The subject of taking life touches a nerve with many people, who worry about what implications it has for them. For practitioners the rule is strict: there is to be no taking of life. Any true spiritual practice or tradition—be it Buddhist, Daoist, Mystical, or whatever it may be—will look upon this matter in absolute terms and forbid killing. I can vouch for this. The consequences that follow from taking life are so great as to warrant a more in-depth discussion. When the term “killing” was used in early Buddhism it mainly referred to taking human life, which is the most serious form of it. Later on the killing of large creatures such as livestock and other larger animals also came to be regarded as serious. Let’s consider why religious communities have always held the taking of life to be so serious. There is a Buddhist belief that a life ended prematurely becomes a lost soul or “wild ghost,” and so services have traditionally been performed to save these lives from purgatory. As the belief goes, were they not rescued from purgatory, they would have to go without food or drink and be trapped in a terrible predicament.
We hold that when a person wrongs someone he gives the other party a substantial amount of virtue as compensation. This applies to regular transgressions. But suddenly ending a life, be it that of an animal or another creature, is a sizeable sin and generates a lot of karma. Prohibitions against taking life used to mainly apply to taking human life, since the karma that’s made is sizeable. But taking a regular creature’s life results in significant karma and isn’t trivial. It’s significant, because a certain amount of adversity is allotted to each stage of your spiritual journey and they are your own ordeals, made by your own karma, and they are placed there to facilitate your progress. In each case you can overcome the ordeal so long as you work on your character. Then you can just imagine how much harder it would be to pass these, with all of the karma that comes from killing added on. Your character wouldn’t suffice to get through them. And it might spell the end of spiritual practice for you altogether.
We have found that when a person incarnates, within a certain expanse of the cosmos a great many of him incarnate simultaneously; they look just like him, assume the same name, and engage in more or less the same things. So it’s fitting to consider them part of the larger him. When any life (including those of larger animals) dies prematurely, the hims in other dimensions have yet to complete the lives they were ordained to lead, and may have many years of living still ahead. The life that dies early then faces the predicament of belonging nowhere, and must drift about in the expanse of the universe. So this is what people in the past thought of as lost souls or wild ghosts who have nothing to eat or drink, and who suffer terribly. And they may have been right about that. What we can say for sure is that those lives are stuck in a most frightening predicament. They must wait on and on until their counterparts in each dimension have all finished their courses of life, and only then may they go together to their next destination. The longer the wait, the greater the suffering. And with greater suffering, more karma will go onto the body of the killer, since he caused this pain. You can just imagine how much karma the killer would accrue. This is what we have observed with higher vision.
We have also seen that when a person incarnates in this world, the design of his entire life is present in another, specific dimension, and everything that is supposed to take place in his life is already laid out there. And naturally it was higher beings who planned it all out. It is owing to them that when someone is born into this world he belongs to a certain family, attends a certain school, and once he grows up he works for a certain entity, and in this manner becomes linked with society in multifaceted ways. And from this we can glean that this world, on a larger scale, is in fact well mapped out. When a life comes to a premature end, however, and no longer follows the designs that were originally in place, it means that a change has occurred. So whoever it was that fouled things up will not be forgiven by the higher being who made the designs. As persons of faith you all wish to reach higher realms, but how could your spiritual efforts take you there if beings above won’t forgive you? In some cases the teacher of the person who took life will be in trouble as well, since his level won’t have surpassed that of the higher being [who planned the life of the prematurely deceased]. And so he will be sent down along with the killer. So this is terribly serious, as you can see. Spiritual practice is very challenging for someone who has taken life.
It’s possible that some of you who are learning Falun Dafa have fought in times of war. Those wars were states of affairs brought about by larger, cosmic events, and you were but one tiny part of those affairs. For cosmic events to unfold there have to be people carrying things out and bringing about certain states of affairs. Since those affairs had to do with larger changes, you aren’t entirely to blame for what you may have done. The karma we are concerned with is the kind that stems from willfully doing wrong for selfish reasons, for your own gain, or to protect your own things. You won’t be held accountable for things done owing to changes in the greater dimension or to changes in the larger designs of society.
Taking life generates a great amount of karma. Some people might be concerned about how they are going to put food on the table if that’s the case, since now they wouldn’t be allowed to take animals’ lives. But I’m not here to address minutiae like this. I am here to teach the Way to practitioners, and I won’t be giving instructions for others on how to go about their lives. You can use our teachings to gauge things and go about them however you understand to be right. Non-practitioners are free to do as they please, since that’s their own business; not everyone can do spiritual practice. But practitioners should hold themselves to high standards. So the terms I’m setting forth here are meant only for people who practice.
Animals and plants count as lives, just as humans do; everything is alive in other dimensions. When your inner eye has reached the level of the dharma eye, you may find that stones, walls, or any object might speak to you and greet you. Some people might find it disconcerting to think that the grains and vegetables they consume are alive, and that now they might have to just passively let any flies or mosquitoes that get into their homes bite them and contaminate their food. While I am saying that we can’t harm living things without reason or on a whim, I’m not asking you to be mister nice guy and fretfully sweat over every little thing, to the point that you jump around as you walk just to avoid stepping on ants. That strikes me as a tiring way to live, and it would just be a new attachment. And besides, you might still crush many microorganisms while hopping around trying to avoid ants; there are many microscopic life forms, such as fungi and bacteria, that you might unintentionally kill. Living becomes impossible if you go to such extremes. So that’s not the kind of person we want to be. A spiritual life would be impossible, in that case. You should focus on the big things and practice with confidence and poise.
As human beings we are entitled to sustain our lives, and so our material surroundings should suit our life needs. While we mustn’t harm any living things intentionally, we shouldn’t become overly petty about things either. For example, we shouldn’t stop consuming vegetables and grains just because they are alive. With that approach to life, spiritual practice wouldn’t be possible. So we should be a bit more broad-minded. For example, you shouldn’t be too concerned if you unwittingly step on ants or insects as you walk. Perhaps it was time for them to perish since you didn’t do that intentionally. A population balance always has to be maintained in the animal kingdom and those of microorganisms, since a tipped balance would lead to a proliferation of any one species. So with that in mind we can go about our practice with confidence and poise. You can simply shoo away any flies or mosquitoes that happen to get into your home, or install screens to keep them out. But if and when you can’t shoo them out and have to swat them, so be it; you shouldn’t just stand by and let them bite and possibly harm people in your own home. You have strong immunity, thanks to your practice, and needn’t worry about infection. But you might have family that are ordinary folk who don’t practice, and are at risk of infectious disease. So you shouldn’t just passively look on as an insect crawls on your child’s face.
