tired his veins are throbbing, he's covered the floor with cigarette butts, and his brain aches from all the effort, but he still hasn't come up with anything. So then what state is he in when inspiration finally comes? Let's say he gets tired and thinks, "Forget it, time for a break." Now the more his master consciousness controls the brain, the less chance there is for another being to step in. So once he takes a break, he relaxes his mind a little, stops thinking about it, and in that state that's free of intention he suddenly thinks of something, or an idea comes up from his brain. That's how inspiration usually comes.
So why does inspiration come at that instant? The reason is, when a person's master consciousness controls his brain, the more he uses his brain the tighter he controls it, and the harder it is for his subordinate consciousness to come in. When he thinks so hard that his head aches, and when he's so frustrated about not coming up with any ideas, his subordinate consciousness, who's also part of his body, who was born at the same time from his mother's womb, and who controls part of his body, he suffers along with the person and he too gets a headache, and it aches pretty bad. And when the person relaxes his master consciousness, his subordinate consciousness will project what he knows into his brain, and that's because a subordinate consciousness can see the essence of things in other dimensions. Then he's able to get results in his work, complete his paper, or finish composing that song.
Maybe some people are going to say, "Then let's tap into our subordinate consciousnesses!" It's just like the note somebody passed up to me a moment ago asking, "How do we connect with our subordinate consciousnesses?" You can't connect with him, because you just took up cultivation and you don't have any skills. You'd better not make any contact. Your motive is definitely an attachment. Maybe some of you are thinking, "Can't we utilize our subordinate consciousness to generate more wealth and push society forward faster?" No! And why not? Because what your subordinate consciousness knows is still really limited. Dimensions are so complex and the number of levels is just huge, and the structure of the universe is awfully complex, so he only knows about what's in his dimension and he doesn't know about anything beyond his dimension. And on top of that there are so, so many different-level vertical dimensions. Only higher beings at really high levels can control mankind's progress, and it moves forward according to the laws that govern development.
The ordinary world progresses according to the laws that govern history. Maybe you want it to develop in such-and-such way or to achieve certain things, but those higher beings don't think that way. Couldn't the folks in ancient times think of the airplanes and trains and bikes we've got today? I'd say there's no guarantee they didn't think of them. They couldn't create them because history hadn't progressed that far yet. On the surface, when you look at it with the theoretical understanding that ordinary people are used to, or from the knowledge mankind has today, you'd think that they couldn't create those things because people's science hadn't reached that stage yet. But the truth is, how people's science develops also follows history's arrangement. It's wishful thinking when you try to achieve certain goals just because you want to. Of course, it's easier for some people's subordinate consciousnesses to play a role. There was a writer who said, "When I write a book, I can write dozens of pages every day and I don't get the least bit tired. If I want to get it done quickly it just flows right out. And people think it's pretty good when they read it." Why would that happen? It's the result of his master consciousness and his subordinate consciousness both playing a part—his subordinate consciousness could play half the role. But that isn't the case for everybody. Most subordinate consciousnesses don't bother to get involved, and if you want them to do things for you it won't turn out well, and you'll end up with the opposite result.
A Calm Mind
When a lot of people do the exercises their minds can't become still, and so they go all over the place to ask qigong masters, "Teacher… what can I do? Why can't my mind become still when I'm doing the exercises? As soon as I become still I start thinking of all kinds of things all over again, I daydream about everything." It's really wild, like a raging river, and everything comes up, and you're just not able to still your mind. And why can't you? Some people don't understand it, and they think there's got to be some secret of success, so they seek out famous masters, "Please let me in on your special tips, and then my mind can become still." But the way I see it, that's still looking outward. If you want to improve yourself, you need to look inward and work hard on your mind. That's the only way you can truly improve, and that's the only way you can become still inside in meditation. Being able to still your mind indicates your mastery. Your power of concentration is a reflection of your level.
Now, can an ordinary person just still his mind at the thought of it? Not at all, unless maybe he's somebody with a great base. So what this means, then, is that the real reason somebody can't become still inside doesn't have to do with technique, and it's not because there's some kind of signature move. Instead, it's because your thinking, or your mind, isn't pure. When you're in the ordinary world, there are clashes between people, you fight tooth and nail with other people to benefit yourself, or over your emotions and desires, and over all those passions you're attached to, you can't seem to let go of those things, and you can't seem to take them lightly—then if you want to become still, good luck! Some people who do qigong will come right back, "I don't buy that. Watch, I'll just still my mind, and I won't have wild thoughts." But just moments after they finish saying that those thoughts pop right back up again. It's your mind that's not pure, and that's why you can't become still.
Maybe some people don't agree with my view. "Don't some qigong masters teach people to use certain techniques? You can concentrate on one thing, visualize, focus on the elixir field, look in at your elixir field, or chant Buddha's name, and so on." Those are methods, but they're not just methods, they reflect somebody's degree of mastery. So then what degree of mastery somebody has, that's in fact related to the cultivation of character we talk about and the improvement of levels—he can't still his mind just by using those methods. Don't believe me? Give it a try. All those desires and attachments of yours are so strong and dominant, and you can't let anything go—see for yourself if you can become still. Some people say, "Chanting Buddha's name works." Can you still your mind just by chanting Buddha's name? And then there are folks who say, "Buddha Amitabha's discipline is easy to practice, you just need to chant Buddha's name." Have you tried? I'd say that's an indication of your mastery. Sure, you say it's easy. But I say it's not. No discipline is easy.
