The Fear of Practice Going Wrong
There is a misconception in China that has affected many people, both spiritual and otherwise: that energy practice can go wrong and lead you to the dark side, or madness. Some have hyped it up enough to scare people away from practicing, as it sounds frightening. But I can tell you that the problem simply doesn’t exist.
I should start by saying that many people involved in energy practices have brought entity attachment upon themselves, due to their bad intentions. A person like this isn’t in control of his mind, and yet he might attribute his abnormal state to “powerful energy.” But what has happened is that his body has been taken over by a foreign entity, and so he isn’t himself when he practices, and may stagger about, yelling and screaming. People get scared away when they see someone acting like that. And yet many individuals attribute their abnormal states to having strong energy. But they could hardly have real energy if that’s what they are doing. The altered states that they experience are lower ones, and at best have only physical benefits. And they are dangerous. If someone gets used to being that way, with his conscious mind never in control, it’s possible that his body will be controlled by his subconscious, by foreign energies or signals, by entities that attach to him, or other things. And they might even prompt him to do dangerous things. These episodes really do a disservice to energy practices more broadly. Problems like these stem from the person’s having had impure intentions and being driven by attachments to show off. It is not that these practices make people crazy. There may be people who have somehow assumed the title of this-or-that “master” and who buy into the idea, but the fact is that doing an energy practice will not make anyone crazy. People who have that idea often get it from fictional stories, like martial arts movies or books. You won’t find it anywhere in classical works or religious texts, if you feel compelled to check. And it is not something that will ever happen to you.
There are actually several phenomena that tend to confuse people, and what I’ve been describing is one type. A person could go off track and bring on entity attachment, or seek to show off by using a supposedly higher “energy state,” and both of these involve impure states of mind. Some people even focus on getting psychic powers as they practice, or do practices that aren’t legitimate, and become accustomed to letting their minds go whenever they exercise. They lose all self-awareness and turn their bodies over to other beings or forces, like their subconscious or foreign energies or signals, which make them act in bizarre ways. They might leap out of a window or jump into a lake if those things tell them to. They relinquish their will to live and turn their bodies over to others. This isn’t the fault of the practices these people are doing, however; it’s that they have strayed from them. They started off by doing those things willfully, and eventually it turned into a bigger problem. Many people mistake being in a trance-like state for being a way of practice, when in reality it’s not, and it is going to have serious consequences. So any problems that follow shouldn’t be blamed on the practice itself, but on the attachments and intentions that got mixed into it.
There is another scenario that confuses people. It’s when energy gets stuck or can’t pass through some place, such as the top of the head, and it frightens the person. This is more likely to happen in Daoist practice, where the human body is seen as a micro universe and a student will work on getting energy to move through its “gateways.” He may encounter energy stagnation issues, such as having his energy pool at a gateway if it fails to advance through it. This can happen at other places in the body, too, not only the head; it’s just that the top of the head is the most sensitive spot in the body. So, if energy ascends to the top of the head and is ready to gush down, yet the person can’t break through the gateway, his head will feel heavy or bloated, as if it were wrapped in a thick blanket of energy, or he may experience other similar things. But the basic kind of energy involved, called chi, doesn’t have any real effect on things or cause real issues for people; and it certainly won’t make them ill. So it’s a problem when people who don’t understand what is really happening make irresponsible and mystical-sounding remarks about it that confuse people. People then start believing that they might go crazy or get into trouble if energy gets stuck at the top of the head, and it scares them.
If energy does get stuck there, it’s only a temporary condition. It might persist for as long as half a year in some instances, however. In that case the person can seek out a true instructor to help guide the energy down. But anyone who can’t advance through a gateway or whose energy won’t descend should examine their character for the cause and consider whether they’ve stalled at a certain stage for too long and not done the inner, spiritual work that they should. They will find that the energy comes down swiftly after they have made the necessary progress. If you are focusing on changing your body’s energy, rather than your character, sweeping changes aren’t going to happen; you have to make spiritual progress first. Energy that really isn’t moving as it should will not result in much of a problem. The problems that do occur are usually the product of a person’s own psychological factors, plus fear, which sets in if someone hears misleading claims about the problems in store for him. And once the person is frightened, it’s an attachment—fear—which has to be dealt with, then. And so the greater the person’s fear, the more it will seem that he has some condition. He simply must be made to break the attachment, learn a lesson, and grow from it spiritually by letting go of his fears.
Nor will the spiritual work that’s in store for you, as a practitioner, be easy. Many forms of higher energy will develop in your body, and all of them will be powerful things that move to and fro inside you and which might feel unpleasant. The main reason it feels that way is that you always worry your body has some condition or other. The reality is, powerful things have come about inside of you; what your body has developed are energies, powers, and many supernatural beings. If any of them move about, your body may have a sensation of itchiness, pain, or something unpleasant, as the peripheral nerves are sensitive; a whole range of phenomena are possible. These are good things, though, and you will experience them up until your body has been remade with high-energy matter. But if you always regard yourself as an ordinary person and mistake such things for health issues, you are going to have a hard time practicing. If you still take yourself to be an ordinary person when you meet with challenges in your practice, then your character has dropped to the human level, at least in those instances.
A true practitioner will look at things from a higher plane, rather than through a human lens. By believing that you are sick you might just make yourself sick. That’s because when you take it to be sickness your thoughts are no higher than this world. Neither energy practice nor true spiritual practice will result in health problems, and particularly not the type I was describing, where energy gets stuck somewhere. It’s known that illness is actually seventy percent psychological and thirty percent physical. When a person’s health takes a turn for the worse, it’s usually that he is first worn down mentally, stressed out, and having trouble coping. I’ll give an illustration. There was once a person who was tied down to a bed. His arm was lifted and he was told that he was going to be made to bleed. Next he was blindfolded. His wrist was then scratched (without drawing any blood), and a water faucet was turned on so that he heard a dripping sound. He mistook it for blood dripping, and in no time he was dead. Yet he didn’t lose a drop of blood; it was the tap water that was dripping. His mind was what caused his death. You might just bring yourself health problems by often thinking that you have them. That’s because your thoughts have sunk to the same starting point as the average person, who, naturally, does experience illness.
If a practitioner always thinks he is ill, he is in fact asking for it—asking to be ill. And then that illness can push its way in. A practitioner’s plane of thought should be high. You shouldn’t always worry that something ails you, for your fear is an attachment and will bring you trouble just the same as other attachments. In spiritual practice you must eliminate karma, and that is painful. A higher energy like gong is most definitely not something gained through comfort and ease. Without suffering, there would be no way to break your attachments. Let me share a story from Buddhism. There once was a person who went through a great deal of spiritual effort and was on the verge of becoming a holy being (arhat) with divine standing. So it was hard not to be happy—he was about to depart the three realms and gain eternal life, after all! But joy is an attachment, and it meant he was excitable. A holy being should be completely detached, however, and not stirred by anything. So he fell and his efforts were in vain. He had to start all over again and work his way back up. After enormous efforts he made it back to his previous stage of achievement. Yet this time he was worried, and had to tell himself not to get excited or he would fall again. And with that fear, he fell again. For that too was an attachment.
Another scenario that confuses people comes about when someone who is mentally ill does an energy or spiritual practice. And there are those who want me to cure this for them. But it is not a disease, as I see it, and I haven’t the time to remedy it. It’s not a disease in the sense that the mentally ill are not afflicted with a virus; their bodies haven’t had pathological changes, as when ulcers form. So it’s not a disease, in my view. Being mentally ill is simply a matter of a person’s conscious mind being very weak. So weak, in fact, that the person isn’t in command of his own body. It’s as if his spirit has no wish to take charge of his body, and so the person is never mentally present or very “with it.” When that’s the case, his subconscious mind and foreign energies or signals might interfere with him. There are so many planes in each dimension, and information from any of them might try to disturb him. And it’s possible that his soul did wrongful things in a past life, and so there would be creditors who would want to harm him. A range of things might come about. So this is what we understand genuine mental disorders to be and what causes them. It should now be apparent why I can’t readily treat these for people. As for what you can do in these cases, you could try speaking with him very seriously and help him to become more mentally present. But that’s not easily done. If you watch what happens when a physician at a psychiatric hospital is preparing to administer electroshock therapy, with the electrodes in his hands, you will see that the patient goes quiet with fear. What happens is that the fear of the shock makes his soul alert right then.
People who give spiritual practice a try usually find it agreeable and like to continue with it; everyone has divinity within them, after all, and on some level wants to grow spiritually. So practice becomes a lifelong pursuit for many who try it. They have spiritual aspirations and may practice regularly, even if they don’t ever learn the Way through their practice or progress very far with it spiritually. The people around them such as co-workers, neighbors, and community members might know that they practice. But bear in mind that a few years back, few people who were doing energy practices were making true spiritual progress—which could change their lives. So they would still be regular people who just benefit from their practice in terms of health; nobody would be re-engineering their lives for them. And since they are still regular people, they might unexpectedly develop some condition, become mentally ill, experience other problems, or even pass away. That’s just how things go for ordinary people. And even though others might have seen them doing energy exercises publicly, it was not true spiritual development that was happening. Or even if they did have genuine spiritual goals, they wouldn’t have learned a true teaching or have attained much. So despite their spiritual aspirations, they would have been mired in the basic stages of practice, and their lives would not have been re-designed for them. This would mean that illness was inevitable for them. Only a life of virtue can free you from illness. Energy practice alone can’t achieve that.
