What is "enlightenment"? The word "enlightenment" comes from the religions. In Buddhism, it refers to a cultivator's understanding of Buddha Dharma. The enlightenment of understanding and the final enlightenment refer to wisdom enlightenment. However, the word "enlightenment" nowadays has been applied to ordinary people and interpreted as such that this person is very smart and keen to understand what his boss is thinking about in his mind. He can read his mind so quickly that he knows how to please his boss. People say that this person has a good enlightenment quality, and they usually understand it in this way. Once you jump out of the level of ordinary people, you will discover from a little higher level that the truth at the level where ordinary people have come to realize here is usually wrong. The enlightenment we refer to is fundamentally different from this enlightenment quality. So, the enlightenment quality of a shrewd is not good, for such an oversmart guy is quite skilled at doing work for show, thus winning praises and favours from his superiors. Then, doesn't the hard work have to be done by others? In this way, he owes others some debts; because of his shrewdness, he knows how to please people so that he can gain more benefits than others. As a result, others will have to suffer more. As he is shrewd, he can not either suffer any losses. And it is not easy for him to suffer any loss, and that means others will have to suffer more losses. Since he pays more and more attention to his that bit of immediate interests and advantages, he is getting more and more narrow-minded, and he feels more that it is hard to give up the material interests of ordinary people. So he believes that he himself pays attention to reality, and will never suffer losses.
There are people who even admire such a person. I would like to tell you: Do not admire him. You do not know how tired he feels in his life, for he is unable to eat well, sleep well, and he is even afraid to lose his interests in his dreams. To his personal interests, he splits hairs. Don't you think he is living so tiring a life, for he is devoting his whole life solely to this. We say that when you face a conflict, take a step back and you will find the sea and sky boundless, and surely there will be a different scene for you. But for such a person it is not easy for him to give in and give up anything. He is living a most tiring life. Do not learn from him. It is said in the cultivation world: This person is most deeply lost, and completely lost among ordinary people for his sake of material interests. How difficult it is to ask him to preserve his virtues! When you tell him to cultivate, he will not believe it: What for? You practitioners will not fight back after you have been beaten, and will not talk back when sworn at. People have made you suffer and put you in a tight corner but you will not do anything about it in the same way. And instead you will thank them. You are all Ah Qs! You are all being insane, everyone of you! For such a person, he finds it very hard to understand cultivation. He, on the other hand, would say that it is you that he feels unbelievable about, and he regards you as a fool. Do you not think he is difficult to save?
What we mean by "enlightenment" is not such, but it is just what he says as being somewhat foolish for personal interests. This is what we refer to by "enlightenment". Of course it does not really mean that we are truly foolish. We only care little about the vital personal interests while we are very keen and smart in other aspects. In doing scientific research project and fulfilling the tasks assigned by the leaders, we are quite clear about what to do and how to do it, and have done it very well. But just when it comes to that little bit of our personal interests and the person-to-person conflicts, we take them lightly. Who would say you are foolish? No one would say you are foolish. I can assure you of that.
Let's talk about the real fool. The truth in the high dimension is totally the opposite. The fool cannot do too bad a thing among ordinary people. And it is not likely that he will compete and fight for his own personal interests and seek for fame. Therefore, he will not lose his virtues. Other people, however, will give him their virtues because they beat and swear at him. They always give him virtues, and this substance is extremely precious. There is this Law in our universe: There is no gain without loss and to gain means to lose. When people see him, they might swear at him: You are a big fool. With the swear words coming from your opening mouth, a piece of De is being thrown upon him, for you have taken the advantage of him and you are the gaining side, and then you have to lose. You go over to kick him: You are a big fool. Well, another piece of De is being heavily thrown on him. Whoever bullies him and kicks him, he will always give a smile: Come on, it is your De that you give me. I will not stop you from doing it at all! So, according to the truth in the high dimension, just think, who is smart? Isn't he smart? He is the most smart. He has not lost any De. If you throw out De upon him, he will not push it back at all. He takes them all and with a smile takes them over. He is foolish this life but he will not be foolish next life, and his Yuanshen (True Spirit) is not foolish. From the religious point of view, it is said that a person who has a lot of De (virtues) will become a high ranking official and make a big fortune in his next life, because all these will be exchanged with his virtues.
