How to Pursue the Truth (14)
Last time, we fellowshiped about things involving family within the broader topic of letting go of people’s pursuits, ideals, and desires—which section in the topic of family was our fellowship about? (Last time, God fellowshiped on some sayings that come from family conditioning, such as “Among any three people walking together, there is at least one who can be my teacher,” “If you want to appear dignified when people are looking, you have to suffer when they aren’t,” “Just as a fence needs the support of three stakes, an able man needs the support of three other people,” “A lady will make herself beautiful for those who admire her, while a gentleman will sacrifice his life for those who understand him,” “Daughters should be raised like rich children, and sons like poor children,” “People don’t need to have a high IQ, but only need to have a high EQ,” “When someone beats a gong, listen to its sound; when someone speaks, listen to their voice,” and “The parent is always right.” In total, these eight sayings were discussed.) We fellowshiped about letting go of family conditioning, which subject matter covered family conditioning and education toward a person’s thoughts. Certain sayings were fellowshiped about in detail, while others were only briefly mentioned and not specifically fellowshiped about. Family holds great importance in every individual’s life. It is a place where people create memories, grow, and where their various thoughts begin to form. How people conduct themselves, behave, deal with things, interact with others, face different situations, and when faced with those situations, how to make judgments and from which perspectives and stances they should handle these matters, etc., regardless of whether their thoughts and viewpoints are preliminary or more concrete, all of these are based largely in family conditioning. That is, before people formally enter society and join social groups, the embryonic stages of their thoughts and viewpoints all come from their families. Therefore, the family is highly important to everyone. Its significance goes beyond physical growth; more importantly, before people enter society, at home they learn a lot of thoughts and viewpoints that ought to be applied to how they approach society, social groups, and their future life. Although these thoughts and viewpoints aren’t specifically or accurately defined as a person matures, these various thoughts and viewpoints, and these various methods, rules, and even means for dealing with the world, are already fundamentally and primarily instilled, influenced, and conditioned into people by their parents, elders, or other family members before they enter society. This practice of instilling, influencing, and conditioning is carried out during the time when people are growing up among their families; that is why the family is so important to every person. Of course, this importance is merely targeted at the level at which individuals enter society and join social groups, and enter the life and existence of adulthood—it is limited to the level of physical existence. This demonstrates how crucial family conditioning is for a person entering society and adult life. That is to say, when people reach adulthood and enter society, most of their philosophy for dealing with the world originates from their parents’ heritage and the influence of their family. From this perspective, it can also be said that the family, as the smallest unit in society, first and foremost plays a formative role in shaping a person’s thoughts as well as various methods and principles for dealing with the world, and even their outlook on life. Given that these various thoughts, viewpoints, methods for dealing with the world, and outlook on existence are negative, not aligned with the truth, unrelated to the truth, or it can even be said, run contrary to the truth, and they do not originate from God, it therefore becomes necessary for people to let go of the conditioning of their family. When considering the consequences of family conditioning, we see that it contradicts and does not align with the truth, opposes God, and essentially, it can be said that families are places where Satan corrupts humanity, leading people to deny God, resist Him, and follow the wrong path in life. From this perspective, can it be said that the family, as the smallest unit in society, is where people are initially corrupted? While saying that Satan and social trends corrupt people is a broad perspective, when it comes to specifics, the family should be regarded as the place where people initially accept corruption and negative thoughts, evil trends, and Satan’s viewpoints. More specifically, the corruption individuals accept originates from their parents, elders, other family members, and the customs, values, traditions, etc., of their entire family. In any case, the family is a starting point where people encounter corruption, accept Satan’s evil thoughts and trends, and it is where people begin to accept various corrupt and evil thoughts during their formative years. The family plays a role that neither society as a whole, social trends, nor Satan can play in corrupting people, which is that it introduces individuals to various thoughts and viewpoints from the evil trends of Satan before they enter society and join social groups. Regardless of how it’s framed, the family is the primary source of your thoughts and viewpoints that belong to Satan. Therefore, to help people let go of various erroneous thoughts and viewpoints, it is necessary to discern and dissect not only the widespread erroneous thoughts and viewpoints from society but also the various thoughts and viewpoints, as well as principles for dealing with the world that come from family conditioning. Family is itself part of the whole of human society, it is not the church or God’s house, and it certainly isn’t the kingdom of heaven. It is merely the smallest unit within society created among corrupt humanity, and this smallest unity is also formed by corrupt humanity. Therefore, if a person wants to free themselves from the constraints, bindings, and troubles of various erroneous thoughts and viewpoints, they should first reflect upon, understand, and dissect the various thoughts and viewpoints they received from family conditioning, until they reach a point where they can let them go. This is an accurate principle of practice for letting go of people’s family conditioning.
