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The Fourth Talk
 

Costs and Rewards

Costs and rewards are often discussed in connection with leading the religious life as well as by people more broadly. How we look at these is different from how most people do. The “rewards” that people usually hope to experience for their efforts consist of worldly things, like living a more prosperous and pleasant life. For we who practice, however, the rewards that we look to enjoy are of a completely different nature, and would be something regular people could never experience, even if they wanted to—unless they took up spiritual practice.

We aspire to give of ourselves on a scale far greater than people normally would think of. People usually consider themselves to be giving when they perform acts of charity, give aid to those in need, or perhaps help the homeless. Those are one facet of being a giving person, of course, and do involve making sacrifices. But they only mean that you are less attached to money or material things. We aspire to much greater sacrifices than just those, as significant as they may be. As part of our spiritual refinement we strive to give up a wide range of attachments, from self-promotion to jealousy, from competitiveness to being excitable. We want to let go of each and every possible thing that we might be holding on to. So the “costs” of leading a spiritual existence are for us far broader than what people might normally imagine, as it entails forgoing all attachments and wants common to this world.

This might seem worrisome to some of you, as it sounds like we’re taking vows of poverty just as monks and nuns do, but even less feasible, since we are supposed to do this while living and practicing as part of this world. But in our practice, for all of us who are still part of this world, we strive to lead lives that are as normal as possible while going about our spiritual practice. And so you aren’t asked to give up anything in a material sense. You can enjoy a high-power position or be extremely wealthy as long as you aren’t attached to it, as that is what’s key for us.

Our practice aims squarely at your attachments. What’s key is to try to worry little about your own self-interest and the disputes that might arise with other people. The spiritual practice done in monastic settings or the wilderness is meant to cut one off from the world and forcibly break one’s attachments to it; you are denied material comforts and made to let them go. Doing spiritual practice in the world, by contrast, entails a different approach. It demands that you find a way to care little for material things while still leading a regular life. This is hard to do, of course, but it is the crux of our practice. So what “costs” are entailed in our practice aren’t what people might normally think of. And it’s worth noting that the acts of charity and goodwill that people engage in [might not be as meaningful as they seem], since nowadays some of the beggars out there are pros, and may have even more money than you. We should expand our vision and have bigger goals, and not get hung up on the smaller things. In spiritual practice you should confidently set your sights on the things that matter. Ultimately you will find that spiritual practice is really only at the “cost” of bad things.

People tend to believe that the things they want are good, when in fact, from a higher perspective these might be seen as self-serving or shortsighted. The world’s religions have taught that wealth and influence, however great, last only a few decades and don’t go with you to the next life. What makes the higher energy we get from practice so precious, by contrast, is that it accumulates and is stored on your soul, and it does go with you across lifetimes. And what’s more, it has the potential to earn you divine standing, and so it’s not something easily come by. All that you will be sacrificing are undesirable things, and yet by doing so you will be able to regain the purity you once had. The “rewards” for our efforts are great, thus, and include not only the elevation of your soul, but the chance to one day achieve spiritual perfection and truly become divine. What’s solved is the fundamental problem of existence. Of course, it’s not realistic to think that you could give up all worldly longings and meet the benchmark for a true practitioner overnight. A process has to be allowed for. But you shouldn’t take this as license to approach practice in a casual and leisurely way. You need to be strict with yourself even if we allow for gradual progress. Nobody becomes divine overnight. It takes a process, and with time you will get there.

Our spiritual efforts, in fact, only “cost” us something we don’t want anyway: karma. It’s something that goes hand in hand with attachments. For example, when someone has all sorts of unhealthy attachments he will act selfishly and be driven to do wrongful things. And for his actions his only reward will be the black material known as karma. So karma is directly connected with attachments. If you want to free yourself of it, you will first have to change your selfish ways.

 

Reworking Your Karma

Black matter and white matter can be changed into and replaced by one another. Getting into a dispute with another party is one thing that triggers this process. Doing good works will earn you white matter, virtue, while wrongful acts meanwhile will get you black matter, karma. Karma can also be passed on. It doesn’t just come from earlier in your life, as people may imagine, but is accrued across multiple lifetimes. There has long been a belief that the soul is immortal. This would mean, then, that one’s soul likely became indebted to others, took advantage of others, or did other forms of wrong such as taking life during its previous incarnations—and any of those acts would result in karma. Karma is something that accumulates in other dimensions and always goes with you, like virtue. There is another possible source for these, which is from within the family line, or from one’s ancestors. The older generation used to make comments about accumulating virtue or blessings, and how someone’s ancestors did so, or about someone “losing” or “squandering” these. What they said was remarkably accurate. Most people nowadays wouldn’t take such comments to heart. Kids these days really wouldn’t take you seriously if you tried to tell them they are lacking or short on virtue. But those comments were actually quite profound, for how “virtuous” someone is isn’t simply about him or her having noble thinking or exemplary moral conduct, as people take it to be. Rather, it also has a physical reality, and both types of matter that I’ve been describing accompany our bodies.

I have been asked whether black matter prevents you from progressing to advanced stages of practice. You could say so, for having too much of it will affect one’s ability to believe. That’s because it will form into a field that envelops the body and encases the person, cutting him off from the qualities of the universe, zhen, shan, ren. He is apt to have little faith as a result. And so he will regard talk of spiritual or energy practices as naive, and won’t believe any of it; he may even find it humorous. That’s often the case, at least. But this doesn’t mean that spiritual practice will be impossible for him, or that he won’t achieve much, should he try it. We hold that anything is possible through Dafa, so anyone can practice if they have the heart for it. As it’s been said: a master can teach the trade, but it is up to the apprentice to do the actual work entailed for progress. Anyone who is willing to patiently endure, put in what it takes, and suffer a little will find that spiritual practice is doable. There will be nothing you can’t overcome if you are deeply committed, and I can say that your karma will not be an issue.

Those who have more of the black matter usually need to put in more effort than those with more white matter, since the latter is by nature in sync with the universe’s qualities of zhen, shan, ren. So someone with more white matter will get higher energy simply by elevating his thought and character; it can happen just by handling interpersonal disputes well, for example. Those with more virtue have greater faith, are able to take hardship, to endure physically, and discipline the will; and they will still increase their energy even if they suffer more physically than psychologically. The same can’t be said for those with more of the black matter, however. They have to first go through a process whereby that material is reworked into white matter, and the experience is agonizing. So it’s usually the case that people with weaker faith have to endure more, since it bespeaks of having more karma. And so spiritual practice is much harder for them.