A person has to do sincere spiritual practice and focus on his character for healing to occur. That’s because these practices differ from regular physical exercises in that they reach beyond this world. So adherents have to live by higher principles and standards to achieve the goal of practice. But many people don’t do so and are just like everyone else. And so at the appointed time they will still fall ill. They might unexpectedly suffer a stroke one day or come down with something, or become mentally ill. And others who know that they practice might blame it for their woes. But I think you would agree that it’s not warranted. Outsiders to energy practice do that only because they don’t know what actually happened; even insiders to it aren’t likely to know. It’s less of an issue if a mental disorder ensues while someone is at home, in private, though others might still blame his practice. But it’s very serious if an episode occurs while someone is practicing publicly, as people will attribute it to the practice. And public opinion about it would be hard to change. The media might even run stories about how practicing made this person lose his sanity. Some people find nothing but fault with energy practices, and in scenarios like these they highlight how the person was fine not long ago, before taking up practice. But the fact is that the individual who experiences those kinds of issues is an ordinary person and so would still encounter whatever life had in store for him. It makes no sense to blame his practice for whatever ailments or problems he experiences. No one would expect a physician to never again get sick after becoming a doctor, so why would they expect that from someone who does an energy practice? That expectation isn’t fair.
From the irresponsible things that are said about energy practices, we can tell that many people don’t understand their realities or how they work. They are quick to label them negatively whenever there are problems. Practices like chi-gong haven’t been known to the public for very long, and a good number of people are closed-minded toward them; they never see them as valid, and always dismiss them and shun them. One almost wonders what’s going through their heads, given how annoyed they are by these, when such things shouldn’t be of their concern. And they are quick to write off energy practices as imaginary. But these practices are a science, a higher science. It’s just that their critics can’t realize this, because their minds are so closed and they know so little about them.
Yet another scenario that confuses people involves what’s called the “chi-gong syndrome.” It refers to when someone gets into a hypnotic kind of state. But it’s not that something has gone wrong in his practice, or that he’s gone over to the dark side. The person will still be very rational. I can explain what it’s about. Your innate foundation is important in chi-gong, as we know. A common belief among people of faith everywhere, which includes Buddhists and Daoists in our country over the millennia, is that good is rewarded and evil punished. Yet some people no longer subscribe to this. In China this was especially so during the era of the Cultural Revolution, which saw traditional beliefs publicly denounced and labeled as “superstition.” And so there were people who thought that nothing is valid unless it’s explainable, or is something they’ve read about, or is known to modern science and officially recognized. That mindset isn’t as prevalent nowadays, though, since a number of inexplicable things have happened in the world, even if some people would rather not think about them; and many people have witnessed or heard about the miracles of chi-gong.
Some people are so closed-minded that they laugh to themselves anytime someone brings up chi-gong. They think the person has fallen for superstition, and that it’s ridiculous. And if you try to talk about certain phenomena in it, they think you are really ignorant. Though these people might be closed-minded, their innate foundations aren’t necessarily poor, and so if they ever try chi-gong they might experience paranormal powers or have higher visions with their inner eye. So while they may be able to keep their minds closed to chi-gong, they won’t be able to keep their bodies free from sickness. So someone like this will go to the doctor when he gets ill, naturally enough. If Western medicine doesn’t prove helpful, he might give Chinese medicine a try. And if that’s not effective, and folk remedies don’t work, the person’s thoughts may turn to chi-gong. After turning it over in his mind he might decide to try his luck with it. So he would come to it with reservations. Yet right from the start he might excel at it, thanks to his good foundation. And it’s possible that a teacher from another dimension, or a higher being, would decide to take him as a student and give him assistance. This person’s inner eye might then open or he might find himself partially enlightened. In that case his eye would likely be opened to a high plane and allow him glimpses of how the universe really is. And certain powers would come to him. As you might imagine, all of this would be hard for the mind of someone like I’ve been describing to take. You can just picture how psychologically trying it would be. The very things that he had always considered imaginary and simply impossible, to the point of laughing at them, would now be unfolding before his eyes and confronting him. It would be too stressful for his mind to take. And his remarks about what he sees and experiences wouldn’t go over well with others, though his reasoning would be sound; he wouldn’t be able to reconcile the two dimensions that he sees. He would have discovered that the way people do things here is wrong, whereas what people do in other dimensions is often right. And yet if he goes by what he sees there, people here will say he’s making a mistake. So people wouldn’t understand all this and might think that chi-gong has driven him out of his mind.
But it wasn’t that he went off the deep end in his practice, and the vast majority of us will never experience what the person in this example did. Only those who are especially closed-minded possibly would. The inner eye has been opened for a sizeable number of you here, and you have indeed had otherworldly visions. It was a pleasant experience rather than shocking, and it didn’t jar you in any way or lead to any kind of supposed “chi-gong syndrome.” The people who do experience this are quite rational, in fact, and what they say is apt to be highly philosophical; the logic of their remarks is really sound. The problem is just that what they say isn’t believable to non-practitioners. They might startle people by telling them that they have seen so-and-so, who is deceased, and how they were asked by him or her to do certain things. It wouldn’t be something most people could believe. Later it will become evident to those experiencing this that they should keep these things to themselves. And all is well once they learn to reconcile what they see in other dimensions with this one. The people I’ve been describing often have psychic powers. So again, it’s not that anything dark or deviant happened to them.
Another source of confusion is something that’s known at higher spiritual levels as “true insanity.” It is something very rare. Yet it’s not about truly going insane, but rather, about practicing what is true. I can explain it for you. It’s so rare in the spiritual arena that there might be only one case in a hundred thousand people. So it’s not something widespread or that has any impact on the world.
Usually there are preconditions for true insanity: an excellent innate foundation and an advanced age. But these people’s age means that they won’t have the years needed to go through the full process of spiritual development. Yet this group, with their excellent foundations, have often come to this world from higher realms and have a mission. The prospect of coming to the human world is frightening to all, for a being will know nothing after arriving here and having had his memory cleared. The world and its inhabitants have a corrupting effect on people, and so those who come here learn to value worldly things like status, money, and influence. So ultimately this sort of person might fall and have no hope of escape. This setting is thus frightening to higher beings, and all dread the prospect of coming here. But some do come, like the type I’m describing. Yet they tend to fare poorly in this mortal world. Some of them commit many wrongs over the course of their lives, and really end up on the brink of falling to a lower plane. A person does much wrong and incurs many debts as he fights in life to get ahead. This sort of person’s teacher in another dimension won’t just stand by when he sees this and passively let this being fall, for he was once divine. But his teacher will grow worried as he anxiously searches for a solution; most likely he wouldn’t be able to steer the person to spiritual practice, since chances are there would be no true teachers available. So it would be nearly impossible for him to return all the way to his heavenly home. And compounding the problem would be the fact that he’d be quite old by this point and not have enough time left in life to complete his practice, even if he did find the right kind of mind-body discipline.
The approach of making a person insane for spiritual ends won’t be employed unless the person has an excellent foundation and the circumstances are truly exceptional. It’s only adopted when there is no hope for the person and no chance of his returning by his own means. And so, in these rare cases, insanity is induced by deactivating certain parts of his brain. For example, the areas that make people dislike cold or filth might be deactivated, with the result that psychological problems appear and the person will start acting completely beside himself. But someone like this usually won’t do wrongful things. He won’t get into altercations with people, and might even do good deeds from time to time. Yet he will treat himself terribly. He might walk barefoot in the snow of winter, oblivious to the cold, wearing just a thin layer of clothes, with the skin of his feet cracked and bleeding from the cold. And he may even consume excrement or urine since he’s oblivious to filth. I once knew of someone who would gnaw away at horse manure that was frozen hard like a rock, and even enjoy it; he was capable of suffering beyond what the sane could handle. We can just imagine what ordeals the insanity would have caused him. Typically these people, often older women, have psychic powers. Many from the older generation went through foot-binding, yet I know of one woman who could easily scale walls six or more feet high. At one point her family members decided to lock her inside after witnessing her frequently run off, due to her insanity. But after her family headed out, she opened the lock just by pointing her finger at it, and off she went. So then they decided to use chains. But all she had to do was give them a little shake and they fell off. They couldn’t contain her. She suffered greatly with her condition. But precisely because she suffered so much, and it was so intense, she swiftly paid off the bad things that she owed. It usually doesn’t take more than three years at most for people like her, and usually one or two terribly painful years suffices. Her mind returned to her as soon as the whole episode was behind her. At that point many powers that she had developed became available to her, since she had finished her practice, in effect. Cases like hers are extremely rare, yet they have indeed occurred. The phenomenon would never be possible for someone of average stock. You might be familiar with stories of crazy Buddhist monks and Daoists. There were indeed people like that in history, and there are records of them. There are many allusions to these figures, such as crazed Daoists and the mad monk who swept dirt at the wicked minister named Qin Hui.