We know that Shakyamuni taught "Concentration." But what did he teach before Concentration? He taught "Precept." You can only achieve Concentration when you've given up all your desires and passions, when nothing's left. Isn't that how it works? But Concentration is a kind of mastery, and you won't be able to completely fulfill Precept in one shot. As you slowly give up all those bad things of yours your ability to concentrate will improve step by step. When somebody chants Buddha's name he has to chant without any distracting thoughts, he can't have anything on his mind, and he'll chant until all the other parts of his brain go numb and he loses awareness of everything, one thought replaces tens of thousands of others, and each word of "Buddha Amitabha" appears before his eyes. Isn't that about mastery? Can you pull that off right on day one? You can't. And if you can't, you definitely won't have a still mind. Don't believe it? Give it a try. While your mouth's chanting over and over, your mind is thinking about everything. "How come my supervisor at work doesn't think highly of me? And why'd he give me such a small bonus this month?" The more he thinks about it the angrier he gets, he gets furious, but his mouth is still chanting the Buddha's name. Would you say he can practice like that? Isn't that about mastery? Isn't that about your mind not being pure? For some people the Third Eye is open and they can look inside their bodies and see the elixir field. And as elixir builds up at a person's lower abdomen, the purer that energy matter is, the brighter it is, and the less pure it is, the darker and more blackened it is. So can you become still just by looking in at the elixir field and viewing the elixir? No, you can't. It's not the method that counts—the key is that the person's mind, his thoughts, aren't quiet and pure. When you look in at the elixir field, that sparkling elixir looks pretty nice, but a moment later that elixir turns into something else, like a dream home. "That room is for my son when he gets married. That room is for my daughter. My wife and I will have this room. In the middle is the living room. It's great! Am I going to get this house? I have to figure out how to get it. Now, what should I do…" People are just attached to those things. So do you think your mind could become still? But then there are others who say, "My coming here to the ordinary world is just like staying at a hotel. I'm only going to stay here a few days and then leave in a hurry." Some people just dread leaving this place, and they've forgotten their own homes.
In true cultivation you have to cultivate your mind, you have to cultivate inward, to look inward—you can't look outward. In some disciplines they say Buddha is in your mind, and there's some truth to that. But some people have misinterpreted the saying, and they say Buddha is in their minds, as if they are actually Buddhas, like there are Buddhas in their minds. That's how they understand it, but isn't that wrong? How could you understand it that way? The idea is that you have to cultivate your mind, and that's the only road to success in cultivation. That's how it works. Where's there a Buddha in your body? If you're going to become one you have to cultivate.
The reason you can't still your mind is that your mind isn't empty, and that your level isn't that high. It progresses from shallow to deep, and it's intertwined with your level being raised. When you let go of your attachments your level rises and your ability to stay in concentration grows. If you want to use some tricks or methods to achieve stillness, I'd say you're looking outward for help. And it means that you've gone wrong in your practice, or you've taken a crooked path, which is the same as looking outward for help. And that's especially true in Buddhism, where if you look outward they'll say you've gone down a demonic path. In true cultivation you have to cultivate your mind, and only when you've improved your character can your mind achieve a state that's quiet, pure, and one of nonaction. Only when you've improved your character can you assimilate to the nature of the universe, get rid of all the different human desires, attachments, and bad things, pour out the bad stuff in your body, and rise all the way up. You won't be restrained by the nature of the universe, and that matter of yours, virtue, can transform into gong. Aren't they intertwined? That's how it works!
This is the reason on your part why you can't become still, and it's because you aren't able to meet the standard for a cultivator. Nowadays, in terms of the environment around us, there's another thing that interferes with you pretty seriously, and it stops you from cultivating up to higher levels. It's having a really bad effect on practitioners. We all know that with the economic reforms and the open-door policy, the economy has been rejuvenated and government regulations have become less restrictive. A lot of new technologies have come in, and the standard of living is going up. Ordinary people all think this is a good thing. But if you look at both sides of the coin, if you put it in perspective, then you'll see that bad things have also come in with the reforms and opening up to the outside. And there are all kinds of them. It seems like a book or magazine wouldn't sell if there wasn't something pornographic in it, and then they'd have to worry about sales. It seems like nobody would watch a movie or a TV show if it didn't have some bedroom scenes, and then they'd have to worry about box-office sales and ratings. As for art, who knows whether it's real art or something people just threw together. The ancient art of the Chinese people didn't have that stuff. And the cultural heritage of our Chinese people wasn't invented or created by some person. When I talked about prehistoric culture I mentioned that everything has an origin. But now even people's moral standards have been perverted, they've gone through a change, and even the standards for determining what is good and bad have changed. That's how things are with ordinary people, at least. But the standard that is this universe's nature, to be True, Good, and Endure, that's the only standard for measuring whether somebody is good or bad, and it doesn't change. You're a practitioner, so if you want to break out of all that you have to use this standard to evaluate things—you can't use ordinary people's standards. So in terms of the environment, there's this type of interference. And it's not limited to just these things, all kinds of other messed-up things have come about, like homosexuality, free love, taking drugs, and all that.
The world has gotten into the shape it's in today, so think about it, what's it going to be like if it goes further? Will it be allowed for it to stay like this forever? If human beings don't do something about it, Heaven will. When mankind has met with catastrophe it's always been under this kind of circumstance. In all my classes I've never talked about mankind's great catastrophe. Religions are talking about it, and a lot of other people are talking about this hot topic. I want to bring this issue up, and let's all think about it. In our ordinary world people's moral standards have gone through this kind of change! And the tensions between people have gotten this serious! Then think about it, hasn't the situation already gotten extremely dangerous? So this environment we live in is also seriously interfering with us practitioners as we cultivate up to high levels. Nude pictures are just hung up right there, or they're strung up right in the middle of the street. Lift your head and it's right in your face.
Lao-zi said this before, "When the highest type of men hear the Dao, with diligence they will practice it." When the highest men hear the Dao, they think, "I've finally obtained a true teaching, so if I don't cultivate now, when would I?" A complicated environment, I think, is actually good. It takes a complicated environment, you know, to produce superior people. If in this setting somebody can come out on top then his cultivation is the most solid of all.
