What It Means to Pursue the Truth (12) Part One

What did I fellowship about at the last gathering, can anyone tell us? (Last time God fellowshiped about two aspects. One aspect was that when some particular incidents occur in the church in different periods or different stages—for example, some people are arrested by the great red dragon, some leaders and workers are replaced, some people get sick, and some people face life-and-death issues—these incidents do not happen by chance, and we need to seek the truth about them. God also communicated some paths of practice. When facing these circumstances, we should abide by two things: The first is to assume the proper place of a created being; the second is to have a sincere and obedient heart—whether facing judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, or grace and blessings, we should accept all these things from God. In addition, God’s fellowship dissected a saying about moral conduct in traditional culture, which is that “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force.”) The main topic of the last fellowship was also the problems with sayings on moral conduct. I have fellowshiped on this topic for a long time, exposing some common sayings, requirements and definitions of moral conduct in traditional culture. Having fellowshiped on these topics, do you have any new understanding and new definitions of these sayings about moral conduct? Have you discerned these statements for what they are and seen their essence clearly? Can you let go of these things from deep within your heart, abandon them, stop confusing them with the truth, and stop regarding them as positive things, and pursuing them as truths, and abiding by them? Particularly when encountering some matters in daily life that relate to sayings on moral conduct, is there an awareness inside you, and can you thoughtfully reflect on whether you are still influenced by these sayings on moral conduct? Are you bound, fettered, and controlled by these things? Inwardly can you still use sayings on moral conduct to constrain yourself and influence your speech and deportment, as well as your attitude toward things? Share your thoughts. (Before God fellowshiped on and dissected traditional culture, I wasn’t aware that these ideas and views about moral conduct were wrong, or what kind of harm they would do to me, but now I have some awareness.) It is a good thing that you have some awareness. Of course, after a while, you should be able to recognize the mistakes of these sayings about moral conduct. From a subjective point of view, you should also be able to forsake them and stop regarding them as positive things, but from an objective point of view, you still need to carefully perceive, unearth, and discern such sayings about moral conduct in daily life, in order that you can see straight through them and forsake them. Being aware from a subjective point of view does not mean that you can forsake these mistaken ideas and views of traditional culture in your daily life. When encountering such things, you may suddenly feel that these sayings are reasonable, and be unable to forsake them completely. In such cases, you must seek the truth in your experiences, carefully dissect these mistaken views of traditional culture according to God’s words, and reach the point where you can see clearly that the essence of those sayings from traditional culture is contrary to the truth, unrealistic, deceptive, and harmful to people. Only in this way can the toxin of these fallacious views be purged from your heart once and for all. You have now realized the flaws of the various sayings of traditional culture in terms of doctrine, and this is good, but it is only the start. As for whether the toxic influence of traditional culture can be completely eradicated in future, it depends on how people pursue the truth.

No matter what the saying about moral conduct is, it is a kind of ideological viewpoint on moral conduct that is advocated by humankind. We previously revealed the essence of quite a few of the various sayings about moral conduct, but in addition to the aspects that we fellowshiped on previously, certainly there are still some more sayings about moral conduct that should be revealed, so as to achieve a deeper understanding and discernment of the myriad sayings about moral conduct advocated by human beings. This is something that you should do. Regarding the saying on moral conduct “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” that we fellowshiped on last time, judging by the meaning of this sentence, it is mainly aimed at men. It is a requirement for men, and it is also a standard for what humankind calls “manly, virile men.” We exposed and dissected this standard concerning men. In addition to this requirement toward men, there is also the saying “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral,” which we fellowshiped on previously, and which was put forward with regard to women. From both of these sayings it can be clearly seen that the traditional culture of humankind not only puts forward unrealistic, inhumane requirements for women that do not tally with human nature, but also does not spare men, by advancing claims and demands with regard to them that are immoral, inhumane, and which run contrary to human nature, thereby depriving not only women of their human rights, but men too. From this point of view, it seems fair to be impartial, by neither going easy on women, nor sparing men. However, judging from the requirements and standards of traditional culture toward women and men, it is clear that there are serious problems in this approach. Although on the one hand, traditional culture puts forward standards of moral conduct for women and, on the other hand, also sets criteria of conduct for manly, virile men, judging by these requirements and standards there is clearly a lack of fairness. Can that not be said? (Yes.) These requirements and standards for women’s moral conduct severely restrict women’s