Let’s look at a concrete example of how this plays out in someone’s practice. Buddhist meditation requires the legs to stay in the lotus position for a long time, and they start to feel like pins and needles as the length of time increases. It grates on the mind and is terribly trying. It’s trying for both mind and body, and pleasant in neither regard. Some people can’t bear the pain that the legs experience, and uncross them rather than persevere through it; some hold out a bit longer but still end up uncrossing them. But doing so renders their efforts for naught. It doesn’t do any good to stretch out the legs and shake out the pain before continuing on. That’s because the pain that the legs experience comes from black matter assailing them, in our observation. That black matter is karma, and suffering has the power to eliminate it and convert it into virtue. When pain arises in the legs it means that karma is being dissolved, and greater pain reflects greater pushback from the karma. So the pain felt in the legs is not without rhyme or reason. The pain experienced in meditation usually comes in bursts. A rush of pain might come and be especially hard to take, but after it passes, things settle down again, only for the pain to ensue again afterwards. That’s often how it goes.

Because karma is eliminated piece by piece, the legs will feel better after a piece is dissolved and feel pain again when another piece comes up. The black matter doesn’t just break down and disappear after it’s eliminated. The conservation of matter holds true here, too, and so karma that’s dissolved is converted straight into white matter, i.e., virtue. This conversion is possible because the person suffered, put in the effort, and endured the pain. We hold that virtue comes to those who bear pain, endure adversity, and do good works; and that’s why the above happens during meditation. Some people uncross their legs and straighten them out as soon as pain appears, and shake it out before crossing them again. But that achieves nothing. And the same holds true when people are doing an exercise where they need to hold their arms up, but put them down due to fatigue. What’s a little pain? Spiritual achievement takes much more than simply holding your arms up. So this is some of what happens when meditative exercises are part of one’s practice.

That’s not the main approach our practice takes, though it does play a certain part in it. In ours, most typically, the majority of your karma is reworked via interpersonal things that grate on your mind. When people you don’t get along with really irritate you, it can be even more trying than physical pain. I would say physical pain is much easier to bear, as you can simply tough it out. It’s much harder to take it when someone is scheming against you.

To illustrate it, suppose someone who is learning our practice arrives at work and overhears two people speaking badly of him. What they have to say is really unpleasant, and his anger starts to flare. But as we have taught, a practitioner should refrain from fighting back and always hold himself to high standards. So he remembers that I’ve taught that practitioners are different from others and should take the high road, and he avoids getting into a dispute with his co-workers. But often tensions like these won’t count or achieve what they are meant to, or help you to improve, if they don’t actually bother you. For that reason this practitioner isn’t able to get it off his mind, it proves irritating, and it may really provoke him. And so he can’t resist looking over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of those two colleagues speaking badly of him. But he won’t be able to take it when he sees the looks on their faces, and his anger will surge. He might even get into an argument with them right then and there if his anger gets the best of him. It is the mind that’s hardest to control when you aren’t getting along with someone. While it would be nice and easy to work through it with meditation, that’s not always possible.

This means that you will meet with all kinds of ordeals going forward in your practice. But just think, could spiritual progress be possible without them? Your character wouldn’t develop if everyone got along well with you, nobody quarreled with you for selfish reasons, and worldly attachments never preyed upon you. You have to truly temper yourself through real, lived experience if you are to grow and progress. Some people don’t understand why they have so many challenges after taking up the practice, and the challenges are surprisingly ordinary. But that’s because you do your practice in the world. You won’t experience anything radical like suddenly getting yanked up into the sky, feet first, and being tormented there. It won’t be anything out of the ordinary. Your challenges will always take the form of normal events, such as being provoked, angered, mistreated, or being insulted for no apparent reason. All of which is to see how you respond. 

You encounter those things on account of your karmic debts, though we have reduced the debts for you greatly. The few that do remain are allotted to different stages of your practice and will take the form of ordeals. These are meant to develop your character, strengthen your will, and break the attachments you have. They are ordeals fashioned just for you, and we make use of them to perfect your character. And we can help you to overcome them. All of them can be overcome as long as you elevate your mind. You should be able to pull through unless you are not determined to. So, going forward, don’t think that the issues you experience with people are by chance. They’re not, even if they come out of the blue. They are meant to perfect your character. You will manage to handle them well as long as you act as a practitioner.

Naturally, you won’t be forewarned when challenges or tensions are coming your way. Little spiritual growth would be possible if everything were disclosed to you, and those events wouldn’t serve their purpose. They will usually come unexpectedly so as to test your character and help you to grow; and by doing so your character will be revealed for what it is. So tensions with others don’t happen by chance. Challenging situations will unfold throughout the course of your practice and facilitate the reworking of your karma. They are far more trying than suffering physical pain, contrary to what people imagine. It’s not realistic to think that higher energy could be developed just by putting in long hours meditating or exercising, or standing in some special position until the arms and legs ache. That only serves to transform your innate body. You still need strengthening from energy of a higher plane; merely doing exercises doesn’t foster spiritual growth. The key to real spiritual progress is to train your will. If physical strain was all it took, you would expect that China’s farmers would all be great saints, given the strains that they endure. Whatever you might put your body through, it wouldn’t match their efforts, working the earth day after day under the scorching sun, tired and spent. So it’s not that simple. Mastering the mind is the real key to spiritual attainment, as I see it, and is what truly makes progress possible.

We should try to keep compassionate and pleasant while karma is being reworked. By doing so, your judgment won’t be clouded by the situation at hand and lead you to mishandle things, as might normally happen for people. And you will be able to handle anything unforeseen that comes along. If your heart is always very kind and compassionate, you will usually have breathing room and space to think when situations come up unexpectedly. By contrast, if you are always a contentious person and getting into disagreements with people, then I think it’s inevitable that you will fall into an argument when issues come up. So as I see it, the tensions you experience are meant to change your body’s black matter into white matter, virtue.

With humanity having reached this point, virtually everyone is born with karma rolled over from previous lifetimes, and the amount on each person’s body is sizeable. So, often the way it works is that while your karma is being dealt with and reworked, your energy and character will be developing in tandem. So if you find that someone is testing your character, it could be a reflection of that process at work. If you persevere through it, your karma will be reduced, your character will grow, and your energy will increase. They go together. People in the past were very virtuous and had noble character, and persevering through even just minor ordeals could result in their gaining higher energy. But people aren’t like that today. They tend to lose their enthusiasm for spiritual practice as soon as the going gets tough, and then they have only less belief in it, which makes things even harder.

The altercations or mistreatment that you encounter as you practice might be either of two scenarios. One is that you mistreated the other person during a past life. Perhaps the situation preys on your mind, and you can’t believe someone would treat you as they are. Well, then you shouldn’t have treated them that way in the past. You might say that you didn’t know better back then and that this lifetime has nothing to do with that one. But you can’t write it off like that. Another thing is, karma is surely being reworked with any altercation you get into, so we should be magnanimous and not handle it like most people would. This should hold true at the office or wherever you work, and even if you run your own business. And the interactions you have with the general public are no different. You can’t avoid having some sort of interaction with the world. If nothing else, you have dealings with your neighbors.

