How to Pursue the Truth (16) Part Three

There is another aspect of parents’ expectations for their children, which is to inherit the family business or ancestral trade. For example, some families are families of painters; the rule passed down from their ancestors is that each generation must have someone who inherits this family enterprise and continues the family tradition. Let’s say, in your generation, this role falls to you, but you don’t like painting and have no interest in it; you prefer studying simpler subjects. In such a situation, you have the right to refuse. You are not obligated to inherit your family’s traditions, and you have no obligation to inherit the family business or ancestral trade, such as martial arts, a particular craft or skill, and so on. You are not obligated to carry on what they ask you to inherit. In some other families, every generation sings opera. In your generation, your parents make you learn to sing opera from a young age. You did learn it, but deep down in your heart you don’t like it. Thus, if you were asked to choose a career, you would absolutely not engage in any career related to opera. You dislike this profession from the bottom of your heart; in such a case, you have the right to refuse. Because your fate is not in the hands of your parents—your choice of a career, the orientation of your interests, what you want to do, and what kind of path you want to take, are all in God’s hands. All of this is orchestrated by God, not by any member of your family and certainly not by your parents. The role that parents play in any child’s life is only to provide guardianship, care, and companionship as the child ages. In better cases, parents are able to provide positive guidance, education, and direction to their children. This is the only role they can fulfill. Once you grow up and become independent, the role of your parents is only to be an emotional pillar and emotional reliance. The day you become independent in thought and in lifestyle is the day your parents’ responsibilities and obligations toward you are fulfilled; your relationship with them has thus moved on from that of educator and student, guardian and ward. Isn’t this how it actually is? (Yes.) Some people’s parents, relatives and friends do not believe in God; only they themselves believe in God. What’s going on here? This has to do with God’s ordaining. God has chosen you, not them; God makes use of their hands to raise you into adulthood and then brings you into God’s family. As a child, the attitude you should hold toward the expectations of your parents is to discern between right and wrong. If the way they treat you is not in line with God’s words or the fact that “people’s fates are in God’s hands,” you can refuse their expectations and reason with your parents to make them understand. If you are still a minor and they forcefully suppress you, making you do what they demand, you can only silently pray to God and let Him open a way out for you. But if you are an adult, you can absolutely say to them: “No, I don’t have to live according to the way you have set for me. I don’t have to choose my path in life, my way of existence, and my goal of pursuit according to the way you have set for me. Your obligation to raise me has already been fulfilled. If we can get along with each other and have common pursuits and goals, then our relationship can stay as it was; but if we no longer share the same aspirations and goals, then we can just say goodbye to each other for now.” How does that sound? Would you dare say this? Of course, there’s no need to formally break off relations with your parents like this, but at the very least, in the depths of your heart, you should clearly see this point: Although your parents are the people closest to you, it is not they who truly gave you life, enabled you to walk the right path of life, and made you understand all the principles of conducting yourself. It is God. Your parents cannot provide you with the truth or give you any correct advice involving the truth. So, as for your relationship with your parents, no matter how much they have invested in you, or how much money and effort they have spent on you, you don’t need to burden yourself with any feelings of guilt. Why? (Because this is the responsibility and obligation that parents have. If parents do all of this so that their children can stand out among their peers and for the sake of fulfilling the parents’ own wishes, these are their own intentions and motives; it is not what God ordained them to do. Therefore, there is no need to feel any guilt.) This is just one aspect. The other aspect is that you are currently walking the right path, you are pursuing the truth, and you are coming before the Creator to perform the duties of a created being; therefore, you should not have any feelings of guilt toward them. The responsibility toward you that they supposedly fulfilled was simply part of God’s arrangements. If you were happy during the time they raised you, that was your good fortune. If you were unhappy, of course that was also God’s arrangement. You should be thankful that today God has allowed you to leave and for letting you clearly see your parents’ essence and what kind of people they are. You should have an accurate understanding of all this from deep within your heart, as well as an accurate solution and way to handle it. In this way, don’t you feel more calm deep down? (Yes.) If you are more tranquil, then that is wonderful. In any case, in these matters, regardless of what demands your parents had for you before or what demands they have now, since you understand the truth and God’s will, and since you understand what it