freedom, shackling not only women’s thoughts, but also their feet, by requiring them to stay at home and live a secluded life, never leaving the house and having minimal contact with the outside world. Besides admonishing women to be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, they even impose strict regulations on women’s scope of action and ambit of life, by requiring them not to appear in public, not to travel far, and not to undertake any career, let alone to have any big ambitions, desires and ideals, and even going so far as to put forward a more inhumane claim—that virtue in a woman is to be unskilled. How do you feel on hearing this? Is this claim that “Virtue in a woman is to be unskilled” actually true? How can virtue in a woman be to have no skills? What exactly is this word “virtue”? Does it mean lacking in virtue, or being virtuous? If all women without skills are regarded as being virtuous, then do all women with skills lack virtue and have no morals? Is this a judgment and condemnation of skilled women? Is this a serious deprivation of women’s human rights? Is it an insult to women’s dignity? (Yes.) Not only does it ignore the existence of women, but it also disregards their existence, which is unfair to women and immoral. So, what do you think of this saying “Virtue in a woman is to be unskilled”? Is it inhumane? (Yes.) How should the word “inhumane” be interpreted? Is it lacking virtue? (Yes.) This is seriously lacking virtue. To use a Chinese saying, it is lacking eight lifetimes of virtue. This kind of claim is decidedly inhumane! People who trumpet the claim that “Virtue in a woman is to be unskilled” harbor ulterior motives and purposes: They do not want women to be skilled, and they do not want women to participate in the work of society and stand on an equal footing with men. They only want women to be tools in the service of men, meekly waiting on men at home and doing nothing else—they think this is what “virtuous” means. They long to define women as useless, and deny their value, turning them into nothing more than slaves to men, and making them serve men forever, without ever allowing them to stand on an equal footing with men and enjoy equal treatment. Does this viewpoint come from normal human thinking, or from Satan? (Satan.) That’s right, it must come from Satan. No matter what instinctive or physical weaknesses women have, none of this is a problem and it should not become an excuse or reason for men to slander women, insult women’s dignity, and deprive women of their freedom or human rights. In God’s eyes, these weaknesses and innate vulnerabilities that people associate with women are not a problem. And why is that? Because women were created by God, these things that people think of as weaknesses and problems come precisely from God. They were created and preordained by Him, and are not actually flaws or problems. These things that seem to be weaknesses and flaws in the eyes of humans and Satan are essentially natural and positive things, and they also conform to the natural laws formulated by God when He created humankind. Only Satan can denigrate the living things created by God in this way, by regarding things that do not conform to human notions as flaws, weaknesses, and problems to do with instinctive inadequacies, and making a fuss over them, and using them to slander, mock, denigrate, and ostracize people, and to deprive women of their right to exist, their right to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations among humankind, and also to deprive them of their right to display their skills and special talents among humankind. For example, terms such as “shrinking violet” or “girly” are often used in society to describe women and to devalue them as worthless. What other such words are there? “Sissy,” “long-haired but short-sighted,” “big-breasted bimbo” and so on, are all terms that insult women. As you can tell, these terms are used to insult women by referring to their distinctive traits or appellations associated with the female sex. Clearly, society and the human race view women from a completely different perspective to that of men, a perspective that is also unequal. Is this not unfair? This is not speaking or viewing matters from a foundation of equality between men and women, but rather, it is looking upon women with contempt from a perspective of male supremacy, and of complete inequality between men and women. Therefore, in society or among human beings, many terms have emerged that refer to distinctive female traits and appellations for women in order to describe various problems to do with people, events, and things. For example, the expressions “shrinking violet,” “girly,” “sissy” and also “long-haired but short-sighted,” “big-breasted bimbo” that we mentioned just now are used by people not only to describe women and target women, but also to mock, demean, and expose people, events, and things that they despise, using terms associated with female traits and the female gender. It’s just like when describing someone as devoid of humanity, one might say that this person has a wolf’s heart and a dog’s lungs, because people think that neither a wolf’s heart nor a dog’s lungs are nice things, so they put both these things together to describe just how vile someone who has lost their humanity is. Similarly, because human beings despise women and disregard their existence, they use some terms associated with women in order to describe people, events, and things that they despise. This is clearly a denigration of the female sex. Is this not so? (Yes.) In any case, the way in which the human race and society regard and define women is unfair and contrary to the facts. In short, the attitude of humankind toward women can be described in two words, namely “denigrating” and “repressive.” Women are not allowed to stand up and do things, nor to fulfill any social obligations and responsibilities, let alone to play any role in society. In summary, women are not allowed to go out of