You will experience a range of difficult encounters while interacting with others as part of society. For those of us who practice in the world, it doesn’t matter how rich or powerful you may be, or whether you are self-employed and work alone, or have a business to run, or do any type of business: the key is to deal fairly and act with integrity. The various trades and professions in this world are meant to exist. Your heart is what counts, not your occupation. People have long had a perception that most businessmen are dishonest, but that’s not a very insightful take on it. I would say that the problem lies with people’s hearts. You will do business fairly if you have a good heart, and if you make more money than others it will be a reflection of your efforts; you would have worked for the money that you got. Getting paid for doing honest work follows from the laws of costs and rewards. You can be a good person in any strata of society. Each class has its own, unique interpersonal challenges, and this includes the upper class. But there are always proper ways to handle them. You can be a good person whatever your strata of society, and have few wants and attachments. Spiritual progress is possible in any segment of society, and you can always show yourself to be a good person.

The interpersonal things that people now experience in China are quite abnormal, be it at the state-owned enterprises or elsewhere. It’s not something you see in other countries or that would have happened in the past. People get into heated disputes while trying to get ahead, and scheme against each other even for petty things. The thoughts people have and the tactics they resort to are terrible. It’s hard to be a good person there. For example, you might arrive at work one day and notice that things don’t feel right. Later you find out that someone spoke terribly of you and complained about you to your supervisor, making you look awful. And you find that your co-workers are looking at you strangely. The average person wouldn’t be able to take the humiliation. He would try to get back at whoever caused this, and rally people to his side. Responding like that might win you the respect of worldly people, but it’s beneath a practitioner. When you retaliate like an ordinary person, you become one, or worse—if you’re more worked up than people normally would be.

Then how should we handle situations like these? When we get into a disagreement we should first of all stay calm and not act like others. Of course, it’s fine to try to explain things with good intent; there’s nothing wrong with trying to clear things up. But if you do it with too much attachment it won’t work out. When we experience these trying situations we shouldn’t respond in kind. If you stoop to the other person’s level, then you are no different from them. And not only shouldn’t you respond like them, neither should you feel hatred or resentment. And I sincerely mean that. Any bitterness towards another person means that anger got the best of you. And in that case you have failed to live up to the standard of ren, and even less so shan. Yet we practice zhen, shan, and ren. So you mustn’t act as the other party does, and really mustn’t become angry—even if they made you look so bad that you can’t hold your head up high. And rather than being angry at the other party, you should thank them in your heart, and genuinely so. Worldly people might think that responding this way makes you a self-deluded fool. But I can assure you that that’s not the case.

So it only follows that you should hold yourself to high standards, since you are a practitioner. You can’t just do things as others do. Greater treasures await those who engage in spiritual practice, and so you have to live by higher principles. Yet when you act like the person who you’re experiencing problems with, you are the same as him or her. I’ve said that you should feel thankful towards that person rather than bitter. To understand why, just consider what you are going to get out of it. The laws of this universe hold that nothing can be gained without some cost being entailed; everything comes at a price. The other person may have caused you to look bad and get a raw deal, and so he gained from it in a worldly sense. But the worse he made you look and the bigger the ruckus he caused, the more you had to endure, and so he will lose that much more virtue for it—all of which is passed on to you. And while enduring it all, it’s possible it won’t even get to you or weigh on you.

The laws of the universe also hold that the karma of someone who suffers greatly will be reworked. In the scenario just described, you were the one who took abuse, and so your karma will be converted into virtue equaling what you endured. And virtue is of course something practitioners want. So there’s a second benefit, in that your karma was reduced through it. Also, it would be hard to perfect your character without going through situations like the one that person created. We couldn’t expect our energy to increase if everyone got along well and just meditated away as one happy family. It was in fact due to the situation that person created that you had an occasion to work on your character and grow. And assuming you did, then that’s a third benefit. And since you are a practitioner, your energy is going to grow whenever your character does. That makes it a four-for-one deal. What’s not to feel thankful for, then? You really should feel thankful towards that person, and I mean it.

Of course, the other person’s intention was bad or else he wouldn’t have given you virtue. But he did provide you with an opportunity to strengthen your character, and for us that should be the heart of spiritual practice. That’s because spiritual growth is only possible by whittling away your karma and having it turn into virtue, and all of this happens while working on your character. So they go hand in hand. Those in higher realms look at the happenings in this world quite differently from the average person. Things will look radically different to you if you view them from a higher plane. What seems “right” to us here in the secular world might be seen otherwise. More often than not, only what is seen as right from higher planes turns out to really be so.

I have explained the workings of the universe to you in depth in hopes that, with them clear to you, you will sincerely apply yourself to spiritual practice. Some of you might, being still in this world, find the immediate lure of worldly things too great to resist. The secular world holds too much sway over some people and they don’t aspire to higher standards. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking up to heroes and role models if someone just wants to be a good person in the normal sense. But those can only serve as an example to non-practitioners. Successful spiritual practice all comes down to how much heart you put into it and your own discernment. There’s no template to follow. You are fortunate in that Falun Dafa has been explained to you, whereas, before, something like this was never openly taught, even to those who sought spiritual growth. So with the knowledge you have, you can now put Falun Dafa into practice in your life, and I believe you will do well. How it goes and how far you progress is all up to you.

Of course, the reworking of your karma won’t always take place in the ways I just described; there are other possibilities as well. It could take place out in the world as well as on the domestic front. You might run into challenges as you are walking down the street or in another public setting. You will be made to give up all of the worldly attachments that you hold onto. Any and all attachments you have must be ground down, and it will take place through any of a number of scenarios where you will be made to stumble or do poorly, and from these come to new spiritual insights. This is how you will make it through and succeed.

Here’s an example of a fairly typical scenario. We have many people who find that their spouses get really upset when they do our exercises. No sooner do you start to practice than your spouse launches into a fit. Yet when you do other things he doesn’t mind. He might not be happy if you take up too much time playing table games, but it’s nothing like how angry he gets when you exercise. Your practice does nothing to bother or inconvenience him, and it should be seen as a good thing since you are taking care of your body. But as soon as you practice he erupts. In some cases it has reached the point where couples have even considered divorce. Yet few practitioners have given much thought as to why this happens. Your spouse will have no explanation if you ask him to explain his anger after one of these episodes. He really won’t be able to, and will agree that he shouldn’t get so upset and allow his anger to flare like that. So what’s really going on, then? Your karma needs to be reworked for you as you go about your practice. Yet for that to happen, there have to be costs involved. But take heart in knowing that whatever costs are entailed, you will be better off for it. Let’s look at another possible scenario, where your wife gives you a hard time as soon as you walk in the door.