Previously, we fellowshiped on people’s family conditioning, which has to do with such matters as their outlook on life, rules for survival, principles and methods for behaving and dealing with the world, and some unwritten rules of the game when entering society. What are some of the outlooks on life involved in this subject matter? For example, “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” and “People need their pride just as a tree needs its bark.” What are some of the principles for dealing with the world that families instill in people? Examples include: “Harmony is a treasure; forbearance is brilliance,” and “Compromise will make a conflict much easier to resolve.” What else? (“Just as a fence needs the support of three stakes, an able man needs the support of three other people,” and “When someone beats a gong, listen to its sound; when someone speaks, listen to their voice.” These are also methods and principles for dealing with the world.) Are there any social rules of the game? Such as, “The bird that sticks its neck out is the one that gets shot”? (Yes.) “He who talks a lot errs a lot.” What else? (Here’s a taste of your own medicine.) That’s also one, but we didn’t fellowship about it last time. Moreover, your parents often told you, “Out in the world your judgment should be keen, your talk smooth, and your eyes sharp. You should ‘keep your eyes open to every road, and your ears to all directions.’ Don’t be so set in your ways.” There’s also, “It never hurts to compliment somebody,” and “You have to go with the flow wherever you are. The law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender. When in doubt, follow the crowd.” These are all types of game rules. Then there are sayings like, “A lady will make herself beautiful for those who admire her, while a gentleman will sacrifice his life for those who understand him,” and “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” What category do these belong to? These belong to the category of everyday life; they tell you how to live and how to treat your physical body. Then there are sayings like, “The parent is always right,” “Mom is the best in the world,” “A wise goose never lays a tame egg,” and “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.” These pertain to the thoughts and viewpoints of family affection and feeling. Also, people often say, “The dead are great in the eyes of the living”—after a person dies, they become great. If you want a higher status, if you want people to speak well of you and respect you, then you must die. Once you die, you will become great. “The dead are great in the eyes of the living”—is this logic ridiculous or what? They say, “Don’t say anything bad about a person after they die. The dead are great in the eyes of the living. Give them some respect!” Regardless of how many bad things this person did, they become great after they die. Doesn’t this show a complete lack of discernment between good and evil and a lack of principles in how people conduct themselves? (Yes.) “The parent is always right.” We fellowshiped on this in detail last time. These other sayings, like “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault,” and “A wise goose never lays a tame egg,” weren’t part of the fellowship, but aren’t they easy to discern? Is the saying “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault” correct? It makes it look like a father’s education is very important. What kind of path can a father lead people down? Can he lead you down the right path? Can he lead you to worship God and become a genuinely good person? (No.) Your father tells you, “Men do not shed tears easily,” but you are young, and you cry when you feel wronged. Your father scolds you, saying, “Hold it in! Be a real man. You cry over every little thing, good-for-nothing!” After this happens, you think, “I can’t shed any tears; if I cry then I’m a good-for-nothing.” You hold back your tears, not daring to cry, and secretly cry under the covers at night. As a male, you don’t even have the right to express or convey your emotions naturally; you don’t have the right to choose to cry, you have to hold it in whenever you feel wronged. This is the education you received from your father, and it’s the true meaning of “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.” Your father, your mother, and the older generation all stick to this education, saying, “You, a boy, cry over anything, cry whenever you feel wronged, and when you were beaten up outside. Good-for-nothing! They hit you, why didn’t you hit them back? They hit you, so don’t play with them anymore. When you see them again, and see that you can beat them up then you do it; if you can’t then you run away. Look at how Han Xin[a] endured the humiliation of being forced to crawl between another’s legs. He didn’t cry; that’s what a real man is!” This is how fathers educate their sons and instill the thought of being a real man into them. Men can’t speak of their troubles and can’t shed any tears; they have to hold it in. Tell Me, how much injustice must men endure? In this society, men must support their families, show filial piety to their elders, and they don’t dare complain no matter how tired they are. They can’t vent no matter how much injustice they’ve endured. Isn’t this unfair to men? (Yes, it is.) When your fathers educated you like this, how did you feel? When you wanted to cry on occasion, what did your father say? “I, so-and-so, have been wise and eager to excel all my life. How could I have raised such a weakling like you? When I was your age, I was already supporting the family by myself. Look at you, pampered and spoiled, you good-for-nothing!” How did you feel? Your parents and grandparents educated you, saying: “A man is the pillar of the family. Why do we support you? Why do we send you to college? It’s to help you support the family, not for you to cry or feel wronged whenever something comes up.” How did you feel when your fathers and elders said these things? Did you feel wronged or take it in stride? (I felt depressed, I felt wronged.) Did you have no choice but to accept it, or did you feel resentment in your heart? (I felt resentment, but I had to accept it.) Why did you do this? (Because I felt that under such a circumstance or social system, I had no other choice.) This is how society positions men. They are born into this kind of social circumstance, and nobody has a choice. The education you received from your father and elders originated from society; after they received this ideological education, they then instilled these thoughts from society into you. In reality, when they accepted these thoughts and viewpoints during their formative years, they did so reluctantly as well. As they grew older, they passed these thoughts onto the next generation. They didn’t consider whether the next generation should accept these thoughts and viewpoints or whether they were correct, because this is how they grew up. They thought people should live this way; what does it matter if you’re wronged, the important thing is that accepting these thoughts will help you find your footing in society and not get bullied by other people. Why did they also endure these grievances, and feel depressed and resentful just like you, yet still pass these thoughts and viewpoints onto you? One reason is that they naturally accepted various thoughts and viewpoints from society that allowed them to assimilate into the social trends, helping them find their footing in society. Everyone follows these thoughts and viewpoints as guidelines and criteria for living, without anyone questioning them or wishing to break or forsake them. This is one aspect—in order to survive. The other aspect, the main one, is that people lack the ability to distinguish between positive and negative things. Why is that? It’s because people don’t understand the truth, and they lack the correct thoughts and viewpoints regarding survival, dealing with the world, or the path that they should follow. In order to adapt to society, fit in, and survive within this society and in social groups, people must actively or passively accept the various principles for dealing with the world and game rules set by society. The purpose of adaptation is for people to establish themselves in society and to stay alive. However, because people don’t understand the truth, they have no choice but to choose these principles for dealing with the world and game rules set by society. Therefore, as a male, when your father taught you, “Men do not shed tears easily,” although you felt wronged and wanted to vent your frustrations, you had no way to refute him, nor could you discern what he was saying. Ultimately, the reason you accepted this in your heart was that, “Although my father’s words are somewhat harsh and difficult to hear, and even though accepting these words goes against my will, he’s doing it for my own good, so I should accept them.” Due to their conscience and filial piety as a child, people have to make concessions and accept these thoughts and viewpoints. Regardless of which aspect of people’s family conditioning, they are constantly in such a state, continuously being instilled through these methods until they eventually accept them in spite of themselves. Throughout this process of continual acceptance, these incorrect and negative thoughts and viewpoints gradually seep into a person’s innermost being, or they slowly and steadily infiltrate into their thoughts and viewpoints, becoming various different bases for how they behave and deal with the world. This process can be aptly described as a person undergoing corruption, for the process of accepting erroneous thoughts and viewpoints is also the process of corruption. So, who corrupted people? In an abstract sense, they were corrupted by Satan, by evil trends; more specifically, they were corrupted by their family, and even more specifically, by their parents. If I had said this ten years ago, none of you might have been able to accept it, and you all may have felt hostile toward Me. Now, however, most of you can rationally accept this statement as correct, and say “amen” to it, isn’t that right? (Yes.) Why is this statement correct? To understand that, people need to gradually come to appreciate it throughout their experience. The more specific and profound your appreciation is, and the more your experiences come to reflect this, the more you can agree with this statement.