the home to participate in any work in society—this is depriving women of their rights. Women are not allowed to imagine freely, nor to speak freely, let alone to act freely, and they are not allowed to do any of the things they should be doing. Is this not persecution of women? (Yes.) The persecution of women by traditional culture is evident from the requirements for moral conduct that are placed on them. Looking at the various requirements placed on women by the family, society, and community, the persecution of women officially began when communities first formed and people created clear divisions between genders. When did it reach its apogee? The persecution of women reached its apogee following the gradual emergence of various sayings and requirements on moral conduct in traditional culture. Because there are written regulations and explicit sayings, these written regulations and explicit sayings in society have shaped public opinion and also formed a kind of force. This public opinion and this force have already become a kind of inexorable cage and shackles for women, who can only accept their fate, because living among humankind and in different eras of society, women can only endure injustice and suffer insults, abase themselves, and become slaves to society and even to men. To this day, those long-standing and ancient ideas and sayings advanced on the subject of moral conduct still deeply influence modern human society, including men, and of course women. Women unwittingly and unknowingly use these sayings about moral conduct and the opinions of society at large to constrain themselves, and of course they are also subconsciously struggling to break free from these shackles and cages. However, because people do not have any resistance to this powerful force of public opinion in society—or to be more precise, humans cannot see clearly the essence of the various sayings in traditional culture, nor see through them—they are unable to break free and step out of these shackles and cages, even though they long to do so. On a subjective level, it is because people cannot see these problems clearly; on an objective level, it is because people understand neither the truth, nor precisely what the Creator’s meaning was in creating people, or why He created male and female instincts. Therefore, both men and women live and subsist within this vast framework of social morality, and no matter how hard they struggle inside this vast social environment, they still cannot escape the fetters of sayings on moral conduct in traditional culture, sayings which have become invisible shackles in each person’s mind.

Those sayings that persecute women in traditional culture are like invisible shackles, not only for women, but of course for men too. Why do I say that? Because having been born in the midst of humankind, and as equally important members of this society, men are similarly inculcated and influenced by these traditional cultures of morality. These things are also deeply rooted in every man’s mind, and all men are unconsciously influenced and fettered by traditional culture. For example, men also firmly believe in expressions such as “shrinking violet,” “virtue in a woman is to be unskilled,” “women must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral,” and “women should be chaste,” and are as deeply confined by these things of traditional culture as women are. On the one hand, these sayings that persecute women are of great benefit and help in enhancing the status of men, and from this it can be seen that, in society, men have been greatly assisted by public opinion in this regard. Therefore, they readily accept these opinions and expressions that persecute women. On the other hand, men are also deluded and influenced by these things of traditional culture of morality, so it can also be said that men are—besides women—the other victims of the tide of traditional culture. There are some who say: “Society at large advocates the supremacy of men’s rights, so why say that men are also victims?” This must be viewed from the perspective that humankind is tempted, misled, deluded, benumbed, and confined by traditional culture of morality. Women have been deeply harmed by ideas on morality in traditional culture, and men have likewise also been profoundly deluded and suffered a great deal. What does “deluded” mean in another sense? It means that people do not have a correct viewpoint from which to assess men and define women. Regardless of from which angle they look at these things, it is all based on traditional culture, not the truths expressed by God or the various rules and laws formulated by God for humankind, nor is it based on the positive things that He has revealed to humankind. From this point of view, men are also victims who have been tempted, misled, deluded, benumbed, and confined by traditional culture. Men should therefore not think of women as abjectly pitiful just because the latter have no status in this society, and should not be complacent just because their social status is higher than that of women. Don’t rejoice too soon; actually men are also very pitiful. If you compare them with women, they are equally pitiful. Why do I say they are all equally pitiful? Let’s take another look at society’s and humankind’s definition and assessment of men, and at some of the responsibilities that are assigned to them. In light of humankind’s requirement on men that we fellowshiped about last time—“One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force”—the ultimate goal of this requirement is to define men as manly, virile men, which is a standard designation for men. Once this designation “manly, virile man” is placed on a man’s shoulders, he is bound to live up to the title, and if he does want to live up to it, he must make many pointless sacrifices and do many things in a way that goes against normal humanity. For example, if you are a man and you want society to recognize you as a manly, virile man, then you can’t have any