What It Means to Pursue the Truth (3) (Part Three)
God requires that man be principled and edifying to others in his speech. Does this have anything to do with those external good behaviors of man’s? (No.) It has nothing at all to do with those. Say you’re not domineering of others or false and tricky in your speech, yet you’re also able to encourage, guide, and comfort others. If you’re able to do both of these things, is there any need for you to do them with an approachable attitude? Must you achieve approachability? Can you only do those things within a behavioral framework of such externalities as being courteous, gentle, and refined? There’s no need. The precondition for your speech being edifying to others is that it is based inand His requirements—that it’s based in the truth, rather than good behaviors established amid traditional culture. Once your speech is principled and edifying to others, you may speak sitting, or you may speak standing; you may speak in a loud voice, or in a quiet one; you may speak with gentle words, or with severe ones. So long as the end result is positive, with you having fulfilled your responsibility and the other party having benefited, then it’s in alignment with the principles of the truth. If what you pursue is the truth, and what you practice is the truth, and the basis of your speech and actions is God’s words, the principles of the truth, and if others can profit and gain from you, would that not be of benefit to both of you? If living constrained by the thinking of traditional culture, you put on an act while others do the same, and you offer mannered niceties while they bow and scrape, each putting on an act for the other, then neither of you is any good. You and they bow and scrape and engage in niceties all day long, without a word of truth, embodying in life only good behavior as promoted by traditional culture. Though such behavior is conventional as seen from the outside, it is all hypocrisy, behavior that tricks and dupes others, behavior that takes people in and tricks them, without a sincere word to be heard. If you make friends with such a person, you are bound to be taken in and tricked in the end. There is nothing that would edify you to be gained from their good behavior. All it has to teach you is falsehood and trickery: You trick them, they trick you. What you will feel, ultimately, is an extreme degradation of your integrity and dignity, which you will just have to endure. You will still have to present yourself with courtesy, in a well-educated and sensible way, without quibbling with others or demanding too much of them. You will still have to be patient and tolerant, affecting nonchalance and broad-minded magnanimity with a beaming smile. How many years of effort it must take to achieve such a condition! If you demand of yourself that you live like this before others, will your life not exhaust you? To pretend to have so much love, knowing full well that you do not—such hypocrisy is no easy thing! You would feel ever more strongly the exhaustion of comporting yourself in this way as a person; you would rather be born as a cow or horse, a pig or dog in your next life than as a human being. You would find them just too false and evil. Why does man live in a way that exhausts him so? Because he lives amid traditional notions, which constrain and fetter him. In reliance on his corrupt disposition, he lives in sin, from which he cannot extricate himself. He has no way out. What he lives out is not the likeness of a true person. Between people, one cannot hear or obtain a single word of basic sincerity, even between man and wife, mother and daughter, father and son, the people who are closest to each other—there’s not an intimate word to be heard, not a warm word or one from which others might derive comfort. So, what function do these outward good behaviors serve, then? They serve temporarily to maintain a normal distance and normal relationships between people. Yet behind these good behaviors, no one dares engage deeply with anyone else, which mankind has ended up summarizing in the phrase: “Distance begets beauty.” This reveals the true nature of mankind, does it not? How could distance beget beauty? In the false and evil reality of such a life, man lives in ever-increasing loneliness, withdrawal, depression, indignance, and discontent, without a path forward. This is the true condition of unbelievers. However, you believe in God today. You have come into God’s house and accepted the provision of His words, and you often listen to sermons. In your heart, though, you still like the good behaviors traditional culture promotes. This proves something: You do not understand the truth and have no reality. Why, in your life now, are you still so depressed, so lonely, so pathetic, so self-abasing? The only reason for this is that you do not accept the truth and have not changed at all. In other words, you do not view people and things, and comport yourself and act, according to God’s words, nor with the truth as your criterion. You are still living in reliance on corrupt dispositions and traditional notions. That’s why your life is still so lonely. You have no friends, no one to confide in. You cannot obtain from others the encouragement, guidance, help, or edification you should have, nor can you bestow encouragement, guidance, or help on others. Even in these, the most minimal of behaviors, you don’t take God’s words as your basis and the truth as your criterion, so there’s even less need to mention your views on people and things or your comportment and action—those are a hundred thousand miles away from the truth, God’s words!