Family conditioning most likely involves many more rules of the game for behaving and dealing with the world. For example, parents often say, “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him; you’re too foolish and credulous.” Parents often repeat these kinds of words, and even elders often nag you, saying, “Be a good person, don’t harm others, but you must always guard against the harm others might do to you. All people are wicked. You might see that someone says nice things to you on the outside, but you don’t know what they’re thinking. People’s hearts are hidden beneath their skin, and in drawing a tiger, you show its skin, but not its bones; in knowing a person, you may know their face, but not their heart.” Is there a correct side to these phrases? Looking at each of them literally, there’s nothing wrong with such phrases. What a person is truly thinking deep down, whether their heart is vicious or kind, cannot be known. It’s impossible to see into a person’s soul. The meaning behind these phrases is ostensibly correct, but they’re only a kind of doctrine. What is the principle for dealing with the world that people ultimately derive from these two phrases? It’s that “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him.” This is what the older generation says. Parents and elders often say this, and they constantly advise you by saying, “Be cautious, don’t be foolish and reveal everything in your heart. Learn to guard yourself and be vigilant. Even with good friends, don’t reveal your true self or lay your heart bare. Don’t risk your life for them.” Is this admonishment from your elders correct? (No, it teaches people deceitful ways.) In theory, it has a good primary aim: To protect you, to prevent you from falling into dangerous situations, to protect you from being harmed or cheated by others, to safeguard your physical interests, your personal safety, and your life. It’s to keep you out of trouble, lawsuits, and temptations, and to allow you to live every day peacefully, smoothly, and happily. The primary aim of parents and elders is simply to protect you. However, the way they protect you, the principles they advise you to follow, and the thoughts they instill in you are not at all correct. While their primary aim is correct, the thoughts they instill in you unconsciously lead you to an extreme. The thoughts they instill in you become the principles and bases for how you deal with the world. When you interact with classmates, colleagues, work partners, superiors, and every type of person in society, people from all walks of life, these protective thoughts instilled by your parents unconsciously become your most basic talisman and principle whenever you handle matters involving interpersonal relationships. What principle is this? It is: I won’t harm you, but I have to be on guard against you at all times to prevent you from deceiving or cheating me, to avoid getting into trouble or lawsuits, to prevent my family fortune from going under and the people in my family from meeting their end, and to prevent me from ending up in prison. Living under the control of such thoughts and viewpoints, living among this social group with such an attitude toward dealing with the world, you can only become more depressed, more exhausted, fatigued in both mind and body. Subsequently, you become more resistant and averse to this world and humanity, despising them more. While despising others, you begin to think less of yourself, feeling like you’re not living in a way that resembles a person, but rather, you’re living a tired and depressed life. In order to avoid being harmed by others, you have to be constantly on your guard, doing and saying things against your will. In the pursuit of protecting your own interests and personal safety, you wear a false mask in every aspect of your life and disguise yourself, never daring to speak a word of truth. In this situation, in these survival conditions, your inner self cannot find release or freedom. You often need someone who poses no harm to you and will never threaten your interests, someone with whom you can share your innermost thoughts and vent your frustrations, without bearing any responsibility for your words, incurring ridicules, digs, mockery, or taking any consequences. In a situation where the thought and viewpoint of “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him” is your principle for dealing with the world, your inner self is filled with fear and insecurity. Naturally, you feel depressed, unable to find release, and you need someone to comfort you, someone to confide in. Therefore, judging from these aspects, although the principle for dealing with the world that your parents taught you, “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him,” can succeed in protecting you, it is a double-edged sword. While it protects your physical interests and personal safety to a certain extent, it also makes you feel depressed and miserable, unable to find release, and even makes you more disenchanted with this world and humanity. At the same time, deep inside, you also faintly begin to feel fed up with having been born in such a wicked era, among such a wicked group of people. You can’t understand why people have to live, why life is so exhausting, why they must wear a mask and disguise themselves everywhere they go, or why you must always be on guard against others for the sake of your own interests. You wish you could speak the truth, but you can’t because of the consequences. You want to be a real person, speak and comport yourself openly, and avoid being a base person or doing vile and shameful deeds in secret, living exclusively in darkness, but you cannot do any of this. Why can’t you live uprightly? As you reflect on your past actions, you feel a faint contempt. You hate and abhor this wicked trend and this wicked world, and at the same time, you loathe yourself deeply and despise the person you’ve become. Yet, there’s nothing you can do. Although your parents, through their words and actions, passed this talisman along to you, it still makes you feel like your life lacks happiness or a sense of security. When you feel this lack of happiness, security, integrity and dignity, you find yourself both grateful to your parents for giving you this talisman and resentful of the chains they’ve placed upon you. You don’t understand why your parents told you to comport yourself in this way, why you must comport yourself like this in order to gain a footing in society, to assimilate into this social group, and to protect yourself. Although it is a talisman, it is also a kind of shackle that makes you feel both love and hatred in your heart. But what can you do? You don’t have the right path in life, no one tells you how to live or how to deal with things that come your way, and no one tells you whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, or how you should walk the path that lies before you. You can only pass through confusion, vacillation, pain, and unease. These are the consequences of the philosophy of dealing with the world that was instilled in you by your parents and family, making it so that your simplest wish to be a simple person, namely your desire to be able to comport yourself uprightly without resorting to these means of dealing with the world, cannot be realized. You can only live in a debased manner, making compromises and living for the sake of your reputation, making yourself especially fierce to guard against other people, pretending to be fierce, tall and mighty, and powerful and extraordinary to avoid being bullied. You can only live like this against your will, which makes you feel disgusted with yourself, but you have no choice. Because you don’t have the ability or the path to escape these ways and strategies for dealing with the world, you can only let yourself be manipulated by the thoughts