So we can say with confidence that nobody is about to lose their minds, or “conjure fire,”* due to spiritual practice. And besides, even if someone really were to conjure fire, well, that’s rather impressive. Starting a fire with your mouth or palms, or igniting things with just your fingertips would seem to mean you’ve got superpowers!
How Practicing Provokes Evil
To say that practicing “provokes evil” means that many of you will likely face intrusions to your practice after you start, and this topic deserves an explanation. Enormous difficulties ensue after you decide to practice, in fact. You wouldn’t be able to really do this practice without the protection of my spiritual bodies. Your life would be in imminent danger without them. If the soul is immortal, as we’ve said, then it’s possible that you might have incurred debts to others in a previous life, pushed others around, or done wrongful things, and those who were on the receiving end are going to want compensation. In Buddhism it’s held that life is simply the working out of karma. So the beings you owe will come for payback; and if you overpay, the next time around it will be they who pay you. If a child isn’t respectful or obedient to his parents, for example, in the next life the roles might be reversed. So turns the wheel of karma. However, we have actually observed that there are also malevolent entities at work who try to disrupt and stop your practice. But there are deeper reasons for this. They wouldn’t be allowed to meddle if they didn’t have grounds for it.
I’ll start by describing the most common form of evil that’s encountered during practice. You are likely to be enthused about practicing once you learn how, but the moment you sit down to meditate, the peace and quiet normally around you may suddenly be gone. It might be due to cars and buses beeping, footsteps echoing in the hallway, people talking and slamming doors, or even a radio that’s turned on outside. So the quiet is gone. Your surroundings might be pretty pleasant normally, when you aren’t practicing, yet the minute you start to, things get noisy and chaotic. Seldom do people realize what’s really going on. Most just find it odd and get discouraged that it’s so hard to practice. And so these abnormal occurrences might end up blocking you. But what’s actually happening is that evil entities are disrupting you; they are directing people to disrupt you. This is one of the most basic forms that disruption takes, and it serves the purpose of stopping you from practicing. They do that because they can’t bear the thought of your gaining enlightenment and being absolved of all your unpaid debts to them. But I should note that this only happens at a certain stage of practice; it’s not allowed past a certain point. No entities will be allowed to visit you and disturb you once your debts have been worked off. You can reach that point with Falun Dafa, because our students make rapid progress and advance through the different stages of practice quickly.
There is another form of evil that might intrude upon you. As you know, your inner eye may open as a result of practicing, and what could happen is that you see frightening scenes or monstrous faces while you are practicing at home. There might be figures with disheveled hair that appear, some of which may chase you and try to kill you, or lash out at you wildly; or in some cases they might stare in through your window. It’s awfully frightening. All of these things can be explained, though, as the doings of evil entities. But they are very rare in Falun Dafa. Maybe one out of a hundred people will experience them; the vast majority won’t. Evil entities are generally prohibited from using those approaches on us since they don’t serve any constructive purpose in our practice. But they are common in conventional spiritual practices, and might even persist for some time. They can be so frightening that some people give up practicing. You can just imagine what it must be like: someone opts to practice at night, when all is calm and quiet, and then suddenly as he practices, there is some demonic-looking creature before him that’s sub-human. It’s enough to scare a person out of practicing. Generally this doesn’t happen in our Falun Dafa, though it does occur in a few exceptional cases. Some people’s circumstances are rather unique.
Another type of evil that plagues some people is one that’s specific to practices that have both martial arts and energy exercises. Mostly these are Daoist methods. I’ll describe what this kind of evil typically looks like. But note that these aren’t things encountered in most practices; they only come about in martial arts practices with an energy component. What happens is that someone will seek out the adherent for a contest of martial skills. As there are many Daoists in the world today, a good number do martial arts alongside spiritual practice. Those who do so have the potential to develop higher energy. It’s possible for them to develop this if they can become detached from things like status and wealth. But competitiveness is harder to let go, and takes longer, and so when they are at a certain stage of practice they will be prone to getting into fights while sleeping or meditating; their consciousness might be hazy while they sleep or meditate, yet aware that a certain other person is practicing, and so their soul leaves their body to find that person for a contest of skills. These things happen in other dimensions. And there might be others who seek them out for a fight, and who will genuinely try to kill them if they don’t fight back. So heated fights break out between the two parties. And the fact that this happens once they fall asleep means that it ruins their night of rest. This indicates that it’s time for them to stop being competitive. But if they can’t, and keep acting like that, then things may drag on for a long time, perhaps for years, while they are stuck at that stage. All of the nightly combat will leave them exhausted, with so much energy having been spent, and they will be too physically tired for spiritual practice. It could even ruin their bodies if they don’t handle it right. So this is something that happens in practices that feature both energy exercises and martial arts, and it’s quite common. It isn’t seen in practices of a purely spiritual nature, like ours, as it’s not allowed in those cases. The types of ordeals I’ve been describing up to this point are relatively commonplace.
There is one more type of evil that you will face, and it’s one that all of you, without exception, will encounter. And this is the demon of lust, something very serious. Marital relations are normal for ordinary husbands and wives to have, as it makes successive generations possible. It allows the human race to continue on, and so feelings and emotions are basic to this world. So for ordinary people such behavior is perfectly natural in marriage. Counted among the feelings and emotions that people have are anger and happiness, love and hate, enjoyment as well as dislike, admiration and disdain, along with fondness and aversion. Ordinary people just live for feelings and emotions. Then, as practitioners who aspire to spiritual greatness, we mustn’t let feelings or emotions influence how we see things. We have to break free of them. We should care little for the many attachments they cause, and ultimately, forsake them completely. Sexual desire and attraction both count as human attachments, and both should go.
Yet we aren’t asking those of you who live and practice in the secular world to become quasi-monks or nuns. The young adults among us should form families as one normally would. Then what about the perils of sexual desire, you may wonder? As I’ve explained, our practice goes straight after human attachments and doesn’t take the approach of depriving you materially. Just the opposite, we have you temper your will right here in this materialistic world, and this is truly to the betterment of your character. If you can break an attachment mentally, then you can let go of the actual thing, whatever it may be; and then you would be able to forgo it materially, of course, if you had to. But if you can’t break the attachment mentally, then you won’t be able to let go of the actual thing that you’re attached to. The goal of genuine practice is to remove the underlying attachments. In monastic practice people are forced to let go of things materially, and the goal is the same; i.e., to eliminate the attachments behind things. It’s forcibly done, making people sever all ties to things and give up even the thought of them. So while they take that approach, we don’t. We instead ask that you find a way to take the material things around you lightly, and the results we get are the most solid. We don’t ask that you all embrace poverty and chastity like monastics do. It would really be a problem if in the future, when our practice is widely done, everyone were to become like a quasi-monk—since our practice is done in the world. I tell everyone in our practice that it’s a problem if your marriage to a non-practitioner ends up in divorce because of the practice. We ask that you simply care less about marital intimacy; just don’t put so much stock in it, like people normally do. This is especially important nowadays, in the wake of the sexual revolution, when lewd and pornographic things are really affecting people. Some people really fall for these things, but they should have little appeal to us as practitioners.
Viewed from a higher plane, it’s as if man is submerged in mud while in this world; and yet he wallows away in it, oblivious to its filth. With our practice you shouldn’t be causing a big falling out with your spouse on these grounds. So it should be fine to just take it lightly at your current stage and be intimate as normal, like before. When you progress to a higher stage later on, you will experience a state unique to that phase, but for now, it is what it is, and it’s fine to do as I have taught. And it goes without saying that you mustn’t go in for the kinds of deplorable things that are common nowadays, which I was alluding to.
Another factor comes into play. The bodies of practitioners carry energy, as we know. Eighty to ninety percent of us will not only be free of illness after finishing these classes, but will also have higher energy. So the energy your body has will be powerful. At first, the energy that you carry will be disproportionate to the quality of your character; your energy will be higher, since we increase it rapidly for you. The process of developing your character will follow. Your character will catch up, slowly but surely, in the time to come. And so we boosted your energy for you in advance. This means that you carry a significant amount of it now. There’s a palpable air of peace and compassion here, since the energy that results from following a true teaching is pure and compassionate. Those were the qualities that I developed in my own days of spiritual cultivation, and so I carry them with me. You can feel a sense of harmony as you sit in my class, and your mind is free of wicked thoughts. The smokers among us won’t even give it a thought. The energy that you develop in the time ahead will have the same traits as mine, for you will have been following the ways of our Dafa. The power of your energy will keep growing, and your body will come to emit a remarkably powerful energy. And even were it not that powerful, it would still be more than enough to have sway over the typical person who is in your presence, or perhaps in your home. So your family members are likely to be positively affected and subdued by your energy. How so? People will naturally have a hard time thinking of or doing bad things around you, because your presence is one of purity, serenity, and compassion—for you exude proper thoughts. You can expect to see this.
