March 23, 1997 ~ New York City
Being far away and separated by oceans, it’s not easy to meet with you. But although you can’t see me in person, as long as you practice cultivation, I’m actually right by your side. And as long as you practice cultivation, I can be responsible for you all the way to the end; what’s more, I’m looking after you every single moment. (Applause) Whoever doesn’t do it this way is doing the same as teaching an evil practice, doing bad things, and casually leaking heaven’s secrets. Of course, since you already know this from your actual experiences, I don’t need to explain this too much. I only talk about what I can do and don’t talk about what I can’t. That’s why Dafa1 has been developing in a healthy way.
When I last met with you there weren’t this many people. Of course, there are many more people who aren’t here because they couldn’t get away from work. That is, since I last met with you we’ve had a lot more people enter the Dao2 and obtain the Fa.3 The fact that this Fa can develop so fast and spread on such a large scale is due, I believe, to the power of Dafa. Meanwhile, the path we’ve taken in the process of spreading Dafa has been correct. Since we’ve truly been responsible to our students and to society, we’ve been able to achieve these results. Because there are few chances to meet with you—it isn’t easy for me to come to the United States, a visa is required, and so it’s rather inconvenient—now that we are able to meet, I want to do my best to help you resolve some of your problems. You can raise any questions you have and I’ll answer them for you. Let’s make the best use of this occasion to help you solve some of your knotty and difficult questions, and have Dafa develop in an even more healthy way in the United States. I originally wanted to talk to the students about some specific issues, but some of you in the audience got a “special treat” yesterday. Since they came early I answered some of their questions yesterday. But don’t worry, don’t be regretful today: Those of you who didn’t hear it yesterday can still ask questions and I’ll answer them for you.
I’ll use this time to talk to you about cultivation-related matters, in other words, the Fa. I know that during this period you’ve improved quickly—very quickly, in fact. When I returned to China from the United States last time, I told the students in China that the United States is a special place and that many outstanding people—outstanding Chinese people, in particular—are there. These people have rather good inborn quality, a deep understanding of Dafa, faster comprehension, and make quicker breakthroughs in their levels. These are advantages you have. But don’t become complacent, as you also have attachments and obstacles in different forms that need to be overcome, and only then can you improve even faster.
Now I’ll talk about sickness karma, a problem that’s been perplexing many of our students who haven’t studied the Fa at a deep level. Yet I’ve already explained in my book how we cultivators should deal with sickness. I’ll talk about it again from another angle. The fact is, we practitioners shouldn’t confuse ourselves with everyday people. You know, in ancient times when someone became a monk, people no longer regarded him as an everyday person—he was already a half-god. So what’s the difference between a human and a god? A human being has emotion (qing)—very strong emotion. Human beings live in this world precisely for this emotion. Without emotion you can’t live in this world. What you like, what hobbies you have, what makes you happy, what makes you angry, love among family, love between husband and wife, love for children, what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, your liking certain types of things, your not liking certain types of things, and so on—everything comes from human emotion. Without this emotion there wouldn’t be any ordinary human society. Amidst the state of this emotion, what people do that’s in keeping with the ordinary human state can’t be considered wrong. So why did many people in past generations say that humans’ understandings were all wrong? That was because the people who said those words were no longer ordinary people and they viewed humans from another realm. But since people are among everyday people, you can’t say that they’re wrong. As I said yesterday, although this human society is awful, it’s still one of the levels—the lowest level—that run through the entire cosmos from top to bottom, and a manifestation of the nature of the cosmos—Dafa—at the lowest level. Not having this human level wouldn’t do. It’s also impossible that everyone cultivate into a Buddha. It’s impossible for human society to not exist—it just exists this way. It’s just that this is a very special environment, and it can make people of high realms. So it’s different when you view human beings from the perspective of high realms. That’s why I’ve said that as a cultivator you can’t use ordinary human notions to evaluate whatever you see, come into contact with, or experience. You thus have to hold yourself to a higher standard.
When an everyday person gets sick and doesn’t go to the hospital or doesn’t take medicine, that doesn’t conform to the principles of everyday people, it doesn’t conform to the principles of this world, and people can’t accept it: “Of course a person needs to take medicine when he gets sick.” “Of course a person needs to go to the hospital for treatment when he gets sick.” This is how people deal with this, and it isn’t wrong. But as a cultivator you can’t confuse yourself with an everyday person. To put it a bit seriously, you’re no longer human. As I just said, humans have various emotions and desires, and live for emotion (qing). During the course of cultivation you are gradually taking these things more lightly and gradually letting go of them until you completely discard them. Humans live for these things, but you don’t. Could you be the same as a human? You aren’t the same. Since that’s the case, why don’t you apply high-level principles that aren’t the same as those of humans to evaluate problems and to evaluate yourself and the things you encounter? That’s the way it should be. That’s why I’ve told you that when we cultivators feel uncomfortable somewhere in our bodies it isn’t sickness. Yet what everyday people consider a sick state, and the state that’s reflected in a cultivator’s body when his karma is being reduced, are the same. It’s hard for everyday people to tell the difference. That’s why cultivation practice stresses enlightening (wu). If they weren’t the same, everyone would practice cultivation and the question of enlightening wouldn’t exist. If only wonderful things happened in a person’s body and even a little discomfort felt like what immortals feel, tell me, who wouldn’t cultivate? Everyone would, but then it wouldn’t count—it wouldn’t count as cultivation. Besides, people aren’t allowed to cultivate that way, as there would be no enlightening involved. So in cultivation you’re bound to be tested amidst the uncertainty of what’s true and what’s false to see how you deal with the matter at hand—to see whether you’ll regard yourself as a cultivator or as an average, everyday person. Isn’t this to see whether you can cultivate? Of course, you appear to be ordinary and no different from an everyday person on the surface, but you are in fact a cultivator.
Yesterday I discussed Buddha Fa cultivation. Cultivation is the most important thing in the cosmos. A human being wants to ascend to a realm that high, and become an Arhat,4 a Bodhisattva,5 a Buddha, a Dao, or a God; if a human being with a body full of karma is to become a God, wouldn’t you say it’s a serious matter? Shouldn’t you view these matters strictly with a high standard and hold yourself to righteous thinking? If you still view these matters from an ordinary human perspective, aren’t you an ordinary human yourself? This is such a serious matter—enabling you to become a Buddha—yet you still regard yourself as human and still evaluate these things with human principles. Then it won’t work; you aren’t serious about it, so you can’t cultivate. Buddhas, Daos, and Gods aren’t like what today’s monks and today’s people think. As you know, Buddhas and Gods don’t have ordinary human emotion, nor do they have an ordinary human way of thinking or the notions that are in ordinary humans’ understandings of things. Their way of thinking is of a completely different realm, and they’re free of human concepts and notions of things. Now people have humanized Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and think of them as if they had human emotions and humanness. When some people go to temples to worship Buddhas and burn incense, they don’t go there for cultivation or out of respect, but to ask for things—asking Buddhas with their attachments. Think about it, what a bad intention that is!