If you are somebody who's really determined to cultivate, then I'd say it turns out it's a good thing. If there weren't any disagreements, or if there wasn't a chance to improve your character, you wouldn't be able to go up, actually—you're nice, I'm nice, and all's well... how are you going to cultivate? The average cultivators belong to the group, "When the average men hear the Dao…"—they're okay with cultivating, and not cultivating is just fine, too, and fat chance that kind of person will get anywhere. Some people sitting here think that what the teacher's saying makes sense, but when they're back out in the ordinary world they'll still be wrapped up in those practical things that are at stake. Sure, they're up for grabs, but so what? Okay, let's not talk about you. Just think about all those really wealthy men and big tycoons in the West, when they're on their deathbeds they've realized that they have nothing, and that you can't bring material wealth with you at birth or take it away with you after death, and they've felt empty inside. Now why is gong so precious? Because it's carried directly on your master soul, it comes with you when you're born and it goes with you when you die. We say that the master soul doesn't perish, and that's not some kind of blind belief. After the cells of this physical body we have slough off, the smaller elements of molecules that exist in other material dimensions don't perish. It's only a shell that's sloughed off.
What I was just talking about all has to do with character. Shakyamuni said something like this, and so did Bodhidharma—"The Oriental land of China is a place where men of great virtue are made." A lot of monks and a lot of people in China over the years have been proud about that. They've thought it means that they can cultivate to high levels. So a lot of folks are pleased about this, and they're happy for themselves. "Yeah, that's us Chinese alright! China is the place that makes people who've got a strong spiritual inclination and people with great virtue." Actually, a lot of folks don't quite catch the meaning of it. Why is China the place that can produce people of great virtue? And why can people cultivate to high levels there? Many people don't know the true meaning of what's said by people at higher levels, and they don't understand the realms of people who are at higher levels and in higher realms, or their states of mind. Well, let's not talk about what it means, instead, let's just think about it: only in the most complicated crowd of people, or in the most complicated environment, can you cultivate to high levels. That's the idea.
A Person's Base
A person's base is determined by how much of the matter virtue he has on his body in another dimension. If he has little virtue and he has a lot of the black matter, then his karma field is large and his base is considered poor. If he has a lot of virtue and a lot of the white matter, then his karma field is small and his base is considered good. A person's white matter and black matter can be transformed into each other. How are they transformed? Doing good things for people generates the white matter. You get white matter when you've endured hardships, suffered, or done good things. And you generate the black matter when you do bad things, or things that aren't good, and that's karma. So there's a transformation process. And it can also be inherited. They're carried along directly with your master soul, so they aren't just related to one lifetime of yours, but are accumulated over the ages. That's why people talk about accumulating karma and accumulating virtue. And they can be passed down from a person's ancestors. Sometimes I think of what ancient Chinese people said or what older people say: they say that somebody's ancestors "accumulated virtue," or that a person has "accumulated virtue" or "lacks virtue." How true their words are. They really are right on.
A person's base can determine his comprehension. And a poor base can make someone's comprehension poor. So why is that? Because people with a good base have a lot of the white matter, the white matter is in perfect harmony with our universe, it's in harmony with the True, Good, Endure nature, and there's no gap. And that way the nature of the universe is directly displayed through his body and directly communicates with his body. But the black matter, on the other hand, it's just the opposite: you get it by doing bad things, and it violates the nature of our universe, so there's a gap between the black matter and the nature of our universe. When there's a large amount of the black matter it forms a field around the person's body and envelops him. The larger the field is, the greater its density and thickness, and that makes his comprehension worse since he can't receive True, Good, Endure, the nature of the universe. Meanwhile, it's because he has done bad things that he's generated the black matter, and most times those people don't believe in cultivation as much, their comprehension is poorer, and they're more blocked by their karma. The more hardships they suffer, the less faith they have in it, and when they cultivate it's tough.
It's easy for somebody with a lot of the white matter to cultivate, because in the process of cultivating, as long as he assimilates to the nature of the universe and he can improve his character, his virtue is transformed directly into gong. But for somebody with a lot of the black matter, it's like something made in a factory that needs to undergo one more process: while others are given material that's ready for use, he's made with crude material, and it needs to first be completely refined. So it takes an extra processing step to get it there. That's why somebody like that has to go through some hardships first and reduce his karma, to transform it into the white matter, and only after it turns into virtue can he develop high-level gong. But since that kind of person's comprehension is usually poor to begin with, if you have him bear a lot of hardship he'll have even less faith in it, and it'll be harder for him to take it. That's why people with a lot of black matter have a hard time cultivating. Back in the old days Daoist disciplines and those disciplines that passed things down to a single disciple both talked about masters seeking out disciples, instead of disciples seeking out masters. They selected people based on the amount of these things people's bodies had.
A person's base determines his comprehension, but it's not as if there are no exceptions to this. Some people's bases really aren't good, but their family environment is good, with a lot of family members practicing qigong, or maybe some of them are religious and believe deeply in cultivation things. So living in that environment can motivate them to believe in such things and improve their comprehension. So it's not absolute. And then there are folks whose bases are good, but, often because they've received an education that's based on the practical knowledge in society, which is so limited (and this especially goes for the regimented educational methods that were in a few years back, which have made people really narrow-minded), they don't believe in anything beyond what they know. And that can seriously hinder their comprehension.
I'll give you an example. One time when I was holding a class and I talked about opening the Third Eye on the second day, there was a person whose base was good, and his Third Eye opened to a very high level right away. He saw lots and lots of scenes that other people couldn't see. He told people, "Wow, I saw Law Wheels falling like snowflakes on people's bodies all throughout the auditorium where the Law was being spread. I saw what Teacher Li's True Body looks like. I saw Teacher Li's halo, what the Law Wheel looks like, and how many Law Bodies there were. I saw that Teacher Li was teaching the Law at all different levels, and I saw how Law Wheels were adjusting the students' bodies. I also saw that when Teacher was talking, Teacher's Gong Body was teaching at each of the different layers upon layers of levels. And I saw heavenly maidens scattering flowers, and…" He saw things that wonderful, which means his base was quite good. But after he talked about all that, in the end he said, "I don't believe in those things." Some of those things have already been proven by modern science, and a lot of the other things can be explained with modern science, and we've explained some of the things. We can do that because what qigong has been able to understand does go beyond what modern science has understood. Definitely. So in light of this, you can see that a person's comprehension isn't just determined by his base.