is that God demands people should do—as well as what consequences your parents’ expectations bring you—you should no longer feel burdened about this matter in any way. There is no need to feel you have disappointed your parents, or feel that because you chose to believe in God and perform your duties, you have failed to provide a better life for your parents and failed to accompany them and fulfill your filial responsibility to them, which left them feeling emotionally empty. There is no need for you to feel guilty about it. These are the burdens that parents bring to their children, and these are all things you should let go. If you truly believe that everything is in God’s hands, then you should believe that the issue of how much hardship they suffer and how much happiness they enjoy throughout their lives is also in God’s hands. Whether or not you are filial will not change anything—your parents will not suffer less because you are filial, and they will not suffer more because you are not filial. God preordained their fate long ago, and none of this will change because of your attitude toward them or the depth of feeling between you. They have their own fate. Regardless of whether they are poor or rich their entire lives, whether or not things go smoothly for them, or what kind of quality of life, material benefits, social status, and living conditions they enjoy, none of this has much to do with you. If you feel guilty toward them, if you feel you owe them something, and that you should be by their side, what would change even if you were by their side? (Nothing would change.) Your conscience might be clear and free of guilt. But if you are by their side every day, seeing them not believing in God, pursuing worldly things, and engaging in trivial conversations and gossip, how would you feel? Would you be comfortable in your heart? (No.) Can you change them? Can you save them? (No.) If they fall ill, and you have the means to care for them at their bedside and ease their suffering a bit, providing them some comfort as their child, then once they recover, they will feel physically comforted as well. But if you mention one thing about believing in God, they can come back at you with eight or ten counterarguments, uttering fallacies repugnant enough to sicken you for two lifetimes. Outwardly, your conscience may be at peace, and you may feel that they didn’t raise you in vain, that you’re not an uncaring ingrate, and that you haven’t given your neighbors anything to laugh at. But just because your conscience is at peace, does that mean you truly accept their various ideas, views, outlooks on life, and ways of living from deep within your heart? Are you truly compatible with them? (No.) Two types of people who walk different paths and hold different views, regardless of any physical or emotional relationship or connection they have, cannot change either side’s point of view. It’s fine if the two sides don’t discuss things together, but as soon as they discuss things they start arguing, conflicts arise, and they will hate each other and become sick of each other. Though on the outside they are related by blood, on the inside they are enemies, two types of people as incompatible as water and fire. In that case, if you are still by their side, what on earth are you doing this for? Are you just looking for something to get upset about, or is it some other reason? You will feel regret each time you meet them, and this is called self-inflicted misery. Some people think: “It’s been so many years since I saw my parents. In the past, they did some detestable things, blaspheming God, and opposing my belief in God. They’re so much older now; they must have changed by now. So I shouldn’t fuss over the bad things they did; they’re all mostly forgotten anyway. Moreover, both emotionally and out of conscience, I miss them, and I wonder how they’re doing. So I think I’ll go back to check on them.” But within a day of returning home, the disgust you felt toward them in the past comes back, and you regret it: “Is this called family? Are these my parents? Aren’t they enemies? They were like that before, and they’ve still got the same character now; they haven’t changed a bit!” How could they have changed? What they originally were is what they always will be. You thought they would have changed as they got older and you could have gotten along? There’s no getting along with them. As soon as you enter the house upon returning, they’ll look at what you’re carrying in your hands to see if it’s something expensive like abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, or fish maw, or perhaps a designer bag and clothes, or gold and silver jewelry. As soon as they see you carrying two plastic bags, one with steamed buns and the other with a couple of bananas, they’ll see that you’re still poor and start nagging: “So-and-so’s daughter went abroad and married a foreigner. The bracelets she buys them are pure gold and they show them off whenever they have the chance. So-and-so’s son bought a car and takes his parents traveling and on trips overseas whenever he’s free. They’re all basking in the glory of their children! So-and-so’s daughter never comes home empty-handed. She buys foot baths and massage chairs for her parents, and the clothes she buys are either silk or wool. They’ve got such filial children; all their caring wasn’t for nothing! All we’ve raised are uncaring ingrates in this family!” Isn’t this a slap in the face? (Yes.) Your steamed buns and bananas don’t even register with them, and you still think about fulfilling your responsibilities as a child and filial piety. Your parents love steamed buns and bananas and you haven’t seen