I will share with you a story from the Buddha’s early years. One day he wanted to bathe while in the forest, and told his disciple to clean the basin that he used. His disciple went to do so, only to find that it was crawling with insects; were he to clean it they would be killed. The disciple returned and informed the Buddha that the basin was full of insects. The Buddha didn’t bat an eye and said just one sentence, “Go and clean out the basin.” But when the disciple reached the basin once again, he didn’t know where to start, as doing anything would result in the death of insects. He pondered it for a moment and then returned to the Buddha. He told him, “Honorable teacher, the basin is crawling with insects. If I were to wipe it down they would be killed.” The Buddha turned his gaze upon him and said, “What I asked you to clean was the basin.” The disciple finally caught on and promptly wiped the basin clean. There’s a point to this story. And that is, we can’t cease to bathe on account of insects, start looking for new homes on account of mosquitoes, or close up our throats and cease to eat or drink just because everything consumed is alive. That’s not our approach. We should keep things in perspective and go about our practice in a confident and dignified manner. All is well as long as we don’t harm living things on purpose. As human beings you are entitled to have your living space and to meet your daily needs, and it’s fine to ensure these. You have to maintain your life just like anyone else, and should be able to lead a normal life.
Some false masters have claimed that killing is permissible on the first and fifteenth days of each lunar month. And some have even said that killing two-legged animals is okay, as if those creatures weren’t living beings. It’s absurd to think that taking lives on those days is not killing. They are trying to downplay what they’re doing. Some supposed masters are false, in fact, and from their words and deeds you can readily tell what they are up to and what their agenda is. Most often the figures who condone killing are plagued by entity attachment. This is apparent in how false masters who are possessed by fox spirits go about eating chicken: they wolf it down and are reluctant to give up the bones.
Taking life not only generates an enormous amount of karma, but also raises the question of compassion. Since we do spiritual practice we should have compassion in our hearts. As your compassion develops you will come to see that life is painful for all living things. This will come to pass.
Eating meat is another subject that can be sensitive. But eating meat is not the same as taking life. We don’t ask you to refrain from eating meat, even after you have been learning our practice for some length of time. By contrast, many who teach energy practices will tell you that meat is off limits right from day one, which catches people off guard. And that’s asking a lot, as there might be a savory stewed chicken or braised fish dish awaiting them at home for dinner, which now they’d have to forgo. Abstention from meat is also required in some religious orders. Buddhist practices generally take this approach, as do certain Daoist ones. We don’t ask that of you, though we do have our own approach. To understand the approach we take, you have to bear in mind that ours is a practice where the Way “works upon you,” as we put it. In this kind of practice certain bodily states will be brought about by the higher energy you have, or by the Way. Different states will come about as you reach different stages of attainment in your practice. And so one day, or even today, right after I finish teaching this class, some of you might find that you can’t eat meat. It will smell unpleasant to you, and eating it would make you nauseous. This, then, is a kind of abstention that’s not imposed upon you, nor one that you force upon yourself. It comes from within you. It is a distaste for meat that’s triggered by the higher energy that you have, and it occurs because you have reached that stage. And it’s real enough that you would actually vomit if you were to consume meat.
Those who have been doing this practice for some time know firsthand that the bodily states I’m describing do come about with Falun Dafa practice, with different states unfolding at different stages. Some learners have a rather strong longing for meat and are quite attached to it; they can typically eat quite a lot of it. They’re not at all put off by meat that smells or tastes strong to others, and can still eat it. So here’s what is done to break the attachment. The person’s stomach will be made to ache after he consumes meat, but it won’t hurt if he forgoes it. It’s a condition that indicates it is time to give up meat. But it won’t be this way for the rest of his life, in case you are wondering. Then what’s going on? His not being able to eat meat genuinely arises from within. Consider the purpose. The rules against meat in monastic orders are similar to the induced-state in our practice, where you aren’t physically able to eat it, in that both seek to remove any craving for or attachment to meat.
Some people can hardly stand a meal without meat, owing to their strong human cravings for it. One morning I was passing by the rear entrance of Victory Park in the city of Changchun when three people came out of the park, talking loudly. One of them said, “What kind of practice is that? It doesn’t let you eat meat. I’d rather lose ten years of my life than go without meat.” What a strong desire that was. Any desire that strong should surely be let go. Spiritual practice is meant to rid you of every human desire and attachment. Then, to spell it out, if you haven’t ended your craving for meat, isn’t it an attachment that remains? Could you achieve spiritual perfection in that case? My point is that any attachment has to go. But that’s not to say that meat is off limits from that day on. The point isn’t simply to keep you from eating meat. It’s to prevent attachment. If you can break the attachment during the time when meat doesn’t work for you, it may well become edible again later on. At that time it won’t smell bad to you or be unpleasant to consume. And in that case it’s fine to eat it.
When meat becomes edible again it means that your attachment to it and desire for it are gone. And a significant change will have happened. You will experience a new state whereby meat doesn’t taste that good when you eat it; you will be able to eat it along with your family when it’s served, and won’t miss it otherwise. It won’t taste like anything special when you do eat it. But that said, it’s tricky practicing in the secular world. You might reacquire a taste for meat if your family has it regularly, and the whole process will repeat itself. And this cycle could play out multiple times over the course of your spiritual journey. Suddenly, out of the blue, you might not be able to eat it again one day. If that happens, then simply don’t eat it. You really won’t be able to, and doing so might result in your having to throw up. Wait until you can eat it before doing so. Just take things as they come. Ultimately it’s not about eating meat or not: the key is that the attachment be removed.
People make fast progress in Falun Dafa. You will advance through the stages of practice swiftly as long as you work on your character. Some people aren’t very attached to meat to begin with, and it doesn’t matter much to them. For them the state I’ve described lasts just a week or so, since it takes little time to remove what attachment there is. Some people need upwards of a few months or even the better part of a year; seldom does it exceed a year. The process takes some time, since meat is now a major part of the human diet. But it still shouldn’t be eaten by those who practice in monastic settings that prohibit it.