What's "enlightenment"? "Enlightenment" started out as a religious term. In Buddhism it refers to a cultivator's understanding of Buddha Law, to his enlightening to different truths, and to his final Enlightenment, and it means Wisdom-Enlightenment. But nowadays it's being used by ordinary people to refer to somebody who's clever, or who knows what's on his boss's mind and can pick up on it right away, somebody who's good at pleasing his boss. People say that that's somebody who's good at enlightening to things. People often understand it that way. But if you jump out of this level of ordinary people and get to a level slightly higher, you'll find that what ordinary people see as the truth is usually wrong. But for us, "enlightening" is totally different from that kind of enlightening. A crafty, slick person's ability to enlighten is actually pretty poor, and that's because somebody who's overly clever will tend to just do superficial work to get on the good side of his boss and superiors. Then won't other people have to do the real work? Well, then you'll have to pay them back. He's crafty and he's good at doing things that make him look good, so he makes out better, and then other people have to fill in for him. With his cleverness he won't let himself lose out on anything, and chances are he won't lose out, so other people will then have to lose out. As those trivial, immediate benefits become more and more important to him, he gets more and more calculating and petty, and he thinks more and more that ordinary people's material gains are something he shouldn't let go of. And he'll think he's practical, and that he doesn't get short-changed.
And you know what, some people admire that kind of guy! But look, I'm going to tell you: don't admire him. You have no idea how exhausting his life is—he can't enjoy his food, he can't sleep well, and even in his dreams he's worrying about losing out. And when it comes to his own gain, he'll dig his heels in over even the most trivial things. Wouldn't you say his life is exhausting? He goes through his whole life just living for that. We say that when you're handling a disagreement, if you can take a step back you'll see things in a whole new light. I guarantee things will look different. But people like that guy won't give ground. His life is just the most exhausting, so don't go learn from him. In the cultivation world they say that people like him are the most lost. He's gotten completely lost among ordinary people over his own gain. If you suggest to him that he guard his virtue, good luck! Suggest to him that he cultivate and he'll come right back at you, "Cultivate? You practitioners don't even hit back when you're attacked, or talk back when people insult you. People treat you like dirt, and you aren't supposed to hold a grudge like other people would. Instead, you have to turn around and thank them. You're all like that pathetic guy Ah-Q! There's something wrong with your heads!" Somebody like that can't understand cultivation. He'd say you're the one who's unbelievable. He'd say you're dumb. Wouldn't you agree he's hard to save?
What we mean by "enlightened" isn't that. Turns out, what we mean by enlightened is actually what that guy calls dumb when it comes to making out well. That's the "enlightened" we're talking about. Of course it's not really being dumb. It's only that we take lightly those things that have to do with self-interest, when it comes to other things we're plenty smart. When we work on a scientific research project, or, say, when our supervisor gives us an assignment, or when we're completing our tasks, we do a great job with crystal-clear thinking. But when it comes to that petty personal gain, or when it's about tensions and disagreements with other people, it's just then that we take things lightly. Who'd call you dumb for that? Nobody will. I guarantee it.
Now let's talk about somebody who's a bit mentally slow. The truth about this matter is totally reversed at higher levels. Someone who's slow probably won't do any seriously bad ordinary things. There's no way for him to fight and compete to benefit himself. He's not out to build a name for himself, and he doesn't lose virtue. But other people give him virtue. They hit him and insult him, they all give him virtue, and that material is really precious. There's a law in this universe of ours: someone who doesn't lose doesn't gain, and to gain you have to lose. When people see that retarded guy they'll put him down, "You big retard!" And when they open their mouths to insult him, a piece of virtue is flung over. When you've abused somebody you're the party that's gotten something out of it, and so you'll have to lose something. Maybe somebody will walk over and kick that guy, "You big retard!" Well, then another hefty chunk of virtue is flung over. When somebody bullies him or kicks him, he isn't bothered and just takes it with a grin, "Go ahead, what matters is you're giving me your virtue. I won't push any of it back!" So if we go by higher truths, then let's think about it, who's clever? Isn't he the clever one? He's the cleverest. He doesn't lose any virtue. When you fling virtue over to him he doesn't push any of it back and he accepts it all, he takes it all with a grin. Maybe he's retarded in this life, but he won't be in his next life, his master soul isn't retarded. In some religions they say that if a person has a lot of virtue then in his next life he'll be a high-ranking official or make a big fortune. His virtue is exchanged for them.
We believe that virtue can be evolved directly into gong. Isn't how high you cultivate to evolved from your virtue? It can be evolved right into gong. Isn't the gong that decides how high your level is, or how strong your potency is, isn't it evolved from that material? Wouldn't you say it's precious? You should know that it can be brought along at birth and taken along at death. In Buddhism it's said that whatever height you've achieved in cultivating, that's your Fruition. However much you put in, that's how much you get out. That's how it works. In some religions they say that a virtuous person will be a high-ranking official or make a big fortune in his next life, while somebody without much virtue can't even get anything begging for food, and that's because he doesn't have any virtue to swap—no loss, no gain, right?! And when somebody doesn't have an ounce of virtue left, both his body and spirit will perish, he'll truly die.
