How to Pursue the Truth (16) Part Two

Just now, we fellowshipped about how family often makes a person feel conflicted and discomforted. They want to let go completely, but feel a sense of blame in their conscience and do not have the heart. If they don’t let go, but rather wholeheartedly invest in their family and integrate with them, they often feel at a loss on what to do since some of their views are at odds with their family. So, people feel that it is particularly difficult to deal with their family; they cannot reach total compatibility with them, but they also cannot completely cut them out. Today, then, let us fellowship on how a person should handle their relationship with their family. This topic involves some burdens that come from their family, which is the third topic in the content of letting go of family—letting go of the burdens that come from one’s family. This is an important topic. What are some of the things you are able to understand related to burdens coming from the family? Are they concerned with one’s responsibilities, obligations, filial piety, and so on? (Yes.) Burdens coming from family involve the responsibilities, obligations, and filial piety that a person should fulfill for their family. On one hand, these are the responsibilities and obligations that a person should fulfill, but on the other hand—in certain circumstances and with certain individuals—they become disturbances in a person’s life, and these disturbances are what we call burdens. When it comes to burdens from the family, we can discuss it from two aspects. One aspect is parental expectations. Every parent or elder has varying expectations, large and small, for their children. They hope their children will study hard, act well-behaved, excel in school, and be straight-A students, and not slack off. They want their children to be respected by teachers and classmates, and for their grades to regularly be above 80. If the child scores a 60, they will be beaten, and if they score below 60, they must face the wall and think about their mistakes, or are made to stand still as punishment. They will not be allowed to eat, sleep, watch TV, or play on the computer, and the nice clothes and toys that were promised before will no longer be bought for them. Every set of parents has various expectations for their children and places great hopes on them. They hope their children will be successful in life, make rapid advances in their careers, and bring honor and glory to their ancestors and family. No parents want their children to become beggars, farmers, or even robbers and bandits. Parents also don’t want their children to become second-class citizens after entering society, to pick through garbage, hawk wares on sidewalks, be a peddler, or be looked down upon by others. Regardless of whether these expectations of parents can be realized by their children, in any case, parents have all kinds of expectations for their children. Their expectations are the projection of what they think are good and noble things or pursuits onto their children, vesting them with hope, hoping that they can fulfill these parental wishes. So what do these desires from parents inadvertently create for their children? (Pressure.) They create pressure, and what else? (Burdens.) They become pressure and they also become shackles. Since parents have expectations for their children, they will discipline, guide, and educate their children according to those expectations; they will even invest in their children to fulfill their expectations, or pay any price for them. For example, parents hope that their children will excel in school, be at the top of the class, score above 90 on every test, always be number one—or, at the very worst, never rank below fifth place. After expressing these expectations, aren’t parents also making certain sacrifices at the same time to help their children reach these goals? (Yes.) In order for their children to achieve these goals, the children will wake up early in the morning to review lessons and memorize texts, and their parents will also get up early to accompany them. On hot days they will help fan their children, make them cold drinks, or buy ice cream for them to eat. They will get up first thing in the morning to prepare soy milk, fried dough sticks, and eggs for their children. Especially during exams, parents will have their children eat a fried dough stick and two eggs, hoping that this will help them score a 100. If you say, “I can’t eat all this, just one egg is enough,” they’ll say, “Silly child, you’ll only score ten points if you eat one egg. Eat another one for Mommy. Try your best; if you manage to eat this one, you’ll score a hundred points.” The child says, “I just got up, I can’t eat yet.” “No, you have to eat! Be good and listen to your mother. Mommy is doing this for your own good, so go ahead and eat it for your mother.” The child contemplates, “Mom cares so much. Everything she does is for my own good, so I’ll eat it.” What is eaten is an egg, but what is actually swallowed? It’s pressure; it’s reluctance and unwillingness. The eating is good and their mother’s expectations are high, and from the standpoint of humanity and conscience one should accept them, but based on reason, one should resist this kind of love and not accept this way of doing things. But, alas, there is nothing you can do. If you don’t eat, she will get angry, and you will get beaten, scolded, or even cursed. Some parents say, “Look at you, so useless that even eating an egg takes so much effort. One fried dough stick and two eggs, isn’t that a