In the past people worshipped Buddhas only out of respect. That is, instead of asking for something for themselves, they came to pay respect to Buddhas, to worship Buddhas, or to cultivate themselves into Buddhas since Buddhas are great and Buddhas protect humankind on the grand scale. But people are no longer like that nowadays. In the past people always had righteous thoughts when they thought of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva, and they only mentioned the word “Buddha” or “Bodhisattva” with great respect, feeling that they’re magnificent and great. But today’s people no longer have concepts like this. People casually open their mouths and talk about Buddhas, they talk casually about Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as if the words grew on their tongues. They even casually carve and draw a Buddha’s image however they want, and place them anywhere they want. The images of Buddha Amitabha6 and Saint Mary are even stuck in graveyards. It’s really as if humans are directing Gods to look after the dead, as if humans are ordering Gods to do this and do that. Isn’t that the intention? Think about it, everyone: A God is so holy and great—with a wave of his hand he can bring happiness to all of humankind, and with another wave of his hand he can bring them destruction. Yet you treat them like that? If it weren’t for their mercy toward humans, humans would be instantly annihilated without a trace when they ignorantly do bad things. It’s just that humans don’t understand this now, so they dare to act like that. They’re in fact blaspheming Buddhas. It’s just like what I said last time. I mentioned to you last time that even restaurant menus contain dishes called “Buddha Jumping Over the Wall,” and so on. A Buddha doesn’t have any attachments to color or taste. Saying that when a Buddha smells the delicious aroma he jumps over from the other side of the wall to eat the food—isn’t this the most vicious blasphemy of a Buddha? There are also dishes called “Arhat’s Vegetarian Meal,” and so on. An Arhat doesn’t have ordinary human attachments to color or taste either. Yet you say that the dish called “Arhat’s Vegetarian Meal” is what an Arhat eats—aren’t you insulting him? They find ordinary humans’ food filthy. So their mindset is different from that of humans. Driven by money and desires, people have now caused this kind of situation towards Gods and Buddhas. Buddhas, Daos, and Gods don’t have human notions or ordinary human ways of thinking. But as I just said, people go to worship Buddha not with a heart of great respect or the wish to cultivate, but to ask Buddha for things: “Bless me to have a son, to make a fortune, eliminate calamities for me, get rid of my tribulations…” Their intentions are all like this. Yet Buddhas don’t get involved in those things—they offer ultimate salvation to humans. If you were able to live like immortals, enjoy all sorts of comfort among everyday people, have plenty of money, and be free of calamities and misfortune, you really wouldn’t want to cultivate Buddhahood or become a God. With so much comfort, you’d already be a God now. It’s impossible for things to be that way.
Humans are generating karma lifetime after lifetime. A person’s own karma brings him hardship, suffering, tribulations, lack of money, and many illnesses in this life and the next. Only after paying off your karma can you get happiness and become well off. It’s unacceptable if wrongdoing isn’t paid for—this is a principle that exists in the cosmos. You might feel that the things that happened in the previous life and the things that happen in the next life have to do with two different people. Actually, when others look at you, they look at the course of your entire existence. It’s like your waking from sleep and saying that what you did yesterday has nothing to do with what you do today, and that what you did yesterday wasn’t done by you. But they’re all done by you, and that’s how they view a person’s life. So I digressed a moment ago to get this idea across: You can’t regard these things with ordinary human notions. An everyday person needs to take medicine when he gets sick. But with you being a cultivator, I’m not forbidding you to take medicine either. But aren’t we talking about cultivation? And aren’t we talking about enlightening? You aren’t required to enlighten to everything. However much you can enlighten to is fine. If someone says that he can’t, “No, I can’t let go of this attachment. I still have to take medicine. Even though I practice cultivation, I still have to take medicine,” how do I look at this matter? I only feel sorry about his poor enlightenment quality and that he hasn’t passed this test. He could have improved and taken a big step towards Consummation, but he didn’t take that step. I only feel sorry for this and haven’t said that this person is no good anymore. Nor have I said that the person absolutely can’t cultivate once he takes medicine. That’s because everyone’s enlightenment quality is different, and everyone’s inborn quality is also different. Only when you improve can you pass this test and gain a new understanding. If you can’t improve and don’t fully enlighten to this matter, it means that you’re still an everyday person in this regard. But it can’t be said that you’re no good at all.
Let me talk to you more about the relationship between taking medicine and eliminating karma. Just now I said that it is the karma accrued lifetime after lifetime that causes sickness. What is that karma? The smaller the particles of the karma that exists in other dimensions—the smaller its grain—the more power it has. When it seeps into our dimension, it’s a microorganism, the most microscopic virus. So would you say that sickness is accidental? It can’t be understood by modern medicine or modern science, which can only understand the kind of phenomena that manifest in this surface dimension composed of the layer of the largest particles, which are formed by molecules. So it’s considered a sickness, a tumor, an infection somewhere, or something else; but today’s science can’t see the fundamental cause of people becoming sick, and it always explains with the limited reasons that can be understood by everyday people. Of course, when someone gets sick, it usually conforms to the principles at the level of this world, and there’s usually an external factor in this world that induces the sickness to manifest. Then it appears to really conform to the principles of this world. In fact, it’s just an external factor that makes it in conformity with the principles of this world or the state of this world. But the fundamental cause and the sickness don’t originate in this dimension. So when you take medicine now you’re killing this sickness or the virus at the surface. Medicine can truly kill viruses at the surface. Yet a practitioner’s gong7 is automatically destroying viruses and karma. But as soon as medicine kills the surface virus that has seeped over from other dimensions, the virus—karma—over on the other side will know, since everything is alive, and it will stop coming over. Then you feel that you’ve recovered because you took the medicine. But let me tell you that it nonetheless accumulates over there. Life after life human beings are accumulating this stuff. When the accumulation reaches a certain extent, the person becomes incurable and when he dies he’s totally destroyed. He loses his life—forever loses his life. That’s how horrifying it is. So here I’ve explained to you the relationship. It’s not that people aren’t allowed to take medicine. When an everyday person gets sick he definitely needs medical treatment.
But how do we cultivators deal with it? Aren’t we purifying your body? Like the annual rings of a tree, there is karma at the very core, and at every layer, life after life, of your body. When you practice cultivation, I keep pushing this karma outward from the center; I push, and push, and push, and push until I completely push the karma out for you. And not all of this can go through the surface of our bodies. You wouldn’t be able to bear it if all of it were to go through the surface of your body. Only a portion of it comes out through the surface. But you still feel that you’re suddenly getting sick, you find it terribly uncomfortable and painful, can’t bear it, regard yourself as an everyday person, and go take medicine. Then you can go ahead and take medicine, as we’ve never said that everyday people can’t take medicine. We only say that your enlightenment quality isn’t up to par and that you didn’t pass this test well. We have no rule that says you can’t take medicine when you practice cultivation—we don’t have a rigid rule like that. But I’m teaching you the principles of the Fa. You want to let out this karma, yet you take medicine and press it back in—how are we supposed to cleanse your body? Of course, we could push all of it out for you in other dimensions. But the Fa of this cosmos has a principle: You have to endure suffering in this regard when your karma is eliminated for you. You have to endure the same suffering you caused others before. But for cultivators, we can’t let you endure all of it in the same way, as you’d die and then you wouldn’t be able to cultivate. As a cultivator, after you reach Consummation you will repay the harmed lives with blessings. But you do have to endure the portion of mental pain. While enduring the part owed to others, you pay off the karma, because you suffer. Things aren’t isolated. While paying off the karma, you must regard yourself as a cultivator in the midst of the pain. When you don’t consider it sickness you truly have a high-level understanding of this matter, rather than an ordinary human way of thinking. Then haven’t your realm and mind improved in this regard? Isn’t that the issue? It’s a joke to think that one can improve in cultivation by doing the exercises alone. The exercises are a supplementary means to Consummation.