Let’s discuss how meat has been viewed in Buddhism. The earliest form of Buddhism had no prohibition against meat. The Buddha and his disciples lived a very basic life in the forest, and didn’t avoid meat. Civilization was in its infancy back when he gave his teachings twenty-five hundred years ago, and many regions hadn’t developed agriculture. Even those that did, had limited amounts of arable land, and many areas were heavily forested. So grains were in limited supply and scarce. People naturally depended on hunting, with civilization where it was at, and meat was a staple food in many places. The reason that the Buddha didn’t allow his disciples to handle money or goods, and led them in begging for food, was to try to have them break their attachments as much as possible. So they would just eat whatever people gave them and had no business being picky, since they were leading a holy life. And the food that was given to them may have included meat.
Early Buddhism did indeed designate certain foods as taboo. Nowadays Buddhists consider meat to be what’s taboo, whereas initially, in early Buddhism, it was foods like onions, ginger, and garlic that were. Few Buddhist monks today can say exactly why those foods were taboo, since most monks haven’t been initiated into true spiritual practice and there is much that they don’t know. The Buddha taught the three disciplines of precept, concentration, and wisdom. “Precept” was about severing all desires through moral discipline, while “concentration” was about practicing meditation and achieving complete stillness. Anything that prevented someone from experiencing that or that compromised it, was regarded as a serious hindrance. Consuming onions, ginger, or garlic results in the body giving off a strong odor. In those days, monks would meditate in circles of seven or eight people in forests or caves. Whoever ate those foods would have given off a pungent odor, which would have compromised people’s ability to meditate and become centered. So it really affected practice. And this was how certain foods came to be designated as taboo and their consumption barred. It should also be said that their strong odor is highly bothersome to the many supernatural beings borne of a practitioner’s body. Onions, ginger, and garlic can also lead to further cravings for these foods, and regular consumption can result in addiction to them. For these reasons they have been regarded as taboo.
Over the centuries, many monks who progressed to higher stages of practice and experienced full or partial enlightenment came to realize that prohibitions are not that vital. If a person can rid himself of a certain attachment, that material thing that he was attached to will no longer affect him, for it is the attachment that really affects you. And that is why accomplished monks throughout the ages haven’t considered the question of meat to be that critical. They saw that letting go of the attachment is what’s key; anything can be eaten to stave off hunger if there is no attachment at work. But at this point in time, many monks have grown accustomed to living meat-free; many religious orders have long made a practice of this. And it’s not merely a single prohibition anymore, but rather, part of a larger monastic code. So, many practicing monks are used to meat being strictly taboo. But then consider the case of the “mad monk” Ji-gong. He appears in many fictional works since he flew in the face of convention and ate meat. His story has been sensationalized. The reality is that food was naturally just a pressing issue for him after he was expelled from Ling-yin Temple. He was faced with starvation, and so he ate whatever was available to him. And truth be told, it didn’t really matter what he ate as long as it was just to stay full and not done out of attachment to some particular food. He progressed to the point where he was aware of this principle. And as it turns out, he hardly ever ate meat, maybe just once or twice. But writers got excited once word got out that a Buddhist monk was eating meat. The more sensational something is, after all, the more people want to read it; art and entertainment are expected to do more than just depict life, as we know. And so they have made great fanfare out of what Ji-gong did. But in reality, it’s fine to eat anything as long as you aren’t attached to it and it’s just done to satisfy hunger.
In Southeast Asia and southern China, and this includes the two provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong, some lay Buddhists prefer to say they are “vegetarian,” rather than to openly say they are Buddhist—as if it were old-fashioned to say that. So they conflate going vegetarian with practicing Buddhism, as if it were that simple. But merely following a vegetarian lifestyle could hardly bring someone to enlightenment. As we’ve established, meat is just one human attachment, one desire, and abstaining from it means only that one attachment has been dealt with. There are still the attachments of jealousy, combativeness, excitability, and showing off—among many others—all of which must go if you want to achieve spiritual perfection. So people are mistaken to think that simply dealing with the attachment to meat makes enlightenment possible.
Meat isn’t necessarily the only food of concern. An attachment to any food is problematic; this discussion applies to other foods as well. When someone expresses an affinity for a certain food, that counts as a desire. A practitioner will have no such attachment when he or she progresses to a certain level. Our teachings are quite advanced of course, and they encompass different stages of practice; it’s not feasible or expected that you become fully detached overnight. When you have indeed progressed to the point where a food-attachment should go, you won’t be able to eat that food, however much you may like it. If you were to eat it, it wouldn’t taste right or how you would expect it to taste. Back when I was working at a company, the cafeteria always had trouble breaking even and eventually folded. Everyone had to bring his or her own lunch after that. It was a challenge to prepare one’s own lunch while rushing to get off to work in the morning, so I would sometimes pick up a couple of steamed buns along with a block of soft tofu in soy sauce for lunch. Such light fare should have been just fine, in theory. But eating it too regularly still proved to be problematic, as any liking that I was deemed to have developed needed to go. So at just the sight of tofu my stomach would churn and I couldn’t eat it. This was meant to ensure that I wasn’t attached. Of course, you won’t experience episodes like mine unless you have progressed to that point. They won’t happen when you have just begun.
Buddhist practices don’t permit the consumption of alcohol. Could you imagine a Buddha with a bottle of alcohol in his hand? When I talked about not being able to eat meat, I explained that it would be fine for non-monastics to eat it again later once the attachment was gone. Alcohol, however, is not something you can consume again after giving it up. Every practitioner’s body has higher energy, of course, which takes many forms. Some powers come up to the surface of your body and are very pure. If you consume alcohol they will depart your body in a flash. They will leave your body for a while, as they loathe the smell. And how deplorable it is when people become addicted to alcohol, since it impairs their reason. The Daoist practices that feature drinking only do that because they don’t cultivate the true soul, and want to numb it.
There are people who really take to the bottle, and have a great affinity for alcohol. And there are some who drink to the point of alcoholism and just have to have it; meals without it aren’t even appealing to them. A practitioner shouldn’t be like that. Alcohol is definitely addictive, and the longing for it is a desire, after all. It stimulates the nerve circuits associated with addiction, and the more one consumes it the worse the addiction. A practitioner will want to be free of an attachment like that, as you can imagine. So it has to go. Some people might think this isn’t feasible since at work they are responsible for entertaining clients or are often out discussing business with people, and think that it can be hard to get business going smoothly without having a few drinks together. But that’s not necessarily true. Generally when people are meeting to talk business with one another, nobody is going to force alcohol on you, and you can drink however much you’d like of whatever beverage you choose, be it a soft drink, bottled water, or a beer. That’s especially so when doing business or socializing with non-Chinese. And there is even less of an issue in other contexts and when in cultured company. That’s generally the case, at least.