We have just fellowshiped about what requirements God has of man’s behavior: He requires that man’s speech and actions be principled and edifying to others. So, based on that, does everyone now know whether there’s any value to those good behaviors man comes up with—whether they’re worth treasuring? (They’re not.) So, what should you do, given that you don’t believe they’re worth treasuring? (Renounce them.) How does one renounce them? To renounce them, one must have a specific path and steps for their practice. First, one must examine themselves for whether they have the behavioral displays of being well-educated and sensible and being gentle and refined, as promoted by traditional culture. What form does such examination take, and what are its contents? Those would be to look at yourself to see what the basis is for your views on people and things, as well as your comportment and action, and to see which things of Satan have taken deep root in your heart and soaked into your blood and bones. For instance, say there’s someone who’s been coddled since childhood, who doesn’t know much about self-regulation, yet whose humanity isn’t bad. They’re a true believer, and they believe in God and perform their duty with sincerity, and they can suffer and pay prices. There’s just one thing wrong with them: When they eat, they tend to pick around for morsels and smack their lips. It bothers you so much to hear it that you can’t swallow your food. It used to be that you’d feel a special antipathy for such people. You’d think that they had no breeding and didn’t know how to self-regulate, that they weren’t well-educated or sensible. In your heart, you despised them, believing that such people are base and undignified, that there’s no way they’d be people whom God chooses, much less those whom He loves. What was your basis for believing so? Had you seen through to their essence? Were you measuring them based on their essence? What was the basis of your measurement? Obviously, you were measuring people based on the various statements of Chinese traditional culture. So, when you come to learn of this problem, what should you think, based on the truths we’ve fellowshiped about today? “Gosh, I used to look down on them. I never listened willingly to their fellowship. Whenever they said or did anything, no matter how right they were to do it or how practical the words of their fellowship were, as soon as I thought of them smacking their lips and rummaging around for morsels at meals, I wouldn’t want to hear them talk. I always took them for an ill-bred person of no caliber. Now, through such fellowship from God, I’m seeing that my views on people aren’t based on God’s words; instead, I treat the bad habits and behaviors that people have in their lives—those places where they lack breeding or are indecent, specifically—as if they were outpourings of the essence of their humanity. Now, measured based on God’s words, all those things are little faults that don’t implicate the essence of their humanity. They’re nowhere near being problems of principle.” Is this not self-examination? (It is.) Those who can accept God’s words and understand the truth can see these things clearly. So, what’s to be done from there? Is there a path? Would it work if you demanded that they drop these bad habits immediately? (No.) Such little defects are ingrained and hard to change. They’re not something one can change in a day or two. Behavioral problems aren’t so hard to solve, but with defects in one’s life-habits, one needs some time in order to get rid of them. They don’t implicate the quality of someone’s humanity, though, or the essence of their humanity, so don’t give them too much weight or refuse to let go of them. Everyone has their own habits and ways in life. No one comes from a vacuum. Everyone has a few defects, and whatever they are, if they affect others, they must be corrected. That’s how to achieve amicable interactions. However, it’s not possible to be ideal in every regard. People come from very different places, and their habits in life are all different, so they must be tolerant of each other. This is something normal humanity ought to possess. Don’t take trifling problems to heart. Exercise tolerance. That’s the most appropriate way to treat others. This is the principle of tolerance, the principle and method by which such matters are handled. Don’t try to determine people’s essence and humanity based on their little defects. That basis is totally out of line with the principles, because whatever defects or flaws someone might have, they don’t speak to that person’s essence, nor do they mean that that person isn’t a sincere believer in God, much less not someone who pursues the truth. We must look at people’s strengths and base our views on people on God’s words and His requirements of man. That’s the way to