A person can never raise his level without improving his mind through cultivation. And it’s not like a person can cultivate into a Buddha just by chanting scriptures, as people say. There are also some people who think that one can cultivate into a Buddha by doing lots of good deeds. All these are jokes, and they’re all practices with intention (youwei). If you don’t practice actual cultivation, what’s the use of chanting scriptures? It’s absolutely impossible to achieve Buddhahood without cultivation. There were no scriptures when Buddha Shakyamuni8 was teaching Dharma9 (Fa) back then, nor were there any when Jesus was preaching his Law (Fa). People only practiced actual cultivation. Could you move up without cultivating your mind? Could you move up without meeting the requirements of that realm? Could you go up to heaven while loaded with all kinds of emotions and desires, with various attachments, and with a craving for money that outweighs your wish to become a Buddha? That’s absolutely impossible. I think you’ve all understood this. That is, a cultivator is extraordinary, and being an extraordinary person, how should one deal with the state of having physical discomfort? Everyday people have sickness, but as for your body, I’m pushing karma out for you. When it’s pushed to the surface you’ll feel uncomfortable, since the nerve endings on the surface of the human body are most sensitive. It appears that you’ve become sick, and it seems very serious in some cases. This can happen. Since this can happen, think about the following, everyone. If you regard yourself as an everyday person and if you regard it as sickness, of course that’s fine, too, and you can go ahead and take medicine. You haven’t passed this test, and at least on this matter you’re an everyday person. When you pass this test, you become extraordinary in this regard. But if you want to cultivate into a Buddha, your understanding has to be extraordinary in every regard. If you don’t let go of that attachment, you won’t be able to pass this test, and it will be impossible for you to reach Consummation. So if you miss this opportunity you will have failed to pass this test. Why do some of our assistants and veteran students who understand this very well get anxious whenever they see students taking medicine? Of course, they can’t deal with it the way I do. Since they know each other well, they say, “You can’t take medicine,” and so forth, letting that person know. Of course, that person still might not enlighten to it, “Why don’t you let me take medicine after I start practicing?” If he doesn’t enlighten to it, it’s not an easy situation to deal with. We don’t have a strict rule forbidding you to take medicine. I’ve merely taught cultivators a principle concerning whether or not to take medicine, rather than telling everyday people not to take medicine.
Our Fa is spread for cultivating in this world. Not every cultivator will necessarily become a Buddha. Some people are very diligent and determined, so they advance faster towards Consummation. Some people might not be so diligent, so their advancement towards Consummation is very slow. Some people appear to be cultivating, but aren’t truly cultivating; they appear to believe, but don’t truly believe—so they probably can’t reach Consummation. But as far as cultivation goes, they probably won’t have cultivated in vain. If someone doesn’t succeed in cultivation or doesn’t make it in this lifetime, see what happens in the next lifetime—perhaps he’ll be able to make it in his next lifetime. Or maybe he won’t want to cultivate anymore; but he will have, after all, let go of some attachments in this Dafa, heard the Buddha Fa, and become better than everyday people through cultivation. He probably will have created blessings for his next life. He might have a lot of wealth or become a high-ranking official in his next life. These things could only be changed into blessings, then, since he couldn’t succeed in cultivation but hadn’t cultivated in vain. That’s the principle. I think that since you, as a cultivator, are able to hear the Fa today, I hope all of you will keep cultivating to the end. Not everyone is able to hear the Buddha Fa. As a matter of fact, I can tell you that the U.S. is pretty special. I had already stopped teaching the Fa two years ago, but, there are many Chinese people in the U.S. and a lot of kind-hearted people are to be found among Americans. I want them to obtain the Fa, too. Actually, I’m not teaching in a systematic way anymore, and am only teaching with respect to specific situations. Since the book is already available, everyone can learn by reading the book. Assistance centers are also in place, so all of you can go and practice along. The opportunity for a person to hear the Buddha Fa comes once in several thousand years, and some people might not even have that predestined opportunity. This is because during the six-fold path of reincarnation,10 a person can reincarnate into various animals, plants, or substances. It takes several hundred or a thousand years to reincarnate into a human being once. During that several hundred or thousand years of reincarnation, you also must happen to be a human being in the right period, then you have to reincarnate to a place where you can encounter this Fa, and you must happen to arrive in the world at the right time to have the opportunity to hear it and be able to attend the class. Of course, it takes many, many predestined occurrences like these to make it happen, and only then can you obtain this Fa. It isn’t easy at all.
What I teach is Buddha Fa. I think everyone is clear on this. I’m not teaching principles for everyday people. Besides, many of the questions that I’ve talked about have never been discussed among everyday people, and they aren’t everyday people’s knowledge.
I just went over the issue of taking medicine again because this problem has become noticeable in different regions. Some people want to damage Dafa, and say things about not taking medicine like, “We aren’t allowed to take medicine once we start practicing this.” Actually, it’s not that I don’t allow you to take medicine. Of course, our assistants present here should also be careful with their working methods and not force anyone to not take medicine. We only spell out the principles. If someone wants to cultivate, he can. If he doesn’t want to cultivate, even if he chooses to take poison, it’s an everyday person’s affair. Nobody else can do anything if his mind remains unchanged. We can only talk about predestined relationships and advise people to be good. Forcing people is not cultivation.
I’ll discuss another issue. Since I’m giving the entire afternoon to you, after I finish talking you can ask questions and I’ll answer them for you. In mainland China, the young people who were born after the “Cultural Revolution” have a very shallow understanding of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Gods. What I’m teaching is Buddha Fa. Some people know that it is good, but still don’t understand certain terms. They know very little about things of the Buddha School. In other words, they don’t have a clear understanding of the Buddha School.
Now I’ll talk briefly about Buddha Amitabha and Buddha Shakyamuni. What I teach is different from the [Buddhist] scriptures. What I teach was also taught by Buddha Shakyamuni twenty-five hundred years ago, but the monks at that time didn’t pass it down to later generations. The scriptures were not systematically compiled until five hundred years after Buddha Shakyamuni left the world. As you know, five hundred years ago China was right in the middle of the Yuan Dynasty.11 Who today knows what Genghis Khan said at that time? But it is, after all, Buddha Fa. It’s been passed down all along, fragmented and by word of mouth. But it often lost the elements related to what the Buddha taught—the time, location, occasion, meaning, and audience—these no longer exist. During the course of its spreading, since those who didn’t reach Consummation all had human notions and liked to add stuff from their own notions, they changed the Buddha Fa. They omitted the parts they didn’t understand, and gradually humanized Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Gods. They passed down the things that agreed with them and that they could understand. They weren’t willing to talk about things that didn’t suit what their own mindset was looking for or that didn’t conform to their notions, so those parts haven’t been passed down.
Let me first talk about Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddha Shakyamuni was a real historical figure. Over twenty-five hundred years ago in ancient India, he left to cultivators his Buddha School cultivation way, called “Precept, Samadhi,12 Wisdom.” As for Buddhism, that’s only a name coined by people engaged in politics nowadays. Buddha Shakyamuni didn’t recognize religion, nor did he say that his was a religion. It is humans who’ve called his cultivation way a religion. He was only teaching his Dharma, teaching his cultivation way—Precept, Samadhi, Wisdom—which could enable people to reach Consummation. Of course, the specific things related to this have been recorded in scriptures, so I won’t elaborate. As you all know, Buddha Amitabha has the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss, and Medicine Buddha has the Glazed Paradise. Each Buddha presides over a heavenly paradise. “Fo” (Buddha) “Pusa” (Bodhisattva) and “Rulai”13 (Tathagata) are our Chinese terms. In the heavens, a Tathagata14 is called the King of the Fa, that is, he presides over his heavenly kingdom. But their way of ruling isn’t like that of humans who govern with administrative means and laws—they don’t have those sorts of things. They only rely on mercy and benevolent thoughts. And everyone is that good there. Only when you meet that standard can you enter that paradise. So every Buddha has a paradise he presides over. But in the past nobody heard what paradise Buddha Shakyamuni presides over, nobody knew who Buddha Shakyamuni originally was, and nobody knew where Buddha Shakyamuni’s paradise was. Some monks have said that Buddha Shakyamuni is in the Saha Paradise. But let me tell you: Where is the Saha Paradise? It’s within our Three Realms. How could that be a Buddha’s paradise? What a filthy place! Everyone wants to get away from there—how could that be a Buddha’s paradise? Even monks can’t come up with an explanation for this, and it isn’t documented in religion, either. Actually, Buddha Shakyamuni came from a very high level. This cosmos is extremely vast. In a moment I’ll discuss its structure—the structure of the cosmos. The lowest level where Buddha Shakyamuni stayed before he came down was a sixth-level universe, and from that level he directly reincarnated as a human. It wasn’t a sixth-level heaven, but a sixth-level universe. In a moment I’ll describe how vast this cosmos is.