conditioned into you by your family and parents. People are fooled and controlled by the thoughts instilled in them by their families and parents during this unconscious process, because they do not understand the truth or how they should live, so they can only leave it to fate. Even if their conscience still has a little bit of feeling, or they have even a small desire to live with human likeness, to get along and compete with others fairly, no matter what their wishes may be, they cannot escape the conditioning and control of various thoughts and viewpoints that come from their family, and in the end, they can only return to the thought and viewpoint conditioned into them by their family that “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him,” because they have no other path to take—they have no choice. All of this is caused by people’s lack of understanding the truth and their failure to obtain the truth. Of course, parents also tell you, “In drawing a tiger, you show its skin, but not its bones; in knowing a person, you may know their face, but not their heart”; they tell you about the art of guarding against others, and tell you to do this because everyone is cunning; it’s easy to get tricked if you can’t see through people, their inner thoughts may not be the same as their outward appearance, a person may appear righteous and kind on the surface, but their heart is as venomous as a snake or scorpion; or a person may speak of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness on the surface, saying all the right things, their speech full of righteousness and morality, but deep down in their heart and soul, they are particularly filthy, despicable, lowly, and evil. Therefore, you can only approach and interact with others based on the thoughts and viewpoints instilled in you by your parents.
“One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him,” and “In drawing a tiger, you show its skin, but not its bones; in knowing a person, you may know their face, but not their heart” are the most basic principles for dealing with the world that parents instill in you, as well as the most fundamental criteria for viewing people and being on guard against them. The primary aim of parents is to protect you and help you protect yourself. However, from another angle, these words, thoughts, and viewpoints may make you feel even more so that the world is dangerous and people are untrustworthy, leading to an entire lack of positive feelings toward others. But how can you actually discern people and view others? Which people can you get along with, and what should be the proper relationship between people? How should one interact with others based on principles, and how can one interact fairly and harmoniously with others? Parents do not know anything about these matters. They only know how to use tricks, schemes, and various game rules and strategies for dealing with the world to guard against people, and to take advantage of and control others, in order to protect themselves from being harmed by others, no matter how much they harm others. While teaching these thoughts and viewpoints to their children, the things that parents instill into them are merely certain strategies for dealing with the world. They are nothing more than strategies. What do these strategies include? All kinds of tricks, game rules, how to please others, how to protect one’s own interests, and how to maximize personal gain. Are these principles the truth? (No, they’re not.) Are they the right path for people to follow? (No.) None of them are the right path. So, what is the essence of these thoughts that parents instill in you? They do not conform to the truth, they are not the right path, and they are not positive things. Then, what are they? (They are entirely the philosophy of Satan that corrupts us.) Looking at the results, they corrupt people. So, what is the essence of these thoughts? Like, “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him”—is this the correct principle for interacting with others? (No, they are wholly negative things that come from Satan.) They are negative things that come from Satan—so what is their essence and nature? Aren’t they tricks? Aren’t they strategies? Aren’t they tactics to win others over? (Yes.) They are not the practice principles for entering the truth, or positive principles and directions with which God teaches people how to comport themselves; they are strategies for dealing with the world, they are tricks. Moreover, is the nature of phrases like “In drawing a tiger, you show its skin, but not its bones; in knowing a person, you may know their face, but not their heart” also the same? (Yes.) Don’t these phrases tell you to become cunning, to not be simple, straightforward, or upright, to be difficult to read, and make it difficult for others to see through you? Don’t the specific principles for dealing with the world, brought to you by these thoughts and viewpoints, tell you to use strategies when interacting with others, to learn how to win others over, and to learn the game rules that circulate among people in every era? (Yes.) Some people say, “Parents tell people these phrases in order to instruct them to guard against others and learn how to view people.” Did they tell you how to view others? They didn’t tell you how to view others, they didn’t tell you to approach different people according to the correct principles, but rather to use corresponding tricks and schemes to cater to the needs and strategies of different people. For example, your boss or superior is vile and a skirt-chaser. You think, “The boss looks respectable on the surface, he seems upright, but beneath it all he is actually a skirt-chaser. That’s the kind of wretch he is deep down in his soul. That’s fine, I’ll cater to his preferences, see which woman looks good, approach her, and introduce her to the boss to please him.” Is this a strategy for dealing with the world? (Yes.) For example, when you see someone who has value to exploit and is worth your interaction, but they aren’t easy to mess with, you think, “I have to say flattering words to them, whatever they like to hear.” That person says, “The weather is nice today.” You say, “The weather is really nice today, tomorrow will be nice too.” They say, “The weather is really cold today.” You say, “Yes, it’s cold. Why don’t you wear something warmer? My coat is warm, go ahead and put it on.” As soon as they yawn, you hurry to hand them a pillow; when they take out a medicine bottle, you quickly pour water for them; when they sit down after eating, you quickly brew tea for them. Aren’t these strategies for dealing with the world? (Yes.) They are strategies for dealing with the world. Why are you able to use these strategies? Why do you want to flatter them? If you didn’t need them and they presented no benefit to you, would you treat them like this? (No.) No, it’s like what people tend to say, “Never lift a finger without a reward.” It’s like carrying a water pot to the vegetable garden—you only water the useful ones. You actively go and flatter those who are useful to you. Once they step down or are removed from their position, your enthusiasm toward them immediately cools and you ignore them. When they call you, either you turn your phone off or you pretend that the line is busy and don’t answer. When you see them, they greet you and say, “The weather is nice today.” You blow them off, saying, “Ah, yes. Goodbye, let’s chat later if anything comes up, I’ll treat you to a meal sometime.” Empty promises, and then you ignore them, don’t contact them, and even block them. The various thoughts and viewpoints that parents instill in people establish an invisible protective wall over their hearts. At the same time, they also instill some basic ways of dealing with the world or surviving, teaching people how to play both sides and how to assimilate