The other day I mentioned the saying, “Bathed in divine light, conduct and thought become right,” and the idea was that the energy radiating from our bodies has the power to set things straight. So it follows that when you have no lustful thoughts, the energy you give off will keep your spouse’s desires in check. If you don’t entertain such thoughts—and I don’t think you will, being a practitioner—neither will your spouse. But this may not always be the case. It’s easy to get aroused in this day and age. Things like television expose you to all sorts of unseemly images from the moment you start watching. So under normal circumstances, at least, you will be able to exert the kind of influence I’m describing. Later on, when your practice progresses to higher stages, you will know for yourself what to do without my having to tell you. You will then experience a different state, but it will be one which allows for your marriage to be harmonious. So you don’t need to view marital relations as something so grave. Being overly worried about it is an attachment, in fact. So, while married couples don’t have to worry about lusting after one another anymore, there might still be sexual desire. Just don’t give it much importance, keep a balanced perspective, and that will be good enough.
Then in what forms might you encounter the demon of lust? You might be visited by it as you meditate, or, if your level of stillness isn’t deep enough, perhaps while you sleep. Suddenly you will find that before you is a gorgeous woman; or, if you’re a woman, the man of your dreams. And in either case the figure will be naked. If it arouses you in any way you might have an emission and the dream will become reality. But consider that in our practice we utilize the body’s most vital energy and essences to change your body and extend your life. Having regular emissions would deplete these precious substances. And it would mean that you haven’t passed the test of sexual desire yet, which is a problem. So I’m letting you know that each and every one of you is sure to face this test. I am sending a powerful form of energy into your brain through my teaching here. You might not be able to recall the specifics of what I said afterwards, but if and when you do have challenges with sexual desire, you should be able to recall what I’ve taught. The moment you regard yourself as a practitioner, you should be able to remember my teachings on this, exercise self-control, and pass the test. If you fail the test the first time, the next one is going to be harder. But if you feel sincere regret when you wake up after failing the test the first time, it might leave a deeper impression in your mind and increase the likelihood that you will exercise self-control next time and pass the test. Anyone who isn’t concerned after failing the test will have a much harder time exercising control with future tests, for sure.
Episodes like these might be a matter of evil entities trying to disturb you, or a test from your master, who conjured up what you saw. Both possibilities exist, since everyone has to go through this test. This is step one when you have just begun the practice and are still somewhat worldly, and nobody will be exempted from it. One example would be what a young man, who was thirty at the time, experienced when I was holding a class in Wuhan city. He went home and meditated after hearing me teach the same material I just explained to you. In no time he entered into a state of deep stillness. He then saw Buddha Amitabha appearing out of nowhere to one side of him, and the Daoist sage Lao-tzu on the other; he relayed this in a paper he wrote reflecting on his experiences with the practice. The two looked him over but didn’t utter a word. They then faded out of sight, and Bodhisattva Guan Yin appeared with a vase in hand. A white smoke issued forth from the vase. He felt happy seeing all of this unfold so vividly before him as he meditated. Then suddenly the smoke turned into stunningly beautiful, angelic figures. They danced before him, and their delicate movements were a sight to behold. He thought that these ethereal beauties were a reward from the Bodhisattva for his efforts. He was delighted at the thought of it. But then suddenly they were naked and began to act seductively, embracing and caressing him. The young man’s character had grown a lot from our class, so he quickly regained his vigilance. The next thought he had was, “I’m not just anyone. I am a practitioner. You shouldn’t act this way toward me, since I practice Falun Dafa.” And with that thought, the whole scene vanished in a flash. It had been conjured up, as it turned out. Amitabha and Lao-tzu then reappeared. Lao-tzu gestured with his hand toward the young man, and said to Amitabha with a smile, “The lad is teachable.” It meant that he approved of the young man and deemed him worthy of spiritual instruction.
The degree to which a person has sexual desire or interest has traditionally been, and still is, in higher dimensions, a critical factor in gauging whether he or she has what it takes for spiritual practice. So it’s essential that we care little for these things. But, since our practice is done in the regular world, you needn’t abstain completely—or at least, not in this current phase of your practice. What you need to do is value it little and change from how you may have been before, becoming more like a practitioner. Any time you experience disruptions of any sort, you should proactively think about what caused them and what you still need to let go.
How the Mind Can Lead Astray
I would like to explain how the mind can lead one astray. There are many dimensions, each physical and real, that are associated with a person’s body, and in one particular dimension everything from the universe may be reflected, much like a mirror image. And while they are just reflections, they’re nevertheless physical. Everything that exists in that dimension associated with your body is governed by your thoughts. This means that when you look at something with your inner eye without having any thoughts, and your mind is still, your visions will be accurate. But with the slightest thought added in, they will be false, and you might be led off track; the phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “alteration by thought.” It comes about when people fail to handle themselves as practitioners or curb their longings. They might yearn for psychic powers or be attached to petty magical skills, or even the things they hear from other dimensions. These individuals are the most apt to be led astray by their minds and fall. Regardless of what spiritual heights someone may have reached, he will fall sharply and will swiftly come to ruin if this happens. It is a terribly serious problem. It’s not akin to other problems, like failing to pass a single test of character; in those cases you can always get back up after a fall and keep on practicing. But someone who allows his mind to lead him astray is in serious trouble, and may be destroyed by this. This problem is especially likely for those whose inner eyes are open when they reach a certain stage of practice. Another group that’s vulnerable are those whose consciousnesses are interfered with by foreign messages, energies, or images, and who put their trust in them. Some of us will be subject to interference like this from many sources after our inner eye has opened.
Let’s look at some examples. It’s hard to keep from being swayed by these things when your practice is still in its infancy. Suppose that you can’t see your teacher in other dimensions very well, but then, one day, out of the blue, you see a towering godly figure come to you. This striking figure might pay you a couple of compliments and then try to impart instruction to you. You might be delighted by this and accept him as your teacher, and proceed to learn from him. But accepting such a being’s instruction would foul up your energy. And then there’s the fact that he himself wouldn’t have earned true divine standing; it’s merely that shape-changing is possible in the dimension where he resides. So if you allow yourself to be excited at the sight of that imposing figure before you, there’s little chance you will resist his attempts at instruction. But a practitioner must be able to maintain his composure if we are to save him; failing to do so will likely lead to ruin. The lives in higher dimensions within the three realms are all heavenly beings, but they haven’t earned true divine standing and are not free from the cycle of reincarnation. Then how far could that godly figure, whom you might impulsively take as your teacher and follow, really bring you? Your efforts at spiritual practice would be for naught, since figures like those aren’t fully divine and learning from them would disorder your energy. It’s hard to keep your composure in scenarios like these. I want you to see that this is a really serious problem, and many of us may encounter a similar episode at some point. I have made my teaching clear on this; it’s up to you to put it into practice. What I just shared was one example. You should also stay composed if you see higher beings from another school of practice, and stay true to the discipline you are in. Your practice will have a good chance of success if you can disregard any supposed Buddha, Daoist deity, divinity, or fiend that tries to tempt you.
Then there are other ways in which the mind can lead you astray. You might see deceased family members who come to plague you, sobbing or imploring you to do certain things that you shouldn’t. Anything is possible. The question is, will you let them sway you? Just imagine how hard it would be if a child or parent that you loved dearly, but who has passed away, visited you from the grave and asked you to do things that would be ruinous for you. Spiritual practice isn’t easy. And what’s especially confusing is that now, with Buddhism “in disarray,” as some people put it, you even see non-Buddhist doctrines from Confucianism like filial piety and the parent-child bond being taught. But what’s the problem? What truly constitutes your life is your soul, so only the mother who gave birth to your soul counts as your true mother. You will have had countless “mothers,” both human and otherwise, over the course of your reincarnations. And the same could be said for how many children you’ve had over all your lifetimes. Neither mother nor child recognizes the other in their next life, and any karmic debts that remain between the two will have to be settled just like with anyone else. But people can’t see these things for what they are, and so they often can’t move beyond their affections. Some people are inconsolably grieved at the passing of a beloved child, or mother, and long for them for the rest of their lives. But it never occurs to them that these ordeals are meant to wear them down, and are intent on making their lives difficult.
It might be hard for the average person to grasp that being attached to such things can make spiritual practice impossible, yet that’s the case, and that is why things like filial piety and the parent-child bond aren’t taught in Buddhism. True spiritual practice entails that you let go of human feelings and emotions. Of course, we go about our practice in the secular world, and so we should still be devoted and respectful to our parents and care well for our children; we should be good to others, not to mention our own families, in whatever setting we may be, and treat everyone with kindness. We should treat everyone well, which of course includes parents and children, and think of others first at all times. Your heart will not be selfish, then, but will be loving, kind, and compassionate. Common people, by contrast, tend to just be motivated by feelings and emotions.
Many people don’t have good self-control, and this makes for trouble in their spiritual lives. For instance, some are happy and accepting if a heavenly being personally reveals something “helpful” to them. But I can tell you that it is evil beings at work anytime something is revealed to you that benefits you in worldly ways, be it your getting forewarned about adversity or your being prompted to try the lottery and being told the winning number. The only exception is cases where your life is at risk and you are told how to stay safe. If things go well in a worldly sense, thanks to that “help,” you won’t have had to overcome the trial that was planned for you or made the progress that you were supposed to. Spiritual growth is unlikely if your days are filled with earthly pleasures and spent in ease. How could you work off your karma then? You wouldn’t have the circumstances necessary to do so, nor to develop your character. So be sure to bear this in mind. Evil entities might also resort to flattering you, telling you what great heights you have reached, or what a special or hallowed figure you are. But all of it will be false. You must break from every attachment to truly make great spiritual progress. So by all means, if you encounter any of the temptations I’ve described, keep up your guard!