He has a heavenly kingdom in the sixth level of universes. He created a heavenly kingdom there, called the Dafan15 Paradise. In other words, Buddha Shakyamuni reincarnated to the human world from the Dafan Paradise. In order to teach the Dharma and offer salvation to people—offer salvation to his disciples—he reincarnated into the human world from the Dafan Paradise. And the disciples taught and saved by Buddha Shakyamuni would have to cultivate to at least a sixth-level universe or above—that’s how high they had to cultivate to. That’s why since the time when Buddha Shakyamuni came down he has been watching over his disciples as they reincarnate and cultivate, and has never returned to his paradise. In the Three Realms there’s a place called Dafan Heaven, and that’s where he is. Dafan Heaven was also named by him. He called it Dafan Heaven because he came from the Dafan Paradise. He’s watching over his disciples from there. His disciples have all had markings conferred upon them. He conferred on them markings of the “卍” sign. All of them are marked as his disciples. From high levels one can tell at a glance who are Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciples and who are not. Since they have to cultivate to a high level—Buddha Shakyamuni wants to save them to a realm that high—they couldn’t succeed in cultivation in one lifetime. So lifetime after lifetime, they’ve cultivated again and again for over twenty-five hundred years. Now, this last time, they’re supposed to reach Consummation. After their reaching Consummation in this lifetime, he will take all his disciples with him and all of them will leave the Saha Paradise. Among our Dafa disciples, many who are obtaining the Fa are Shakyamuni’s marked disciples. But most of Shakyamuni’s marked disciples are monks, though there are also ones among everyday people. Many of the ones among everyday people are already obtaining this Fa of ours. Actually, since we’ve discussed it to this point, I also want to tell you that with this Fa I’m teaching, it’s not that you have to go to our Falun Paradise. What I’ve been imparting are the principles of the entire cosmos. I am teaching something that huge. All of them want to obtain this Fa as well. Since the new cosmos has already been formed, and the Fa is rectifying the cosmos, one can return up there only by assimilating to the Fa of the cosmos. This is what Buddha Shakyamuni systematically arranged for his disciples long ago—he knew about this day. I know that disciples of many different paradises or of other upright cultivation ways are obtaining the Fa in Dafa. Most of Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciples are in the Han region. None are in India anymore. But there are also a number of them—very few—scattered in various places around the world. Most of them are in the Han region. The Han region is mainland China.
Just now I briefly described the situation of Buddha Shakyamuni and his disciples. Next I’ll talk about Buddha Amitabha. When people talk about Buddha Amitabha, they all know that there’s a Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. Where is the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss? And who is Buddha Amitabha? As for Buddha Amitabha, descriptions can be found in the Buddhist scriptures, so I won’t talk about this part. I’ll talk about the part not recorded in the scriptures. As you know, people have been spreading what Buddhas have said about the partial structure of the cosmos, and that there’s a place called Sumeru Paradise—that is, the talk of Sumeru Mountain. Our present planet Earth and the cosmic bodies within and beyond the Three Realms are to the south of Sumeru Mountain, and this is called Jambuu-dvipa.16 The Earth is to the south of this Sumeru Mountain. Some people try to understand it, “Is this Sumeru Mountain the Himalayas? Was the India of that time Jambuu-dvipa?” These are different matters. He is a Buddha. He doesn’t speak from the perspective of the worldly understanding—he teaches principles from a God’s perspective. The starting point of his thinking is different from that of humans.
This Sumeru Mountain does exist. Then why can’t humans see it? And why can’t it be seen even with telescopes? That’s because it isn’t composed of the particles made up by the layer of the largest molecules. Let me tell you: The particles composed of molecules—not to mention those composed of atoms—and even the matter made up of those particles that are composed of molecules and one layer smaller than the particles most surface to us, are already invisible to humans. Yet this Sumeru Mountain is composed of atoms, so humans can’t see it at all. But recently the people in the fields of astronomy and cosmology may have discovered a phenomenon that no matter how many observable galaxies there are in the universe, there are no galaxies anymore at that place. Galaxies are everywhere here; there are many, many Milky Way galaxies. Yet at a certain place there’s nothing, as if there’s a clean cut. They call it a “cosmic wall.” They can’t explain why this is. Why aren’t there any galaxies over there? In fact, they’re blocked by the Sumeru Mountain, as that mountain is incredibly huge. How huge is it? Its top is at the center of the second level universe—it goes beyond our small universe. It is really huge. So a mountain that huge is completely beyond the human imagination. It’s impossible for humans to see its other parts. The Earth is such a tiny ball, yet if you want to see Beijing, you can’t see it at all from the other side of the Earth. It’s a mountain that huge, there’s no way you can imagine how huge it is. He also said that in several other parts of Sumeru Mountain there exist other paradises as well. We aren’t going to say too much about that.
Then why is there such a mountain? Let’s talk about this Sumeru Mountain. I can tell you that this Sumeru Mountain is actually a manifestation of the form and image of Buddha Amitabha, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara,17 and Bodhisattva Mahaasthaama-praapta.18 It’s not completely accurate to call it a form and image. Since they’re Buddhas, they have a human form. They can also assemble into a form or disperse into matter, but they do have a form and image. They can disperse into matter through transformation. When humans can’t see Buddhas, they say that Buddhas don’t have bodies. Their bodies are composed of atoms, so of course you can’t see their bodies, and so you’re right to say they don’t have bodies. So because this Sumeru Mountain is composed of atoms, our human eyes can’t see it. But in a sense it represents Buddha Amitabha, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and Bodhisattva Mahaasthaama-praapta. This Sumeru Mountain is thus not one but three mountains. In addition, it’s in motion, too. Only things in this material dimension of ours appear to be dead or motionless; the things in all other dimensions are in motion. As you know, molecules are in motion, so are atoms, and everything is in motion, electrons orbit around the atomic nucleus, everything is in motion—all matter is in motion. So Sumeru Mountain sometimes forms a straight line and sometimes forms into a triangular shape; it changes. When people see it from different angles or in different states, they might not see its true appearance. If it lines up in a straight line, you’ll see it as a mountain. Some cultivators in the past could see it, but they described it differently. That’s precisely because they didn’t see its specific state. So since it’s a symbol of Buddha Amitabha, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and Bodhisattva Mahaasthaama-praapta, what does it do? Actually, the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss that people refer to is right inside Sumeru Mountain. Yet this mountain is unlike our human concept of the kind of matter before us. It’s all water beneath Sumeru Mountain. Time is limited, so I’ll just say this much.