hundred points? Isn’t this all for your own good? But you still can’t eat it—if you can’t eat it you’ll be begging for food in the future. Suit yourself!” There are also some children who really can’t eat, but their parents force them to eat, and afterward they throw it all up. The vomiting itself isn’t a big deal, but their parents get even angrier, and the children not only don’t receive sympathy or understanding, they also get reproached. Along with getting reproached, they feel even more like they let their parents down and blame themselves even more. Life’s not easy for these children, is it? (It’s not easy.) After vomiting, you secretly cry in the bathroom, pretending to still be vomiting. When you come out of the bathroom, you quickly wipe away your tears, making sure your mother doesn’t see. Why? If she sees, you’ll be scolded and even cursed: “Look at you, so useless; what are you crying for? You good-for-nothing, you can’t even eat such a nice meal. What do you want to eat? If you had to go without your next meal, then you’d be able to eat this one, wouldn’t you? You were born to suffer! If you don’t study hard, if you don’t do well on exams, you’ll end up begging for food!” Every word spoken by your mother seems like it’s meant to educate, yet it also seems like reproach—but what is it that you feel? You feel your parents’ expectations and love. So, in this situation, no matter how harshly your mother speaks, you have to accept and swallow her words with tears in your eyes. Even if you can’t eat, you have to endure eating, and if you feel nauseous, you still have to eat. Is this life easy to endure? (No, it’s not.) Why is it not? What kind of education do you receive from your parents’ expectations? (The need to perform well in exams and have a successful future.) You have to show promise, you have to live up to your mother’s love and her hard work and sacrifices, and you have to fulfill your parents’ expectations and not let them down. They love you so much, they have given everything for you, and they are doing everything for you with their very lives. So, what have all their sacrifices, their education, and even their love become? They become something you must repay, and at the same time, they become your burden. This is how the burden comes about. Regardless of whether parents do these things out of instinct, out of love, or due to societal imperatives, in the end, using these methods to educate and treat you, and even instilling all kinds of ideas in you, does not bring your soul freedom, liberation, comfort, or joy. What is it they bring you? It is pressure, it is fear, it is the condemnation and uneasiness of your conscience. What else? (Shackles and constraints.) Shackles and constraints. What’s more, under such expectations from your parents, you can’t help but live for their hopes. In order to meet their expectations, in order to not fail their expectations, and in order not to let them lose hope in you, you study every subject diligently and conscientiously every day, and do everything they ask you to do. They don’t let you watch TV, so you obediently resist watching it, even though you really want to. Why are you able to resist? (For fear of disappointing my parents.) You’re afraid that if you don’t listen to your parents, your academic performance will really decline, and you won’t be able to get into a prestigious university. You are uncertain about your own future. It’s as if without the control, reproach, and suppression from your parents, you don’t know what lies ahead on your path. You dare not break free from their constraints, and you dare not break free from their shackles. You can only let them lay down all kinds of rules for you, let them manipulate you, and you dare not defy them. In one sense, you have no certainty about your future; in another, out of conscience and humanity, you are unwilling to defy them and you are unwilling to hurt them. As their child, you feel that you should listen to them because everything they do is for your own good, for your future and for your prospects. So, when they set all kinds of rules for you, you just silently obey them. Even if a hundred times over you’re unwilling in your heart, you still can’t help but take orders from them. They don’t allow you to watch TV or read recreational books, so you don’t watch or read them. They don’t let you make friends with this or that classmate, so you don’t befriend them. They tell you what time to get up, so you get up at that time. They tell you what time to rest, so you rest at that time. They tell you how long to study, so you study for that long. They tell you how many books to read, how many extracurricular skills you should learn, and as long as they provide the financial means for you to learn, you let them dictate and control you. In particular, some parents place some special expectations on their children, hoping that their children can surpass them, even more hoping that their children can fulfill a wish that they were unable to complete. For example, some parents may have wanted to become dancers themselves, but due to various reasons—such as the era they grew up in or family circumstances—they were unable to fulfill that wish in the end. So, they project that wish onto you. On top of already requiring you to be among the best in your studies and get into a prestigious university, they also enroll you in dance classes. They make you learn various dance styles outside of school, learn more in dance class, practice more at home, and be the absolute best in your class. In the end, not only do they demand