them in many years, so you buy these things to move them and make up for your guilty conscience. But upon returning, not only do you not get to make up for this guilt, but you also suffer criticism; overcome with dejection, you run out of the house. Was there any point in you going home to visit your parents? (No.) You haven’t returned home in so long, but they don’t miss you; they don’t say: “It’s enough just for you to come back. You don’t need to buy anything. It’s good to see that you’re on the right path, living a healthy life, and safe in all respects. Being able to see each other and have a heartfelt conversation is satisfying enough.” They don’t care whether or not you’ve been doing well these years, or whether you’ve faced any difficulties or troubling matters for which you need your parents’ help. They don’t offer a single comforting word. But if they really did say such things, wouldn’t you then be unable to leave? After they scold you, you straighten up and feel completely justified, without any guilt, thinking to yourself: “I’ve got to get out of here, this is truly a purgatory! They’ll skin me, eat my flesh, and still want to drink my blood.” The parental relationship is the most difficult relationship for someone to handle emotionally, but in fact, it’s not entirely unmanageable. Only on the basis of understanding the truth can people treat this matter correctly and rationally. Do not start from the perspective of feelings, and do not start from the insights or the perspectives of worldly people. Instead, treat your parents in the proper manner according to God’s words. What role do parents actually play, what do children actually mean to their parents, what attitude should children have toward their parents, and how should people handle and resolve the relationship between parents and children? People should not view these things based on feelings, nor should they be influenced by any wrong ideas or prevailing sentiments; they should be approached correctly based on God’s words. If you fail to fulfill any of your responsibilities to your parents in the environment ordained by God, or if you do not play any role in their lives whatsoever, is that being unfilial? Will your conscience accuse you? Your neighbors, classmates, and relatives will all berate you and criticize you behind your back. They will call you an unfilial child, saying: “Your parents sacrificed so much for you, invested so much painstaking effort in you, and did so much for you ever since you were little, and you, being the ungrateful child you are, just disappear without a trace, not even sending word back that you’re safe. Not only do you not come back for New Year, you don’t even give a phone call or send a greeting to your parents.” Every time you hear such words, your conscience bleeds and weeps, and you feel condemned. “Oh, they’re right.” Your face flushes with heat, and your heart trembles as if being pricked by needles. Have you had these types of feelings? (Yes, before.) Are the neighbors and your relatives right in saying that you are unfilial? (No. I’m not unfilial.) Explain your reasoning. (Although I haven’t been by my parents’ side during these years, or been able to satisfy their wishes like worldly people do, our walking this path of believing in God was preordained by God. It is the right path in life, and it is a just thing. That’s why I say I wasn’t being unfilial.) Your reasoning is still based on the doctrines that people understood in the past; you lack an actual explanation and actual understanding. Who else wants to share their thoughts? (I remember when I first went abroad, every time I thought about how my family didn’t know what I was doing overseas, how they probably criticized me and said I wasn’t filial, that I was an unfilial daughter for not being there to take care of my parents—I felt bound and constricted by these thoughts. Each time I considered this, I felt that I owed my parents. But through God’s fellowship today, I feel that my parents caring for me before was them fulfilling their parental responsibilities, that their kindness toward me was preordained by God, and that I should be thankful to God and repay His love. Now that I believe in God and walk the right path in life, which is a just thing, I should not feel indebted to my parents. Besides, whether or not my parents can enjoy the care of their children being by their side is also preordained by God. After understanding these things, I can somewhat let go of the sense of debt I felt in my heart.) Very good. First of all, most people choose to leave home to perform their duties in part because of the overarching objective circumstances, which necessitate them leaving their parents; they cannot stay by their parents’ side to take care of them and accompany them. It’s not that they willingly choose to leave their parents; this is the objective reason. For another thing, subjectively speaking, you go out to perform your duties not because you wanted to leave your parents and escape your responsibilities, but because of God’s calling. In order to cooperate with God’s work, accept His calling, and perform the duties of a created being, you had no choice but to leave your parents; you could not stay by their side to accompany them and take care of them. You didn’t leave them to avoid responsibilities, right? Leaving them to avoid your responsibilities and having to leave them to answer God’s calling and perform your duties—aren’t these of two different natures? (Yes.) In your heart, you do have emotional attachments and thoughts for your parents; your feelings are not empty. If objective circumstances allow, and you are able to stay by their side while