I’ll next talk about the composition of the space of the cosmos. How big is the cosmos? It’s hard to describe with human language, because human language is inadequate, and even if it could be described, your mind wouldn’t be able to contain it and you wouldn’t be able to comprehend it. It’s incredibly immense. It’s so huge that it is simply inconceivable—it’s inconceivable even to Gods. So no Buddha, Dao, or God is able to explain how big the cosmos is. As I just said, the universe we generally understand is actually the expanse of a small universe. During my last trip to the U.S., I mentioned that an expanse of roughly more than 2.7 billion Milky Way-like galaxies—it’s around this figure, less than 3 billion—constitutes one universe. And this universe has a shell, or boundary. So this is the universe we usually refer to. But beyond this universe there are other universes at farther places. Within a certain expanse there are another three thousand universes like this. Yet there’s a shell outside of these three thousand universes, and a second-level universe is constituted. Beyond this second-level universe there are about three thousand universes the size of this second-level universe. There is a shell outside of them, and they constitute a third-level universe. It’s just like how small particles comprise atomic nuclei, atomic nuclei comprise atoms, and atoms comprise molecules—it’s just like how microscopic particles comprise larger particles in a system. The universe that I’ve been describing is only the way things are within this one system. There’s no way this language can describe it; human language isn’t able to express it clearly. This is the situation in this one state. But there are many, many systems—as numerous as the innumerable atoms that comprise molecules—spread all over the cosmos in the same way. Can you tell how many universes the size of our small universe there are in this cosmos? No one can tell exactly. Just now I discussed the second-level universes, the third-level universes, and said that Buddha Shakyamuni came from a sixth-level universe. This was only a discussion of this one system, of a system like this. Just as small particles comprise larger particles and larger particles comprise even larger particles, this is within one system. But there are more than just this one system of particles. Numerous particles at different levels are spread all over the cosmic body.
The cosmos is extremely complex. I discussed it more specifically when I held the seminar in Sweden. I talked about eighty-one layers of universes. Actually, there are far more than eighty-one layers—they can’t be counted with human numbers. That’s because the largest human number is zhao19 (trillion). The largest number used by Buddhas is kalpa. One kalpa equals two billion years—two billion years constitute one kalpa. A person can’t count even with kalpa how many layers of universes there are—not how many layers of heavens, but how many layers of universes—that’s how immense it is. As for human beings, they’re just incredibly insignificant. As I mentioned last time, Earth is nothing but a speck of dust, and it is insignificant. Yet within this expanse there are innumerable and complex structures of dimensions. What are these structures of dimensions like? I described it last time as well. Which level of dimension does our humankind live in? We live in the surface matter comprised of the biggest layer of molecular particles; we live in between molecules and planets—a planet is also a particle, and within the vast cosmos, it, too, is a trivial speck of dust. The Milky Way Galaxy is also a trivial speck of dust. This universe—the small universe I just described—is also but a trivial speck of dust. The largest particles that our human eyes see are planets, and the smallest particles visible to humankind are molecules. We humans exist in between the particles of molecules and planets. Being in this dimension, you think it’s vast; from a different perspective, it’s actually extremely narrow and tiny.
Let me speak from another perspective. Isn’t the space between atoms and molecules a dimension? This might be hard to understand. Let me tell you that nowadays scientists know that the distance from atoms to molecules is equivalent to two hundred thousand atoms lining up. But the smaller the objects, that is, the smaller the particles, the bigger their overall volume, because they form a plane at one particular level and are not isolated points. Molecules, however, are really big. The bigger the grains of matter, or, the bigger the particles, the smaller the volume of their dimension—the smaller their dimension’s overall volume. If you enter that dimension, you’ll find that it’s a broader dimension. Of course, you have to conform to that state in order to enter that dimension. If you understand this with human thoughts, human concepts, and the way humans understand the material world before us, it will never make sense to you, nor will you be able to enter that state. Humankind claims that its science is so advanced. That’s pitiful! It hasn’t broken through the dimension of molecules at all, and it can’t see other dimensions—yet humans are complacent with themselves—even less can it see the dimension composed of atoms. I can tell you, this is a broad categorization of systems of dimensions: Between atoms and atomic nuclei there is a dimension, between atomic nuclei and quarks there is a dimension, and between quarks and neutrinos there is also a dimension. As for how many levels exist continuing on towards the most original source of matter, it can’t be counted with human numbers or even the kalpa numbers that Buddhas use.
If humankind wants to truly understand matter, it can only understand it within the present human knowledge. Humans will never know what’s the most fundamental of the cosmos’s matter, and will never be able to probe it. So this cosmos will forever remain a mystery to humans. Of course, this isn’t to say that high-level beings will never know it; everyday people have no way of knowing this cosmos, whereas cultivators do—only through cultivation. With humankind’s technological means, humankind will never be able to achieve the great abilities at a Buddha’s realm or see through so many levels of dimensions and universes. Since humans have various emotions and desires—all kinds of attachments—if they were to truly reach a Buddha’s realm, star wars or cosmic wars would break out. But Gods won’t allow humankind to do that. That’s why it’s definitely dangerous for humankind when its science reaches a certain level. Since human morality won’t reach that high, human civilization would be destroyed. This isn’t unfair—it’s because humans aren’t good enough and because human morality can’t keep pace. But conversely, if human morality could keep pace, humans would become Gods and wouldn’t need human means to probe—they would see it all just by opening their eyes and taking a glance. That’s how the cosmos is. If you want to know about it, you have to transcend this realm.
What I described just now were worlds composed of large particles of different sizes. There are actually more than these. Even within the most immediate dimension of molecules there are many, many dimensions invisible to humans. As I just said, the largest particles made up of molecules are the matter that composes the outermost surface where we humans beings are—steel, iron, wood, the human body, plastic, stone, soil, and even paper, and so on. All of these things that humankind sees are composed of the layer of the largest particles, which is made up of the layer of the largest molecules. These can be seen. You can’t even see the dimension of particles made up of the molecules that are slightly smaller than those in the layer of the largest particles. Then, these molecules can form a dimension of even smaller particles. Between the smallest particles and the largest particles at the surface, all of which are made up of molecules, exist many, many levels of dimensions. In other words, molecules make up different-sized particles, forming these extremely complex and different molecular dimensions. People don’t believe how someone can suddenly disappear and then suddenly appear elsewhere. Even though his body is composed of molecules, if they are extremely fine-grained (this can be achieved through cultivation) he can travel beyond this dimension. He suddenly disappears and you can’t see him; then he suddenly appears somewhere else. It’s very simple.
Just now I explained the structure of dimensions. I discussed it in more detail than last time. I can’t tell people too much, for they shouldn’t know that much. Humans couldn’t possibly discover through probing all of what I’ve told you. Humankind’s modern science has in fact developed on a wrong foundation, with a wrong understanding of the universe, humankind, and life. That’s why in the world of cultivation we cultivators don’t agree with today’s science at all and think that it’s a mistake. Of course, everyday people have all learned it this way; it’s been divided into so many fields, and all of you have made considerable achievements in your own field. But its foundation is wrong. So what you humans understand will always be quite far from the truth.
For humankind, understanding science has always been a process of groping. The proverbial “blind men sizing up the elephant”20—that’s what this science is like nowadays. It touches the elephant’s thigh or trunk, and says that this is how science is. The fact is, it can’t see the whole truth. Why did I say that just now? Humankind now thinks that humans evolved through evolution, but the theory of evolution doesn’t hold at all. We in the world of cultivation feel that humans are insulting themselves. We see that humans associate themselves with monkeys, and find it ridiculous. Humans didn’t come from evolution whatsoever. When Darwin presented his theory of evolution it was full of holes, with the biggest flaw being the lack of the intermediate periods of evolution from ape to man and from paleo lives to modern lives—they’re missing not just for humans, but for other lives and animals as well. How can that be explained? Actually, humans have different states of living in different historical periods. That is, humans’ living environment comes about to accommodate the humans of a given time.