There was a qigong master whose level was pretty high when he first went public with his practice. Later on that qigong master got all caught up in fame and money, so his master left with the guy's subordinate soul, since he was one of those people whose subordinate souls cultivates. When his subordinate soul was still around it was his subordinate soul that called the shots. I'll give you an example. One day his company was assigning an apartment to one chosen employee. Management said, "Whoever needs housing come on over, tell me why you think you deserve it and why you each need an apartment." Everyone got riled up about making a case for himself, but that guy was mute. In the end management decided that he was in a tougher situation than everybody else, and that the apartment should go to him. The other people said, "No way, you can't give him the apartment. You should give it to me. Let me tell you how badly I need it." Then the guy said, "Okay, then you can take it." In ordinary people's eyes that guy was dumb. Some people knew he was a cultivator, so they asked him, "You cultivators don't want anything. So just what do you want?" He told them, "Whatever other folks don't want, that's what I want." The truth is, he wasn't at all dumb. He was pretty sharp. It was just when something of his was at stake that he handled it that way—he let things happen naturally. Then the others followed up, "What don't people want nowadays?" He said, "The stones on the ground are kicked around and nobody wants them. So I'll take the stones." Ordinary people think that's just unbelievable. Ordinary people can't understand cultivators. There's no way they can, their level of awareness is just too far behind, there's just too huge a gap in levels. Of course, he's not really about to go pick up stones. But he told a truth that ordinary people just can't grasp—"I'm not after ordinary things." Let's just talk about stones as an example. You know how the Buddhist scriptures say that in the Western Paradise the trees are gold, the ground is gold, birds are gold, flowers are gold, houses are also gold, and even Buddha's body is golden and shining, right? Well, you can't find even one piece of stone there, and word has it they use stones as money. Now that guy wouldn't haul a chunk of rock over there, but he did reveal a truth, and ordinary people can't get it. Beyond a doubt, a cultivator believes, "Ordinary people have those ordinary pursuits of theirs, but we don't go after that. And we don't care for what ordinary people have. But what we have, that's something ordinary people couldn't get even if they wanted to."
So in fact, the "enlightening" that we just talked about is still just the type of enlightening that is during the process of cultivating. And it's just the opposite of ordinary people's "enlightening." When we talk about real enlightening it has to do with whether we can, while we're cultivating, come to understand that we're cultivators when we run into difficulty; with whether we can understand and accept the Law that the master teaches, or the Dao that a Daoist master teaches; and with whether we can, in the process of cultivating, do things in line with that Law. Some people won't believe in these things no matter how you explain it to them, and ordinary things are still more real to them. They hold on to their rigid ways of thinking and don't let go, and so they can't believe in it. And then some people are just thinking about healing. The second I said qigong really isn't for healing they got turned off, and now they won't believe anything that's said.
Some people's comprehension just doesn't improve. Some folks just go and start marking up this book of mine. Now, those of us with open Third Eyes can see that this book is full of dazzling colors, and sparkling with golden light, and every word is in my Law Body's image. If I lied I'd be cheating you, so I'll tell you: the marks you make are so dark, and you dare to just mark it up like that? Do you know what we're doing here? Aren't we guiding you upward in cultivation? You should stop and give a little thought to some things. This book can guide your cultivation—now think, isn't it precious? You worship Buddha, but can that help you do true cultivation? You're very pious and you handle that Buddha's statue like fragile glass, and you burn incense for it every day, yet you dare to tamper with the Great Law that can truly guide your cultivation.
When we talk about a person's comprehension, it's about how much you understand, while you're in the process of cultivating, the certain things that come up when you arrive at different levels, or the certain things or certain Laws that your master teaches you. But that's not what we mean by fundamental enlightenment. When we talk about fundamental enlightenment, it's about how during his life a person, from the time he takes up cultivation on, keeps rising to higher levels and keeps getting rid of his human attachments and all those desires, and his gong keeps growing, until at some point he reaches the last step of his cultivation. His virtue, that matter, will all have been evolved into gong, he'll arrive at the end of the cultivation path his master arranged, and at that split second, "Boom!" all the locks will be blasted open. His Third Eye will reach the highest point of the level he's at, and he'll see the reality of the various dimensions at his level, the forms of existence of the various beings in different space-times, the forms of existence of matter in each space-time, and he'll see the Truth of our universe. His divine powers will be displayed in all their grandeur, and he'll be able to communicate with all kinds of beings. At that point, isn't he a Great Enlightened Being? Isn't he a person who's become Enlightened by cultivating? In the language of ancient India, that's a "Buddha."
That type of enlightenment we talk about, a type of fundamental enlightenment, is in the form of "sudden enlightenment." With sudden enlightenment a person is locked for all the years that he cultivates. He doesn't know how high his gong is, and he doesn't know the forms of the gong he's cultivated, he can't feel anything, and even the cells in his body are locked, all the gong he's cultivated is locked, and it stays that way until he cultivates to the very final step, and then it's unlocked. Only somebody with a great spiritual inclination can handle this, and the cultivation process is awfully tough. He starts as a good person, he perseveres in improving his character standard, perseveres in bearing hardships, perseveres in cultivating upward, and he perseveres in demanding of himself that he improve his character, but he can't see his gong. That kind of person's cultivation is the hardest, and he has to be somebody with great spiritual inclination. He'll cultivate for a lot of years without any awareness of what's going on.
There's another type of enlightenment, called "gradual enlightenment." A lot of people can feel the Law Wheel rotating right from the get-go, and I also open your Third Eye for you. For different reasons some people will go from not being able to see things to at some point being able to see them, and they'll go from not seeing things well to seeing them well, or from not knowing how to use it to knowing how to use it, and their levels are constantly going up. As you improve your character and give up all those attachments of yours, all kinds of abilities are coming toward the surface. And all the changes during the progress of your cultivation, and the process of transforming your body, these all take place in such a way that you can see them or feel them. You go on like that until you reach the final stage, at which point you've completely understood the Truth of the universe, and your level will have reached the highest point that you're supposed to reach in cultivation. The evolving of your innate body and the strengthening of your abilities will have reached a certain point. You gradually achieve all this. That is "gradual enlightenment." Cultivating by gradual enlightenment isn't easy, either. Once some people get abilities they just can't give up their attachments, and they tend to show off or do bad things. And that way your gong drops, you cultivate for nothing, and in the end you're ruined. Some people will be able to see things, and they'll be able to see all kinds of beings displayed at different levels. Maybe those beings will try to get you to do something or other, or they'll try to get you to cultivate their things or try to take you in as a disciple. But they can't help you achieve a True Fruition since they haven't even achieved a True Fruition.