treat people fairly. How should someone who pursues the truth view people? Their views on people and things, and their comportment and actions, must all be based on God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. So, how do you regard each and every person according to God’s words? Look at whether they are possessed of a conscience and reason, at whether they’re a good person or an evil one. In your contact with them, you may see that though they have their share of little defects and deficiencies, they are quite good in their humanity. They are tolerant and patient in their interactions with people, and when someone is negative and weak, they are loving to them and can provide for them and help them. That is their attitude toward others. What, then, is their attitude toward God? In their attitude toward God, it is even more measurable whether they have humanity. It may be that with all God does, they are submissive, and seeking, and longing, and in the course of performing their duty and interacting with others—when they take action—they have a heart of reverence for God. It’s not that they’re daredevils, acting outrageously, and it’s not that they’d do anything and say anything. When something happens that involves God or His work, they’re very cautious. Once you’ve ascertained that they have these displays, how, based on the things that pour forth from their humanity, are you to measure whether that person is good or bad? Measure that based on God’s words, and measure it based on whether they have a conscience and reason, and on their attitude toward the truth and toward God. By measuring them in these two regards, you will see that though there are a few problems and defects in their behavior, they may yet be someone with a conscience and reason, who has a heart of submission and reverence toward God and an attitude of love and acceptance toward the truth. If so, then in God’s eye, they’re someone who may be saved, someone whom He loves. And given that in God’s eye, they’re someone who may be saved and whom He loves, how should you treat them? You must view people and things according to God’s words and take measurements according to His words. They’re a true brother or sister, and you should treat them correctly. Don’t regard them through a colored lens or measure them according to traditional culture’s statements—measure them instead with God’s words. And as for their behavioral defects, if you’re kind at heart, you should help them. Let them know how to act appropriately. What do you do if they can accept that but can’t drop their behavioral defects right away? You should fall back on tolerance. If you aren’t tolerant, that means you aren’t kind at heart, and you should seek the truth in your attitude toward them, and reflect on and know your own deficiencies. That’s how you can come to treat people correctly. If, conversely, you say, “That person has so many defects. They’re ill-bred, they don’t know how to self-regulate, they don’t know about respecting others, and they don’t know their manners. They’re an unbeliever, then. I don’t want to associate with them, I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want to hear whatever they have to say, however right it is. Who’d believe that they revere God and submit to Him? Are they up to that? Do they have the caliber?” then what attitude is that? Is it kind helpfulness, to treat others like that? Does it align with the principles of the truth? Is such treatment of others on your part an understanding and practice of the truth? Is it loving? Do you revere God at heart? If someone’s belief in God lacks even basic kindness, does such a person have the reality of the truth? If you go on clinging to your notions, and your views on people and things remain based in your own feelings, impressions, preferences, and notions, that’s sufficient proof that you don’t understand a shred of the truth and are still living in reliance on satanic philosophies. It’s sufficient proof that you are not a lover of the truth or someone who pursues it. Some people are so self-righteous. However you fellowship with them, they still cling to their own views: “I’m a courteous person who respects the old and cares for the young—what of it? I’m a good person, at least. What’s not good in how I comport myself? At least everyone respects me.” I don’t object to your being a good person, but if you keep on pretending as you are, will you be able to gain the truth and the life? Being a good person in the way that you are may not violate your integrity or go against the goal and direction of your comportment, but there’s one thing you must understand: Go on like that, and you won’t be able to understand the truth or enter its reality, and in the end, you won’t be able to gain the truth or the life, or God’s salvation. That’s the only possible outcome.