Since we’ve come to this topic, I’ll also discuss a little bit about the notions of today’s humans. Due to moral degeneration, many concepts have undergone certain changes. Many prophets in the past also said that at a certain time, people would make themselves look like goblins. You can see how they dye their hair red, or leave only a strip of hair in the middle with both sides shaved bald. It was also said that at a certain time humans would be treated worse than dogs. Many people treat dogs as their sons or their kids, feed them milk, dress them in brand name clothes, push them around in carts, and call them “my boy.” Meanwhile many people beg for food on the streets—I too have come across people like that—they can be found in the U.S. as well. They stretch out their hand, “Please, give me a quarter.” They’re really worse off than dogs. But I can tell you that if there were no humans on Earth, nothing would exist. It’s precisely because of humans’ existence that Earth has all these things. All animals, creatures, and plants are born because of humans, destroyed because of humans, formed because of humans, and are to be used by humans. Without humans there would be nothing. The six-fold path of reincarnation also exists because of humans. Everything on Earth is created for humans. Nowadays all of these concepts are getting inverted. How could animals be equal to humans?! Nowadays animals possess human bodies and become their masters—heaven cannot tolerate this! How could that be acceptable? Humans are the greatest; they can become Gods or Buddhas through cultivation. Besides, all humans are from high levels, whereas many of these lives were created here—created on Earth. I’ve discussed this issue in passing.
We don’t think that the theory of evolution I mentioned earlier ever happened. Through the ages, humankind has gone through civilizations of different periods many times. Each time human morality became degenerate, its civilization would be destroyed. Very few people would survive in the end. They would inherit a little of the culture from the previous civilization and develop after going through another stone age. The stone age isn’t limited to one period only—there have been a lot of stone ages. Today’s scientists have found some problems: Many archaeological findings aren’t from just one period. But when they try to fit them into the theory of evolution, they can’t explain it in the face of the facts. We’ve found that the humans on this Earth, that is, the people from different historical periods, have left behind cultural relics of different periods. Modern people all say that the pyramids in ancient Egypt were built by Egyptians. But they have nothing to do with the present-day Egyptians whatsoever. That is, humans and nations have a wrong understanding of their own history. The pyramids and the Egyptians have nothing to do with each other at all. Those pyramids were built during a prehistoric civilization, and sank under water during a continental shift. When the civilization that followed was about to emerge and new continents were being created, they rose up from the depths of the water. That group of people was long gone, and then the present-day Egyptians came later. After discovering the functions of these pyramids, the Egyptians built some smaller pyramids like these. They discovered that the pyramids were pretty good for storing coffins inside, so they put coffins in them. Some were newly built, some came from the distant past. This has made today’s people unable to figure out which period they really came from. History has been messed up.
Many people say that the Mayan culture was related to today’s Mexicans. Actually, it had nothing at all to do with the Mexicans, who are only a mixed race of the Spaniards and the indigenous people. The Mayan culture, on the other hand, belonged to the previous civilization’s period in history. That human race was destroyed in Mexico, and only a small number of people survived. But the Mayan culture was directly related to Mongolians. I won’t get into the details here. Humankind doesn’t know its own historical origins. The same is true for the Caucasians. During the last great flood—the last human civilization was destroyed by a great flood—all the big mountains on the earth that had elevations of less than two thousand meters were submerged, and only the people who lived above two thousand meters survived. The story of Noah’s Ark is true. During that great flood the Western culture was completely destroyed, and the Eastern culture was also in ruins. But the mountain people who lived in the areas of the Himalayan and Kunlun Mountains and who were like rural people were fortunate enough to escape—the Chinese people who lived in the Kunlun Mountains survived. At that time the Eastern culture was well-developed; Yellow River Diagram (Hetu), Luo River Writings (Luoshu), Book of Changes (I Ching), Tai Chi, Eight Trigrams (Bagua), and so on were inherited from the past. People say that they were created by this person or that person of a later generation. Those people only modified them and made them public again. They weren’t created by those people at all, and were all from prehistoric cultures. Although these things were passed down in China, there were even more of them during China’s development in history. More were preserved in ancient times, but they became fewer and fewer as they were passed down. So it’s a nation with a rich cultural background and deep historical origins—that’s China. The Caucasian culture, on the other hand, was wiped out after it was completely submerged by that great flood. At that time, alongside the continent of Europe there was another continent that also sank. That was their most developed area, and it sank, too. So the Caucasians have redeveloped from nothing—no civilization at all—to the science they have today.
The science of ancient China is different from this empirical science of the West. Many archeologists have discussed these issues with me, and I explained everything to them. They also felt that this is the case, because they had many puzzling questions that couldn’t be explained. As I just said, humankind’s understanding of the universe can’t possibly go much further. Nowadays, the starting point of many scientists’ research is wrong. Those who have made some achievements in their fields, in particular, are unable to let go of them. They’ve defined what they have understood and set limits. Many of you in the audience are students studying outside China, Ph.D.’s., and Master’s degree holders with open minds. You will find that their definitions are correct within the scope of their realms, but that once you go beyond their understanding and their realm the definitions are wrong and restrictive. A truly accomplished scientist is one who dares to break through these limits. Even what Einstein said was correct is true only within the realm of his understanding; beyond that realm, what he said is found to be wrong. Do you see the principle? When humans have ascended, when the state of your thinking approaches the high-level truth, and when you approach high levels, you will find that the understandings at low levels are wrong. That’s how it is.
Isn’t humans’ understanding of matter wrong? Humans are standing in the immediate dimension between the surface matter composed of the layer of the largest molecular particles and planets, and yet they’re already confused. They’ve developed this way and that way within only this, and think this is the absolute science, this is the only understanding of matter, and this is the most advanced. That’s only understanding the material world within an extremely, extremely tiny particle in this immense and complex cosmic space, and it’s confined to a small dimension. The structure of planets I described earlier is but one system. The bit of the dimension you’ve come to understand is within a minute system—a system the size of a speck of dust, and one among countless billions of dimensions. That is, it’s an understanding within a tiny dimension. Would you say it’s correct? So the initial foundation of the development and understanding of humankind’s science is wrong. Life and the origin of humankind are even more complicated to talk about, so I won’t discuss them. That’s because if I say more it will involve the origin of life, which is too complicated. Besides, if I tell too much and tell things at levels too high, people won’t believe it, because humans have human thoughts after all. While I’m speaking here, Gods believe it when they hear it, because their thoughts are those of Gods. They see it in their realms, and their way of thinking is completely different from that of humans.
Was my explaining it this way clear to you? Let me ask you: With the way I’ve been speaking, do you understand it or not? (Applause) There’s something I often mention, and I repeatedly emphasized it just yesterday: predestined relationship (yuan fen). Many of us always want to introduce this Dafa to more people. With some people, as soon as you introduce it to them they think it’s great and want to learn it themselves. These people probably have a predestined relationship. With others, even your family members, when you introduce it to them, they don’t want to listen and they don’t believe it—they don’t believe it no matter what you say. Let me tell you that they probably don’t have a predestined relationship. Of course, this situation isn’t caused by the predestined-relationship form alone. For some people it might be due to their poor enlightenment quality or large amounts of karma.
Today I’ll single out and talk about predestined relationship. What’s predestined relationship? I’ve explained this before. The cultivation world has always emphasized predestined relationship. How is a predestined relationship established? Actually, let me tell you, the predestined relationship discussed by those of us in the cultivation world can’t be explained in terms of a short time in history. It goes beyond any one lifetime of a person, or even several lifetimes, or even a still longer time. This predestined relationship doesn’t end. Why doesn’t it end? Just now when I discussed paying for karma, I mentioned how the life of a person is looked at. When a life is looked at, the entirety of his existence—not just one of his lifetimes—needs to be looked at. It’s like after you go to sleep, can you not acknowledge today that it was you yesterday? No way! So a person’s predestined relationship involves a very long period of time. Good things can be passed down, and bad things can be passed down, too. In other words, the causal relationships among people don’t end, either. Most of the time, the predestined relationship that people refer to is the predestined relationship of family, that is, the predestined relationship between a husband and wife—this is what’s referred to most often. Actually, I’ve talked about this predestined relationship between husband and wife before. This is an everyday people’s matter. Since predestined relationship is being discussed, I’ll talk about it. How is it formed? In most cases, it’s usually like this: In the previous life one person did a favor for another person and that person couldn’t repay it—perhaps he was a low-ranking official or was very poor in that life. He benefited greatly from that favor, so he wanted to repay it. Then this might result in a predestined relationship between husband and wife. It could also be that in the previous life someone loved someone else or they both loved each other, but they didn’t have that predestined relationship and couldn’t form a family; then it could result in a predestined relationship of husband and wife for the next life. This is because a person’s wish is very important—what you want, and what you want to do. If you say, “I want to cultivate Buddhahood,” then a Buddha might help you. Why is that? This one thought is really precious, for in an environment this difficult you still want to cultivate into a Buddha. On the other hand, if a person wants to be a demon, it can’t be stopped, either. How could you stop him if he’s bent on doing bad things? He doesn’t listen to you and insists on doing them. So a person’s wish is very important.