Smoking is another attachment. Some people believe that smoking can give them a lift, but I would say they are fooling themselves. Sometimes people take a cigarette break while they are at work or writing something and feel tired. After smoking they feel energized. But it wasn’t smoking that did it. Rather, that feeling of being energized came from having relaxed for a bit. The mind can create a false impression and give you the wrong idea; over time, it really can form into a notion or false impression that leads one to believe that smoking is a pick-me-up, when it’s really not. Smoking doesn’t do the body one bit of good. Autopsies have found that the trachea and lungs of long-term smokers are black, in fact.
Then wouldn’t you rather purify your body, as someone engaged in spiritual practice? We want to purify our bodies on an ongoing basis and continually elevate spiritually. Yet smoking pollutes your body and does the exact opposite of what we want to do; and there are strong cravings involved. If you are someone who knows it’s bad for you and have tried to quit but failed, you can take heart in knowing that it’s hard to quit without the right thoughts guiding you. Now that you are doing spiritual practice, though, you can try, starting today, to regard it as an attachment to break, and see if you can manage to quit. I would urge you to quit smoking today if you are sincere about practicing, and I can guarantee that it’s possible. The thought of smoking doesn’t occur to anyone during my classes, and I can assure you that you can quit if you want to. As long as you have that intention, even if you do smoke again, the cigarette will taste awful. Reading this chapter of the book will be just as effective as hearing me teach this in person. Of course, we won’t stop you from smoking if you don’t want to do spiritual practice. But if you do, then you should quit. To share an analogy I’ve used before: have you ever seen a religious statue with a cigarette in its mouth? That would be absurd. So you should really quit, considering what we aspire to. I would say that you had better quit if you want to make spiritual progress. Smoking harms the body and is a craving. It’s completely contrary to what we do.
In my teachings I often bring up the topic of jealousy. The reason is, jealousy plays out fiercely in China and it’s so pervasive that it has become second nature for people, and they don’t sense it in themselves. This problem of intense jealousy has roots, of course. At one time Confucianism shaped the people of China profoundly and fostered a more introverted kind of personality. Chinese people don’t reveal their emotions, and make a point of self-control and patience. This has become habitual for them, and so as a whole, Chinese today have a very introverted disposition. This has its good side, of course, such as being unassuming. But it has its downside too, and can lead to unfavorable traits. The negative traits are especially pronounced now in this latter day, and they exacerbate the problem of jealousy. People nowadays get terribly envious when someone shares his or her good news. When a person gets accolades at work, or something good happens to him, he won’t say a word about it when he returns to his desk lest others find out and get upset over it. People in the West sometimes remark about the jealousy Asian people have. Confucianism’s influence on the Asian region runs deep, and the countries there have all been shaped by it more or less. But only in China does jealousy affect people so strongly.
This is partially due to the doctrine of total equality that was advanced in China not long ago. As the logic went, we’re all in it together and so we are all equally entitled, we should all get the same wage increases, and so on. This kind of logic has a certain appeal to it, of course, with everyone seeming equal. But it’s just not valid. The kinds of jobs that people do are different, and how well they do them is different too; not everyone does his job responsibly. So as the universe would have it, people should be compensated accordingly. And that’s even just common sense, since people normally believe that whoever does more should get more for it, and whoever does less should get less. But the doctrine of total equality flies in the face of all this, and claims that everybody is born the same and that any differences among people are just the product of life circumstances. I would say that’s going too far, and anything so extreme is bound to be wrong. And it can’t account for the fact that some people are born male and others female. Or that people have different looks, and that some are different from birth owing to congenital illnesses or deformities. We can see from higher realms that each person’s whole life is laid out in other dimensions, so naturally people’s lives in this world aren’t the same. While people might want equality, it’s not possible if that is not what life has in store for them. People’s lives are different.
People in the West are by nature more extroverted, and you can readily tell how they’re feeling. While this has its good points, it also has its downsides, such as a lack of self-restraint. The different dispositions that Westerners and Asians have reflect different ways of thinking, and have different consequences. People in China get upset when someone is given recognition at work or receives special treatment. Anyone who gets a slightly larger paycheck knows to quietly tuck it into his pocket and not say a word about it. Even exemplary employees have a hard time these days, as people unfairly expect them to come in early and stay after hours; or they might get jibes from co-workers, who remark about how “great” these people are, and try to offload work on them. It’s hard to be a good person these days.
It’s a different story outside of China. Let’s say there is someone whose supervisor sees what fine work he has done and gives him more money. When he receives it he will be tickled pink, and might even look at the paycheck in front of others and remark out loud about how much he got. He can happily state the amount to everybody, worry free. In China, by contrast, if someone receives a larger paycheck, the supervisor himself might tell the person to quietly tuck it away before anyone sees it. In the West, if a kid gets a hundred at school he might joyfully run all the way home, shouting, “I got a hundred today, I got a hundred!” A neighbor might open his door and yell out, “Hey Tom, great job! That’s my boy!” Or another might open her window and shout, “Hey Jack, well done!” But were the kid to do that in China, he’d be in for trouble. As he ran home from school, shouting, “I got a hundred today, I got a hundred!” people would be chastising him from inside their homes, faster than they could open the doors. “What’s the big deal, it’s just a hundred!” they’d quip. “So what? Who hasn’t had a hundred before?” The different frames of mind in the two cultures lead to different responses. In China, it can lead to jealousy and resentment. People feel uneasy about others’ good fortune instead of being happy for them. There are problems like this.
The doctrine of total equality that was pushed in China a while back really got people confused. I’ll give an illustration. Suppose there is someone who thinks that nobody at his workplace is as good as he is; he excels at whatever he does and really thinks he’s outstanding. He envisions himself doing just fine as a manager at the company, or even in a more senior position; even becoming head of state seems feasible to him. And his supervisor might concur that he’s very able and does everything well. His co-workers might say the same, praising him for his talents and skills. But then there is someone on his team or in the office who botches everything up and never comes through. Yet one day this incompetent person is in fact promoted to a managerial position, instead of him—and even becomes his supervisor. It proves terribly trying for him. And so he goes around complaining to everyone about it, upset and consumed by envy.