We say that De may be directly evolved into cultivation energy. Isn't it the evolution of your virtues that determines how high your attainment level is? De (virtues) can be directly evolved into cultivation energy. Isn't it the evolution of such a substance that determines your attainment level and your energy potency? Would you say it is very precious? It, after all, comes with your birth and goes along with your death. It is said in Buddhism that how high you can cultivate is where your attainment status is. How much you have given determines how much you will take. This is true. It is said in the religion that with De you will become a high ranking official and make a big fortune in your next life. With little De you can get nothing from begging, for you have no De to exchange for food. And this is no gain, no loss! If someone has no De at all, then there will be the perdition of both his body and soul, and he is indeed dead.
Once there was a qigong master. His attainment level was extremely high when he just came out to society. But later he became obsessed with fame and gain. His master took away his Assistant Spirit, for he belonged to those who cultivate the Assistant Spirit. When his Assistant Spirit was with him, he was controlled by it. For example, one day his work-unit was allotting houses and the leader said: Those who need the house come over, please tell us about your conditions and why you need the house. Everyone gave his own reasons while this person said nothing. And finally the leader came to realize that he badly needed the house and he should get the house. But the others said: No, the house should not be given to him and it should be given to me. I need the house badly now. Hearing this, he said: In that case, you may take it. From the ordinary people's point of view, this person is a fool. However, some people knew that he was a practitioner and asked him: As a practitioner you do not want anything, but what do you want? He answered: Well, I want what others do not want. In fact he is not foolish at all and in fact quite smart. It is just with the personal vested interests that he deals in such a way and he follows a natural course. The others asked him again: Nowadays, isn't there anything that one does not want? He answered: No one wants the stones on the ground which are kicked here and there, and I would like to pick them up. This is unthinkable for ordinary people and they find it hard to understand a practitioner, and indeed difficult to understand, for their realm of awareness is far too different and their level is far too apart. Of course, this person would not go and pick up a stone. However, he did tell a truth that ordinary people are unable to awake to: I do not seek after what ordinary people want. Speaking of stones, it is known that in Buddha Scriptures, it is written that the trees in the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss are gold; the ground is gold; the birds are gold; the flowers are gold; the houses are gold and even Buddha bodies are gold and shining. Not a single stone can be found there, the money spent there is said to be the stone. It is unlikely that he would carry a stone and go there, but he did tell such a truth, which is difficult for ordinary people to understand. The practitioner indeed would say: Ordinary people have their own pursuits. We do not pursue anything like that. We are not interested in what ordinary people possess, and we possess what ordinary people want but can not get.
In fact, the enlightenment we have just talked about belongs to such an enlightenment as that in the course of cultivation, and it is contrary to the capability of comprehension of ordinary people. The enlightenment we actually refer to is whether you can understand and accept the master's lectures on the Law and the Tao that the Taoist master preaches in the course of cultivation, during which whether you can realize you are a cultivator while running into a tribulation, and whether you can behave according to this Law. Someone simply will not believe it no matter how hard you tell him about it and will still believe it is more practical and advantageous to be an ordinary person. He clings to his intrinsic mentality, which makes him unable to believe at all. Some people just want to get his disease cured, and when I give the lecture saying that qigong is not at all to be used for treating diseases, they will feel resentful in their minds. Thus, they will no longer believe other things I am lecturing about.
The enlightenment quality of some people cannot be brought out. Someone reads my book and underlines it here and there casually. Those who have their Celestial Eyes open all can see that this book is shining golden and bright with all colours, and every word of the book is the image of my Law body. I would cheat you if I did not tell you the truth. The one mark you made in the book has caused it to have a mass of blackness. How dare you do so? What are we doing here? Are we trying to guide you up to the high dimension in cultivation? There are certain things that you should think about. This book can guide you in cultivation; do you think it is precious? Will your worshipping the Buddha really enable you to cultivate yourself? You are very sincere and dare not touch the image of Buddha at all, and you burn the incense sticks every day for him. But you dare to ruin the Great Law that can really guide you in cultivation.
Speaking of the human enlightenment quality, it refers to how deeply you can understand the various levels which occur, a certain thing or a certain Law that the master has talked about in the course of cultivation. However, this is not yet the fundamental enlightenment we refer to. The fundamental enlightenment that we refer to is such that during the remaining years of one's life, one constantly improves himself and makes progress towards high dimensions from the start of his cultivation, continuously gives up his attachments and all kinds of desires with his cultivation energy constantly growing until the final step of his cultivation. When this substance of De has totally evolved into cultivation energy and his cultivation course arranged by the master has come to the end, "Bang!" the locks will be exploded open all at once at this very moment. His Celestial Eye has reached the highest point of the level he has attained. And he has seen the truth of each space at his own level, the existing forms of various living beings in each timespace, the existing forms of matter in each timespace, and he has witnessed the truth of our universe. Displaying his supernatural powers, he can communicate with various living beings. When arriving at such a stage, isn't he a great enlightened being or a person who has become enlightened through cultivation? When translated into the ancient Indian language, it means Buddha.