also performing your duties, then you would be willing to stay by their side, regularly taking care of them and fulfilling your responsibilities. But because of objective circumstances, you must leave them; you cannot remain at their side. It’s not that you don’t want to fulfill your responsibilities as their child, but that you can’t. Isn’t this different in nature? (Yes.) If you left home to avoid being filial and fulfilling your responsibilities, that is unfilial and lacks humanity. Your parents raised you, but you can’t wait to spread your wings and quickly go off on your own. You don’t want to see your parents, and you don’t pay any regard when you hear about some difficulty they’ve encountered. Even if you have the means to help, you don’t; you just pretend not to hear and let others say whatever they want about you—you simply don’t want to fulfill your responsibilities. This is being unfilial. But is this the case now? (No.) Many people have left their counties, cities, provinces, or even their countries to perform their duties; they are already far away from their hometowns. Furthermore, it’s not convenient for them to stay in touch with their families for various reasons. Occasionally, they inquire about their parents’ current situation from people who came from the same hometown and feel relieved when they hear that their parents are still healthy and getting by okay. In fact, you are not unfilial; you haven’t reached the point of lacking humanity, where you don’t even want to care about your parents or fulfill your responsibilities toward them. It’s because of various objective reasons that you have to make this choice, so you’re not unfilial. These are the two reasons. And there’s one more, too: If your parents are not the type of people who particularly persecute you or obstruct your belief in God, if they support your belief in God, or if they are brothers and sisters who believe in God like you, members of God’s house themselves, then which of you doesn’t silently pray to God when thinking about your parents deep down? Which of you doesn’t entrust your parents—along with their health, safety, and all their life’s needs—to God’s hands? Entrusting your parents to God’s hands is the best way to show filial respect to them. You don’t hope they face all kinds of difficulties in their lives, and you don’t hope they live a bad life, eat poorly, or suffer poor health. Deep down in your heart, you certainly hope that God will protect them and keep them safe. If they are believers in God, you hope that they can perform their own duties and you also hope they can stand firm in their testimony. This is fulfilling one’s human responsibilities; people can only achieve this much with their own humanity. Moreover, what’s most important is that after years of believing in God and listening to so many truths, at the very least people have this little bit of understanding and comprehension: Man’s fate is determined by Heaven, man lives in the hands of God, and having God’s care and protection is far more important than the concerns, filial piety, or companionship of one’s children. Don’t you feel relieved that your parents are under God’s care and protection? You don’t need to worry about them. If you do worry, that means you do not trust God; your faith in Him is too small. If you are genuinely worried and concerned about your parents, then you should pray to God often, entrust them to God’s hands, and let God orchestrate and arrange everything. God rules over the fate of humankind and He rules over their every day and everything that happens to them, so what are you still worried about? You can’t even control your own life,[a] you yourself have a ton of difficulties; what could you do to let your parents live happily every day? All you can do is entrust everything to God’s hands. If they are believers, ask God to lead them onto the right path so they can ultimately be saved. If they are not believers, let them walk whatever path they want. For parents that are kinder and have some humanity, you can pray to God to bless them so they can spend their remaining years in happiness. As for how God works, He has His arrangements, and people should submit to them. So, overall, people have an awareness in their conscience of the responsibilities they fulfill toward their parents. Regardless of the attitude toward one’s parents this awareness brings, whether it’s concern or choosing to be present by their side, in any case, people should not feel guilty or have a burdened conscience because they could not fulfill their responsibilities toward their parents due to being affected by objective circumstances. These issues, and others like them, should not become troubles in people’s life of belief in God; they should be let go. When it comes to these topics related to fulfilling responsibilities toward one’s parents, people should have these accurate understandings and should no longer feel restrained. For one thing, from the bottom of your heart you know that you are not unfilial, and you are not shirking or avoiding your responsibilities. For another thing, your parents are in God’s hands, so what is there still to worry about? Any worries one might have are superfluous. Each person will smoothly live according to God’s sovereignty and arrangements until the end, reaching the end of their path, without any deviation. So, people don’t need to worry themselves about this matter anymore. Whether you are filial, whether you have fulfilled your responsibilities toward your parents, or whether you should repay your parents’ kindness—these are not things you should think about; they are things you should let go of. Isn’t that right? (Yes.)