Unique challenges come with having your inner eye open as you practice, just as challenges come with having it closed. Spiritual practice isn’t easy either way. With your inner eye open, you might really find it hard to keep out all of the extra-dimensional information that you might be exposed to and that would seek to disrupt you. All of what you behold in other dimensions might be a feast for the eyes, and extraordinarily beautiful and pleasant, which might stir you. Interference might come upon you once you are stirred by it, and your energy could be thrown into disarray. Being stirred is often the trigger. Also, other problems can ensue for people who don’t handle things well and allow their minds to lead them astray. They might have wrongful thoughts that prove dangerous. Suppose one day your inner eye opens and you have lucid visions. You might think, for example, that you’re the only one whose eye has opened well at your practice site, which makes you think you’re special and that you have learned my Falun Dafa really well or even better than others—meaning you are ahead of them. But even just thinking that way isn’t right. If your mind goes further, you might even think that you’re some kind of divine being, like a Buddha. And then, when you look at yourself through your inner eye, it really may appear to you that you are. That can happen because, as I mentioned, all matter in an associated dimension around one’s body will transform, or be “altered,” according to one’s thoughts.
Any reflections that come over from the universe will be shaped by your thoughts, because everything that exists in the dimension associated with your body is under your command, and reflections are no exception; they too physically exist. So in the scenario I was just describing, if the person wonders to himself whether he’s also dressed as a Buddha, then that will be what he sees. By now he’ll be enthralled, thinking that he really is a Buddha. And if he wonders whether he might be a greater Buddha, and looks again, then that will be what he sees. And if he wonders whether he’s perhaps higher than me, that will be what he sees when he looks. In other cases a person may hear voices. An evil being might interfere with the person by telling him that he’s “higher than Li Hongzhi,” and he falls for it. This means that he has forgotten how he got to where he is in his practice or who it was that taught him, and he hasn’t thought about what will happen down the road. And regardless, any genuine Buddha or divinity that comes to the world must begin the spiritual path from scratch, with none of his original energy available to him; the only difference is that he will progress somewhat faster in practice this time. The problem I’ve been describing is really hard to pull out of, due to all of the attachments that tend to come up. Those attachments might even embolden someone to claim he’s a Buddha and that people should just follow him, since he can guide them, as a Buddha.
That’s indeed what happened in the city of Changchun. There was someone learning our practice there who was quite good at first, but who eventually landed himself in the kind of mess I was just describing. He thought he was a Buddha and ended up believing that he was above everyone else. That happened because he lost his grounding and let attachments get the best of him. Let’s look at why this happens. Buddhism has taught that one should disregard any visions that are experienced, for such things are illusory; all focus should instead go to making spiritual progress through meditative trance. The reason they don’t encourage visions or want people getting attached to these is that they fear the above will happen. In religious Buddhist practice there aren’t any specific methods that would strengthen one’s defenses against such things, and its scriptures don’t offer guidance on how to break out of these snares. The Buddha didn’t address this in his teachings, hoping that his disciples wouldn’t have to deal with the problem of being misled by the mind, or having reality altered by thought, as they would just consider any visions that they experienced to be illusory. He knew that the presence of any attachment could turn a vision into something deceptive, which would be hard to resist. And it could send a person down the road to ruin, to the dark side, if he didn’t pull out of it. Calling himself a Buddha would mean that he was already headed that way, and he might even bring possessing entities upon himself or other things, and end up in utter ruin. His heart would turn evil with all of this, and his fall would be terrible. There have been many cases of this. Even in this class now there are those who think highly of themselves and have an air about them when they speak. So even in Buddhism, attempting to figure out how you are doing in your practice is frowned upon. The episode I mentioned in Changchun was an example of someone being led astray by his own mind, or having reality become distorted by his thoughts. There have been learners in Beijing and elsewhere who have experienced this, and it has been terribly disruptive to other practitioners.
People have asked me why I don’t just straighten these kinds of things out. But think about how hard it would be to make spiritual progress if we resolved for you all of the challenges you face. It is precisely when evil intervenes in your life that you can demonstrate your spiritual resolve, your discernment, your ability to stay on track, and your commitment to one practice. The spiritual journey tries men’s souls, and only the most devout make it through. I would say that your journey would be too easy without the sorts of ordeals I’ve been describing. The divine beings in higher realms would have an even harder time with it, and would question what I’m doing, wondering how it could amount to salvation. It wouldn’t seem like spiritual practice to them if your journey was unimpeded and if everyone could make it. And they would take issue if things only got easier and smoother for you as you progressed. So this was the dilemma I faced, and I had to think it over. At first I wiped out much of the evil of this kind. But even from my perspective it wouldn’t have been right to keep doing that all the time. I have also heard remarks that I’m “making spiritual practice too easy for you,” since you “only have small ordeals and interpersonal things to work through,” and “many of your attachments go unaddressed.” And they doubt whether you could “stay true to Dafa when things are tough and confusing.” So in light of all this there are sure to be trials and tribulations. What I’ve been describing is one particular form of evil. People are so hard to genuinely save, yet so easy to ruin. Trouble is in store for you if your thinking is off.
The Importance of a Strong Mind
The wrongful things people have done over their many lifetimes result in adversity for them, or for those on the spiritual path, what are known as karmic obstacles. And it is on this account that people are born, go through aging, become ill, and pass away. Those are normal forms of karma. There is also a powerful form of karma that has a large impact on those leading spiritual lives, called the karma of thought. Thinking is a natural part of existence. But since people get lost in the secular world, they often have thoughts that revolve around things such as status and influence, power, wealth, lust, or pride, and over time, these shape into a powerful form of karma, known as the karma of thought. In other dimensions everything is alive, and karma is no exception. With any true practice one must eliminate karma. To eliminate karma means to destroy it, to transform it. Naturally, the karma won’t go for it, and so you will face adversity and obstacles. The thought karma can directly interfere with your mind and cause you to silently swear at me or Dafa, or have wicked thoughts and hear abusive words in your mind. Some practitioners don’t realize what is happening at the time, and even mistake those things for their own thoughts. And some think that they are suffering from entity attachment, though they are not. Rather, those are the result of thought karma surfacing in the brain. Some people are not very in control of their minds and so they go along with it and do bad things, which is ruinous for them and causes them to fall. Most people can, however, repel it and deny it by having strong, self-aware thoughts. This indicates that they are savable and can discern right and wrong; it means that their faith is strong. My spiritual bodies will then help them by eliminating a large proportion of their thought karma. What I’ve described is quite common. If it does occur, it is a test to see whether you can conquer the wicked thoughts. Hold your ground and the karma will be dissolved for you.
Your Thinking Needs to Be Right
When a person regularly fails to conduct himself as a practitioner, it means that his thinking isn’t right. Practitioners meet with adversity as they go about spiritual practice. And the adversity might take any form, from strife with others to people scheming against you. Most often it will directly test your character. But other things will come about as well. Your body might suddenly feel unwell, since that’s one of many ways that karma can be paid off. And at a certain point in time you might be made to doubt whether the teachings are true, whether you have higher energy, whether you are cut out for spiritual practice and can really make progress at it, or whether higher beings really exist. You might be made to go through this in the future, and be given a false impression that leads you to question and doubt all of this. It’s done to see whether you can stay committed. If you can hold fast to the thought, “I must stay firm and not waver,” then you will, with that determination, indeed do so when going through this kind of test, and naturally handle it well, for your character will have grown. Were such an ordeal brought upon you right at the outset, however, you would have no way to understand it and it would put an end to your practice since you would not yet be solid. So there is no telling what form your ordeals will take.
Ordeals like these are a necessary part of spiritual practice, and what makes progress possible. Some of you mistake the unpleasant sensations in your bodies for medical conditions, and often fail to regard yourselves as practitioners; you take those things to be health problems and wonder why you have to endure so much. I can tell you that many of the tribulations you would have had, have been taken away, and the troubles that you do experience have been greatly reduced. Had we not done this, those ordeals might have brought an end to your life or left you bedridden. So while you might find the minor troubles that you do experience hard to bear, that’s only to be expected; since when was spiritual progress made with comfort and ease? There’s a story that relates to this. When I was holding a class in the city of Changchun there was one individual who had an excellent foundation and was really cut out for spiritual practice. I had high hopes for him. So my plan was to ratchet up his trials a bit so that he could repay his debts and become enlightened sooner. Then one day he seemed to suffer a stroke, unexpectedly. He fell down and couldn’t move, and had no sensation in his limbs. He was taken to a hospital for emergency medical care. But not long after, he was back on his feet. Had he really experienced a stroke, he never would have been back on his feet with control of his arms and legs again so quickly. Yet surprisingly, he blamed Falun Dafa for his mishap. It didn’t occur to him that people normally don’t recover from a stroke so quickly. He might have died right there in the street after the fall, had he not learned Falun Dafa, or he may have been paralyzed for the rest of his life, having had a real stroke.