Also, the people in higher dimensions will be divine beings who can become enormous and who can grandly display their divine powers. If your thoughts aren't proper, won't you follow them? As soon as you follow them your cultivation will be ruined. Even if they are real Buddhas or real Daos, you'll still have to cultivate again from scratch. Aren't the beings at different levels of Heaven all Celestial Beings? Only when somebody has cultivated up to an extremely high level and achieved his goal can he completely break out. But when these divine beings are in front of ordinary people's eyes they look tall and huge, and endowed with great powers. Yet maybe they haven't achieved True Fruitions. When you're being interfered with by all kinds of messages, and when you're being tempted by all kinds of scenes, will you be able to stay unaffected inside? That's why we say cultivating with the Third Eye open is hard too. It's even harder to guard your character. But don't worry too much, because for some of our practitioners their abilities will be unlocked at the halfway point, and then they'll enter the state of gradual enlightenment. We open the Third Eye for all of you, but a lot of people's abilities aren't allowed to come out. But when your character improves bit by bit to a certain level, your state of mind is steady, and you can handle yourself well, so then we'll blast them all completely open for you. So, when you get to a certain level you're allowed to experience a gradual enlightenment state, since at that time it's a bit easier to handle yourself, and all kinds of abilities will come out, and you will keep cultivating upward until eventually everything is unlocked. You're allowed to have that happen halfway through your cultivation. That's the case for a lot of us, so don't be anxious to see things.
Maybe you've heard about the Zen sect making a distinction between sudden and gradual enlightenment. The Zen sect's sixth patriarch, Hui Neng, believed in sudden enlightenment, while Shen Xiu from the Northern School of Zen believed in gradual enlightenment. The debate between the two carried on in Buddhist philosophy for a long time, with people arguing on and on. But I'd say it's meaningless. And why is that? Because what they were talking about was really just the understanding of a truth in the process of cultivating. And as for that truth, some people will grasp it instantly, while others will come to enlighten to it, or grasp it, a bit slowly. So then what's the difference? It's better to grasp it instantly, but it's fine to gradually enlighten to it, too—in both cases he enlightens to it, right? Both ways of enlightening work, so either way is good.
A Person With Great Spiritual Inclination
Now, what's "a person with great spiritual inclination"? A person with "great spiritual inclination" is different from somebody with "a good base." People with great spiritual inclination are hard to find. It's only once in a great while that somebody like that is born. Of course, for starters, someone with great spiritual inclination has to have a lot of virtue. That field of his white matter has to be pretty big. You can be sure of that. And at the same time, he has to be able to bear the hardship of hardships, he has to have great endurance, he has to be able to make sacrifices, he has to be able to guard his virtue, and he's got to have good comprehension, just to give you an idea.
And what's the hardship of hardships? In Buddhism it's believed that being human is suffering hardship—as long as you're a human being you have to suffer. They say that none of the beings in other dimensions have this kind of body that ordinary people do, so they don't get sick, and they don't have the problems of birth, aging, sickness, or death. They just don't have that kind of suffering. The people in other dimensions can float in the air and they're weightless, and it's just so wonderful. But ordinary people, exactly because they have this body, they have these problems: if it's cold they can't stand it, if it's hot they can't stand it, if they're thirsty they can't stand it, if they're hungry they can't stand it, and if they're tired they can't stand it, and then they have to deal with birth, aging, sickness, and death. You get the idea, it doesn't feel good.
I read in the paper that when the Tangshan City earthquake hit, a lot of people died, but some folks were resuscitated. A special investigation was done with that group of people, and they were asked what it felt like to die. But, to people's surprise, they all talked about one unique situation—and they were all consistent on this—and that is, at the very moment they were dying they didn't have any fear, and just the opposite, they suddenly felt a sense of relief and could feel an excitement brewing. Some of them felt like they'd been suddenly freed of the restraints of their bodies, as if they'd floated up like something buoyant and wonderful, and they saw their own bodies, some of them saw beings in other dimensions, and some even went off to various places. They all said that they experienced at that instant a sense of relief and a brewing excitement, and there wasn't any feeling of pain. So this tells us that when we have a mortal human body we're suffering. But since we all came to this world the same way we don't realize that we're suffering.
I've said that a person has to bear the hardship of hardships. The other day I mentioned that mankind's concept of space-time is different from that of other, larger space-times. What's for us over here a traditional block of time, like two hours, is actually a year for beings in another dimension. Let's say somebody is here cultivating in this tough environment—to them it's just incredible. He wants to find the Dao, and he wants to cultivate, so this guy's just amazing to them. He suffers so much, but he hasn't ruined his original nature and he still wants to cultivate and return. Why can a cultivator be helped with no conditions attached? That's why. Say somebody meditates for a whole night in the ordinary people's dimension, when they see it, they can't help but say he's just amazing. "He's already been sitting there six years"—and that's because a couple hours for us is a year over there. The human dimension is just extremely special.
So what is "bearing the hardship of hardships"? I'll give you an illustration. There's this guy who goes to work one day. His company is in a slump, and it's got to do something about its lack of productivity, so his company has to be restructured to increase individual accountability, and extra employees have to be laid off. He's one of them, so he loses his job all of a sudden. Now how's that feel? He has no source of income now—how's he going to support his family? He doesn't have any other skills. So he goes home depressed. When he gets home he finds out his elderly parent who lives at his house is sick, really sick, so he gets worked into a frenzy and quickly sends his parent to the hospital. He goes through a ton of trouble to borrow some money so he can secure a bed at the hospital for his parent, and heads back home to get some things for him or her. No sooner does he get home than a teacher comes and tells him, "Your son hurt somebody in a fight, you'd better hurry over and patch things up." He takes care of it, goes back home, sits down, and just moments later a phone call comes, "Your wife is having an affair." Now of course you won't run into that. The average person couldn't take the hardship, and he'd think, "Why go on? I'm gonna find a rope and hang myself—I've had enough! Time to put an end to it all!" I'm saying that you have to be able to bear the hardship of hardships. And of course it doesn't have to take that form. You get caught in the middle of people scheming against each other, tensions wear on your character, and there's all that fighting for personal gain—that's not much easier. A lot of people just live to prove their worth, and they'll hang themselves when it's too much. So if we want to cultivate in an environment this complicated, we've got to be able to bear the hardship of hardships, and we've also got to have great endurance.