into a social group, how to establish themselves in society, and how not to be bullied in a group of people. Although, before you entered society, your parents did not specifically guide you on how to deal with specific situations, the conditioning of parents or family in terms of these ways and principles of dealing with the world has given you basic views and principles of dealing with the world. What are these basic views and principles for dealing with the world? They teach you how to wear a mask whenever you interact with people, how to live with a mask in every social group, and ultimately achieve the goal of protecting your fame and profit from suffering loss, and simultaneously obtaining the fame and profit that you want, or achieving a basic guarantee of personal safety. From the thoughts and viewpoints and various strategies for dealing with the world instilled in you by your parents, it can be seen that parents have not taught you how to be a more dignified person, how to be a real person, how to be a good created being, or how to be a person who possesses the truth. On the contrary, they told you how to deceive others, how to be on guard against others, how to use strategies to interact with different people, as well as what people’s hearts are like and what mankind is like. Under the conditioning of these thoughts and viewpoints from your parents, your inner self continually grows more sinister, and you develop a dislike for people. In your young heart, even before you have any strategies for dealing with the world, you already have a rudimentary and basic definition of humanity, as well as a rudimentary and basic principle of how to deal with the world. So, what role do parents play in your dealing with the world? They undoubtedly play the role of guiding you along the wrong path; they do not lead you to walk the good path, or guide you toward the right path of human life in a positive and proactive way, but instead lead you astray.
Apart from conditioning them with sayings like “Men do not shed tears easily,” parents often tell boys: “‘A good rooster doesn’t fight dogs; a good man doesn’t fight women’; don’t play around with or fight girls; don’t stoop to their level; they’re girls, and you should go easy on them.” Why should you go easy on them? If they’ve done something wrong, you shouldn’t go easy on them or spoil them. Men and women are equal. They were born and raised by mom and dad just like you, so why should you go easy on them? Just because they’re women? They should be punished when they do wrong, be educated about it, admit their mistake, apologize, understand what they did wrong, and that they shouldn’t repeat the same mistake next time they meet with such matters. You should learn how to help them, instead of following the principle “A good man doesn’t fight women” that your parents taught you to approach the situation. All people make mistakes at some time or another, men and women both. When they do, they should admit their mistakes and repent from them. Both men and women should walk the right path and live with dignity, instead of adhering to what their parents said: “A good rooster doesn’t fight dogs; a good man doesn’t fight women.” A good man does not show himself by not fighting women, nor does he show himself by not stooping to their level. You see, parents often say: “Women have long hair but are short of insight. They have no prospects, don’t be like them, don’t get serious with them or pay attention to them.” What do you mean “don’t pay attention to them”? The issue of principles needs to be clarified and explained. Who made the mistake, who said the positive or the negative thing, whose mention of a path was correct—matters involving principles, paths, and self-comportment must be clarified. Don’t blur the line between right and wrong; even for a woman, you ought to make things clear. If you really are taking her into consideration, then you should tell her the truth that people should understand, help her walk the right path, don’t indulge her, and don’t avoid getting serious or clarifying things just because she’s a woman. Women, too, should live with dignity and should not indulge themselves or refuse to be reasonable just because men are compromising with them. Men and women are different only in terms of their physiology, but in the eyes of God, their identity and status are the same. They are both created beings, and apart from their gender differences, there isn’t much that sets them apart. They both experience corruption and share the same principles of self-comportment. God’s required standards are identical for both men and women, without distinction. So, does the parental teaching of “A good man doesn’t fight women” hold true? (It doesn’t.) What is the correct approach then? It’s not about engaging in fights but aligning your practice to principles. What do parents mean by such remarks? Is this not favoring sons over daughters? They seem to be saying, “Women have long hair but are short of insight. They are naive, their intellect is negligible. Why even reason with them? They wouldn’t get it. As the saying goes, ‘Women with big breasts have no brains, they have long hair but are short of insight.’ Why would you bother about women or get serious with them?” Are women not human? Does God not save women? Does He not share the truth with them, or give them life? Is that the case? (No, it’s not.) If God doesn’t do this, if He doesn’t treat women unfairly, then how should you act? Treat women according to the principles God teaches you; don’t accept your parents’ thoughts or foster chauvinistic tendencies. While your bones and muscles might be a bit sturdier than women, you might have a larger build and greater physical strength, you might consume more food, yet your corrupt disposition, rebelliousness, and the extent to which you do not understand the truth is no different from women. The life skills in which you excel may be different from those of women: You are skilled with electronics and machinery, while women are good at embroidery, tailoring, and mending. Can you do those things? While men are adept builders, women excel in beauty treatment. While men can operate various machinery and equipment, women aren’t lacking either. Where exactly do women fall short? All such comparisons are pointless. The point here is for you to let go of your chauvinism. Don’t accept thoughts like “A good man doesn’t fight women”; the things parents say are not the truth, they are harmful to you. Don’t ever say these things that are degrading to women—this goes blatantly against reason and propriety. What sort of issue is that of disrespecting women? Do people who do things like this even possess humanity? (They do not.) They are devoid of humanity. If you disrespect women, remember that your mother, both your grandmothers, and your sisters are all women. Are they willing to accept such disrespect? Certain mothers even tell their sons, “A good man doesn’t fight women.” Aren’t these mothers fools? Mothers like this are simple-minded, and being women themselves, they diminish their own worth; clearly they are muddlers who have no idea what they’re saying. The statement “A good man doesn’t fight women” goes blatantly against reason and propriety. God has never defined women in this way, nor has He ever admonished men, saying, “Women are fragile, they have long hair but are short of insight, and they lack common sense. Don’t fight them. Even if you do, you will be unable to work things out clearly. In everything, be forgiving and accommodating, don’t get serious with them; men should be broad-minded and all-embracing.” Has God ever said anything like this? (He hasn’t.) Since God has never said such things, don’t do them or look at women with such viewpoints. This is discrimination and disrespect toward women. You can fill in where women lack the necessary