This suggests just how hard it is to save a person. So much had been done for him, yet he didn’t manage to realize it and even blamed us for his ordeal. Then there are people who have been learning for some time but who still tell me that their whole body just doesn’t feel right and how they’ve gone to the doctor for shots or medication, but to no avail. And they weren’t even embarrassed to say so. It’s only to be expected that those things wouldn’t help, since it is not a matter of illness. You can go for an examination and they won’t find anything; it’s just that you don’t feel well. One practitioner who went for treatment found that the needle of the syringe wouldn’t pierce his skin, and several needles even bent in the process; the contents of the final syringe even squirted out without it having pierced his skin. It then dawned on him that he’s a practitioner and hasn’t any business getting shots. It was only at that point that it occurred to him. So let this be a reminder that you should keep this larger perspective in mind when you meet with difficulties. Some people are under the impression that I simply prohibit going to see the doctor, and so they figure they will just see an energy healer instead. They still think it’s a health problem and are hoping someone can help. But there is little chance they will find a true healer. And if it’s a false one that they see, they will be ruined right then and there.
Our stance is that you would have no way to tell whether the alleged healer you saw was an authentic one. Many supposed masters are self-proclaimed. I have been verified and have on file the results of the testing done by the scientific agencies that handle research of this kind. Many masters are false, though, and have given themselves their own titles; there are all too many who put on airs and defraud people. False masters can do healings, but we should ask what makes that possible. It’s because they have entity attachment. They wouldn’t be able to do that otherwise. The entity that’s attached can emit healing energy, since it is a form of energy itself and can readily overpower the average person. But few realize what it passes on to people when it heals them. Far below, in a realm imperceptible to the eye, all of what it emits is in its image, and there will be little that you can do about it after it has transmitted its things to your body. “The spirits are more easily invoked than dispelled,” as an old saying has it. If you were just regular people who didn’t practice, we wouldn’t say anything, since you would just be interested in leading a normal life and finding short-term symptom relief. But you are a practitioner, and you want to continually purify your body, don’t you? You have no idea how long it’s going to take to clean up what those spirits put into you; their things have energy, after all. Some of you might be wondering why the falun or my spiritual bodies wouldn’t be protecting you. But the way the universe works is that nobody will get in your way if you, of your own choosing, desire something or are trying for something. My spiritual bodies will try to hold you back, and drop hints, but they will give up if they see that you are insistent. Your doing our practice wouldn’t count if you were goaded into it. No one can be coerced or forced to do spiritual practice. True growth can only come from you, yourself; nobody can help if you don’t want to grow. I’ve laid out the teachings for you and discussed how they work. So if you still don’t wish to make progress, that is your choice and you can’t blame anyone else. You are the one who decides what you want, and you can be sure that neither the falun nor my spiritual bodies will try to bend your will. Some people go to hear other energy teachers give talks and then feel unwell afterwards, as might be expected. You might be wondering why my spiritual bodies didn’t protect these people. Well, what business did they have going there in the first place? They must have been hoping to get something out of it, or they wouldn’t have gone. So whatever entered their bodies and caused them to feel unwell was something they brought upon themselves, since they took it in willingly, through their own ears. Some people act recklessly and thereby injure their falun, deforming it, which should never happen; the falun is a higher being and is more valuable than your life. False masters abound at present, and some enjoy great fame. I once remarked to the head of the Chi-Gong Research Society of China about how the famous concubine named Da Ji had brought havoc to the imperial court in ancient times, and how fierce that fox spirit was. And yet, I went on to tell him, the harm that she did was minor compared to what today’s false masters have done. They have been a scourge to the country and harmed countless people. It may not seem that there is anything wrong with them, yet you have no idea how many of them have bad entities on their bodies. Those things will get on your body if a false master projects energy toward you. Things are out of control now. The average person can’t see these things for what they are.
Some people might be really impressed by how profound chi-gong is after attending my classes and hearing what I have to say, and so they plan to go and hear the next teacher that comes to town. But I would urge you not to do that. The bad things you hear will pour in through your ears. It’s hard to save a person and bring about changes in mind and body. False teachers abound. And even those who are genuine and have received a proper training might not really be clean. Some animal spirits are fierce, and a teacher might not be able to drive them away even if he can keep them off his own body; and he wouldn’t have the power to repel them on a greater scale. And it shows with his students. All sorts of bad things might be mixed in and present among them, since they might not be upstanding, even if he is. They could be carrying various entities on their bodies.
If you are serious about practicing Falun Dafa, don’t go to other spiritual or energy-related talks. Of course, if you don’t want to do Falun Dafa and just want to try whatever is out there, then you’re free to go ahead. Since this would mean you aren’t an adherent of Falun Dafa, you would be on your own. So don’t blame Falun Dafa if something goes wrong in that case. A genuine Falun Dafa practitioner is someone who aligns his conduct with our teachings on character and puts into practice what we teach. I have been asked whether it’s okay to mingle with people who do other practices. My reply would be that you are practicing the Great Way, which goes far beyond what they are doing, and by the time you have completed this class your level of attainment will be far greater than theirs; you have a falun that took us generations of practice to form, and its power is enormous. So naturally, it won’t be much of a problem if you interact with people of other practices, provided you don’t take in or have a desire for anything of theirs and just remain normal friends. But that said, if the person’s body does indeed carry something, it could be quite bad, in which case interaction is best avoided. But I don’t think there is much cause for concern if it’s a matter of your spouse doing another practice. One thing you should know is that others benefit just by virtue of your practicing, since what you practice is a true Way. Your spouse’s body will also be cleansed, for your safety, if he or she does another practice and has bad things on his or her body. Everything will be cleansed for you in other dimensions, including your home. It would be awfully challenging to practice if that setting weren’t cleansed and all manner of things lurked there, disrupting you.
There is one scenario, however, where my spiritual bodies cannot clean things up. One day, someone who was learning our practice saw a spiritual body of mine come to his home. He was elated by this, and invited him in. But my body replied by telling him that it was a mess inside, and that there were too many things there. And he left upon saying that. Generally speaking, my spiritual bodies will clear out any entities in other dimensions for you, however many there may be. But in this case the person’s place was one big mess of chi-gong books. He then caught on and packed them up, after which he sold some and burned the rest. My spiritual body returned after that. This is what the person relayed to me.
Then there are people who seek out fortune-tellers. Some people are quite keen on things like the Book of Changes and fortune-telling, and want to know if those are still okay to use, now that they practice Falun Dafa. Here’s how I view it. If you now have a considerable amount of energy, the words you say will have an impact. If something that wasn’t supposed to happen, does happen, because you said it would, then you will have done wrong. Non-practitioners are quite weak. The energies and information in their bodies are not that stable and are prone to change. If you predict some mishap for someone, it might just come to be. Or suppose the person’s karma is sizeable and needs to be paid off, yet you always tell him that good things are in store, which then prevents him from paying off his karma. That’s a problem. Aren’t you hurting him, in effect? Some people are too attached to these things to give them up, as they think that they have a knack for it. But it should be obvious that this is an attachment. And besides, even if you really do know the future, you can’t just divulge divine plans to a regular person; practitioners should exercise restraint. So that’s why it’s a problem. When people try to make predictions based on the Book of Changes, for example, the predictions are bound to be a mixture of true and false, since some of what’s in the book is no longer valid. And that is why it’s okay for things like fortune-telling to exist in this world. But a true practitioner, who in fact has higher energy, will want to hold himself to a high standard. And yet some practitioners still seek out people to tell their fortunes. They ask to have readings done to find out how their practice is going or what troubles might lie ahead of them. They actually seek people out to predict these things. But how could you make progress if your troubles were predicted for you in advance? Your life was changed once you became a practitioner, and so the information carried by your palm patterns, your facial characteristics, your birth horoscope, and your body have changed and aren’t what they originally were. The very fact that you ask someone to tell your fortune indicates that you believe them, or you wouldn’t ask. What they disclose to you are just things as they appear on the surface and will be based on past designs. But things have since changed for you, in fact. If you go to them you are surely listening to them and putting faith in them, and so you will be creating a psychological burden for yourself. And that self-made burden is going to weigh on your mind, which makes it an attachment, of course, and that will take additional work to remove. So this means you have made things unnecessarily harder for yourself. Won’t having a new attachment require extra suffering to remove it? With every test and ordeal there is the potential for you to either progress or regress in your spiritual development. Spiritual practice is hard enough to begin with. You are setting yourself up for failure if you make it even harder of your own doing. So you might be making added ordeals and troubles for yourself. Nobody can see what your new, reworked path of life entails. Being told what’s in store for you would make it hard for you to carry out your practice, so others aren’t allowed to see any of that. And this goes for both your fellow practitioners as well as for those who do other practices. Whatever they might predict wouldn’t be accurate, for yours is a changed life—a life meant for spiritual practice.