In addition, there are also predestined relationships formed by being close relatives and good friends, students or disciples, or by the kindness or spite owed among people, all of which can make you become a family or belong to the same group. You have social connections in society, and this allows tensions among people to be resolved and kindness and spite to be repaid. These are all predestined relationships—that’s how they’re referred to. They don’t come from one lifetime; they might come from several lifetimes or a previous lifetime. It refers to this type of situation. We’ve also found that, because there’s this kind of relationship, that is, a person has kindness and spite in one lifetime, has close relatives and good friends, has a wife and children, and so forth, then it’s very likely that there’s kindness and spite within this group—someone treats another well, someone treats another badly, one person repays another person… These things will then cause them to reincarnate as a group in the next life. But they don’t come together; it’s not that they will reincarnate together. The timing of their arrivals in this world will vary, so some will be older and some younger. Anyway, there will be certain connections among this group of people, who will reincarnate at different times. You’ll find that someone who walks down the street and doesn’t belong to your group, who doesn’t have a predestined relationship with you, or have anything to do with you, will seem to be in a totally different world from you. You won’t seem to have anything to do with him. You’ll also find persons who seem to be of a different type of people. Then these people aren’t from your group, and you don’t have any predestined relationship with them at all. So people usually reincarnate as a group and arrive at different times—some will be parents, some will be children, some will be friends, some will be enemies, and some will be benefactors. This is the predestined relationship I just talked about.
Of course, those who practice cultivation can’t escape from such predestined relationship, either. Since you want to practice cultivation… It was said in the past that if a person practiced cultivation, even his ancestors would be credited virtue (de) and even they would benefit. It’s not that if you practice cultivation and cultivate into a Buddha they won’t have to pay for their sins and karma and will all become Buddhas—that’s not allowed. It means that while you practice cultivation, they knew before that you’d obtain the Fa in this lifetime, perhaps among the people around you there are ones who are your reincarnated relatives, and perhaps you’ll enable people who have kindness or spite toward you to obtain the Fa—it might bring about this kind of relationship. Of course, cultivation doesn’t have anything to do with affection for family. Not having anything to do with affection for family breaks this constraint, so people who cultivated alone or passed their teachings to a single person selected and picked their disciples themselves. This is how people cultivated in past generations. Universal salvation is the predestined relationship we’re talking about today. The predestined relationship I talk about is related to all of you in the audience here. It’s very likely that you have the predestined relationship to obtain the Fa. So how was this predestined relationship formed? Many people here came to obtain the Fa, they came for a purpose. There might also be [my] close relatives, good friends, and disciples from different lifetimes, or those resulting from other predestined relationships. But cultivation doesn’t involve ordinary human kinship—there’s no such thing. I often say that some people came to obtain the Fa. They might have made this type of wish in the past and wanted to come endure hardship to obtain this Fa—this is also a factor. That’s why I often say that I advise you not to miss the chance to obtain the Fa this time because of momentary wrong thoughts in this life, or you’ll regret it forever and won’t be able to make up for it. In fact, I’ve found that this thread of predestined relationship has been, for the most part, pulling people along, taut. No one has been left out and all of them are obtaining the Fa. The only difference lies in the degree of diligence and progress.
Next I’ll discuss another matter: the form of cultivation. I touched on it yesterday as well. Some of our students have brought up the issue of whether or not to get married. Some of them don’t want to get married and want to go cultivate in the mountains; some hold different views. Many, many other disciples in our Dafa cultivation also have that thought. Yet everyone knows that this Fa I’m imparting is mainly for practicing cultivation in ordinary human society, with elevating people’s own Main Consciousness (zhu yishi) or Main Spirit (zhu yuanshen) as the goal of cultivation. Since you’re consciously and knowingly enduring hardships, and your heart isn’t moved while clearly seeing your self-interest infringed upon, aren’t you cultivating yourself? If it isn’t you who obtains this Fa, who is it? If you were to really go into the mountains to practice cultivation and avoid these conflicts and friction, then your cultivation would be slow. When a person wears out his attachments slowly over the course of many years, and doesn’t obtain this Fa, it’s likely that it’s his Assistant Spirit (fu yuanshen) that is cultivated. Since you wouldn’t have these conditions when you practiced cultivation deep in the mountains, you would probably need to sit in meditation and go into trance—be in trance for a long time. In that state, you yourself wouldn’t know whether or not you were practicing cultivation, because you wouldn’t be truly improving yourself in this complicated environment. That’s the situation. People who’ve taken up the religious life can also cultivate their Main Spirits, but the ordinary human society is the place where a person’s heart and mind can best be tempered.
Of the past cultivation methods that we’ve heard about—regardless of which religion or cultivation method in history they are—what’s been passed down teaches a person to enter the mountains or monasteries to practice cultivation, cutting off worldly connections and abandoning affection for family. Even when a person’s parents went to visit him in the monastery, he wouldn’t acknowledge them: “Who are you looking for?” “I’m looking for you. You’re my son.” “Ah, Buddha Amitabha.21 Patron, you have mistaken me for someone else. My name is…” as he would have already been given a Dharma name.22 “I’m a Buddha School disciple. I’m not your son.” They truly cut off worldly connections. As for the monks these days, of course, they don’t cultivate anymore; and they even make money and send some home. True cultivation [in those cultivation ways] requires cutting off worldly connections. Why is it said that once someone becomes a monk, he isn’t considered human anymore? This is the reason. He’s already a god—a half-god. Although a person can’t cultivate [in those cultivation ways] anymore, many people are often hindered by the approach of those ancient cultivation ways, and also want to practice Dafa cultivation in that way. This will be doable in the future, but now there are no conditions for it. The Fa I’m imparting today can only assume this cultivation form at present, and I, your master,23 am myself not in the mountains either. So you can’t always think about going into the mountains whenever you think of cultivation, about becoming a monk or nun whenever you think of cultivation, about not getting married whenever you think of cultivation, or about changing the ways of everyday people whenever you think of cultivation. It’s not like that. There are many cultivation ways. Among the eighty-four thousand cultivation ways, ours isn’t the only one that practices cultivation this way. So what I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be affected by several cultivation methods of the past or by the long-established concepts. What I’m imparting to you today is an entirely new cultivation way that can truly enable you to be saved most quickly. As for the future, there will be cultivation ways for that time. As a matter of fact, as I said in the book, it’s by no means easy for someone to practice cultivation. You cultivate and cultivate, but you’re not really cultivating yourself and you don’t even know it!
I can tell you that in the remote past, many Gods found that it was too hard to save a person’s Main Spirit, so they adopted the method of saving the Assistant Spirit. One [God] saved people this way and found it pretty good, then another one also found saving people this way was pretty good, then all of them saved people this way, and it resulted in this accepted form of saving people. But it’s not fair to people—a person practices cultivation, yet someone else is saved. Precisely because of the unfairness, they don’t dare make it public or dare to let people know. I have sprung it loose for people to know. Why? Because what I want is to enable people to truly obtain the Fa, to change this situation, and to enable you yourself to cultivate. In the meantime, people practicing cultivation this way benefits society—when you improve yourself you’re surely a good person in society, which couldn’t be better. So my intention is precisely to turn this thing around. But some Gods got up there after cultivating that way for many years—they cultivated up there just like the way Assistant Spirits cultivate. So all of them were obstructing my imparting this to you. Think about it, everyone: It’s not easy at all to impart this Fa, and it’s not easy at all to obtain it, either. Eventually the Gods, Buddhas, and Daos realized what I’m doing and saw that the results are really good—now they know.