The enlightenment we have expounded, this fundamental enlightenment, still belongs to the form of immediate enlightenment. The immediate enlightenment means that he is locked up in cultivation during the remaining years of his life, and he does not know how high his cultivation energy is and does not know what form the energy that he has cultivated takes. There is no reaction at all, and even the cells in his body are locked up, and the energy cultivated has been locked up and is not opened until the final stage. Only a person well grounded in all virtues can meet the requirements and make it, and it is very hard to cultivate in this way. Beginning as a good person, he keeps improving Xinxing all the way through, keeps on enduring hardships all the way through, keeps on cultivating all the way up, keeps on requiring himself to improve Xinxing all the way through, but he can not see his cultivation energy. It is most difficult for such a person to cultivate, and this person must be well grounded in all virtues. Many years have passed in cultivation but he does not know what has happened.
There is another kind of enlightenment called gradual enlightenment. Many people feel Falun rotating at the very beginning, and at the same time I have opened the Celestial Eye for everybody. For various reasons, some can see nothing at first but can also see something in the future, from seeing unclearly to being able to see clearly, and from being unable to use it to being able to use it, and their level is continuously rising. With the improvement of your Xinxing and the abandonment of your attachments of all sorts, all kinds of supernormal capabilities are coming out. You can see and feel the changes that go with the evolution of the whole cultivation process and the process of the transformation of the body. In this way you will cultivate to the last stage where you completely understand the truth of the universe, and come to the highest point of your attainment level that you should reach in cultivation. The transformation of Benti ( the True Being) and the reinforcement of your cultivation energy have all come to a certain extent, and thus you gradually have reached such a goal. This belongs to the gradual enlightenment. It is not easy to take the way of gradual enlightenment, either. When some people, with supernormal capabilities, can not give up their attachments, it is quite easy for them to show off and do bad things. Thus, they will lose their cultivation energy, will have cultivated in vain and will have ruined themselves in the end. Some people can see with their Celestial Eyes the manifestations of various living beings in different dimensions. They may take you to do this or that, and may take you to cultivate their stuff and accept you as their disciples. However, they will not be able to have you complete the right achievement, because they themselves have not completed the right achievement yet.
Besides, beings in higher dimensions are all deities who can become very big and display psychic powers. Will you follow such a deity if you are not right minded? If you follow him you will cultivate in vain. Even if he is a genuine Buddha and genuine Tao, you will also have to cultivate from the very beginning. Are those all immortals in so many Heavens? Only when you have cultivated to the extremely high level and reached your goal can you jump out. But in the eyes of an ordinary person, the deity will indeed appear tall and huge with very great power, and yet he may not necessarily have completed the right achievement. Can you keep your mind in peace when interfered with by all kinds of messages and tempted by various scenes? So it is also difficult to cultivate with your Celestial Eye open, and even more difficult to control your Xinxing. However, some of you are fortunate to belong to those who have your supernormal capabilities unlocked half way through your cultivation and come into the state of gradual enlightenment. Everyone's Celestial Eye will be opened, but the supernormal capabilities of many people are not allowed to come out. Only when your Xinxing has gradually improved and ascended to a certain level, your mind has become stable and you can control yourself will these capabilities then be exploded all at once. When you have reached a certain level you will be put in the state of gradual enlightenment. Then it will be easier for you to control yourself. As various supernormal capabilities have emerged, you will keep on ascending yourself in cultivation until you have opened all your cultivation energy in the end. Many of us belong to such a kind of people who will be allowed to come up with these supernormal capabilities on the half way of their cultivation. So, do not be anxious to see.
You may have heard that Zen Buddhism also talks about the division between the immediate enlightenment and the gradual enlightenment. The Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng of Zen Buddhism taught the immediate enlightenment, and Shen Xiu of the northern sect of Zen Buddhism taught the gradual enlightenment. They both had a very long debate on Buddha science in history with each arguing one way or the other. I should say it did not make any sense. Why? Because what they debated is no more than the understanding of a truth in the course of cultivation. As for this truth, some people come to understand it all at once while others come to understand and awake to it gradually. Is it all right for one to awake to it either way? It would be better if one can understand it all at once, and it would be all right as well if one can awake to it gradually. Aren't they both enlightenment? Both ways are enlightenment. So neither way is wrong.