I am sometimes asked whether it’s okay to read the books of other religions or practices. Our take is that religious works teach people to develop their character, and Buddhist texts particularly emphasize the mind. Our practice is Buddhist, so in principle there’s no problem. But that said, many passages of scriptures are inaccurate due to the translation process, and many commentaries were made with varying degrees of understanding and baseless interpretations—all of which undermine the teachings. Those who have irresponsibly interpreted the scriptures are far from the Buddha’s realm of awareness, and don’t know what the texts truly meant. And this is why so many interpretations exist. Coming to a full understanding of the scriptures isn’t easy, especially on one’s own. Maybe you are thinking that you just find them intriguing. But if you are always dabbling in the teachings or writings of another practice, you are, in effect, doing that practice. The problem is, built into any religious scripture are the energy and teachings specific to that practice, and learning anything from such a text will equate to learning that practice. And if it happens that you really immerse yourself in the text, and allow it to inform your practice, then you might have taken up that discipline in effect and no longer belong to ours. Spiritual practice has always demanded that you commit to one approach. You should read only our books if you really wish to do this practice.
If you want to do our practice you shouldn’t so much as look at the other spiritual or energy-related books out there. The books that are coming out nowadays are especially to be avoided. And older works should be avoided, too, such as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Internal Medicine, Principles of Mind-Body Practice, and the Daoist Canon. While they don’t have the bad things that contemporary books do, they nonetheless carry energies from other planes in them. Each of those works amounts to a way of spiritual practice, and so reading them adds their things to what you have and affects you. When you find a sentence agreeable to you, well then, those things will be added to yours. You will be adding in something foreign, even if it’s not necessarily bad. But adding in even just a little of something else will undermine your practice and cause problems. To help you picture it, just imagine how quickly a television would malfunction if even just one extra electronic part from something else were added in. And what’s more, many of today’s spiritual books don’t provide genuine instruction, and carry all sorts of impure things. We had one learner who was browsing through one such book when suddenly a large snake lunged forth, but I’ll spare you the details. Cases like these are always a matter of practitioners getting into trouble by not handling things right; or in other words, they brought on trouble by not thinking right. It’s for your benefit that we spell these things out. It should help you to see things for what they are and know how to handle them. Hopefully this will save you trouble down the road. It’s critical that you keep in mind what I just talked about, even if it didn’t sound that serious. Know that what I have been describing is a common pitfall. Spiritual practice is extremely demanding and a serious affair. Even just being a little careless might prove to be your undoing and ruin you in no time. So it’s imperative that your thinking be right.
Martial Arts with an Energy Component
While some energy practices are purely spiritual in nature, there are others that belong to the martial arts and that are sometimes called “martial chi-gong.” But before going into more detail, I want to first say something about all of the names and terms now going around in China that have “chi-gong” in them.
People are using the term “chi-gong” to describe all sorts of supposed practices, from “artistic chi-gong” to “musical chi-gong,” from “calligraphy chi-gong” to “dancing chi-gong.” But we should ask whether those are actual chi-gong. They seem bizarre to me. I would say they’re really muddying the waters, if not ruining chi-gong. They have no grounds for what they’re doing. They are implying that all someone has to do is get into a trance-like “chi-gong state” and then paint, or sing, or dance, or do calligraphy and it amounts to chi-gong. But that’s not the case. I think anyone would agree that that’s demeaning to chi-gong. Chi-gong is a far-reaching and profound body of knowledge for physical transformation. And yet people are now reducing it to some kind of hypnotic state. If it were as simple as that, and someone were to go to the bathroom while in that kind of state, then wouldn’t that, too, count as chi-gong? It’s demeaning to chi-gong, as I see it. A couple of years back, at the Asian Health Expo, there was something being billed as “calligraphy chi-gong.” I went over to their booth to see what it was about. The person there picked up his calligraphy brush and proceeded to write a few words, after which he used his hand to project energy at the words. But all of the energy he sent out was dark, unlike how higher energy would be. He wouldn’t have had any higher energy, in fact, as his mind was preoccupied with money and status. So his energy was bound to be bad. And he was even selling the calligraphy he had on display there at a high price, though only foreigners bought it. Whoever bought it and took it home was in for bad luck, I would say, since dark energy isn’t good for anyone. Even the man’s face was dark. It was money that was on his mind, and he was hungry for it. He couldn’t possibly have had a higher type of energy. Yet the man’s business card was loaded with titles like “International Chi-Gong Calligrapher.” Gimmicks like that hardly deserve to be called chi-gong.
You should know that some eighty to ninety percent of you here today will not only be illness-free after our classes, but will also have formed real, true, higher energy. Your body will carry extraordinary things, beyond anything you could form on your own—even with a lifetime of practice. Even those who are young couldn’t develop what I am giving you with a whole lifetime of practice; and that’s assuming you could find a true teacher to instruct you. It has taken us many generations to form the falun and the mechanisms we use, and yet they are bestowed upon your bodies right from the beginning. So I should tell you: don’t let these slip away just because they came to you easily. They are immensely valuable, simply priceless. What you will carry after these classes is true gong—a form of high-energy matter. If you return home and write a few words they will each have higher energy on them, even if you’re not much of a calligrapher. But that doesn’t of course mean that each of you is going to pick up a “master” title and become some kind of “calligraphy chi-gong master.” That’s not the right idea. The fact is simply that anyone who really does have an energy like gong will leave traces of it on whatever he or she touches, shining and radiant, without even consciously emitting it.
I once saw a piece in a magazine talking about an upcoming calligraphy chi-gong class. I gave it a cursory look to see what was going to be taught. The piece described how you would learn a breathing technique and then meditate upon the idea of chi at your energy center for fifteen to thirty minutes. Then you would use your mind to lift energy from your body’s energy center through to your forearm, before taking up your brush and dipping it in ink. Then you would learn to move the energy to the tip of your brush and start writing, once your focus had reached the tip of the brush. But that’s misleading, isn’t it? It’s not as simple as just moving your energy somewhere and then it becomes a new breed of chi-gong. By that token, at mealtime we could just meditate a bit before picking up our utensils, and then move our energy to the tips of them before we ate and we could call it “dining chi-gong,” I suppose. And you’d be dining on energy, by that logic. It’s degrading to chi-gong to make it seem so superficial, and that shouldn’t be done.
By contrast, the kinds of chi-gong found in certain martial arts are a genuine tradition in their own right. I say that because they have been passed down for millennia and have well-developed spiritual underpinnings as well as a full system of practice. So they are comprehensive. That said, these kinds of energy practices are lower in level than the methods used in purely spiritual practice. Here’s a case that makes this point, involving “hard chi-gong,” as it’s called—a type of martial practice where energy meant specifically for combat is physically amassed. In Beijing there was someone new to our practice who found that he couldn’t press on anything with his hands after taking our class. When he went to the store to purchase a baby stroller and pressed on it with his hand to check its sturdiness, it broke with an audible snap. He found it odd. Another episode happened when he was at home and he went to sit down. When he pressed on his chair with his hand, it broke. He asked me what was happening. I didn’t offer an explanation, as I didn’t want him to get attached. I just said that anything like that is natural and that he should just let things take their course, and not give it too much thought, since it’s all for the best. With the power that he had he could crush even a piece of stone to powder with just a pinch of his fingers, if he’d had a good command of it. That surely amounts to hard chi-gong, then, and yet he hadn’t been practicing for it. It’s actually common to gain powers like these while doing meditative practices; it’s only that often they aren’t at people’s disposal since they would be hard to use appropriately. This is particularly so in the early stages of practice, when your mind has yet to elevate much; any powers that form then are sure to be unavailable. Nor will these powers necessarily be given to you when you reach advanced stages of practice later on, since by then they would serve no purpose.
Let’s take a look at one example of how energy practice might factor into martial arts. Mobilizing the body’s chi energy is a big part of it. This energy isn’t so easily mobilized at first, and might not go where you want it to. To address this, a person will have to work his hands, chest, feet, legs, arms, as well as head. Training these might involve striking the trunk of a tree with your hands, or palms, or repeatedly slapping your hands against slabs of stone. You can just imagine how painful it would be for your bones to hit stone in that manner; even just light impact might result in bleeding. Yet that’s not enough to mobilize the body’s chi. For that, the person has to swing his arm so that his blood pools in the arm and causes his arm and hand to swell. They really do swell a bit, and then when he next strikes stone his bones will be cushioned. It won’t hurt as much since now his bones won’t be making direct contact with the stone. As he carries on practicing in this manner, his teacher will give him further instruction, and with time he will learn to mobilize energy. But that alone doesn’t suffice, for in a real-life fight your opponent won’t wait for you to mobilize your energy. By the time a person has learned to mobilize it, he will have gained the ability to ward off blows, as might be expected; he might not feel any pain even if he’s struck with a long staff, for the chi he mobilized would provide a kind of cushioning. But chi is just a very basic thing, which belongs to the initial stage of practice; over time, with consistent effort, it will be converted into high-energy matter. It will gradually form into a dense mass of energy as this happens. An energy mass like this will have an intelligence of its own. And so it is also a mass of supernormal abilities, or a type of power. Yet this power will only be good for things like attacking and defending against blows; it won’t be useful for healing. This high-energy entity is in another dimension and doesn’t travel through this dimension here, so its time passes faster than ours. That’s why if you strike somebody, the necessary energy will be deployed to the relevant part of your body without your having directed energy there or having willed it in any way. If someone strikes you and you move to block it, the energy will have arrived at that part of your body even before you make your move. It goes faster than you, however quick you might be, owing to the different workings of time in the two dimensions. So doing the kind of energy practice found in the martial arts can develop exceptional abilities such as Iron Sand Hands, Cinnabar Palm, Vajra Leg, and Arhat Foot—and all of these can in fact be attained by regular people through training.