The principle at work here is one that the average person isn’t aware of: that you will not get what you want if it’s not part of your life’s design, however deserving you may seem; while someone else who is incompetent might get it, if it is part of his life’s design. People might have their own takes on this, but their views aren’t spiritually informed. As higher beings see it, things in this world unfold according to higher designs that are in place. So what a person gets to do in life certainly isn’t going to be decided by how talented he is. The Buddhist doctrine of karmic rewards and retribution holds that the design of your life is based on your karma. So even someone immensely talented might end up with nothing in life if he doesn’t have much virtue. Yet a person who seems incompetent may have a lot of virtue, and will thus enjoy a position of influence or have great wealth. People can’t ordinarily see all of this, and so they always think that they should get whatever position or role they’re fit for. As a result they spend their lives competing with others and end up hurt, believing that life is painful and tiring; they never know peace or contentment. These sorts of people are so anxious they miss meals and lose sleep over it, and feel distraught. And by the time they reach old age they will have ruined their health and will suffer all sorts of ailments.
As people engaged in spiritual practice we have all the more reason not to be like that. We believe in letting things happen naturally. We know that we won’t be deprived of what is rightfully ours, and shouldn’t labor to get what is not. But not everything is completely set in stone, of course. And that is what makes wrongdoing possible—the very fact that some things may be subject to change. You, however, follow Dafa, and so you needn’t worry about people taking what is rightfully yours, for my spiritual bodies will be looking after you in the normal course of events. So we believe in letting things happen naturally. There might be instances where something seems to be yours, and people might say so too, and you believe it is yours, when in fact it’s not and in the end it goes to someone else. From this it will be seen whether you can let it go. If you cannot, it means that you have an attachment. We use this approach to rid you of your worldly wants, for that is what’s most important. Everyday people lack this perspective and so they contend over things.
While jealousy can play out fiercely among regular folk, it has always been quite prominent in the spiritual arena as well. Different groups often show little respect to one another, and seize upon one another’s faults. But often these combative people and their practices are only interested in health and are a mess, since they came about due to entity attachment; few of them see character as important. In some cases, people who haven’t experienced any special abilities, even after decades of practice, get worked up if they see a newcomer get them. And so they’ll be dismissive about it. Or they might even be irate about it, and claim that it’s the devil’s work or that this person has gone mad. You also see people being dismissive about another person’s teachings, and they convince themselves that the person is nothing special and not worth listening to. It’s true that the person may not speak in a way that’s impressive, but that is because he is speaking strictly about what his own practice entails. These naysayers, on the other hand, might be people who study everything and have long lists of credentials to show for it. They attend whatever teachings are being given, and know a lot—perhaps more than the figure at the podium. But what good does it do them? All that knowledge of energy practices that they have is limited to merely the most basic, physical level. And they only make things worse for themselves by taking in more teachings and complicating their energy. This makes spiritual progress less likely for them. They don’t understand that you need to commit to one practice if you want to avoid problems. And even among people who are sincere about spiritual practice, you sometimes see people being disrespectful of one another. It’s easy for jealousy to creep in if you are still competitive.
There’s an episode in the novel The Appointing of the Gods that illustrates this. In one scene, the figure known as Honorable Divine of the Origin is choosing someone from among his disciples for the honor of appointing new deities, and selects one, named Jiang Ziya. The decision proves vexing to another disciple, however, named Shen Gongbao. Shen can’t believe it, since he views Jiang as old and inept, while he himself is so powerful that he can sever his own head and put it back on. Jealousy consumes him so badly that he constantly makes trouble for Jiang.
Miraculous powers were part of early Buddhism, back in the Buddha’s time. Yet nowadays almost nobody in Buddhism openly talks about them for fear of seeming crazy. People are dismissive of them. This happens because today’s monks have little insight into these powers. Among the Buddha’s ten main disciples, one monk, named Maudgalyāyana, was known for having greater powers than all the others. And among his female disciples the same was said to be true for a woman named Uppalavannā. Similar figures emerged after Buddhism came to China, with there being generations of “eminent monks,” as they’ve been called. Bodhidharma himself was said to have miraculously crossed the Yangtze River by floating on a single reed. Yet the idea of powers like these has been cast aside with the march of history. The primary reason is that the figures in positions of religious authority, such as the priors, abbots, etc., are not necessarily the ones with great innate foundations. The ranks they hold are merely job titles in this world. They are still developing spiritually, just like others, only for them practicing is a vocation. You practice out in the world, by contrast, and in your spare time. Yet whether one’s practice comes to fruition depends on how much heart is put into it; this holds true for everyone, and there is no way around it. There is nothing innately inferior about a novice monk who tends the hearth or cooks the meals at a monastery, and his hardships make it all the more likely he will achieve spiritual enlightenment. Senior monks, on the other hand, will find it all the harder to achieve since they enjoy comfort and ease, and do fewer things that would rework their karma. A novice monk leads a hard and tiring life, which allows him to pay off karma and enlighten more swiftly. Awakening might come to such a monk unexpectedly one day, and with it, even if not full enlightenment, will come great powers. His brothers at the monastery will seek his counsel and treat him with great respect. But this might prove too much for the abbot, who would worry that someone like this undermines his authority. And so he’ll be skeptical about the person’s enlightenment and write it off as self-delusion, and perhaps even try to get him removed. And he might even manage to. With time, it’s now come to be that virtually no one in Chinese Buddhism openly discusses supernormal powers. Just consider what became of the remarkable monk Ji-gong. His powers allowed him to miraculously transport logs from Mt. E’mei to the well at Ling-yin monastery, and then get them out of the well, one by one. And yet in the end he was expelled from the monastery [as a result of jealousy toward him].
Jealousy is a serious problem since it directly bears on whether a person can achieve spiritual perfection. If you can’t rid yourself of jealousy it will undermine all of the work you have done on your character. There is a rule: anyone who doesn’t free himself of jealousy while practicing cannot attain true divine standing. No exceptions. You may have heard at some point that Buddha Amitābha allows people to be reborn into his paradise with karma. But that will not happen in the case of jealousy. Those who fall short in some minor regard or other may be able to carry on with spiritual practice after being reborn there with karma, but not those who harbor jealousy. Now that I’ve explained this to you, who are practitioners, you really need to stop this folly. You must be free of jealousy if you want to ever achieve real spiritual progress. And it is for this reason that I’ve singled it out.