skills, but you also need them to do the same where your skills are found lacking. Mutual dependency and complementing each other is the correct viewpoint. Why is this the correct viewpoint? Because the strengths of both men and women are ordained by God. What thoughts and viewpoints should you adopt to approach the fact that the strengths of both men and women are ordained by God? It is to complement each other—this is the principle of practice. Men should not discriminate against women, and women should not be overly deferential to men, thinking, “Finally, we have a brother in our church, a pillar of strength. Now our church is complete, there is someone to back us up and handle things on our behalf, to take the lead for us.” Are you inferior? Is your faith placed in men? If a church consisted solely of sisters, would it mean that you don’t have faith in God anymore? That you can’t be saved or understand the truth? When someone makes the off-handed comment, “Why doesn’t your church have any brothers?” you feel as if you’d been stabbed in the heart, saying, “Don’t bring it up, it’s the one shortcoming of our church. We don’t want it to be pointed out; you’ve touched on our only regret,” and you pray, “God, when will You prepare a brother for our church?” Is the church sustained by brothers? Can it not stand without brothers? Has God ever said this? (No, He hasn’t.) God never said this, nor did He ever say that a church must have both genders before it can be founded, or that it cannot be founded with only one gender. Did He ever say this? (No.) These are all consequences of family-conditioned chauvinism. You rely on men for everything, and as soon as something comes up you say, “I need to wait to discuss it when my husband returns,” or “Our church brothers have been busy recently, so no one is taking the lead to handle this matter.” So what are women for? Are you unable to handle these tasks? Do you not have any mouths or legs? You lack nothing: You understand the truth principles, and you should act accordingly. Men are not your heads, nor are they your masters; they are just ordinary people, members of corrupt humanity. Learn to rely on God and His words in everything you do. This is the principle and way you should follow, instead of depending on any one person. While I don’t advocate chauvinism, of course I do this not in order to elevate women’s rights or vindicate them, but rather to help people understand a facet of the truth. Which facet of the truth? That the saying instilled in you by your parents, “A good man doesn’t fight women,” is incorrect; it’s instilling and guiding a wrong thought. You shouldn’t be led by this thought and viewpoint in your role as a man or in how you treat women. This is an aspect of the truth that you should understand. Don’t always think, “I am a man, I should consider issues from a man’s perspective, I should show consideration for these sisters and protect, tolerate, and forgive them from the stance of a man, not getting serious with any of them. If a sister wants to run for election to be a leader in the church, I’ll treat her with courtesy, and let her lead.” On what grounds? Just because you’re a man, you think you’re all-embracing? Can you be tolerant of them? You can’t even tolerate yourself. Church leadership should be determined by who is fit for the role. If brothers and sisters choose you, you ought to shoulder this burden. It’s both your responsibility and your duty. Why are you declining so casually? To show how noble you are? Is that the principle of practice? Is it in line with the truth? (It isn’t.) It’s wrong to decline and wrong to fight for it; so, what’s the right way to act? The right way is to base your actions on God’s words and take the truth as your criteria. Your parents taught you that “A good man doesn’t fight women.” How many years have you lived with this chauvinistic thought and viewpoint? Many people think, “Washing and mending are all women’s work. Let women handle them. I feel exasperated when I have to do these tasks; I feel like less of a man.” So, what happens if you do this work? Are you no longer a man? Some people say, “My clothes were always washed by my mother, sister, or grandmother. I’ve never done ‘women’s work.’” Now, you’re performing your duty, and you have to be independent. This is what you should do; it’s what God demands of people. Will you do it? (Yes.) If your heart is resistant, you’re unwilling and you’re always thinking of your mother due to this matter, then you really are a good-for-nothing. Men have these chauvinistic thoughts, and they look down upon certain tasks like taking care of children, tidying up the house, doing the washing, and cleaning. Some have strong chauvinistic tendencies, and disdain these chores, are unwilling to do them, or if they do them, they do so begrudgingly, fearing that others may think less of them. They think, “If I’m always doing these chores, won’t I become effeminate?” What thought and viewpoint is this governed by? Isn’t there a problem with their thought? (Yes, there is.) Their thought is problematic. Look at certain regions where men are always wearing aprons and cooking. When the woman returns home from work, the man serves her food, saying, “Here, have a bite to eat. It’s really tasty; I made all your favorites today.” The woman rightfully eats the ready-made meal, and the man rightfully prepares it, never feeling like a housewife. Once he steps outside and removes his apron, isn’t he still a man? In certain regions where chauvinism is particularly strong, they are undeniably spoiled by family conditioning and influence. Has this conditioning saved them or harmed them? (It has harmed them.) It has been detrimental to them. Some men in their thirties, forties, or even fifties can’t wash their own socks. They wear an undershirt for half a month, it’s already dirty but they don’t want to wash it; they are clueless about how to wash it, about how much water or detergent to use, and how to get it clean. They just wear it like that and think to themselves, “In the future, I’ll have my mother or my wife buy me more undershirts and socks so that I can wash them once every two months. It’d be great if there are chances for my mom or wife to come and wash them for me!” The root of their aversion to doing these tasks has a certain relation to the education they received at the hands of their family and parents. The thoughts and viewpoints parents instill touch on the most basic and simplest rules for living, as well as certain incorrect views about people. In summary, all these constitute family conditioning of people’s thoughts. Regardless of how much impact they have on a person’s life over the course of their faith in God and existence, or how much trouble and inconvenience they bring, intrinsically they have a certain relation to the ideological education of parents. If you are an adult now and have lived according to these thoughts and viewpoints for many years, then they won’t change overnight—it takes time. If these thoughts and viewpoints pertain to fulfilling one’s duty or to principles of behaving and dealing with the world, and if you are pursuing the truth, you should strive to change these issues and enter into the truth reality as soon as possible. If they only relate to aspects of one’s personal life, it would be better if you were willing to change. If you can’t achieve this, if it seems a bit too taxing or difficult, or you’re even already accustomed to this lifestyle and cannot change, then no one is forcing you. I’m merely pointing these out so you know what’s right and what’s wrong. As for these personal lifestyle issues, weigh them out yourself—we won’t force the matter. As for how often you wash your socks, and whether you mend them or throw them away when they tear, that’s your business. Base it on your circumstances—we won’t set any specific rules.