Things were very difficult back when I taught the Fa in China. Now, of course, it’s relatively easy to teach it; especially in the U.S. it’s already very easy for you to hear the Fa. As I said earlier, this cultivation form of ours shouldn’t be influenced by concepts from the past; this is how we cultivate. Of course, after this batch of you finishes your cultivation, people in the future will have their way of practicing cultivation. People of the future won’t know this much of the Fa. We’ve imparted this because this is a special period in history. People of the more distant future won’t be able to know who I am, and we won’t leave them my image, either. Those audio and video tapes can’t be left to the future, even though you’ve recorded them; all of them will be erased. Back when Buddha Shakyamuni was guiding his disciples in cultivation, he didn’t allow his disciples to keep money or property, lest they develop attachments to those material interests. So they were allowed to keep nothing but a 24 robe and a begging bowl. But all too often humans have many attachments that are hard to get rid of. During a certain time, many people started collecting food-begging bowls. Some said, “This bowl of mine is bronze, this bowl of mine is jade, this one of mine looks good, this bowl of mine is silver.” Some monks collected lots of bowls. Buddha Shakyamuni then said: “If you have these attachments to property, you might as well go home since you have everything at home and you’ll be able to go collect things and keep them. Why can’t you let go of even a begging bowl? A monk needs to let go of everything. Why not even get rid of the thought of collecting begging bowls? You’ve given up your treasures, why are you still attached to bowls?” By this, Buddha Shakyamuni meant that one shouldn’t keep even that one thought or one bit of attachment—it needs to be removed. He didn’t allow them to have that attachment.
In Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, a monk’s bowl used to be very small, and they could only beg for one meal at a time. Monks today hold such a big bowl. An alms bowl was used in the past, but now they use an inverted bell—they go begging with an inverted bell. And they don’t at all want the food you give them—they want money. Being so strongly attached to material interests and money—is that cultivation? I can tell you that money is the biggest obstacle for a cultivator. What I just said was about monks. Dafa cultivation, however, doesn’t attach importance to material things, but to the mind.25 Since you practice cultivation while working in ordinary human society, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, but it only matters if your attachment to money and wealth isn’t removed. Even if your house is built with gold bricks, you don’t have it in your mind and don’t think much of it. People have all kinds of jobs while they cultivate among everyday people. You make money when you do business—what does that matter if you don’t have it in mind? If you don’t think much about it and it doesn’t make any difference whether you have it or not, you’ve passed this test. Your house can still be gold—it doesn’t matter. We require you to get rid of this attachment. Cultivation doesn’t mean getting rid of material things. Only this way are you conforming to cultivation in the secular world. If everyone practiced cultivation and no one did anything, what would this society live on? That’s not feasible. We only attach importance to people’s minds, aim directly at people’s minds, and truly have you improve your xinxing26 rather than having you get rid of material things. You have to be clear about how this is different from traditional cultivation ways. But you will be seriously tested on this to see if you have such attachments.
As to the cultivators who practice cultivation in our Dafa, this is the type of path we take. You need to diminish these attachments. As for the professional cultivators in the future, they will take up bowls and go begging for food, travel on foot, and wander about. Only by experiencing all kinds of hardships in the world will they be able to reach Consummation. Monks will cultivate this way in the future.
Speaking of hardship, I’ll tell you this: Once a person takes up cultivation practice, he will certainly experience hardship—he’ll run into hardship. People who practice Dafa have blessings, but they also have tribulations while they practice cultivation—this is for sure. Yet often when people suffer a little or experience a little bit of hardship they take it as a bad thing. “How come I feel uncomfortable here and there?” If you’re comfortable all your life, I can tell you that you’re bound to go to hell. If you don’t get sick all your life—not to mention being comfortable all your life—upon death it’s one hundred percent sure you’ll go to hell. Being alive generates karma. It’s impossible for you not to generate karma, because as soon as you open your mouth you might hurt others. What you say can unintentionally hurt others: Maybe one person doesn’t mind what you say to him, but someone else hears it and gets hurt. While humans live, what they eat are lives, and even when they walk they will step on lives and kill them. Of course, we’ve said that you generate karma when you live in the world. If you don’t get sick, your karma won’t be eliminated. When people suffer from sickness, their karma is really being eliminated. You get well after it’s eliminated. Oftentimes, a person gets a serious sickness, and after a while, when you have recovered, you’ll find your face glowing with radiance and everything you do will go smoothly. That’s because after your karma is eliminated it’s transformed into blessings—virtue. Because you’ve suffered, whatever you do will usually go smoothly and can be accomplished easily. People can’t see this, so they think it’s bad to undergo even a little hardship. Actually, what’s so scary about hardship?! Even if you have a little hardship, if you steel your will and withstand it, you’ll find afterwards that everything you do will proceed differently. I’d say it’s nothing more than just hardships that humans have to endure when they practice cultivation. If you’re able to let go of [the fear of hardship] you’re sure to reach Consummation. Speaking from a higher perspective, if you’re able to let go of the thought of life and death, you are truly a God!
Buddha Amitabha said that by chanting his Buddha name, people could be reborn into the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. How could that be? His words can’t be understood superficially. It’s true that one can go to the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss by chanting the Buddha’s name, but people have interpreted the Buddha’s words superficially. The Buddha Fa has inner meanings at different levels. Chanting his Buddha name is in fact practicing. You keep on chanting until nothing but the word “Amitabha” is left in your mind—one thought replaces ten thousand thoughts—you chant and make your mind completely empty, with nothing but “Amitabha.” While chanting the Buddha’s name, you’ll be interfered with by numerous attachments and various disturbances—can you resist them? When all attachments are let go of and the mind becomes empty, the goal of cultivation is achieved. Your chanting the Buddha’s name is also an expression of reverence for the Buddha. You chant because you want to go to the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss, so of course the Buddha in the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss will come to look after you, since you’re cultivating Buddhahood. There’s deep inner meaning in this. Some people say that a person can go to the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss if he chants Amitabha right before he dies. But what do you have to be like to do that? When you are truly able to let go of the thought of life and death, you can truly go there. This is the difference between a human and a God. If you can let go of life and death, you’re a God; if you can’t let go of life and death, you’re a human—this is the difference. We cultivate and cultivate and let go of all attachments—won’t you have let go of even life and death? If someone can let go of life and death all at once, what other attachments could there be? “Having obtained the Fa, I’m not even afraid of life and death and can even give up my life.” Then what could he still be attached to? That’s the idea. When people are about to die they’re incredibly scared, “Oh no! I’m going to die soon. This is my last breath.” What kind of feeling is that? But some people aren’t scared near death and their lips are still chanting Amitabha—would you say they wouldn’t go to the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss? Having let go of everything, they don’t have the concept of life and death at all. A person’s every thought is built on a long period of cultivation. Everyday people’s thoughts are extremely complicated and they have all kinds of attachments.27 How could they not be scared at the critical moment of life and death? I’ve said that “a Great Way is most simple and easy,” and that many things are very simple but a lot of discussion is needed when they’re dissected and explained in detail. Yet if you were told directly, you wouldn’t be able to do it, and people wouldn’t be able to understand things at levels that deep. They all understand from the surface of the words, superficially. That’s why I have to teach the Fa to you.
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