By bringing up this topic I don’t mean to suggest that I will teach you how to heal people. No true practitioner of Falun Dafa would heal people. Were you to do that, all that has been given to your body by Falun Dafa would promptly be taken back by my spiritual bodies. The reason we take this so seriously is that it violates Dafa and harms your body as well. Some people just yearn to do more healings once they have done some, and leap at the opportunity to show off. It is clearly an attachment in that case and would severely hinder one’s spiritual development.
Many false masters have preyed upon people’s tendency to want to do healings after learning energy practices, and they teach them how. They make outlandish claims such as that you can heal someone by emitting your energy. But it’s not even logical to think that one person could heal another just by emitting energy, when the other party has energy in his or her body as well. And who knows, their energy could even end up healing you. One person’s ordinary energy can’t exert influence over another’s. A person at more advanced stages of practice develops higher energy, and what he or she emits at that point is high-energy matter. It is something that can treat and suppress disease, and have a controlling influence. But it can’t uproot someone’s illness at the source. Certain powers are needed in order to truly and thoroughly cure an illness. There is a specific power for curing each illness that exists. I can share that there are over a thousand such powers—as many as there are illnesses. And without these powers, healing simply cannot be done, no matter how much of a show some people might make of it.
Certain people have sown much confusion about healing among the spiritually inclined in recent years. Yet earlier on, when the true pioneering teachers of energy practices like chi-gong and tai-chi were promoting health and wellness, none of them gave instruction on how to do healings. They would either heal you themselves or teach you how to practice so that you could improve your health by exercising. Later on, false masters came about and really confused things. Whoever wishes to do healings is bound to bring entity attachment upon himself. So while there were authentic masters who did healings, they did so only in keeping with larger cosmic designs. But they were not using ordinary human means, and so they couldn’t keep at it indefinitely. It was the result of cosmic shifts that were happening and a product of the times. So it was wrong for people later on to begin teaching healing. No regular person could possibly gain the power to heal after taking a class for just a few days. I can tell you that whoever claims he can cure all sorts of illnesses is under the influence of entity attachment, only he’s not aware that something has latched onto his back. But something has. And so he mistakenly thinks that he is powerful and that it’s a good thing that he can heal.
A true teacher must go through many years of grueling spiritual discipline before he or she can accomplish something like healing. Yet some people go about doing healings without ever pausing to consider whether they have the powers necessary to rid people of their karma, or how it’s possible to do healing without having received the kind of authentic instruction normally required. And yet somehow they think that they can heal after just a few days of classes, using just their ordinary hands. False masters exploit these kinds of attachments and flawed thinking. That yearning to heal is an attachment, isn’t it? And so they’re happy to offer classes on healing, with fancy protocols and sophisticated names for what they do, ranging from the “energy needle” to the “illumination method,” to “expulsion” and “supplementation,” to “pressing vital points” and the “single grabbing method.” In each case their motive is to make money off you.
Let’s talk about what’s being called the “single grabbing method,” as an example. In our observation, the deeper reason people fall ill or experience misfortune is karma—a field of black matter. It is negative, or yin, by nature and something bad. Evil entities are yin natured as well, and dark, and they can enter a person’s body when conditions suit them. And they are the root cause of the ailments that people suffer, the main source of illness. But there are also two other ways that illness comes about. One involves extremely small, negative entities that are high in density and resemble clumps of karma. The other, which is less common but does exist, is where it is piped in from one’s ancestors.
Let’s look at some of the more common problems, such as tumors, inflammation, and bone spurs. In another dimension, deeper than this one, there is a negative entity at the site of the ailment. Yet it can’t be perceived with typical extrasensory powers or by most teachers; they can only see dark energy in one’s body. And while they are right about illness residing wherever they see dark energy, that energy is not the root cause of the ailment. Rather, it is the negative entity in another, deeper dimension; the dark energy is merely the field that it exudes. People sometimes claim that they can expel and purge bad energy, but even if they can, the dark field will quickly regenerate afterwards. In some cases the entity involved is powerful, and no sooner does someone purge its field than it pulls it back. It has the capacity to draw the energy back. So treatments that are only superficial don’t work.
Sickness, as seen with extrasensory powers, resides where there is dark energy present. As viewed by Chinese medicine, the energy channels, or “meridians,” of the body are blocked at that place, and energy and blood are failing to pass through; i.e., the channels have been clogged up. As viewed by Western medicine, the place presents an ulcer, tumor, bone spur, inflammation, etc., and those are the forms that it takes in this dimension. If one can manage to knock out the negative entity that’s behind the condition, the body here in this dimension will be problem-free. The ailment will instantly vanish once the entity has been taken out and the field is cleared, regardless of what the issue may have been—including for a herniated disc or bone spur. An X-ray will confirm that it’s resolved. The root cause is the entity and what it does.
Some claim that you can do healings after just a few days of learning, and offer to instruct you in things like the “single grabbing method.” I’m not exactly convinced. A human being is very weak compared to a formidable negative entity. An entity like that can control your brain, easily play tricks on you, and even end your life with little effort. It’s far-fetched to think that you could grab one of those. Your human hands can’t so much as touch them. You might flail your hands all around, trying to grab one, only to have it ignore you or even laugh at you. Your random grabbing would be comical to it. And even if you were to actually reach it, your hands might be instantly hurt, and seriously so. I have seen people whose hands were lame, though doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with them. Yet their hands just dangled there, lifeless. I have met people like this. What happened was that their bodies in other dimensions were injured, resulting in genuine paralysis here. An injury to those bodies does indeed result in paralysis, as you might imagine. I’ve been asked by people who had a sterilization procedure done or had something surgically removed whether they can still do this practice. I always assure them that that’s of no consequence, since your bodies in other dimensions didn’t undergo the procedure, and those bodies are what’s involved when we practice. So, back to what I was saying, that negative entity won’t care if you can’t reach it; but if you can, it might well injure your hands.