So what's "great endurance"? To be a practitioner you should, for starters, be able to "not hit back when attacked, not talk back when insulted." You have to endure. If you don't, what are you calling yourself a practitioner for? Some people have said, "This endurance thing is hard to do. I've got a bad temper." If you have a bad temper then just change it. Practitioners have to endure. Some people blow up even when they're disciplining their kids, they'll yell and make a big scene. You don't have to be like that when you're disciplining your kids. You shouldn't really get angry. You should teach your kids with reason and good sense, and that's the only way you can really teach them well. If you can't even get over little things, and you lose your temper, then forget about gong. There are people who say, "If I'm walking down the street and somebody kicks me, I can endure it, since nobody knows me." I'd say that's not good enough. Maybe later on you'll be slapped in the face a couple times in front of the very person you least want to lose face around, and that's to humiliate you, to see how you handle it, and to see whether you can endure it. Maybe you can endure it but you can't get it off your mind. That's not good enough. You know, when a person reaches the Arhat level he's not fazed by anything he comes across. He's not the least bit concerned about any human things and he's always upbeat. It doesn't matter how much he loses out, he's upbeat and doesn't mind. When you can really do that, then you've achieved the initial Arhat Fruition.
Some people have said, "If we endure that much, ordinary people will say we're so weak and so easy to take advantage of." I'd say that's not being weak. Let's think about it. Even among ordinary people you find older folks and people with better education who always exercise polite restraint and don't stoop to the other person's level. Then that should be doubly so for us practitioners. How is that weak? I'd say it reflects your great endurance, it's a reflection of your strong willpower. Only practitioners have that kind of great endurance. There's a saying, "When the common man is humiliated, he draws his sword to fight back." He's an ordinary person, so of course—"You insult me, I'll insult you. You hit me, I'll hit you right back." That's an ordinary person for you. Could you call him a practitioner? If you don't have a will of steel, or if you aren't able to control yourself, you won't be able to handle it right.
You know about General Han Xin who lived in ancient times, and how they said Han Xin was talented. He was Emperor Liu Bang's chief general, he was the pillar of the state. And why was he able to do such big things? They say that from a young age Han Xin was no average person. There's a classic story about Han Xin being "humiliated under somebody's legs." Han Xin was already practicing martial arts even in his youth, and a martial artist would always carry a sword on him. One day Han Xin was walking down the street when a thug blocked his path, with his hands on his hips, "What do you have that sword slung over your shoulder for? Would you dare kill a man? If so, I dare you to cut off my head." And he stuck out his head as he was saying that. Han Xin thought, "Why would I want to cut your head off?" Back then, too, you'd be reported to the authorities for cutting off somebody's head, and you'd have to pay for it with your own life. Could you just kill somebody on a whim? When he saw that Han Xin didn't dare kill him, he said, "Since you don't dare to kill me, crawl through between my legs." And Han Xin really did crawl under his legs. That showed that Han Xin had amazing endurance, and that he wasn't like your average guy, and that's why he could do such big things. "A man has to struggle to prove his worth"—those are ordinary people's words. Think about it, everybody, isn't life exhausting then? Isn't that a pain? Is it worth it? And Han Xin was an ordinary person, after all—we cultivators should be a lot better than him. Our goal is to reach a level beyond ordinary people, to forge ahead to even higher levels. We won't run into anything like he did, but when a cultivator is insulted or humiliated around ordinary people, it's not necessarily any easier. I'd say that those frictions with people that wear down on your character aren't any easier, they're actually worse, and they're pretty hard to handle.
Now at the same time, a cultivator has to be able to let go—let go of all kinds of attachments and desires that people have. You can't up and do that in one shot, but we can do it gradually. If you could just do it right off today, then you'd be a Buddha today. Cultivation takes time. But you shouldn't slack off, either. If you say, "Teacher said cultivation takes time, so let's take our time," that's not the idea! You have to really be strict with yourself. In Buddha Law cultivation you have to boldly and vigorously forge ahead.
You also have to be able to guard your virtue, you have to guard your character, and you can't act rashly. You can't just do whatever you want—you have to guard your character. There's a saying you probably hear all the time when you're around ordinary people, "Accumulate virtue by doing good things." Practitioners don't think about accumulating virtue, though. What we do is guard our virtue. And why do we make a point of guarding virtue? Because here's what we've seen. Ordinary people make a practice of accumulating virtue, and when they've accumulated virtue and done good things they'll get good things in their next life. But that doesn't apply to us here—if your cultivation's a success you'll attain the Dao, and there won't be any question of the next life. But there's another layer of meaning to this "guarding virtue" we're talking about here. It's that these two kinds of matter we carry with us on our bodies aren't accumulated in just one lifetime, they've been passed down for ages. You can scour the city but there's a chance you won't run into any good deeds to do. And you could even do that every day and maybe you still wouldn't come across anything.
But there's yet another layer of meaning, and a person needs to know about it if he's going to accumulate virtue. Maybe you see something that looks like a good thing to do, and you go and do it, but maybe it turns out to be a bad thing. Or maybe you see something that looks like it's a bad thing, and you step in to stop it, but maybe it turns out it was a good thing. And why is that? It's because you can't see the underlying causes. Judicial laws govern ordinary people's affairs, and there's nothing wrong with that. But being a practitioner is a higher thing. So as a higher person you have to hold yourself to higher laws and higher logic. You can't evaluate things with the reasoning of ordinary people or with ordinary laws. When you don't know the underlying causes of something you'll probably handle it wrong. That's why we talk about nonaction—you can't just do whatever you want. Some people say, "But I just want to make sure justice is served." Then I'd say great, we should all just enroll in police academy then? But we're not telling you to do nothing when you come across terrible things like murder and arson. I'm just explaining that when people are fighting with each other, and maybe one person even kicks the other, or one of them slugs the other one, maybe that guy owed the other person something, and now they're settling the debt. So if you step in they can't settle it, and they'll have to do it again the next time around. What this means, then, is that you'd probably do the wrong thing and lose virtue since you can't see the underlying causes.