Regarding the topic of parents’ expectations for their children, we fellowshipped on the aspects of studies and work. What are the facts people should understand in this regard? If you listen to your parents and study especially hard in accordance with their expectations, does that mean you’re certain to achieve great success? Can doing this really change your fate? (No.) Then what awaits you in the future? It is that which God has arranged for you—the fate you should have, the position you should have among people, the path you should walk, and the living environment you should have. God has already arranged these for you long ago. So, when it comes to your parents’ expectations, you should not carry any burdens. If you do as your parents ask, your fate stays the same; if you don’t follow your parents’ expectations and you disappoint them, your fate still remains the same. However the path ahead of you is meant to be, that’s how it will be; it has already been ordained by God. Similarly, if you meet your parents’ expectations, satisfy your parents, and don’t let them down, does that mean they get to live a better life? Can it change their fate of suffering and mistreatment? (No.) Some people think that their parents have given them too much kindness in raising them, and that their parents suffered so much during that time. So they want to find a good job, then endure hardship, undergo toil, be diligent, and work hard to earn a lot of money and make a fortune. Their aim is to provide their parents with a privileged life in the future, living in a villa, driving a nice car, and eating and drinking well. But after years of hustling, although their living conditions and circumstances have improved, their parents pass away without enjoying a single day of that prosperity. Who is to blame for this? If you let things take their own course, let God orchestrate, and don’t carry this burden, then you won’t feel guilty when your parents pass away. But if you work yourself to the bone to earn money to repay your parents and help them live a better life, but then they die, how would you feel? If you delayed performing your duty and you delayed obtaining the truth, will you still be able to live comfortably for the rest of your lifetime? (No.) Your life will be affected, and you will always carry the burden of “having failed your parents” for the rest of your life. Some people make great efforts to work, strive, and earn money in order to not disappoint their parents and repay their parents for the kindness of raising them. Afterward, when they become wealthy and have the means to afford good food, they invite their parents to a meal and order a table full of nice dishes, saying: “Help yourselves. I remember when I was little these were your favorite; dig in!” However, as their parents have gotten older, they’ve lost most of their teeth and now have little appetite, so they choose soft and easily digestible foods like vegetables and noodles and become full after taking only a few bites. You feel sad when you see such a large table full of uneaten food. But your parents feel quite good. At such an advanced age, this is how much they should eat; it’s normal, they do not ask for much. You feel unhappy inside, but unhappy about what? It was superfluous for you to do these things. It has long been determined how much happiness and hardship your parents would experience in their lifetime. It cannot be changed because of your wish and it cannot be changed to satisfy your feelings. God has long since ordained it, so anything people do is superfluous. What do these facts tell people? What parents ought to do is raise you and let you grow up healthily and smoothly, embark on the right path, and fulfill the responsibilities and obligations you should fulfill as a created being. All of this is not for the purpose of changing your fate, and indeed it cannot change your fate; they merely serve as a supplementary and guiding role, raising you to adulthood and steering you onto the right path of life. What you should not be doing is using your own hands to create happiness for your parents, change their fate, or let them enjoy great fortune and good food and drink. These are foolish thoughts. This burden is not one you should carry, it is one you should let go of. You should not make any pointless sacrifices or do any pointless things to repay your parents, change their fate, and enable them to receive more blessings and suffer less, for the sake of satisfying the personal needs of your conscience or feelings, and to avoid disappointing them. This is not your responsibility, and it is not what you should be thinking about. Parents should fulfill their responsibilities to their children according to their own conditions and according to the conditions and environment prepared by God. What children should do for their parents is also based on the conditions they can achieve and according to the environment they are in; that is all. Everything parents or children do should not be for the purpose of changing the fate of the other party through one’s own power or selfish desires, so that the other party can live a better, happier, and more ideal life because of their own efforts. Whether it’s parents or children, everyone should let things take their natural course within the environments arranged by God, rather than trying to change things through their own efforts or any personal aspirations. The fate of your parents will not be changed because you have these kinds of thoughts concerning them—their fate has long since been ordained by God. God ordained