I have just fellowshiped about how to regard the good behaviors of people’s notions, and how to identify those good behaviors such that one pursues the truth. Do you have a path now? (Yes.) What should you do? (First, reflect on whether one has the behaviors oneself. Then, reflect on what one’s usual bases and criteria are for one’s views on people and things.) That’s right. You should begin by clearly seeing whether there’s anything in your prior views on people and things, or in your comportment and actions, that has been in conflict with what I have fellowshiped about today, or that goes against it. Reflect on what the basis is for the perspective and view you adopt when you view people and things, on whether your basis is the standards of traditional culture or the sayings of some great and renowned person, or whether it is God’s words, the truth. From there, go on to reflect on whether the thoughts and views of traditional culture and those of great, renowned people are aligned with the truth, on where they come into conflict with the truth, on where, exactly, they go wrong. These are the specifics of the second step of self-reflection. Now, for the third step. When you discover that the views, ways, basis, and criterion for your views on people and things, as well as your comportment and action, are born of man’s will, of the evil trends of society and of traditional culture, and that they are contrary to the truth, what should you do then? Shouldn’t you seek out relevant words of God and take those as your basis? (Yes.) Seek out principles of the truth in God’s words that touch on viewing people and things, as well as comportment and action. You should mainly base it on what God’s words say, or, to put it accurately, on the principles of the truth of God’s words. Those principles of the truth should become the basis and criterion for your views on people and things, and your comportment and actions. This is the most difficult thing to accomplish. One must first deny their own views, notions, opinions, and attitudes. This involves some incorrect, warped views of man’s. One must unearth those views, come to know them, and subject them to thorough dissection. The other part of it is that when people have found the proper statement in the relevant words of God, they should mull it over and fellowship about it, and when they have clarified what its principles of the truth are, it immediately becomes a question of how they are to accept and practice the truth. Tell Me, once one has understood the principles of the truth, are they soon able to accept and submit to them? (No.) Man’s rebelliousness and corrupt dispositions cannot be resolved in an instant. Man has corrupt dispositions, and though he may know what God’s words mean, he cannot put them into practice right away. Putting the truth into practice is in each case a battle for him. Man has a rebellious disposition. He cannot let go of his prejudice, capriciousness, intransigence, haughtiness, self-righteousness, or self-importance, nor his host of justifications and excuses, nor his self-worth, status, reputation, or vanity. So, when you let go of something you hold in your notions to be good, what you must renounce are these interests of yours and the things you treasure. When you can renounce and let go of all these things, that is when you will have hope or a chance of practicing based on God’s words, according to the principles of the truth. To let go of yourself and deny yourself—this is the most difficult juncture to break through. As soon as you’ve gotten past it, though, there will be no great difficulties left in your heart. When you have understood the truth and are able to penetrate the essence of good behaviors, your views on people and on things will change, and you will then be able, gradually, to let go of such things from traditional culture. So, to change man’s mistaken views on people and things, and the ways and manners of his actions, and the origin and motives behind his actions—this is no simple thing to do. What is hardest to change is that man has corrupt dispositions. Man’s views on things and his lifestyle are engendered by his corrupt dispositions. Corrupt dispositions make you arrogant, self-righteous, and willful; they make you disdain others, focusing always on upholding your name and status, on whether you can garner esteem and come to the fore among others, always taking your future prospects and fate into account, and so on. All these things are those that are born out of your corrupt disposition and touch on your interests. When you have taken each of these things and broken it down, seen through it, and denied it, you will be able to renounce them. And it’s not until you can let go of them, bit by bit, that you will be able, uncompromisingly and absolutely, to take God’s words as your basis and the truth as your criterion in your views on people and things, and in your comportment and actions.