In some families, due to their privileged background, parents often tell their children, “When you go out, remember who you are descended from and who your ancestors are. You should act in a way among social groups that brings honor and glory to our family name. Never tarnish our ancestor’s reputation. Always remember the teachings of our ancestors and do not bring shame to our lineage. If one day you make a mistake, people will say, ‘Aren’t you from a prominent and respectable family? How could you do something like this?’ They’ll laugh at you, but they won’t just be laughing at you, but at our entire family. In that case, you would be smearing our family’s name and causing shame to our ancestors, which is unacceptable.” Some parents also tell their children, “Our country is a great nation and an ancient civilization. Our current life didn’t come easily, so cherish it. Especially when you’re abroad, you must win glory and honor for the Chinese people. Don’t do anything that might disgrace our nation or hurt the reputation of the Chinese people.” In one respect, parents tell you to win glory and honor for your family and ancestors, and in another, for your nation and ethnicity, urging you not to bring shame to your country. From a young age, children are educated in this manner by their parents, and when they go to school their teachers educate them the same way, saying, “Win glory for our class, our school, our city, and our country. Don’t let foreigners mock us, saying we lack caliber or have poor character.” Some in the church even say, “We Chinese believed first. When we interact with foreign brothers and sisters, we should win glory for the Chinese people and uphold their reputation.” All these sayings are directly related to what families instill into people. Is this kind of instilling correct? (No, it’s not.) Why isn’t it? What glory are they seeking? Is there any use in seeking such glory? (No, there isn’t.) There was an incident where a guy from Northeast China was visiting different churches; he took 10,000 yuan of the church’s offering money, and ran off back home to spend his days. When the brothers and sisters from the Northeast found out, some said, “This guy is detestable! He even dared to take the church’s offering money. He has completely tarnished the reputation of people from the Northeast! If we ever see him again, we should teach him a lesson!” After this incident, people from the Northeast felt as though they had lost their honor. Whenever they were talking around brothers and sisters from other provinces, they dared not bring up this matter. They felt embarrassed, and were afraid that others might say, “So-and-so from your Northeast region ran off with the offering money.” They were afraid of others talking about it, and didn’t dare to bring it up themselves. Is this behavior right? (No, it isn’t.) Why is it wrong? (Who takes the offering money has nothing to do with others; everyone represents themselves.) That’s right. That person taking the offering money is his own business. If you discovered it and stopped him, thereby salvaging the loss to the house of God and preserving its interests, you would have performed your duty. If you had no opportunity to prevent it and couldn’t salvage the loss, then you should have recognized what sort of wretch he is, admonished yourself, prayed to God to protect you from such an incident and ensure that you don’t fall into similar temptation. You should address this issue correctly. Although he’s from your region, his actions only represent him as an individual. It’s not that the people of that region taught or encouraged him to act this way. It has no connection to anyone else. Others may at most be accountable for inadequate supervision or direction, but no one is obligated to bear the consequences of his wrongdoing. He acted against God and offended the administrative decrees, no one else is obligated to bear the consequences for him. His disreputability is his own affair. Moreover, this matter isn’t about losing face or gaining glory; it concerns one person’s nature essence and the path he has taken. It can only be said that, initially, people failed to discern his true character, but after this incident his true colors were revealed. This has nothing to do with the reputation or dignity of other brothers and sisters in that region. If you feel that because he’s from the same region as you, he has disgraced you, then such a view and understanding is entirely misguided. God’s house never punishes an entire family for the sins of a single person; God views each individual as a separate entity. No matter where you come from, even if you’re from the same family or parents, God sees every person as a unique entity. God never implicates any related individual because of one person’s mistakes. This is the principle, and it aligns with the truth. However, if you think that someone from your region doing wrong harms your reputation and implicates you too, this is due to your erroneous understanding, and has nothing to do with the truth. Hence, when parents tell you, “Win glory for our country, family, or surname,” is this correct? (No.) Why not? Which phrase does it share the same nature with? Doesn’t it share the same nature as the thought we discussed earlier, namely, “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies”? In a person’s life, doing positive deeds, walking the right path, embracing positive things and the truth—none of this is done in order to do themselves credit. Instead, people should comport themselves like this: This is their responsibility, the path they should walk, and their duty. Walking the right path, embracing positive things and the truth, and submitting to God are people’s obligation and duty. They’re also for the sake of attaining salvation, not in order to earn face for oneself or God, not, of course, to earn face for the people of your country, and certainly not for a particular surname, race, or clan. You don’t become saved in order to win glory for the people of your country, and certainly not to win glory for your family. The idea of “winning glory” is just a theory. Your salvation has nothing to do with those people. What benefit can they derive from your salvation? If you receive salvation, what can they gain from this? They do not follow the right path, and God, with His righteous disposition, will treat them accordingly. He will treat them as they ought to be treated. What does this so-called “winning glory” bring them? It has nothing to do with them. You accept the consequences for the path that you take, and they accept the consequences of their own path. God treats every individual according to His righteous disposition. Winning glory for one’s nation, family, or surname isn’t the responsibility of any one person. Naturally, you shouldn’t bear this responsibility alone, and in fact, you