weakness, you can’t be timid in any way, you must have a strong will, you can’t complain that you are tired, you can’t cry, or show any human weakness, you can’t even be sad, and you can’t slack off. At all times you must have a twinkle in your eyes, a determined and fearless look, and you must be able to bristle with anger at your enemies, in order to live up to the title of being a “manly, virile man.” That is to say, you must pluck up your courage and straighten your spine in this life. You cannot be a mediocre, ordinary, common, or unremarkable person. You must go beyond mere mortals and be a superhuman possessed of extraordinary willpower and extraordinary perseverance, endurance, and tenacity, in order to be worthy of being labeled a “manly, virile man.” This is just one of the requirements of traditional culture toward men. That is to say, men can go around drinking, whoring, and gambling, but they must be stronger than women and have super-strong willpower. Whatever befalls you, you must not yield, flinch, or say “no,” and must not show timidity, fear, or cowardice. You must hide and cover up these manifestations of normal humanity, and must not reveal them in any way, nor let anyone see them, not even your own parents, your closest relatives, or the people you love most. Why is that? Because you want to be a manly, virile man. Another characteristic of manly, virile men is that no person, event or thing can thwart their resolve. Whenever a man wants to do something—when he has any aspirations, ideals, or wishes, such as to serve his country, to show loyalty to his friends, or to take a bullet for them, or whatever career he wants to do, or whatever ambition he has, no matter whether right or wrong—no one can hold him back, and neither his love for women, nor kinship, family, or social responsibilities can change his resolve, nor make him give up his aspirations, ideals, and wishes. No one can change his resolve, the goals he aspires to achieve, or the path he wants to take. At the same time, he should also require himself not to relax at any moment. As soon as he relaxes, slackens up, and wants to get back to fulfilling his family responsibilities, being a good son to his parents, taking care of his children, and being a normal person, and gives up his ideals, aspirations, the path he wants to take, and the goals he wants to achieve, he will no longer be a manly, virile man. And if he isn’t a manly, virile man, what is he? He becomes a big softie, a good-for-nothing, which are characteristics despised by the whole of society, and of course also despised by himself. Once a man realizes that there are problems and shortcomings in his actions and conduct that do not meet the standard for being a manly, virile man, he will inwardly despise himself, and feel that he has no place in this society, no outlet for his abilities, and that he cannot be called a manly, virile man, or even just a man. Another characteristic of manly, virile men is that they cannot be bent by force, which is a kind of spirit that makes it impossible for them to be subdued by any power, violence, threats, or the like. No matter what power, violence, threat, or even mortal danger they encounter, such men are unafraid of death and can overcome a succession of adversities. They are not to be held to ransom or cowed into submission, they will not yield to any force just to survive, and they will not stoop to compromise. Once they succumb to power or any kind of force for the sake of some responsibility, obligation or other reason, even if they survive and keep their life, they will feel revulsion for their behavior because of the traditional culture of morality that they idolize. The spirit of Bushido in Japan is a bit like this. Once you fail or are shamed, you feel that you must commit suicide by self-disembowelment. Is life that easy to come by? People only live once. If even a minor failure or setback prompts thoughts of death, is this caused by the influence of traditional culture? (Yes.) When a problem befalls them and they cannot make a swift decision, or make a choice that meets the requirements of traditional culture, or prove their dignity and character, or prove that they are a manly, virile man, they will seek death and commit suicide. The reason why men can hold these ideas and views is because of the severe impact of traditional culture, and the way that it confines their thinking. If they were not influenced by the ideas and views of traditional culture, there would not be so many men committing suicide or disemboweling themselves. As regards the definition of a manly, virile man, men very affirmatively and assuredly accept these ideas and views of traditional culture, and regard them as positive things by which to measure and restrain themselves, and also measure and restrain other men. Judging by men’s thoughts and views, ideals, goals, and the paths they choose, this all proves that all men are deeply influenced and poisoned by traditional culture. The many stories of heroic exploits and beautiful legends are a true portrait of how traditional culture is deeply rooted in people’s minds. From this point of view, are men poisoned by traditional culture just as deeply as women are? Traditional culture merely places different standards of requirements on men and women, insulting, denigrating, restricting, and controlling women without restraint while vigorously urging, enticing, instigating, and inciting men to not be cowards or common, ordinary people. The requirement for men is that everything they do must be different from women, surpass them, be above them, and tower over them. They must control society, control the human race, control the trends and direction of society, and control everything in society. Men must even be all-powerful in society, with the power to control society and human beings, and this power also includes ruling over and controlling women. This is what men should pursue, and this is also the heroic manner of a manly, virile man.