I twice brought practitioners with me to participate in the Asian Health Expo in Beijing to lend support to these national-level activities that had to do with energy practice. Our group really stood out both times. At the first expo we attended, our Falun Dafa was honored as the “Star Chi-gong School.” At the second there were more people approaching us than we could handle. Our booth was crowded with people, in contrast to others. Three lines were formed. The first had registered at the outset for morning treatments. The second was waiting to register for afternoon slots. And the last was waiting for my autograph. You might wonder why we were giving treatments, since that’s not something we do. We joined in the expo and did that in order to support what was a large, national event related to energy practices, and to do our part for the cause.
I allotted a portion of my gong energy to each of my students who came with me to the expo; they each received a mass of energy composed of over a hundred powers. And though I sealed their hands, some were still bitten, with blisters and bleeding, and this happened regularly. That’s how fierce those entities were. Then would you really want to catch them with your human hands? Even if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to grab them without having the powers needed. The reason is, they know from another dimension what you are thinking and will flee even before you make your first move, only to return right after you’ve finished treating the person. And so the ailment returns. You need a specific power to deal with that kind of thing, such that you can pin it down right then and there when you extend your hand. And then you need another power, one tremendously strong, known as the “great way of soul extraction,” to pull the entity’s soul out of the body and immobilize it. This power is meant for use with specific targets, and that’s what we used at the expo. You might be familiar with the story of how the Monkey King, who was full-sized, was shrunk down by the Buddha when he aimed his bowl at him. This power is capable of doing that. Any entity, big or small, will be shrunk the moment it’s grasped in the hand.
Another thing is, it’s not an option to extend your hand into the physical body of someone ailing and take something out. To see something like that would be far too jarring for people, and so it’s forbidden, even if possible. What is done when using the single grabbing method is to extend the hand of another dimension into the ailing person. Suppose the affected person has heart disease. When one reaches toward the heart to seize the problematic entity, it is the hand in another dimension that enters. And instantly, at an extraordinary speed, it will seize that negative entity there. When the hand in the outer dimension grabs, the two hands [of differing dimensions] come together, and the entity is seized. Those things are fierce, though, and sometimes they will flail about once grabbed and burrow into the hand, biting or screaming. And small as it is while trapped in the hand, it will return to its original size if released. It’s not something that just anyone can tackle; none of this is possible without the necessary power for it. Doing this kind of healing is nowhere near as simple as people might imagine.
Of course, this form of treatment might still be allowed in the future, as in the past. But restrictions would apply. The person using it would have to be someone on the spiritual path and be using it out of compassion. And it could only be used on a few good people. But whoever used it wouldn’t be able to fully dissolve the karma that’s involved, as his spiritual powers would fall short. So the person’s hardship would still be present; it would just be that the physical ailment was done away with. Your typical, lesser energy healer is not exactly someone who has achieved divinity, and all he can do is to postpone people’s ailments or change them into other forms of adversity. And he might not even realize he has done so, since it would most likely be done by his subconscious. Many acclaimed spiritual figures or teachers don’t have higher energy, since it went to the bodies of their secondary souls. The only reason they can do healings throughout their lives is that they go for years, or even decades, without ever making much spiritual progress themselves. They are allowed to do healings because their practice remains at the same, limited stage. Those who practice Falun Dafa, however, are strictly forbidden from healing others. You can read this book to someone who is sick if you wish, and he might be healed if he’s receptive to it. But the results will vary according to how much karma the person has.
Modern Medicine and Energy Healing
Let’s look at two modes of treatment side by side: those of modern medicine and energy healing. Most doctors of Western medicine don’t consider energy healing to be valid. They reason that we should be seeing hospitals getting replaced by centers for energy healing if it really is all that people make it out to be—with people miraculously using just their bare hands to heal, and not resorting to injections, drugs, or inpatient services. But that argument is based on a misunderstanding of energy healing, and it doesn’t hold up. The fact is that energy healing isn’t going to resemble normal modes of treatment, since it’s not an ordinary means. It is a higher means. And as you can imagine, higher things are not allowed to intrude upon the secular world in any sizeable way. It’s akin to why divine beings don’t wipe out the diseases of mankind when it would take them but a wave of the hand, and it’s fully doable. You would think that at least one of them would do so, simply out of mercy, given all the higher beings there are. But they don’t. And that’s because the human condition is what it is, and birth, aging, sickness, and death are simply a fact of life. There are karmic reasons behind each of these; the debts that people have incurred have to be paid.
Were you to heal someone it would amount to violating that law. You would be allowing the person to get out of paying for his wrongdoings, which is a problem. Spiritual adherents might be allowed to do basic healings if they are moved to do so by compassion and their powers can’t fully resolve the issue. But it has to be on grounds of compassion. And even those who do have the power to actually resolve people’s problems wouldn’t be permitted to do so on a large scale. That would be a major breach of the human condition, which is not allowed. So we can see why energy healing will never manage to supplant the regular methods used in hospitals; it is a higher means.
Some people in China may have imagined something like a hospital dedicated to energy healing being set up, staffed by accomplished healers. But it would never work out, even if it were logistically possible. That’s because higher beings will always ensure that the human condition isn’t undone. So even if a hospital for energy healing were to be established, or even if energy healing clinics, centers, and resorts were set up, the effectiveness of the healers’ treatments would drop significantly. The reason is that they would be acting in the secular world, and so their effectiveness wouldn’t be greater than that of regular treatments; it would have to be in keeping with the human condition. The effectiveness would need to be on par with that of the treatments used in hospitals. This is why the medical use of energy healing typically doesn’t go very well and multiple rounds of treatment are needed.
But even if hospitals for energy healing aren’t feasible, there’s no denying that energy practices can lead to healing. Energy practices like chi-gong have been popular in China for years, and a large number of people really have managed to gain wellness through them. People’s ailments have disappeared, even if they were just postponed by a healer or by whatever means. There’s no denying that energy healing can work. Most people who seek out healers have complicated and difficult conditions that conventional medicine couldn’t remedy. So they seek out an accomplished healer to try their luck and, much to their surprise, the problem gets resolved. Generally people wouldn’t seek out an energy healer if conventional means could deal with it. Healers used to be seen mainly as a fallback. But the point still holds that energy healing can be effective. The difference is that it can’t be used in the same manner as conventional approaches. It is prohibited from having a broader impact on society. It can only be utilized on a small scale and without much influence, with people quietly going about it. So while it does work, you can be sure that it isn’t healing on a deeper level. The best way to address your ailment is to put in the time to do an energy practice yourself.