that you get admitted to a prestigious university, but they also demand that you become a dancer. Your choices are either to become a dancer or go to a prestigious university, followed by going to graduate school and then getting a Ph.D. You only have these two paths to choose from. In their expectations, in one aspect, they hope you will study hard in school, get into a prestigious university, stand out among your peers, and have a prosperous and glorious future. In another, they project their unfulfilled wishes onto you, hoping that you can fulfill them on their behalf. In this way, in terms of academics or your future career, you bear two burdens at the same time. In one sense, you have to live up to their expectations and repay them for everything they have done for you, striving to eventually stand out among your peers so they can enjoy a good life. In another sense, you have to fulfill the dreams that they couldn’t accomplish in their youth and help them realize their wishes. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? (Yes.) Either one of these burdens is already more than enough for you to bear; either one would weigh on you and have you gasping for air. Especially in today’s era of extremely fierce competition, the variety of demands parents place on their children are simply unbearable and inhuman; they’re downright unreasonable. What do unbelievers call this? Emotional blackmail. No matter what unbelievers call it, they cannot solve this problem, and they cannot clearly explain the essence of this problem. They call it emotional blackmail, but what do we call it? (Shackles and burdens.) We call it burdens. When it comes to burdens, is it something a person should carry? (No.) It is something additional, something extra that you take up. It is not a part of you. It is not something that your body, heart, and soul have or need, but something added on. It comes from the outside, not from within yourself.

Your parents have all kinds of expectations for your studies and career choices. Meanwhile they’ve made various sacrifices, and invested a great deal of time and energy, so as to let you fulfill their expectations. For one thing, this is to help you fulfill their wishes; for another, it’s also to satisfy their own expectations. Regardless of whether your parents’ expectations are reasonable or not, in short, these behaviors from parents, along with their views, attitudes, and methods, serve as invisible shackles for every individual. No matter if their pretext is that it’s out of love for you, your future prospects, or for you to be able to live a nice life in the future, no matter what their pretexts are, in short, the objective of these demands, the methods of these demands, and the starting point in their thinking are a kind of burden for any individual. They are not a need of humanity. Since they are not a need of humanity, the consequences these burdens bring can only be to distort, pervert, and fragment one’s humanity; they persecute, harm, and suppress one’s humanity. These consequences are not benign, but malignant, and even affect a person’s life. In their roles as parents, they require you to do various things that go against the needs of humanity, or some things that go against or transcend the instincts of humanity. For example, they may only allow their children to sleep for five or six hours a night as they are growing up. The children are not allowed to rest before 11 p.m., and they must get up at 5 a.m. They can’t do any recreational activities, nor can they rest on Sundays. They must complete a certain amount of homework and do a certain amount of extracurricular reading, and some parents even insist that their children must learn a foreign language. In short, in addition to the courses taught in school, you must also study a number of additional skills and knowledge. If you don’t study, you are not a good, obedient, hardworking, or sensible child; instead you are a worthless thing, a good-for-nothing, and a fool. Under the premise of hoping the best for their children, parents deprive you of the freedom to sleep, the freedom of your childhood, and also the happy moments of your childhood, while at the same time depriving you of all kinds of rights that you should have as a minor. At the very least, when your body needs rest—for example, you need seven to eight hours of sleep for your body to recover—they only let you rest for five to six hours, or sometimes you do sleep seven to eight hours, but there’s one thing you cannot stand, which is your parents will incessantly nag you, or they’ll tell you things like, “From now on, you don’t have to go to school. Just stay home and sleep! Since you love sleeping, you can sleep your entire life away at home. Since you don’t want to go to school, you’ll be begging for food in the future!” Just this one time you didn’t get up early and you’re treated like this; isn’t this inhumane treatment? (Yes.) So, in order to avoid such an awkward situation, you can only compromise and restrain yourself; you make sure to wake up at 5 a.m., and you only go to bed after 11 p.m. Do you willingly restrain yourself like this? Are you content to do it? No. You have no other choice. If you don’t do what your parents ask, they might give you dirty looks or scold you. They won’t beat you, they’ll just tell you, “We threw your schoolbag in the trash. You don’t have to go to school anymore. Just stay like this. When you turn 18, you can go be a trash picker!” With this deluge of criticism, they neither beat you nor scold you, but just provoke you like this, and you can’t