If you can manage to patiently endure that kind of situation, you will make progress in your practice that day. But it might prove too much for you, even if you’re normally on good terms as a couple since you know how central virtue is. Her outburst might feel like an affront to you, and be just too much, and so you get into an argument with her. But that would, in effect, offset the progress you might have made in your practice that day. The episode happened because karma was right there at that moment and she was helping you to remove it. You didn’t go for it, however, and instead succumbed to fighting. So it wasn’t removed. There are many instances like this. A lot of you have experienced similar things without giving them much thought. But just consider that she always gives you a hard time about your practice—something good—and yet is okay with whatever else you might do. The reality is that she’s unknowingly helping you to remove karma. That doesn’t mean she is just fighting with you outwardly, though, while still feeling good toward you inside. Her anger truly comes from within. You can be sure that whoever your karma is distributed to will feel upset about it.

 

Perfecting Your Character*

Many people have let their thoughts get the best of them, and this has caused a lot of problems and led to their spiritual progress stagnating. There are some individuals who, for example, are naturally endowed with quite good character, and the inner eye might suddenly open for them when their practice takes them to a higher realm. They develop higher energy rapidly since their innate foundations are good and their character is excellent. But eventually, when the progress of their energy catches up with that of their character, the tensions and interpersonal things that they experience will have to be intensified if their energy is to develop further. So these practitioners, who are spiritually well-endowed, are apt to find that their practice goes well at first and energy comes to them readily, only to then, unexpectedly, and much to their confusion, find themselves plagued with troubles. Everything seems to suddenly go wrong, from others treating them badly to upset supervisors and tense situations at home. Issues spring up everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to make sense. But the initial smooth sailing they had was due in fact to their having quickly reached a certain level of attainment, thanks to their good innate foundations. Yet that would be nowhere near the kind of attainment it takes for a practitioner to achieve spiritual perfection. Further progress is still needed. So the bar has to be raised. And only when that new, higher bar is cleared will they progress beyond where they had reached with the initial smooth sailing, which owed to their good endowment.

There are also people who hold off on starting spiritual practice on grounds that they want to first build up some savings and make sure their family is financially secure and worry-free. But that sounds like wishful thinking to me. For one, you don’t have the power to change another person’s life or fate, ultimately, even if they are your closest of kin. Could you really change a person’s destiny? And secondly, if you really were to have no worries on the home front and be free of all troubles, what would your spiritual practice consist of? It’s hard to grow spiritually if your life is full of comfort and ease. So it’s not how you may have imagined it, with conventional thinking.

In spiritual practice you have to go through ordeals, and they serve to test whether you can become free of your emotions and desires and the sway they hold over you. Being attached to those things will impede your progress. There are reasons behind everything. What makes people human? It is the presence of emotion, as people simply live for it. There is love for family members, romantic love, love towards parents, emotions associated with relationships, and the affection that goes with friendship. People act for the sake of emotional bonds, and emotion follows you everywhere you go. Everything human about this world stems from emotion, from likes to dislikes, from joys to sorrows, love to hate. And so you will have problems in spiritual practice if you don’t manage to free yourself of it. Those who do, will be free of human sentiments and unflappable. In its place will arise compassion, something far more noble. Of course, you’re not likely to end emotion overnight; spiritual development is a long journey of gradually stripping away attachments. But you have to be strict with yourself.

Tense situations with others will come up unexpectedly for those of us who practice. How can you be prepared, then? If you can always be compassionate and calm, you will handle the issues that arise in your life well since you will have a buffer, in a sense. Things will work out well if you are always compassionate and good to others, thoughtful towards people, and handle whatever situations you get into with people by first pausing to consider how well your actions will go over with the other party and whether anyone will be hurt by them. You should hold yourself to high standards and raise the bar still further as you practice.

There are people who always seem to lack faith. For example, they might see visions of a higher being that they worship, and pray to it, but when they do so they mix in all sorts of complaints about their unanswered prayers, as they think that this being hasn’t done much for them or made life easier. But that higher being won’t respond to their wishes, of course, since the ordeals in their lives were in fact planned by him and meant to develop their character; things like interpersonal strife can do a lot to perfect one’s character, after all. And so divine beings typically won’t help as people wish. There is no way to perfect your character or increase your energy if a higher being answers your worldly prayers; it would defeat the whole purpose of the ordeal. Our human lives are not ends in themselves, but are for returning to heaven, as divine ones see it. They hold that the more adversity you experience, the better, since you can pay off your karmic debts more quickly that way. Some people just don’t catch on, however. When their prayers go unanswered, they might start to complain to their god about receiving no assistance despite all of their worship. And some get so worked up that they even smash their religious images and curse their god from then on. Their character declines with all of this and any higher energy they had disappears. And they will only feel more resentful toward their god when they realize that they have nothing now, thinking that he is ruining their lives. They use human logic and criteria to judge a higher being’s character and things of a higher order, which isn’t appropriate. So it’s a common failing for people to view the difficulties in their lives as unfair, and many have fallen as a result.

Many well-known teachers of energy practices have fallen in recent years. The true masters, however, retired from the public eye after fulfilling their historic missions. Only those who lost their way in the world, whose character has declined and who have lost the higher energy they had, have remained active. Some of the figures who are still publicly active and who have enjoyed some degree of fame have had their secondary souls led away by their teachers, and their energy went with them. Their teachers had seen that they had fallen for worldly things like fame and fortune, and that they wouldn’t be able to free themselves. Cases like these are common and not out of the ordinary.

In our discipline it’s rare to see people fall like that, and what instances there are, aren’t that noteworthy. But the positive changes that people’s characters undergo with our practice are noteworthy. We once had a student in Shandong province who worked at a textile mill and who taught Falun Dafa to her co-workers after she had learned it. The attitude of the entire factory changed for the better as a result. It used to be that employees would hide small towels in their clothing and take them home. After this woman had learned our practice, though, not only did she stop taking things, but she even decided to return the items she had taken before. Others at the factory stopped taking things as well when they saw the change in her, and some even returned what they had taken. This happened throughout the factory.

In another city the volunteers from our practice site went to a factory to see how things were going for everyone who was learning Falun Dafa there. The factory’s manager personally came out to receive them, and told them, “Since learning Falun Dafa these workers have been putting in extra hours and working conscientiously and with a lot of heart. They don’t quibble over the work they’re assigned to do, and aren’t just thinking about themselves. Just by being like that they’ve changed the morale of the whole factory, and our profits have grown. Your practice is fantastic. I want to attend your classes the next time your teacher is in town.” While the main goal of Falun Dafa is spiritual progress, and not, in fact, to bring about changes like those, it can nevertheless do a great deal to foster civility and moral living in society. If each and every person were to self-reflect and give thought to how they should act, I would say the world would become a more stable place and people would become moral again.