There are some energy healers who claim that conventional medicine doesn’t do much and has limited effectiveness. It’s a complicated issue they raise. There are naturally many reasons for why that might be the case, if you ask me. As I see it, the principal one is humanity’s moral decline. This is what has led to the emergence of all sorts of unusual diseases that medical means can’t treat and that drugs are ineffective against, as well as the proliferation of counterfeit drugs—which doesn’t help things at all. These problems reflect the terrible state of the world today, which man has brought about. Everyone has had a part in it, so you shouldn’t try to pin the blame on anyone. And this is why whoever gives spiritual practice a go will meet with ordeals.
In some cases doctors can’t identify what’s wrong with someone, though the person really is sick. In other cases they might figure out what’s wrong, but don’t know what to call it, since the ailment is altogether novel. The medical profession categorizes these as “modern diseases.” This doesn’t mean that conventional medicine isn’t capable of curing disease, of course. It can. People would lose confidence in it otherwise and avoid it. So it can heal people. It’s merely that its methods of treatment are at the human level, while people’s diseases reach beyond—with some being downright serious. And this is why doctors emphasize early detection; once an ailment progresses too far it can’t be dealt with. At high doses, pharmaceuticals can be toxic. The level of today’s medical treatments is the same as that of modern technology, with both being on the human plane. And so their effectiveness is limited. Something that should be clarified is that the usual means of energy healing and medical treatments only serve to postpone someone’s underlying ordeal, which is the source of his suffering. It gets delayed until a later time in the person’s life or even further off, without the karma being addressed in any way.
Let’s revisit the topic of Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is similar to energy healing. In ancient China many physicians had extrasensory powers, be it Sun Simiao, Hua Tuo, Li Shizhen, or Bian Que. The annals of medicine testify to the powers of these accomplished medical scientists. Yet today those powers of theirs, which were the best of the practice, often meet with cynicism. It turns out that Chinese medicine has preserved only the herbal formulas and clinical experiences of the past. Yet back in ancient China it was quite advanced—even more so than the medical science of our day. Some people may tout how advanced medicine is now, with its CT scans that can see inside the body, ultrasounds, imaging, and X-rays. And today’s facilities are indeed cutting edge. But in my opinion they have yet to match the medical science of ancient China.
Consider that the physician Hua Tuo was able to perceive that there was a tumor on the brain of a minister named Tsao Tsao, and sought to open up his skull to remove it. Tsao mistook it for a plot to kill him, and had Hua imprisoned, where he eventually passed away. Tsao later did have symptoms of a tumor, and sought out Hua, but it was too late; Hua had passed away. And in the end the condition claimed Tsao’s life. So what Hua saw was real. He had an extrasensory power that people are capable of, one that the great physicians of yesteryear had at their disposal. With their powers of seeing they could perceive all four sides of the human body from just one side, looking from the front and seeing the back, left, and right. And they could even see the body layer by layer, slice by slice, and see beyond this dimension to the root cause of an illness. Modern medicine is far from being able to match that; it could take another millennium. CT scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays can see inside the body, but the equipment involved is large and terribly unwieldy. And without electricity it simply doesn’t work. The inner eye, by contrast, goes with you everywhere and doesn’t rely on electricity. There’s no comparison.
Some people extol the virtues of modern pharmaceuticals, but these may be no better in fact. The herbal medicine of ancient China was very effective. While many formulas have been lost over the centuries, a good number haven’t been and are still in use. I remember how when I was in the northeastern city of Qiqihar to give a class, I spotted a street vendor who was offering to pull bad teeth. I could tell at first glance that he was from the South, as he didn’t dress like a northeasterner. He wouldn’t turn anybody away and would pull teeth for whoever approached him. He had there a whole pile of teeth that he had pulled. His goal wasn’t to pull teeth but to sell his herbal tincture, which emitted a thick yellow vapor. When he wanted to pull a tooth, he would uncap the bottle and place it against the person’s cheek at the spot where the bad tooth was, and have him or her suck in several mouthfuls of the tincture’s yellow vapor. Little of the tincture was used up in the process. Then he would cap the bottle and set it aside. Next he would take out a matchstick from his pocket, and while singing the praises of his medicine, flick the matchstick against the tooth and pop it out. It didn’t cause any pain and there would be just a few flecks of blood, with no bleeding. Just imagine it: he was extracting teeth with something as fragile as a matchstick.
I would say that Western medicine’s precision instruments are no match for some of the folk remedies handed down in China. Just compare the results each gets. On the one side we have a man who could pull teeth with just a matchstick. While with Western medicine, by contrast, you first need injections of anesthetics, which tend to hurt an awful lot. You then have to wait for the anesthetics to set in, and then it’s time for the forceps. The dentist has to do a lot of pulling, and if things go wrong, the tooth’s root will remain lodged in the gums. Then he will have to take out the hammer and chisel to chip it out, and the process is enough to strike fear into your heart. Then he brings out the precision instruments for drilling, and it hurts so much that your body might jerk in response. You bleed a great deal and have to spit out mouthfuls of blood. So, which approach would you say is better? And which is more advanced? Things shouldn’t be judged by their appearances—like the tools in these two scenarios. What should be looked at is the results. The medicine of ancient China was very advanced, and Western medicine isn’t likely to catch up with it anytime soon.
The science of ancient China was different from modern science, which comes from the West. It took a different course and brought about a very different mode of life. It’s not appropriate to judge ancient China’s science and technology with today’s ways of looking at things, for the science of ancient China went a different route, honing in on how the body, life, and universe work together. Meditation and good posture were part of one’s education, and when writing, people were mindful of their breathing and directed energy to different areas of the body. And in each of the trades and professions people sought to empty the mind and breathe properly. This was simply the way of things throughout society.
People have questioned whether we would have cars and trains as we do today if we had gone with the science of ancient China; they believe modernization wouldn’t have been possible. I would respond that it’s not appropriate to judge a different way of life based on one’s own, present circumstances; an accurate assessment is only possible with a drastic shift in thinking and concepts. Perhaps in a world without televisions you would have unimagined powers, such as being able to see whatever you wish through your own forehead. Or in a world without trains and cars, you might have the ability to levitate as you sit, without the help of a lift. Taking a different scientific course would result in the world being a different place, one perhaps quite different from the world around us. The UFOs of extraterrestrial beings travel at unbelievable speeds and have the ability to enlarge or shrink. The course they have taken is even more radically divergent, as it involves an altogether different approach to science.