stand it. What can’t you stand? You can’t stand it when your parents say, “If you sleep an extra hour or two you will have to beg for food as a bum in the future.” Deep down, you feel particularly uneasy and sad about sleeping those extra two hours. You feel that you owe your parents for those two extra hours of sleep, that you’ve let them down after all the hard work they invested in you over so many years, as well as their earnest concerns for you. You hate yourself, thinking, “Why am I so worthless? What can I do with those two extra hours of sleep? Will it improve my grades or help me get into a prestigious university? How can I be so unmindful? When the alarm rings, I should just get up. Why did I snooze for a while longer?” You think it over: “I really am tired. I truly need to rest!” Then you ponder some more: “I can’t think like this. Isn’t thinking like this defying my parents? If I think like this, won’t I really become a beggar in the future? To think this way is to let down my parents. I should listen to them and not be so willful.” Under the various punishments and rules set by your parents, as well as their various demands—both reasonable and unreasonable—you become more and more compliant, but at the same time, everything your parents do for you unknowingly becomes shackles and a burden for you. Try as you might, you can’t shake it off or hide from it; you can only carry this burden wherever you go. What burden is that? “Everything my parents do is for the sake of my future. I’m young and ignorant, so I must listen to my parents. Everything they do is right and good. They have suffered too much and invested too much for me. I should work hard for their sake, study hard, find a good job in the future and earn money to support them, give them a good life, and repay them. That’s what I should do and what I should think.” However, when you think about the ways your parents treated you, when you remember the difficult years you experienced, the happy childhood you lost, and especially the emotional blackmail by your parents, deep down you still feel that everything they did was not for the needs of your humanity, nor for the needs of your soul. It was a burden. Although you think this way, you never dared to hate, never dared to properly and squarely face it, and never dared to rationally examine everything your parents did or their attitude toward you in the way God told you. You never dared to treat your parents in the most proper way; isn’t that so? (Yes.) Until now, in the matters of studying and choosing a career, have you discerned the effort and price your parents have paid for you, and what they ask you to do and what they claim you should pursue? (I didn’t discern these things before and thought that what my parents did was out of love for me and for my future betterment. Now with God’s fellowship I have a little discernment, so I don’t see it that way.) So, what’s behind this love? (It is shackles, bondage, and a burden.) In fact, it is the deprivation of human freedom and the deprivation of childhood happiness; it is inhumane suppression. If it were called abuse, you might not be able to accept this term from the standpoint of your conscience. So it can only be described as the deprivation of human freedom and childhood happiness, as well as a form of suppression of minors. If we were to say it’s bullying, that wouldn’t be quite apt. It’s just that you are young and ignorant, and they have the final say in everything. They have complete control over your world and you unwittingly become their puppet. They tell you what to do so you do it. If they want you to study dance, you need to study it. If you say, “I don’t like studying dance; I don’t enjoy it, I can’t keep up with the rhythm, and I have bad balance,” they will say, “Too bad. You have to study it because I like it. You have to do it for me!” You have to study even if you’re in tears. Sometimes your mother will even say, “Study dance for Mommy, listen to what your mother says. You’re young now and don’t understand, but when you grow up, you will get it. I’m doing this for your own good; you see, I didn’t have the resources when I was young, nobody paid for dance lessons for me. Mommy did not have a happy childhood. But you have it so good now. Your father and I earn and save money so you can study dance. You are like a little princess, a little prince. You are so fortunate! Mommy and Daddy are doing this because we love you.” How do you respond when you hear this? You’re speechless, right? (Yes.) Parents often believe that children don’t understand anything, and that whatever adults say is true; they think children cannot discern right from wrong or scrutinize what is correct for themselves. So, before their children have come of age, parents often say things that even they themselves don’t have much confidence in to mislead their children and numb their young hearts, forcing their children, willingly or unwillingly, to comply with their arrangements without any choice. Many more parents, when it comes to education, instilling ideas, and some things they demand their children do, often justify themselves, saying whatever they want. Moreover, basically 99.9 percent of parents do not use correct and positive methods to guide their children on how to do and understand everything. Instead, they forcefully instill their own one-sided preferences and things they think are good in their children and force them to accept it. Of course, 99.9 percent of the things that children accept not only do not align with the truth, but they are also not the thoughts