Another case involved a woman in her fifties who was on her way to my class in the city of Taiyuan, together with her husband. As they were crossing the street a large car sped by and snagged the woman’s clothes with its side-view mirror. It dragged her over ten yards before she hit the ground, hard. The car went another twenty-some yards before coming to a halt. The driver got out of his car and lectured her for being careless, which is typical nowadays; people often react to mishaps by trying to shift the blame, even if they are at fault. A passenger who was with him told him to see if she was hurt and needed medical attention. The man came to his senses and quickly asked if she was okay, and offered to take her to the hospital. Our student slowly got to her feet and replied, “It’s nothing. You can head on your way.” She brushed herself off and continued on to our class with her husband.

They shared the story with me after they arrived. It made me happy, since it clearly meant that she had grown in character. She told me that she wouldn’t have handled the incident so well if it weren’t for learning Falun Dafa. Just consider how well she did. This was a woman in her fifties who was retired and without benefits or an income at a time when prices are so high, and she had just been dragged a long way by a car and thrown to the ground. If she were an ordinary person she might have responded by just staying there on the ground and telling the driver that she was injured in multiple places. And she might have readily accepted the offer of going to the hospital, and stayed there as long as she liked. But she is a practitioner, and didn’t do that. We believe that one thought can determine the outcome of things, for better or for worse. If she were just an ordinary woman at that age, could she possibly have gone unscathed? And yet she wasn’t even scuffed up. One thought made all the difference. If she had laid there on the ground instead, moaning in pain, pleading for help and thinking that she had sustained this or that injury, then maybe she would have suffered a broken bone or been paralyzed. And she might have been hospitalized and bedridden for the rest of her life—a fate that no amount of financial compensation would offset. The crowd that had gathered around after the accident was puzzled that she didn’t try to get money out of the driver. People’s values are a mess nowadays. The driver hadn’t meant to hit her, even if he was wrong for speeding. It was an accident after all. But with the way people are today, even witnesses to an accident will get worked up if you don’t try to get money out of the driver. Many people have lost their moral compass, and won’t listen to you if you tell them they are doing something wrong. And with the change in moral standards that has taken place, some people put profit before all else, and will do anything for money. Some people now even live by the motto, “Every man for himself.”

There was once someone who was learning our practice in Beijing who took his son for a stroll after dinner down the Qianmen pedestrian street. They spotted a stand that was offering a draw for a prize. His child wanted to join in the fun and give it a try. The father told him to go ahead if he’d like, and gave him a dollar to do so. He drew a ticket, and lo and behold he’d won a second-tier prize—a deluxe children’s bike. It was awarded to him on the spot, much to his delight. But then it dawned on the father, “I’m a practitioner. I really shouldn’t have tried to get this. I’ll probably lose quite a bit of virtue if I take it, since it’s not something I’ve earned.” So he told his child, “We should just buy one ourselves if we want one.” The kid was upset, and responded, “I kept asking for one and you didn’t buy one. Now I win one and you won’t let me have it.” He cried his eyes out, leaving his father no choice but to take the bike home. After returning home, the more the father thought about it the more it didn’t feel right. So he decided to simply give money to the people who were holding the drawing. But then it occurred to him that the drawing would be over by now, and the individuals would just divide up the money he gave them and pocket it. In the end he decided to donate the money to his own workplace.

The father was lucky in that many of his colleagues were learning Falun Dafa and management had a good understanding of them. Normally, at your typical workplace, people would think there was something wrong with you if you didn’t want to keep the bike that you won and were planning on donating an equivalent sum of money to your workplace since you’re a practitioner; even your boss would think you were mad. And rumors might start up about how something went wrong in your practice or made you lose your mind. As I indicated, people’s values have become fouled up. In the 1950s or 1960s what the father did wouldn’t have seemed like a big deal. Gestures like that were common back then and anything but a cause for concern.

We believe that however badly people’s values may change, the underlying qualities of the universe—zhen, shan, ren—will never change. The criteria that people use to judge things have become all confused, and so those who people deem to be good or bad aren’t necessarily so. Only those who embody the qualities of the universe are good people. And these qualities are the sole measure of one’s person; these are what are recognized throughout the universe. While humanity may seem to have made great strides, people’s morals have declined significantly, and the social fabric of the world is changing for the worse; many people now put profit before all else. But the universe doesn’t change in keeping with humankind. So as someone with spiritual aspirations, you can’t rely on the standards that other people have. You can’t do things on the grounds that everyone thinks they’re right. What the average person considers good or bad isn’t necessarily correct. People’s values are so fouled up now that they won’t even listen to you if you point out to them that they are doing something wrong. So as practitioners you have to view things in light of the qualities of the universe if you are to really tell right from wrong.

 

Ritual Anointment

In certain religious or spiritual communities there is a practice known as ritual anointment. It is a religious rite that was originally used in Tantric Buddhist practice. Its objective is to ensure that the adherent remains loyal to the discipline, and it is a way of formally recognizing him as a disciple. What’s strange is that this religious rite is no longer just seen in Tantric Buddhism, but also in chi-gong and Daoist practice. I’ve indicated that deceit is involved whenever someone is publicly teaching what they claim to be Tantric Buddhist methods. I say that because Chinese Tantrism disappeared from the face of China over a thousand years ago, and it’s simply non-existent now. And Tibetan Tantrism never fully came to China, due to the language barrier. Also, being esoteric practices, their adherents are supposed to engage in secretive practice off in a monastic setting and receive veiled instruction at the hands of a master, who guides them in secret practice. It is never supposed to be taught without those conditions first being met.

Many people travel to Tibet in search of a master to teach them Tibetan Tantrism and such practices, hoping to become a high-profile, well-to-do master of an energy practice down the road. But consider that an authentic Tibetan lama who is the keeper of a true teaching will have great powers and be able to make out what is on the learner’s mind. He will easily see what the person is up to. He will know that the person’s incentive for learning is to become a master for worldly ends, which would defile their practice. But as you might figure, they aren’t about to let someone just come along and defile a serious spiritual discipline like theirs, let alone someone whose motives are surely impure. So, little will be taught to this sort of person, much less the heart of the teachings. At most he might learn something superficial somewhere, with all the temples and monasteries that are out there. It’s likely he will fall prey to entity attachment if his heart is impure and he seeks to become a master for the wrong reasons. And while those entities or animals might have energy to offer him, it’s surely not from Tibetan Buddhism. Those who go to Tibet sincerely in search of the dharma are apt to settle down there and never leave; those are the true ones.

