What Does It Mean to Conform to Ordinary Human Society?
(Minghui.org) What does it mean to conform to ordinary human society? As Dafa practitioners, we know this is Master’s requirement. But have we put adequate thought into what it means and its practical application to our lives on our respective paths?
Ordinary human society is incredibly diverse. There are scholars, drunkards, politicians, soldiers, scientists, etc. Some are the privileged elite of a first world country, while others just struggle to survive. So what does it mean to conform to ordinary human society?
Some practitioners use it as an excuse to justify their attachments, particularly those of us in prosperous Western countries. Many of us are so spoiled by the lifestyles we grew up with that we have no concept of how the mass of humanity lives, and have taken our opulent, indulgent lifestyles as the meaning of conforming to ordinary human society.
I work in one of the media projects started by practitioners to clarify the truth. Those of us involved have sacrificed a lot. Many of us live in dorms shared by sometimes a dozen people. And of course, money is always a concern. Everyone working in these projects wants them to succeed and to become financially stable. But the goal of financial success should be to create a better environment for clarifying the truth, not to live a wealthy, comfortable life among everyday people. As practitioners, we should not pursue these things or be attached to them.
In regards to the media projects, Master said in the “Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting” in 2009,
“What I want to see is you turning this thing into a real, solid entity; figuring out how to run things well; allowing the Dafa disciples who participate to make a living, thus being able to put their whole hearts into this; and making it more powerful for validating the Fa and saving sentient beings.”
Recently, I was speaking with another practitioner I work with, also a young man. He was talking about how he felt he needed to start thinking more about his career and what he was doing with his life, how to make money, etc. When I suggested that wealth and comfort are things we should not pursue, he shot back with practitioners need to conform to ordinary human society and said, “I can’t keep living like an animal.”
While I understood his frustrations, I believe this thinking was off. This practitioner felt as though he were living like an animal, but at the same time, never had a shortage of food, often wore suits to work, and had a warm and comfortable place to sleep every night. And while none of these things might be to the level he would find most pleasing, he’s still, by far, better taken care of than a large chunk of “ordinary human society.”
What I realized was that even though a lot of us in the media projects have sacrificed a lot to do this work, it doesn’t mean the attachments to material things have necessarily been removed.
In Zhuan Falun, Lecture 4, “Loss and Gain,” Master says,
“In our school of practice, those who practice cultivation among everyday people are required to practice cultivation precisely in ordinary human society, and to fit in among everyday people as much as possible. You are not really asked to lose anything materially. It does not matter how high your position ranks or how much wealth you own. The key is whether you can abandon that attachment.”
Whether or not we have something isn’t the issue, it’s whether we can give up that attachment. A practitioner can be rich, but they must not care for riches. In the same way, a practitioner can be dirt poor, but if they still have the attachment to material things, they haven’t really given up anything.
As an example, let's think about how much China has changed in the last 60 years. Back then, you weren’t allowed to own anything and entire villages were forced into communal living. Now people in China have access to just about any material item they can dream of. But have these “things” that so many long desired brought salvation to the Chinese people?
Some practitioners talk about the apartments and all the other nice things they’ll buy when the media projects become financially stable. These are just attachments they cover up with excuse of conforming to ordinary human society.
But many billionaires in the West spend vast sums of their fortune on charitable works, bettering their communities, and investing in the future. There are also those who choose to live a simple, modest life, having seen that the over indulgence of the past few decades has caused tremendous damage to society and the environment. Isn’t this also conforming to human society? As practitioners, if we become wealthy, shouldn’t we use our wealth with virtue?
In Essentials for Further Advancement, “Wealth and Virtue,” Master says,
“No virtue, no gain; the loss of virtue means the loss of everything. Thus, those who seek power and wealth must first accumulate virtue. By suffering hardships and doing good deeds one can accumulate virtue among the masses. To achieve this, one must understand the principle of cause and effect. Knowing this can enable officials and the populace to exercise self-restraint, and prosperity and peace will thereby prevail under heaven.”
As practitioners, a side effect of our cultivation is the improvement of human society. The day may come when many of us will have fortunes. Should that day happen, will “conforming to ordinary human society,” mean overindulgence and materialism?
In Zhuan Falun, Lecture Three, “Reverse Cultivation and Gong Borrowing,” Master says,
“Seen from a high level, while you may think you are advancing forward, you are actually moving backward. Humankind thinks that it is developing science and making progress; it is, in fact, only following the law of the universe. Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Deities, rode backward on his donkey. Few people know why he rode backward on his donkey. He discovered that going forward is moving backward, so he rode the donkey the other way around.”
Our media projects must become financially stable because that is the end result of ordinary society embracing it. “Cause and effect.” However, does that mean as we are now, we aren’t conforming to ordinary human society? I don’t believe this is the case. I’ll give an example.
The Founding Fathers of the United States were once ordinary subjects under British rule. They had families and lives that they sacrificed the moment they decided to rebel against what was, at the time, the largest empire on Earth. But because they had a cause and principles they believed in, things they were willing to sacrifice anything for, they fought for what many considered a hopeless cause. They had everything to lose, but through enduring tremendous hardships, they forged a new country founded on principles of liberty and equality that the great thinkers of their time had only dreamed of on paper. Years of loss were followed by staggering gain. Wasn't the sacrifice of their ordinary lives for a cause they believed in “conforming to ordinary human society?”
So when some Dafa practitioners move away from their homes, sacrifice the lives they knew and the jobs and relationships they could be having, to work for the media projects—for a cause they believe in—isn’t that also conforming to ordinary human society? Not even taking into consideration the bigger meaning behind what we do, looking just at the most surface level, isn’t it something that the people of the world will look at in awe and admiration?
For me, and the path that I am on, this is what it means to “conform to ordinary human society.”
Category: Journeys of Cultivation