Take God’s words as your basis in your views on people and things, and in your comportment and actions—everyone understands these words. They’re easy to comprehend. In his rationality and in his thoughts, in his will and ideals, man is able to apprehend these words and is willing to follow them. There should be no difficulties there. But in reality, they’re hard for man to live up to when he practices the truth, and the obstacles and troubles in doing so aren’t mere difficulties presented by his external environment. The main reason has to do with his corrupt disposition. Man’s corrupt disposition is the origin of his various troubles. Once it is resolved, all man’s troubles and difficulties no longer amount to any major problem. It follows, then, that all man’s difficulties in practicing the truth are caused by his corrupt disposition. Therefore, as you practice these words of God’s, and enter this reality of practicing the truth, you will grow ever more aware of this: “I have a corrupt disposition. I’m the ‘corrupt mankind’ God speaks of, corrupted to my core by Satan, someone who lives by satanic dispositions.” Is that not how it happens? (It is.) Therefore, if man would pursue the truth and enter its reality, knowing and seeing through negative things is merely the first step of life entry, the step at its very beginning. So, why is it that many people understand a few truths yet cannot put them into practice? Why can they all preach a great many words and phrases of doctrine, but have gone on unable to enter the reality of the truth? Is it that they understand nothing of the truth? No—it is exactly the opposite. Their theoretical, word-and-phrase level understanding of the truth is very much where it should be. It even trips off their tongue when they recite it. They have a will, of course, and they have a good mindset and aspirations; they are all willing to strive toward the truth. Yet why is it that they cannot put the truth into practice, but go on unable to enter the reality of the truth? It is because the words and letters and theories that they grasp remain unable to be made manifest in their real life. Where does this problem come from, then? Its origin is in the presence of their corrupt disposition there in the middle, hindering things. That is why there are some people who lack spiritual understanding and don’t understand what it is to pursue the truth, who make a pledge and declare their will each time they fail or fall or cannot put the truth into practice. They make an untold number of such pledges and declarations, and still, it does not resolve the problem. They keep stopping at that stage of resolving their will and making pledges. They remain stuck there. Many people, when they practice the truth, are always setting their will and making oaths, saying they’re going to struggle. Every day, they cheer themselves on. Three, four, five years of struggle—and how does it turn out in the end? Nothing has been accomplished, and all ends in failure. The bit of doctrine they understand is inapplicable anywhere. When something befalls them, they do not know how to view it and cannot see through it. They cannot find words of God to serve as their basis; they don’t know how to view things according to God’s words, nor do they know which element of the truth in God’s words applies to the matter that has befallen them. They are then stricken with great anxiety, and they hate themselves, and they pray, asking God to give them more strength and faith, still cheering themselves on in the end. Is that not a foolhardy person? (It is.) They’re just like children. Is man’s quotidian treatment of the pursuit of the truth not, in fact, as infantile as this? Man wishes always to encourage himself to pursue the truth by resolving his will and making pledges, by restraining himself and cheering himself on, but the practice of the truth and entry into it does not come from man’s self-encouragement. Instead, you truly must enter and practice according to the way and the steps that I tell you, with a firm and steady tread, one foot after the last. Only thus will you see results; only thus will you be practicing the truth and able to enter its reality. There is no shortcut that circumvents this. This doesn’t mean that with a bit of heart, a bit of a desire to expend of yourself, a great will, and a grand goal, the truth will become your reality, but that man must learn the fundamental lessons of seeking, entering, practice, and submission in his real life, amid people, events, and things. Only after learning these lessons can man come into contact with the truth and God’s words, or experience them, or know them. Without having done so, what man will gain is no more than a bit of doctrine with which to fill the void in his heart, no matter how many years he spends motivating himself, encouraging himself, and cheering himself along. He will only feel a fleeting bit of spiritual satisfaction, but he will not have gained anything of true substance. What does it mean not to have gained anything of true substance? It means that the basis of your views on people and things, and of your comportment and actions, is not God’s words. There are no words of God to be found that serve as a basis in your views on people and things or in your outlook on comportment and actions. You live a confused life, a life without aid, and the more it happens that you are faced with an issue, one that requires you to lay out your views, your principles and stance, the more evident your ignorance, foolishness, hollowness, and helplessness will be. Under normal circumstances, you are able to rattle off some number of correct doctrines and catchphrases, as if you understood everything. But when a problem has arisen, and someone comes to you in seriousness to have you declare your position and establish where you stand, no words will come to you. Some will say, “No words? It’s not that—it’s that I wouldn’t dare say them.” Well, why wouldn’t you? That goes to show that you’re unsure of whether what you’re doing is right. Why would you be unsure of that? Because when you were doing the thing, you never confirmed what the