It’s strange that there are now many Daoist practices doing anointment with energy. Daoist practices make use of the body’s energy channels, so it doesn’t make sense for them to do that. Anointment has become especially popular in Guangdong province, from what I learned during my travels in southern China when I was there to teach. There are a dozen or so practices in the region that have made a real mess of things doing anointment. The idea is that you supposedly become their disciple through anointment, and shouldn’t learn any other practices after that—lest you be punished for it. And they do that. But isn’t that cunning and evil? What they offer is just for healing and wellness, and people are drawn to it simply by the prospect of good health. What business have they punishing their followers for disloyalty, then? The many who take this approach are really doing people a disservice, since they aren’t about to guide anyone to spiritual perfection.

So anointment is now seen in Daoist practice, though it doesn’t belong there. The Daoist chi-gong master who makes the biggest deal about anointment has an energy column that’s merely two or three stories tall, from what I observed. It’s really a pity to see the energy of a famous master having fallen so fast. Many have lined up for anointment from him. Yet his energy was limited from the outset and quickly consumed. And after that, he couldn’t possibly have had any energy left for doing anointment. So he’s been conning people. True anointment, as seen from other dimensions, transforms the bones from head to toe such that they resemble white jade. It involves the use of gong—a high-energy matter—to purify the body, and it is poured through the whole body from head to toe. So it’s not something that the master I’ve been describing could do. And it’s not for religious purposes that he does anointment, if you are wondering. Rather, it’s to have you belong to him after learning his practice, since then you will have to attend his classes and study with him. The motive is to get your money. He wouldn’t make money if nobody was learning his practice.

 Committed practitioners of Falun Dafa will have anointment done for them many times by their master, just as happens in other Buddhist disciplines—even though you may not sense it. Those with paranormal powers or who are especially sensitive may be able to. The anointment might take place while you are sleeping or at another time, and what happens is that a warm current suddenly flows through your entire body, from head to toe. The objective isn’t to heighten your energy, since that must come from your own efforts. Rather, it is a means of blessing whereby your body is purified and cleansed one step further. The procedure needs to happen multiple times, for at each stage of practice you need assistance cleansing your body. We don’t practice any rites of anointment, since, as I’ve indicated, you just need to focus on practicing and your teacher will take care of the rest.

Yet there are people who still wish to pay homage to me. I want to talk about this in light of what was just said, as this applies to many people. This era of history is different from that of older, bygone times, and so you don’t need to kneel down or prostrate yourself before me to count as my student. Those rites don’t feature in our practice. It’s funny that many people now think that they can get energy just by outward acts of religious devotion and becoming a bit more pious. True spiritual progress is the product of one’s own efforts, and prayerful wishes do little. There is no need for religious acts of devotion such as offering incense and paying homage. Higher beings will smile upon you if they see you sincerely engaging in disciplined spiritual practice. But they will be displeased with you if you engage in wrongful acts, however much you might worship them. I think the idea should be clear. Genuine spiritual practice is up to you, and there is little point in paying respects to your teacher if afterwards you turn around and do whatever you please. So religious rites really have no place in our practice. And ironically, you might even hurt my reputation if you do those things.

We have given all of you so much. I will consider you my student and guide you as long as you strive to put the teachings into practice and are strict with yourself about following the Great Way. I will do this as long as you practice Falun Dafa. If you don’t practice it, however, there is nothing we can do and there is no point in formally seeking to be named a student. Those who just do the exercises aren’t my students even if they were among the first to attend our classes. You have to do sincere spiritual practice and work on your character as we’ve taught, if you are to gain a healthy body and really progress to higher stages. So rites like anointment don’t have a place in our practice. You will be one of us as long as you do the practice. My spiritual bodies are all-powerful and all-knowing, and know even your thoughts. But they will not look after you if you aren’t someone who practices. For those of you who do practice, however, help will be provided straight through to the finish.

The adherents of some practices have never met their teachers but are told to bow facing a certain direction and pay hundreds of dollars and then they can be counted as students. But isn’t that misleading? And these people go in for it quite willingly, and get protective of the practice and its teacher afterwards, even telling people that they can no longer study other practices. It strikes me as quite absurd. I also wonder what, if anything, is achieved when some teachers do what they refer to as “touching the crown of the head.”

Any energy practice that promotes itself as being “Tantric Buddhist,” or even just part of religious Buddhism more generally, is false. Bear in mind that the methods and disciplines of practice found in authentic Buddhism date back thousands of years. Any alterations people might now make to them change them into something else. The disciplines of spiritual practice are for the solemn purpose of achieving divinity, and are incredibly profound and intricate. Even just a slight alteration will foul things up. The process of converting matter into higher energy is extraordinarily complex, so what a person can sense of it really isn’t reliable and should never inform how he goes about practicing. The religious rites that Buddhist monks engage in are a means of practice, in fact, and any changes made will turn their practice into something else. Every true practice has a higher divinity presiding over it, and each such practice will have produced many divine ones of its own via its methods of spiritual discipline; nobody would be so bold as to rashly alter the methods involved. Then what business would the teacher of some lesser energy practice, who lacks spiritual might, have altering a religious tradition’s means to divinity? And besides, supposing he did really alter it and make his own practice, then it could no longer be considered part of that religion, and he would have no business borrowing its name under false pretenses. So you should be able to make out inauthentic practices in cases like these.

 

The Mystery of the Mandorla*

In ancient Chinese religious texts like Principles of Mind-Body Practice, the Daoist Canon, and various alchemical manuals, one comes across references to “positioning” something known as a mandorla, or how this mandorla “presides over an aperture.” Many spiritual teachers have a hard time explaining what’s meant, since most of them, at their stage of practice, cannot perceive these things and aren’t allowed to. Someone needs to have reached at least the stage of wisdom vision in his spiritual development to see them, and this is why most run-of-the-mill instructors can’t—they haven’t reached that point. There have long been religious discussions about what the mandorla is, where the “one aperture” is located, and how it’s positioned. The ancient texts don’t shed much light on these questions, however, and are apt to be confusing; they only discuss the phenomena in the abstract and don’t say much of substance, despite all that’s been written on the topic. This was done intentionally so as to keep outsiders from learning the heart of the teachings.

I would like to offer you a bit of advice, on the grounds that you are students of Falun Dafa: stay away from the mess of books about energy practice that are now out there. I don’t mean the ancient texts that I was just speaking about, but the deceptive energy-related books that are now being written. You shouldn’t even flip through them. The entities carried by those books will attach themselves to your body as soon as you find even just one line of the text agreeable to you. Many of the books were written at the direction of possessing spirits that seized upon the writer’s attachments to status and money. Deceptive books on energy practice are everywhere these days. Many people just aren’t being responsible, and write at the command of evil spirits or whatever attaches itself to them. And generally speaking, it is best not to read even classical works like the ones I was mentioning a moment ago, for there’s the matter of committing to one discipline and not disordering your energy.