In the present era, many countries have become democratic societies in which the rights and interests of women and children are somewhat guaranteed, and the influence and constraints of these ideas and views of traditional culture on people are no longer so obvious. After all, many women have made headway in society, and their involvement in many fields and many occupations is increasing. However, because the ideas of traditional culture have long been deeply rooted in the minds of human beings—not only in the minds of women, but also in those of men—both men and women unconsciously adopt the perspective and vantage point of traditional culture when thinking about and approaching various things. Of course, they also undertake various careers and jobs under the guidance of ideas and views of traditional culture. In today’s society, although equality between men and women has improved somewhat, the idea of male superiority in traditional culture still dominates people’s minds, and in most countries, education is fundamentally based on these core ideas of traditional culture. Therefore, although in this society, human beings seldom use these sayings of traditional culture to talk about various issues, they are still imprisoned within the ideological framework of traditional culture. What kind of terms does modern society have for praising a woman? For example, “masculine woman” and “powerful woman.” Are these respectful or derogatory forms of address? There are women who say: “Someone called me a masculine woman, which I thought was very flattering. How about that? I’ve assimilated into male society and my status has been enhanced. Although I’m a woman, by adding the word ‘masculine’ I become a masculine woman, then I can be someone who is equal to men, which is kind of an honor!” This is a kind of recognition and acceptance of this woman by a community or a group in human society, which is an extremely honorable thing, is it not? If a woman is described as a masculine woman, it proves that this woman is very capable, the same as men, rather than inferior to them, and her career, talents, and even her social status, her IQ and the means by which she gains a footing in society are enough to be compared with men. The way I see it, for most women the designation “masculine woman” is a reward from society, a kind of recognition of social status that modern society gives to women. Do any women want to be masculine women? Although this designation is unpleasant, whatever the circumstances, calling a woman masculine is certainly praising her for being very competent and capable, and is giving her the thumbs-up in the eyes of men. As regards designations for men, people still hold to traditional notions, which never change. For example, some men are not career-minded and don’t pursue power or status, but accept their current situation, and are content with their ordinary job and life, and care greatly for their family. What kind of names does this society give to such men? Are such men described as good-for-nothings? (Yes.) Some men are very thorough and fastidious in going about their business, taking things step-by-step and with great caution. What do some people call them? “A bit girly” or a “shrinking violet.” You see, men are not insulted using dirty words, but rather using expressions associated with women. If people want to elevate the female sex, they use terms like “masculine woman” and “powerful woman” to enhance a woman’s status and affirm their competence, whereas terms such as “shrinking violet” are used to denigrate men and rebuke them for not being manly. Is this not a widespread phenomenon in society? (Yes.) These sayings that have arisen in modern society prove a problem, which is that although traditional culture already seems far removed from modern life, and very far from people’s minds, and although people are now addicted to the Internet or various electronic devices, or obsessed with all sorts of modern lifestyles, and even if people live extremely comfortably in modern living environments, or have human rights and freedoms, this is only a facade; the fact is that much of the poison of traditional culture remains in their minds. Although people have gained some physical freedoms, and some of their overriding views on people and things seem to have changed, and they seem to have gained a certain degree of freedom in their thinking, and they seem to have acquired new insights in this modern society thanks to the rapid circulation of news and the advanced information technology, and they know about and have seen many things in the outside world, human beings still live in the shadow of the myriad sayings on moral conduct advocated by traditional culture. Even if there are some people who say, “I’m the most untraditional person there is, I’m very modern, I’m a modernist,” and they have a gold ring through their nose, a string of studs in their ear, and their clothes are very avant-garde and trendy, their views toward people and things, as well as their views of how they should comport themselves and act, are still inseparable from traditional culture. Why can’t people do without traditional culture? Because their hearts and minds have been immersed in traditional culture and imprisoned by it. Everything that is produced in the innermost depths of their soul, and even the ideas that flash momentarily through their minds, stems from the indoctrination and inculcation of traditional culture, and is all produced within this immense framework of traditional culture, rather than separate from its influence. Do these facts prove that human beings are already imprisoned by traditional culture? (Yes.) Human beings are already imprisoned by traditional culture. No matter whether or not you are well-read or highly educated, as long as you live among human beings, you will inevitably be inculcated and influenced by humankind’s traditional culture of morality, because the things of traditional culture exert a kind of invisible force and power that exist everywhere, not only in schools and in people’s textbooks, but especially in their families, and of course in every corner of society. In this way, people are unknowingly indoctrinated, influenced, deluded, and misled by these things. Human beings therefore live under the bonds, fetters, and control of traditional culture, and cannot hide or escape from it even if they wanted to. They are living in this kind of social environment. This is the current state of affairs, and these are also the facts.

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