The biggest difference between the martial type of energy practice and the purely spiritual, or “internal,” type of practice is this: in the martial context the practice is done in motion, and so your chi travels just beneath the skin. And with all the motion involved, you wouldn’t enter into a state of stillness or have chi go to your energy center; it would travel beneath the skin, instead, and just go through your muscles and tissues. And so these practices don’t extend one’s lifespan or develop higher powers. Energy practices of a purely spiritual sort, by contrast, require that the body be still. Typically they do have chi enter the body’s energy center, or the lower abdomen, and they make a point of practicing in stillness and transforming one’s innate body. They can extend one’s lifespan and lead to higher stages of spiritual attainment.
You may have come across extraordinary-sounding kung fu abilities like Golden Bell, Iron Shirt, and incredible bowmanship in martial arts works. Some depict people with the ability to become weightless, who sail to and fro at great heights, and some figures even manage to cross over into other dimensions. But are those powers for real? They are, to be sure. Only you won’t see regular people wielding them. Someone who really has developed advanced powers like those wouldn’t readily reveal them. Powers as extraordinary as those don’t come about simply by practicing martial arts; internal practice is needed to develop them. It takes being attentive to the mind and character, and a disinterest in material things. And even if someone does gain higher powers with practice, he won’t be allowed to use them freely in worldly settings at any point; only when no one is around to see will it be okay to use them. Then going back to martial arts stories, something doesn’t add up. The very people who they portray fighting and killing over worldly things like a swordsmanship manual, treasure, or a certain lady always have fantastic powers, coming and going like a shadow. Yet powers like those can only be gained through spiritual practice. A person must work hard on his character and become indifferent to status, wealth, and worldly things in order to get powers like those. Killing and money-lust would be the complete opposite. When you see supernormal heroes with those traits, it’s the product of writers taking artistic license; they know that consumers just want whatever is stimulating and won’t object. Writers often seize on this fact and do whatever they can to meet the demand. And the more incredible the story is, the more readers or viewers go for it. So it really comes down to writers taking artistic license with things. Anyone who actually has powers like those in martial arts works would never act like those characters do, much less showcase their powers.
Owing to the fact that they practice in the secular world, a number of practitioners have a hard time breaking many attachments, which have become second nature and aren’t detectable. A tendency to show off can be a part of many actions, including even good deeds. It’s common for people to build themselves up and show off a bit in their daily lives, hoping to make a name for themselves or gain from it materially. They want people to see how competent they are and to think that they’re better than others. We see something like this, too, such as when someone is doing better with the exercises, has lucid visions, or does the movements a little more gracefully—and it leads to showing off.
Some people draw a crowd by claiming to have heard something from me, but what they tell people is a combination of hearsay and their own ideas. What leads them to do that is a desire to show off. And then there are people who spread gossip around, all excited and pleased with themselves, since they feel like an insider. They like to think that they’re more informed than other practitioners, that no one knows as much as they do. This trait has become second nature for them, and they might not be aware of it. What’s at work on a subconscious level is a desire to show off, or else they would have no motive for gossiping. Some people spread rumors about how I will stop teaching and “return to seclusion” at such-and-such date. But I didn’t come out of “seclusion,” so it’s baseless. And there are some who have claimed that on such-and-such day I revealed something to this or that person and gave them personalized instruction. But gossiping like that serves no purpose other than to reveal their attachment—a desire to show off.
Still others want my autograph. The purpose? It’s still for worldly ends, even if they just think of it as a keepsake or memento. But there is no point in an autograph if you don’t genuinely practice. And what need is there for an autograph when each and every word of our books has my image and falun behind it, and every sentence is from me? What some people are thinking is that my energies will protect them if they have my autograph. They are still thinking about “energies” somehow, when those aren’t things we dabble in. This book alone is beyond any measure of value. What more could you want? Hoping for my autograph reflects attachments, in fact. I should also mention that some people emulate the practitioners that they see accompanying me, without first thinking about whether it’s appropriate to do. You shouldn’t look to anybody as your example. No one is a substitute for the teachings; only Dafa itself can serve as your guide. Those who accompany me don’t get any personalized instruction and are treated just like the rest of you. They are merely staff of our Association, and nothing to get fixated on. Being attached like that is harmful to our practice, even though you don’t mean for it to be so. You might make things up for dramatic effect, which ends up being divisive, or you might provoke attachments in other practitioners that lead them to try to get closer to me and get extra instruction for themselves, and so on. It should be apparent that all of this goes back to the same problem.
The problems with showing off typically reach beyond what I just described. I have been teaching Falun Dafa for two years now, and it’s possible that among those who are veteran to the practice, a group of you will soon find that all of your powers become available to you; and another group might find that they suddenly experience gradual enlightenment. These higher states weren’t possible for you before since you still had many human attachments, and so it wasn’t suitable for me to push you to such heights in one go. Your character surely had improved a great deal, yet many attachments remained, and so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for you to have had higher powers at your disposal. So gradual enlightenment is in store for people once they have passed the initial phase and become solid. The inner eye will be opened to great heights with gradual enlightenment, and many powers will come to them. And I can share that with true spiritual practice, in fact, you start to develop many powers right from the outset. Some of you have now reached very advanced stages of practice and have numerous powers. Many of you might have recently begun to experience what I’ve been describing. There will also be some who, though not that advanced, have all of their powers freed and become enlightened—and fully so—at a lower level of attainment. That will happen because what these students’ bodies have and their capacities for hardship are connected, and these won’t change, since they were predetermined.
I bring this up to convey to you that you really mustn’t put whoever experiences these things on a pedestal and regard them as enlightened beings. The stakes are high for your spiritual development, for only Dafa itself can guide you right. Don’t start following someone or giving him an audience just because he has special powers or visions. You would be hurting not only yourself, of course, but also bringing harm to that person; he might become full of himself and end up losing all that he had, have his powers revoked, or fall. Even those who are enlightened and have miraculous powers at their command may fall if they don’t exercise good self-control. This holds true even for Buddhas, much less people such as you who practice in the world. So it’s vital that you exercise self-restraint, however great or many your powers may be. Recently there was someone in attendance who had the ability to suddenly vanish and then reappear a moment later. Powers like these exist, along with even greater ones. So you might ask yourself how you would do if such powers came to you. As practitioners, or adherents, of Falun Dafa you shouldn’t put anyone with powers like these on a pedestal, yourself included, or yearn for such things. You will quickly experience problems if those things stir up longings in you, and your level of attainment will drop. It’s possible that the person whose powers you are admiring and coveting hasn’t made as much spiritual progress as you, and it’s only that your powers aren’t accessible to you. By admiring and coveting someone else’s powers, you have, on this matter at least, slipped and fallen. I would like everyone to really be vigilant about this. I’m putting this in serious terms because the changes I described may soon take place, and it could be ruinous for you if you don’t handle things well.
When a practitioner develops higher energy, has his powers freed, or becomes fully enlightened, he still mustn’t think of himself as special; the visions he has are limited by his level of attainment. It’s just that he has reached that point in spiritual practice, and it means that he has a corresponding level of faith, quality of thought, and amount of wisdom. So it’s possible that he won’t believe that still higher beings or things exist, since he will think that he has seen the ultimate reality and that there is nothing more. But that is far from being the case, since his level of attainment is limited.
Some people will have all of their powers come to them at their present stage, since they will have reached their limits in spiritual practice; the restraints will be lifted and they will experience enlightenment at their level, since nothing more is possible. Some who finish their practice in the times ahead will experience enlightenment at a lesser level within this world; some may experience it at a higher level; and some will experience it with full divine standing. And it is only enlightenment with full divine standing that counts as the pinnacle, and only such figures will be able to see, and even reveal themselves at, all planes. Even with enlightenment and having their powers freed at the very lowest of levels within this world, a person will be able to see certain dimensions and higher beings, and even communicate with them. But if and when that happens to you, you mustn’t become happy with yourself, for you certainly would not have gained full divine standing. What happens next, then? They can only hope to maintain their current level of attainment and, some other day, practice to higher stages. But that would be a future matter. So there would be no point in keeping someone like that from experiencing his powers when he has reached his highest point. Any efforts at further progress would be in vain, and so his powers will be freed on account of his having reached the end of his spiritual journey. This will be the case for many people. So whatever happens, you should keep your composure as a practitioner and base what you do on Dafa, to really get things right. Keep in mind that if you gain any particular power, or if all of your powers are freed, it came to you from practicing Dafa. If you put your own powers above Dafa, or think that the insights you’ve gained with enlightenment are right, and that you are greater than Dafa, then I would say your fall has begun, you are in danger, and things will only get worse. You are really in trouble in that case, and all of your spiritual efforts may end up for naught. Not handling these things well could lead to your downfall and ruin your practice.
I should mention that this book combines my teachings from several classes, and every sentence comes from me. Our students and learners carefully transcribed for me every word of the audio recordings, and I personally edited the text multiple times. Everything in the book counts as my teaching, and this alone is the Way that I have set forth.