Someone high up in the Chi-Gong Association of China shared something with me that had me laughing hard. He spoke about a man in Beijing who was always taking chi-gong classes and who thought he had learned all there was to know about it after a while. What gave the man that impression was that everything taught in the various classes was equally basic; everyone was teaching more or less the same things. This led him to believe, as do false masters, that there was nothing more to chi-gong than that. And so he decided to write his own book on chi-gong. But just consider the absurdity of it: someone who didn’t even practice chi-gong was going to write a book about it. Yet that’s typical of chi-gong books nowadays, as plagiarizing is common. He got stuck in the writing process when he got to the topic of the mandorla. Few really understand what it is, after all; even just a handful of genuine spiritual masters are clear on it. So this person inquired with a master who wasn’t legitimate, not realizing it, though, since he didn’t understand chi-gong that well. This false master was worried that he would be exposed as an impostor if he couldn’t answer the man’s questions. So he went so far as to make up some nonsense, and said that the one aperture of the mandorla is located at the tip of the male excretory organ. As ridiculous as it may sound, it’s no laughing matter, as his book has since been published. This suggests just how absurd chi-gong books have become. Reading those things won’t do you any good and can only bring harm.

Let’s explore what’s meant by “positioning the mandorla.” As a person goes about spiritual practice in the human realm, he will, when he has passed the middle stage and is practicing at an advanced stage, begin to develop an angelic body within. The angelic body is different from what are known as cherubs. Cherubs are small and rascally, and joyfully spring about and play. In contrast, the angelic body does not move, and simply sits in place, motionless, atop a lotus flower with its legs folded meditatively and its hands conjoined in the mudra of jie-yin;* the only exception is when one’s soul moves in to control it. The angelic body is born from one’s energy center and can be seen in an invisible, micro realm while smaller than even the point of a needle.

There is something else I should explain. There is just one true energy center in the body, and it is located at the lower abdominal area. It is inside the body and spans from above the perineum to the lower abdomen. Many higher energies, powers, and other abilities as well as spiritual bodies, the angelic body, and cherubs—an enormous array of supernatural beings—are born from this center.

In the past there were a handful of spiritual practitioners who fostered the idea that there are upper, middle, and lower energy centers in the body. But the idea isn’t accurate, even if it allegedly has a doctrinal basis and was passed down by masters for generations. Bear in mind that there was certainly nonsense in ancient times. Having an ancient pedigree doesn’t necessarily make something accurate; lesser, folk practices have always circulated among the public, but they don’t amount to spiritual practice or anything significant. When people claim that there are upper, middle, and lower energy centers, what they mean to say is that wherever an energy cluster can be made counts as an energy center. But it’s folly to think that. An energy cluster can be generated at any location in the body if a person just concentrates his mind on that spot for long enough. Anyone who doubts it can verify this for themselves by focusing their mind on their arm and fixing their attention there, and after some amount of time an energy cluster will indeed form there. This fact has led some observers to claim that energy centers are found throughout the whole body. But that’s even more of a stretch. They are under the impression that wherever an energy cluster forms is an energy center. While it is an energy cluster, it’s not an energy center. It would be okay to say that clusters of energy can be made anywhere, or that there are upper, middle, and lower energy clusters. But the center that can truly give rise to countless powers has only one site, and it is at the lower abdomen. So what people have said about upper, middle, and lower energy centers is wrong. The truth is simply that an energy cluster will form wherever the mind focuses for a sustained amount of time.

The angelic body comes into being in the energy center at the lower abdomen, and gradually grows larger in size. When it has grown to be the size of a ping-pong ball, the contours of its body can be made out, with the nose and eyes having been formed. And while it is this size, a small, round bubble will come into being beside its body. The bubble will grow from then on in parallel with the angelic body. When the body has grown to a height of just over five inches (thirteen centimeters) tall, the first petal of a lotus flower will appear. Once the body has reached six-and-a-half to eight inches (seventeen to twenty centimeters) in height, all the petals of the flower will have basically come into shape, forming one tier of a lotus flower, and it will be upon this that the angelic body sits, golden and radiant, and simply beautiful. It is an incorruptible Divine body, and has been traditionally referred to as a “Buddha Body” by Buddhists and as an “Immortal Infant” by Daoists.

In our discipline both this and the body you were born with are developed and needed; this means that your innate body also needs to undergo transformation along the way. But as you might imagine, a divine body isn’t something that may be revealed in the secular world. Some people may be able to reveal the form of theirs if they go to great lengths; they might be able to display a glowing figure that’s visible to the naked eye. The body of this dimension, however, will look no different from any other, despite its transformation. The difference won’t be perceptible to people, though this is a body that can travel between dimensions. When the angelic body has grown to be between five and six-and-a-half inches tall, the bubble will have grown to the same size and be translucent like an inflated balloon. The angelic body will sit still in meditation, motionless. At this point the bubble will take leave of the body’s energy center. It is fully developed now and conditions are ripe for it to ascend inside the body. The process of ascension is an extremely slow one, but its daily movement can be perceived. Slowly but surely it moves upward, ascending. You can sense its existence if you pay close attention.

After the bubble has ascended to the spot where the Middle of the Chest acupoint is, it will stay there for a period of time. It does so because the most essential things of a person’s body are there, and much more (the heart is also located there), and the bubble needs to form a system of these within it. The most essential things need to be supplied into the bubble for its enrichment. Then, after some time, it continues to ascend. Things will feel constricted when it passes through your neck, as if your blood vessels were constricted or swollen, and it feels awful. But after just a day or two the condition will pass. When the bubble has arrived at the crown of the head, we refer to it as “reaching the Niwan Palace.” Though we put it that way, it’s actually as large as your head, and your whole head will feel swollen. Since the Niwan Palace is a critical location for a human being’s life, the bubble will again need to form some essential things within itself while there. Afterwards it squeezes outward through the passageway of the inner eye, and the sensation is hard to bear. That area will feel swollen to the point that it aches, and the temples will feel swollen as well, while the regular eyes will feel sunken. Things will carry on like this until the bubble has squeezed out, at which point it promptly hangs at the position of the forehead. And this is in fact what “positioning” the mandorla refers to—its presiding over that spot.

A person who does Buddhist or Daoist practice and has an open inner eye won’t be able to see out of it at this point in time, which expedites the formation of things inside the mandorla. At the front and back of the mandorla there will be two big sets of doors, both of which are closed now; it will resemble the two doors on either side of the passage at Tiananmen Square, in Beijing. The doors will remain closed except for in extremely special circumstances. This enables the formation and enrichment of the mandorla to happen as swiftly as possible. So those who can normally see through the inner eye won’t be able to at this point, as it’s prohibited. As for why the mandorla is hung at this position, it’s because the many channels of the body converge at this point, and at this time all the channels must traverse through the mandorla for one loop before going on; each channel must travel the mandorla so as to help lay certain groundwork inside it, so that ultimately a system of interconnecting elements is formed. The human body is a microcosm, so the mandorla will ultimately develop into a miniature world in which is found all that is essential to the human body. But what has formed thus far, at this stage, are merely facilities that aren’t yet fully operational.