for you to live within the scope of their lives, to be born from them, to be raised by them, and to have this relationship with them. So, your responsibility to them is only to accompany them according to your own conditions and to perform some obligations. As for wanting to change your parents’ current situation, or wanting them to have a better life, that’s all superfluous. Or, to make your neighbors and relatives look up to you, to bring honor to your parents, to secure prestige for your parents within the family—this is even more unnecessary. There are also single mothers or fathers who were left by their spouse and raised you to adulthood on their own. You feel even more how it was difficult for them, and you want to use your whole life to pay them back and compensate them, even to the point of doing whatever they say. What they ask of you, what they expect from you, plus what you are willing to do yourself, all become burdens in this life of yours—this should not be the case. In the presence of the Creator, you are a created being. What you should do in this life is not just to fulfill your responsibilities to your parents, but to fulfill your responsibilities and duties as a created being. You can only fulfill your responsibilities to your parents on the basis of God’s words and the truth principles, not by doing anything for them based on your emotional needs or the needs of your conscience. Of course, fulfilling your responsibilities and obligations to them according to God’s words and the truth principles is also part of your duties as a created being; this is the responsibility given to man by God. The fulfillment of this responsibility is based on God’s words, not on human needs. So, you can easily treat your parents according to God’s words, fulfilling your responsibilities and obligations toward them. It’s as simple as that. Is this easy to do? (Yes.) Why is it easy to do? The essence here, as well as the truth principles that people should adhere to, are very clear. The essence is that neither parents nor children can change each other’s fate. Whether you try hard or not, whether you are willing to fulfill your responsibilities or not, none of that can change the other’s fate. Whether you hold them in your heart or not is only a difference of emotional need, and it will not change any facts. So, for people, the simplest thing to do is to let go of the various burdens brought by their parents’ expectations. First of all, you should look at all these things according to God’s words, and second of all, you should treat and handle the relationship with your parents according to God’s words. It’s as simple as that. Isn’t it easy? (Yes.) If you accept the truth, all these things will be easy, and in the process of your experience, you will feel more and more that this is really the case. No one can change a person’s fate; one’s fate is only in the hands of God. No matter how hard you try, it will not work. Of course, some people will say: “The things You’ve said are all facts, but I feel that acting this way is too impersonal. My conscience always feels rebuked, I can’t stand it.” If you can’t stand it, then just satisfy your feelings; accompany your parents and stay close to their side, serve them, be filial, and do what they say whether they are right or wrong—become like their little tail and an attendant, this is all fine. This way, no one will chirp about you behind your back, and even your extended family will talk about how filial you are. However, in the end, the only one who will suffer a loss will be yourself. You have preserved your reputation as a filial child, you have satisfied your emotional needs, your conscience has never been accused, and you’ve repaid your parents’ kindness, but there is one thing you have neglected and lost: You did not treat and handle all these matters according to God’s words, and you have lost the opportunity to perform your duty as a created being. What does this mean? It means that you have been filial to your parents but betrayed God. You demonstrated filial piety and satisfied the emotional needs of your parents’ flesh, but you rebelled against God. You would rather choose to be a filial child than perform your duties as a created being. This is the greatest disrespect to God. God will not say you are someone who submits to Him or possesses humanity just because you are a filial child, you haven’t disappointed your parents, you have a conscience, and you fulfill your responsibilities as a child. If you only satisfy the needs of your conscience and the emotional needs of your flesh, but do not accept God’s words or the truth as the basis and principles for treating or handling this matter, then you show the greatest rebelliousness to God. If you want to be a qualified created being, you must first view and do everything according to God’s words. This is called being qualified, having humanity, and having a conscience. Conversely, if you do not accept God’s words as the principles and basis for treating or handling this matter, and you also do not accept God’s calling for you to go out and perform your duties, or you’d rather delay or forfeit the opportunity to perform your duties in order to stay by your parents’ side, accompany them, bring them happiness, let them enjoy their twilight years, and repay their kindness, then God will say that you are a thing without humanity or conscience. You are not a created being, and He will not recognize you.


a. The original text reads “You can’t even control yourself.”

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