basis was for what you were doing, nor what your principles were in doing it, nor less, of course, whether you have been viewing and doing the matter according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. So, when a problem occurs, you are left looking awkward and impotent. Some people are unconvinced. They say, “I’m not like that. I went to college. I got my master’s,” or “I’m a philosopher, a professor, an intellectual of a high order,” or “I’m a cultured person. You can take what I say to print,” or “I’m a scholar of note,” or “I’m a talent.” Is trotting these things out of any use to you? They aren’t merits of yours. At the very most, these things mean you have a bit of knowledge. Whether that will be of use in God’s house is hard to say, but it is at least sure that that knowledge of yours is not the same thing as the truth, and it doesn’t reflect your stature. What is it meant to say that your knowledge doesn’t reflect your stature? Such things are not your life; they are external to your body. What is your life, then? It is a life whose basis and criteria are the logic and philosophy of Satan, and even with your knowledge, your culture, that brain of yours, you cannot suppress these things or control them. So, when a problem occurs, your fount of talent and intellect and your plentiful knowledge will be of no avail at all—or it may be that when one aspect of your corrupt disposition pours forth, your patience, breeding, knowledge, and such-all will not avail you in the least. You’ll feel helpless then. All these things are the awkward ways in which not pursuing the truth and lacking entry into its reality manifest in man. Is it easy to enter the truth? Is there a challenge in it? Where? There’s no challenge, if you ask Me. Don’t focus on resolving your will or making pledges. Those are useless. When you have time to resolve your will and make pledges, put that time instead into making an effort into God’s words. Consider what they say, which portion of them touches on your present state. It’s useless to set your will. You could crack your head open and let the blood flow, setting your will, and still, it’d be useless. It can’t resolve any problems. You can trick man and demons like that, but you cannot trick God. God doesn’t delight in that will of yours. How many times have you set your will? You make your pledges, then you drop them, and having dropped them, you make them again, and drop them again. What kind of person does that make you? When will you keep your word? It doesn’t matter whether you keep your word, or whether you set your will. Whether you make a pledge has no bearing, either. What is it that’s important? It’s that you put the truth you understand into practice right now, immediately, at once. Even if it’s the most obvious truth, the one that catches others’ eyes the least and you yourself put the least emphasis on, practice it right away—enter it right away. If you do, you will enter the reality of the truth right away, and right away, you will embark on the path of pursuing the truth. You will be on the verge of becoming someone who pursues the truth. On that foundation, you will soon be able to become a person who views people and things, and who comports themselves and acts, according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. What a bounty that will be—what tangible value!
After fellowshiping on sayings about good behavior in traditional culture, have you gained any understanding with them? How should you approach this sort of good behavior? Some people might say, “Beginning from today, I will not be a well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, or courteous person. I will not be a so-called ‘good’ person; I won’t be one who respects the old or cares for the young; I won’t be an amiable, approachable person. None of that is a natural outpouring of normal humanity; it is deceptive behavior that is fake and false, and it does not rise to the level of practicing the truth. What sort of person will I be? I will be an honest person; I will begin by being an honest person. In my speech, I can be uneducated, not understand the rules, be lacking in knowledge, and looked down on by others, but I will speak frankly, with sincerity, and without falseness. As a person and in my actions, I will not be fake and will not put on an act. Every time I speak, it will be from the heart—I will say what I think inside. If I have hatred toward someone, I will examine myself and not do anything hurtful toward them; I will only do things that are constructive. When I speak, I will not give consideration to my own personal gain, nor will I be constricted by my reputation or face. Moreover, I will not have the intent of making people think highly of me. I will only place importance on whether God is happy. Not hurting people will be my baseline. What I do will be done in accordance with God’s demands; I will not do things to harm others, nor will I do things detrimental to the interests of the house of God. I will only do things that are beneficial to others, only be an honest person, and a person that makes God happy.” Is this not change in a person? If they truly practice these words, then they will have truly changed. Their future and fate will have changed for the better. They will soon embark on the path of pursuing the truth, soon enter into the reality of the truth, and soon become a person with hope of salvation. This is a good thing, a positive thing. Does it require you to set your will or make a pledge? It requires nothing: Neither that you set your will to God; nor that you take inventory of your prior transgressions, mistakes, and rebelliousness, hurry to confess to God and ask His forgiveness. There’s no need for such formalities. Just say something true and from the heart, right now, immediately, at once, and do something solid, without lies or trickery. You’ll then have achieved something, and there will be hope for you to become an honest person. When someone becomes an honest person, they gain the reality of the truth and begin living as a human being. Such are they of whom God approves. Of this, there is no doubt.
February 5, 2022