and views that people ought to have. At the same time, they also do not align with the humanity needs for children at this age. For example, some five- or six-year-old children play with dolls, skip rope, or watch cartoons. Isn’t this normal? What are the parents’ only responsibilities in this situation? To supervise, regulate, provide positive guidance, help their children to not accept negative things during this period, and let them accept positive things that should be accepted by this age group. For instance, at this age, they should learn to get along with other children, love their family, and love their mother and father. Parents should educate them better, letting them understand that man comes from God, that they should be good children, and learn to listen to God’s words, and to pray when they are troubled or reluctant to obey, and other such positive aspects of education—the rest is about satisfying their childish interests. For example, children should not be blamed for wanting to watch cartoons and play with dolls. Some parents see their five- or six-year-old child watching cartoons and playing with dolls and reprimand them: “You’re useless! You don’t focus on studying or doing proper work at this age. What’s the use of watching cartoons? It’s all just mice and cats, can’t you do something better? Those cartoons are all about animals, can’t you watch something with people in it? When will you grow up? Throw that doll away! You’re too old to be playing with dolls. You’re so useless!” Do you think children can understand what adults mean when they hear this? What would a child this age be doing if not playing with dolls or mud? Should they be building the atomic bomb? Writing software? Are they capable of that? At this age they should be playing with such things as blocks, toy cars, and dolls; that’s normal. When they are tired from playing, they should rest and be healthy and happy. When they act willfully or become impervious to reason, or when they deliberately cause trouble, adults should educate them: “You’re being thoughtless. This is not how a good child should act. God doesn’t like it, and Mommy and Daddy don’t like it either.” It is the responsibility of parents to counsel their children, not to use their own adult methods and insights, along with an adult’s desires and ambitions, to instill or impose something upon them. Regardless of the children’s age, the responsibilities parents should fulfill toward their children are simply to provide positive guidance, education, supervision, and then counseling. When parents see their children exhibiting some extreme thoughts, practices, and behaviors, they should give positive advisement and guidance to correct them, letting them know what is good and what is bad, what is positive and what is negative. This is the responsibility that parents should fulfill. In this way, under the proper methods of education and guidance of their parents, children will unconsciously learn many things they didn’t know before. Thus, when people accept many positive things and learn a bit about right and wrong from a young age, their soul and humanity will be normal and free—their soul will not be subjected to any damage or suppression. Regardless of their physical health, at least the mind is healthy and not distorted, because they grew up in a benign educational environment, not suppressed within a malignant one. As their children grow, the responsibilities and obligations that parents should fulfill are to not put pressure on their children, bind them, or interfere with their choices, adding one burden after another. Instead, as their children are growing, regardless of their children’s personality and caliber, the responsibility of the parents is to guide them in a positive and benign direction. When peculiar and improper language, behavior, or thoughts emerge from their children, parents should provide timely spiritual advisement and behavioral guidance and rectification. As for whether their children are willing to study, how well they study, how much interest they have in learning knowledge and skills, and what they can do when they grow up, these should be tailored to their natural endowments and preferences, and the orientation of their interests, thus allowing them to grow up healthily, freely and robustly during the process of their upbringing—this is the responsibility that parents should fulfill. Moreover, this is the attitude parents should have toward their children’s growth, studies, and career, rather than forcing their own wishes, aspirations, preferences, and even desires on their children for them to realize. In this way, for one thing, parents don’t have to make additional sacrifices; and for another, children can grow freely and acquire what they ought to learn from the correct and proper education of their parents. The most crucial point is for parents to treat their children correctly according to their talents, interests, and humanity; if they treat their children according to the principle that “people’s fates are in God’s hands,” then the ultimate result will undoubtedly be good. Treating children according to the principle that “people’s fates are in God’s hands” is not about preventing you from managing your children; you should discipline them when they need to be disciplined, and be strict as necessary. Whether strict or lenient, the principle of treating children is, as we just said, allowing them to follow their natural course, giving some positive guidance and help, and then, according to the children’s actual circumstances, giving some assistance