It's fine for an ordinary person to do something about some ordinary people's thing. He sizes it up with the reasoning of ordinary people. But you, on the other hand, you have to use higher reasoning to size things up. And there's a problem with your character if you don't do anything when you see something awful like murder or arson. How could you then demonstrate that you're a good person? If you don't even do anything about things like murder and arson, then what would you do something about? But one thing is, these things don't have a lot to do with us cultivators, so chances are that wasn't planned for you, and chances are you won't be made to encounter them. When we talk about guarding virtue, it's to have you avoid doing bad things. Maybe you do that thing ever so slightly, but it could still be doing a bad thing, and then you'll lose virtue. And once you lose virtue, how are you going to raise your level? How will you achieve your final goal? So these kinds of questions are part of it. And also, your comprehension has to be good. If you've got a good base, maybe it'll make your comprehension good, and influences from your environment can play a role, too.
And we've said, too, that if every one of us cultivates inward, if every one of us examines his own character for causes, if when we don't do well we look inside ourselves for the cause, and we try to do better next time, and if we think about other people first any time we do something, then the world will change for the better, morals will go back up, people's civility will improve, and crime will go down. Maybe we won't even need policemen. There will be no need for things like neighborhood watch, and everyone will watch over himself, and they'll look inside their own minds to fix things. Wouldn't you say that'd be great? We know how laws and regulations are now getting more and more complete and tight over time. Then why do people still do bad things? Why don't they follow the law? It's because you can't police their minds, and when nobody is watching they'll still do bad things. But if everyone were to cultivate inward things would be totally different, and you wouldn't need to be a whistleblower all the time.
We can only teach the Law up to this level. You have to cultivate to get what's higher. The questions some people are asking are getting more and more specific. Now if I were to answer every question in your life, what'd be left for you to cultivate with! You have to cultivate for yourself, and you have to come to your own realizations. If I spelled everything out you wouldn't have anything left to cultivate with. But you don't have to worry, because the Great Law is now being spread, and you can base your actions on the Great Law.
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I think the time for my transmitting the Law is pretty much coming to a close, so I want to leave you with the true things, and this way you'll have the Law to guide you from here on out as you cultivate. The whole time I've been transmitting the Law, I've made a point of being responsible to you and to society, and we've really been able to follow through on this. I won't comment on whether we've done it well or not—public opinion will tell. My wish was to spread the Great Law to the public and have more people benefit from it, and to make it possible for those people who truly want to cultivate to follow the Law and cultivate up to high levels. And while we've been spreading the Law, we've spelled out how to act like a good human being, and I hope that after you finish this class, at the very least you can be a good person even if you can't be somebody who cultivates by the Great Law, and that will benefit our world. Actually, now you know how to be a good person, and after this class you can be a good person.
There have been some things that haven't gone smoothly while I've been transmitting the Law, and big-time interference has come at us from all sides. But thanks to all the enthusiastic support from the organizers and community leaders, and also all the efforts of our staff members, our classes have gone pretty well.
All the things I've taught you during the classes are to guide you in cultivating to high levels, and nobody has ever taught these things before when they preached the Law. What we've taught is really clear-cut, and we've incorporated things that have been put forth by modern science and today's human-body sciences, and what's more, the level we've explained it at is quite high. We've done that mainly for you all, to help you truly obtain the Law in the time ahead, to cultivate up—that's my starting point. While we're transmitting the teachings and the exercises, a lot of folks feel that the Law is pretty good, but hard to put into action. But actually, I think that whether it's hard depends on the person. A really average, ordinary person doesn't want to cultivate, and he'll feel that cultivation is just way too hard, that it's unthinkable, and he'll think it's a waste of time. He's an ordinary person and he doesn't want to cultivate, so he'll think it's really hard. Lao-zi said, "When the highest type of men hear the Dao, with diligence they will practice it. When average men hear the Dao, it seems some is kept and some is lost. When the lowest type of men hear the Dao, they laugh at it heartily. If they didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the Dao." For a true cultivator, I'd say it's easy—it's not some impossible mission. And in fact, a lot of our veteran students here in the audience, and a lot of them who aren't here, have already cultivated to levels that are quite high. I didn't tell you this before because I was afraid you'd form attachments, that you'd be pleased with yourselves, and so on, and that would affect how your potency grows. For every one of you who makes up his mind to cultivate, you will be able to endure things, and when your personal welfare is on the line, you will be able to let go of your attachments, and you will be able to take those things lightly. As long as you can do that it's not hard, in fact. Now those people who say it's hard, it turns out, they just can't let go of those things. Doing the exercises isn't hard in its own right, and there's nothing hard about raising your level in and of itself. They only say it's hard because they can't let go of their human thoughts. The reason is, it's hard to let those things go when your personal welfare is on the line—that benefit is right there, in front of you, how can you let it go? When they think it's hard, we should know that that's the reason why it's hard. When we get into conflicts with people, if you can't swallow that anger, or you aren't able to handle it as a practitioner, I'd say that just doesn't work. Back when I was cultivating, a lot of men of great character told me this: "It's hard to endure, but you can endure it. It's hard to do, but you can do it." And that's really how it is. When you go back you might want to give it a try. When you're going through an awful tribulation, or maybe a critical juncture, give it a try. When it's hard to endure, try to endure it. When it seems impossible to do, or just hard to do, give it a try and see just what you can do. And when you can really do it, just like that worn and weary traveler, you'll see, "the shade of willows, the blooms of flowers, a place to rest my head"!
We should probably stop here, because if I say too much it'll be hard for you to remember it all. So I'll just say a few things in parting. I hope that in your cultivation that lies ahead you'll go about things as a practitioner and truly keep cultivating. I hope that both our new students and veteran students are able to cultivate in Dafa, and have complete success! I hope that after you go back home you'll seize the day to really cultivate.