In practices known as the Mystical Ways, the mandorla stays open, by contrast. When it’s ejected out, it will be in the form of a straight tube, and only gradually become round again; the doors on both sides of it remain open. Since the Mystical Ways are neither Buddhist nor Daoist, their adherents aren’t watched over by the many masters who protect followers of the other two systems. Buddhist and Daoist practitioners can go for a time without seeing through their inner eyes and still be safe, whereas practitioners of the Mystical Ways can’t, and need to be able to see with them in order to protect themselves. However, when they view things through their inner eyes in this scenario, it’s as if they are looking through the optical tube of a telescope. [Whatever the practice,] in the month or so that follows, after a few things that are needed and that work together are formed there, the mandorla starts its return. It begins by coming back inside the head, which is referred to as a “shifting” of the mandorla.

As the mandorla goes back into the body, there will again be an unpleasant sense of pressure. Afterwards it will squeeze out of the body again, this time through the acupoint at the nape of the neck called the Jade Pillow. The sensation as it squeezes out will be hard to bear, and it will feel as if the head were being split open. But the tension will dissolve promptly after the whole mandorla comes out. It then hangs there in a deep dimension after exiting the body. It won’t be in your way when you lie down to sleep, however, as it will be present on your body of another, much deeper, dimension. But one thing you may sense when the mandorla is first being positioned is that something is before your eyes. Though these things are happening in another dimension, your vision in this world might seem hazy, as if something were blocking your view, and it won’t be too pleasant. The Jade Pillow acupoint is a key one and a major juncture, and so a few things will also be formed there that will work together, at the back of the head. The mandorla will then start to go back in again. The phrase I referred to earlier about the mandorla presiding over an aperture isn’t really about one aperture alone, since the mandorla needs to change its position several times. Once back inside the body, it returns to the Niwan Palace and begins to descend, proceeding straight down to the acupoint between the kidneys, known as the Life Gate. And here it is ejected out again.

The Life Gate is a crucial and central “aperture” or “juncture” for people. But more than just a major juncture, it is actually like an iron gate—like countless layers of them, in fact. We know that there are many layers to the body, with the cells of the flesh being one layer, and the molecules within them another. There is a gate at every plane, from atoms to protons, electrons, and so on, down to infinitely small particles. And so an enormous array of powers and magical skills are locked up by the gates of each layer. Other practices take the approach of forming an energy cluster that is eventually exploded, and when that happens, the first spot to be blasted open is the Life Gate; this is necessary in order to free up one’s powers. Here the mandorla forms a system of things once again, and then re-enters the body. It then returns to the lower abdomen, which is referred to as the mandorla “returning to its seat.”

When the mandorla does this, it doesn’t in fact go back to its original spot. By this time the angelic body will have grown quite large, and the bubble will cover and enwrap it, and grow in tandem with it. In Daoist practice the angelic body is generally allowed to take leave of one’s body when it has reached the size of a six- to seven-year-old. This is known as the “birth of the Immortal Infant.” This happens when a person’s soul takes charge of the angelic body and uses it to leave the physical body. His or her physical body will stay put, motionless, when the soul leaves it. In Buddhist practices like ours, however, the angelic body will usually be out of danger when it has grown to the same size as the person. And at that point the angelic body is normally allowed to take leave of one’s body, and can separate from it and go out. By this time the angelic body will have grown to be the same size as the practitioner, and the bubble—which is the mandorla—that envelops him or her will be large and have surpassed the size of the person’s physical body. This is only natural, given the angelic body’s size.

You may have observed that the statues and images of divine beings seen in temples or other religious settings, and especially the paintings, often depict these beings surrounded by a circle or oval behind them. A large number of images are like that, and it’s always the case with the paintings in ancient temples. Nobody can offer a good explanation why. But I can disclose to you that it is the mandorla. So in the process I was just describing, the mandorla, at this point of maturity, should now be called otherwise. It should be called a “paradise,” even if it isn’t one in the fullest sense of the term yet. It merely has the facilities needed, so to speak. It’s like a factory that has the equipment it needs but which can’t produce anything owing to a lack of energy and materials. A few years back a number of spiritual figures were stating that their energy had surpassed that of various divinities. Those who heard them thought it was a stretch. But what they said wasn’t an exaggeration by any means, as your energy does need to be developed to a great height while you are still in this world.

It’s hard to fathom that they could have surpassed divine beings in achievement. But we shouldn’t understand remarks like theirs so superficially. Yes, their energy did reach very high since it was sure to be that way once they had progressed to an advanced stage and the point of enlightenment, and of having all of their powers accessible to them. But right at the point when that would occur, eighty percent of their energy would be snapped off and taken down together with their measure of character. The energy would then be used to enrich their very own paradises, which I was just referring to. As we know, the energy and the height of character that a practitioner achieves are extremely precious, as they were developed through countless trials and tribulations over his lifetime. Eighty percent of this precious, higher energy will be used to enrich his paradise. And that is why one day, when his spiritual journey has come to a successful close, he will only have to extend his hand to have whatever he wants, and it will instantly manifest; and whatever he wills to be done, shall be done. His spiritual authority will mean that all of these are possible for him in his paradise. And all shall be the rewards of his spiritual labors.

The energy of a being who is divine like this can be transformed into anything at his command. And so he is free to consume or enjoy whatever he would like, and whatever he wishes for shall be, since these are the fruits of his practice. They come with his Divine status; anything less than this status would mean that his practice was ultimately not a success. At this time, what was formerly the mandorla can now be rightfully called his own “paradise,” or “world,” and he will achieve spiritual perfection and attain enlightenment with the twenty percent of his energy that’s left. Though only twenty percent remains, no part of his body will be locked at this point in time—if he even has a body, that is. And if he does, it will have been fully remade with high-energy matter by now. His powers will be revealed in all their glory and be unrivaled in their might. They will no longer be held back, as they previously were, despite all of the progress he had been making while practicing in this world.


Footnotes:
* Character: The Chinese term translated here as “character,” xinxing (or hsin-hsing), appears in some Falun Dafa books in its transliterated form.
* Mandorla: This is the best-established term for the circular, often almond-shaped ring that surrounds divine figures in Asian religious art as well as in Renaissance and Medieval European art. It is sometimes referred to as an “aureola” as well. The Chinese term (xuan-guan), which has ancient roots, translates literally as “mysterious juncture” or “obscure pass.”
* jie-yin: This mudra is better known by its Sanskrit name, i.e., dhyani. It consists of resting the fingers of one hand atop those of the other, with both palms facing upward, and the two thumbtips touching so as to form an oval.