and support in terms of skills, knowledge or resources to the best of your ability. This is the responsibility that parents should fulfill, rather than forcing their children to do what they are unwilling to do, or to do anything that goes against humanity. In short, expectations for children should not be based on current social competition and needs, societal trends or claims, or various ideas about how people treat their children in society. They should above all else be based on God’s words and the principle that “everything is in God’s hands.” This is what people should do the most. As for what kind of people one’s children will become in the future, what kind of job they will choose, and what their material life will be like, in whose hands are these things? (God’s hands.) They are in God’s hands, not in the hands of parents, nor anyone else. If parents cannot control their own fate, can they control the fate of their children? If people cannot control their own fate, can their parents control it? So, as parents, people should not do foolish things when it comes to dealing with their children’s studies and careers. They should treat their children in a sensible way, not turning their own expectations into burdens for their children; not turning their own sacrifices, costs, and hardships into burdens for their children; and not turning the family into a purgatory for their children. This is a fact that parents should understand. Some of you may ask, “What kind of relationship should children have with their parents, then? Should they treat them as friends, colleagues, or maintain an elder-junior relationship?” You can handle it as you see fit. Let the children choose what they like and do what you think is best. These are all trivial matters.

How should children handle their parents’ expectations? If you encountered parents who emotionally blackmail their children, if you encountered such unreasonable and demonic parents, what would you do? (I would stop listening to their teachings; I would view things according to the word of God.) In one respect, you must perceive that their education methods, in terms of principles, are wrong, and the way they treat you is harmful to your humanity and also deprives you of your human rights. In another, you yourself should believe that people’s fates are in God’s hands. What you like to study, what you excel at, or what your human caliber is capable of achieving—these are all predestined by God, and no one can change them. Although your parents gave birth to you, they cannot change any of these things either. Therefore, no matter what your parents demand you to do, if it’s something you are unable to do, cannot achieve, or do not want to do, you can refuse. You can also reason with them and then make up for it in other aspects, assuaging their worries about you. You say: “Relax; people’s fates are in God’s hands. I will absolutely not walk the wrong path; I will definitely walk the right path. With God’s guidance, I will surely be a genuine person, a good person. I will not disappoint your expectations for me, nor will I forget your kindness in raising me.” How would parents react after hearing these words? If the parents are unbelievers or belong to devils, they will become furious. Because when you say, “I will not forget your kindness in raising me and I will not disappoint you,” they are just empty words. Have you accomplished this? Did you do what they asked? Are you able to stand out among your peers? Can you become a high-ranking official or make a fortune so that they can live a good life? Can you help them gain tangible benefits? (No.) It’s unknown; these are all uncertainties. Regardless of whether they are angry, happy, or silently endure, what attitude should you have? People come into this world to fulfill the mission that God has entrusted to them. People should not live in order to satisfy their parents’ expectations, to make them happy, to bring glory to them, or to let them have a prestigious life in front of others. This is not your responsibility. They raised you; no matter what it cost, they did so willingly. It was their responsibility and their obligation to raise you. As for how many expectations they placed on you, how much they suffered due to these expectations, how much money they spent, how many people rejected and looked down on them, and how much they sacrificed, it was all voluntary. You didn’t ask for it; you didn’t make them do it, and neither did God. They had their own motives for doing this. From their point of view, they only did it for themselves. On the outside, it was for you to have a good life and good prospects, but in fact it was to bring glory to them and not to disgrace them. Therefore, you are not obligated to repay them, nor are you obligated to fulfill their wishes and expectations of you. Why do you not have this obligation? Because this is not what God has you do; it is not an obligation He has given you. Your responsibility to them is to do what children should do when they need you, doing your best to fulfill your responsibilities as a child. Even though they are the ones who gave birth to you and raised you, your responsibilities toward them are only to do laundry, cook, and clean when they need you to wait on them, and to accompany them at their bedside when they are sick. That’s all. You are not obligated to act upon whatever they say, and you are not obligated to be their slave. Furthermore, you are not obligated to undertake their unfulfilled wishes, right? (Right.)

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