can’t. The rise or decline of a family or clan, its course, and its fate have nothing to do with whether you win them glory. And of course, it has nothing to do with the path you take. If you comport yourself well and are able to submit to God, it isn’t to win glory for them or do them credit, nor is it to claim any rewards from God on their behalf or to secure any exemption from punishment for them. Their rise, their fall, and their fate have nothing to do with you. Especially concerning whether or not they feel honored, and whether or not you win glory for them—these have no relevance to you. You cannot bear them on your shoulders, and you have no responsibility or obligation to do so. Therefore, when your parents tell you, “You must win glory for our nation, family, or surname, and you must not tarnish the reputation of our ancestors or let others reproach us behind our backs,” these words only serve to apply negative psychological pressure on you. You can’t live up to them, nor do you have any obligation to do so. Why? Because God only requires you to fulfill your duty as a created being before Him. He doesn’t ask you to do anything or bear any obligation for your country, family, or surname. Therefore, winning glory for your country or family, or winning glory and honor or doing anything for your surname is not your obligation. It has nothing to do with you. Their fate is solely in the hands of God, and you don’t need to shoulder any burdens at all. If you make any mistakes, you shouldn’t feel any guilt toward them. If you do any good deeds, you shouldn’t have the mindset that you were lucky or think that you’ve won glory for your country, family, or surname. Do not rejoice over these things. And if you fail, don’t feel frightened or weighed down by grief. Don’t blame yourself. Because it has nothing to do with you at all. Don’t even think about it—it’s as simple as that. So, concerning people of different nationalities, Chinese people are chosen by God; they come before God and are created beings. Westerners come before God, and they are created beings too. Asians, Europeans, North and South Americans, those in Oceania, and Africans, come before God and accept His work, and they are also His created beings. No matter which country a person is from, the only thing they should do is to fulfill their duty as a created being, accept God’s words, submit to God’s words, and attain salvation. They shouldn’t form various clan groups based on their own nationality, dividing themselves into groups or races. Everything that takes racial glory as the objective of its struggle or as its fundamental principle is wrong. This is not the path people should walk, and it is a phenomenon that should not appear within the church. There will come a day, as people from different countries interact more widely and have access to a broader area of the globe, when an Asian might encounter a European, a European might meet an American, and an American might come into contact with an Asian or African, etc. When different races gather together, if there are groups formed on the basis of race, all striving for their own racial glory and doing things for their race, what will the church begin to face? It will face division. This is something that God detests and condemns. Whoever does this is cursed, whoever acts this way is a servant of Satan, and whoever acts in such a manner will be an object of punishment. Why will they be punished? Because this is a violation of the administrative decrees. Never do this. If you can act this way, it proves you haven’t let go of this aspect of your parents’ conditioning. You haven’t accepted the identity that God gave you as a created being, and you still see yourself as Chinese, or as a white, black, or brown person—as someone from a different race, surname, or nationality. If you wish to bring glory to your nation, race, or family, and you act with this thought in your mind, the consequences will be dire. Today, we solemnly declare and earnestly clarify this matter here. If one day anyone goes against this aspect of the administrative decrees, they will bear the consequences. At that time, do not complain, saying, “You didn’t tell me, I didn’t know, I didn’t understand.” You’ve long known your identity as a created being, yet you can still act this way: This means that you weren’t ignorant, but did it deliberately, knowingly committing the offense. You should face punishment. The consequences of going against the administrative decrees are unimaginable. Do you understand? (Yes, we understand.)
Some parents tell their children, “No matter where we go, we must not forget our roots. We can’t forget where we were born and raised, or who we are. Wherever you go, when you meet your townsmen, you should take care of them. When choosing church leaders or supervisors, prioritize people from your hometown. When the church has any material benefit, let the folks from your hometown enjoy them first. If you’re selecting members for a group, choose people from your hometown first. When fellow townsmen work together, you share a common language and a familiarity.” What is this called? “When fellow townsmen meet, tears well up in their eyes.” There’s also the saying, “Uncles and aunts are kin, generation after generation: Though the bones may be broken, the sinews are still connected.” Some people, due to their parents’ and elders’ instruction, as soon as they hear that someone comes from the same province or town, or if they hear the person speaking with the accent of their hometown, they grow very fond of them. They eat together, sit together at gatherings, and do everything together. They are especially close. Some people, upon meeting a fellow townsman, might say, “You know what they say, ‘When fellow townsmen meet, tears well up in their eyes.’ When I meet a fellow townsman, I feel close to them: When I met you it felt as though you were family.” They take special care of their fellow townsmen. If their townsmen encounter difficulties in life or work, or if they are ill, they take special care of them. Is this good? (No, it’s not good.) Why isn’t it good? (Treating people like this lacks principles.) It lacks principles, and this person is a muddler. They show affection to whomever is a fellow townsman, but what are fellow townsmen? Are they good people? Are they true brothers and sisters? Is your promotion of them in accordance with principles? Does your recommendation of them align with the principles? Are they suitable for the job? Is your care for them and your closeness to them fair? Does it conform to the truth and to principles? If not, then what you’re doing for them is inappropriate, and it is detestable to God. Do you understand? (I understand.) Therefore, when your parents tell you, “Take care of fellow townsmen when you meet them,” this is a fallacy, and you should put it at the back of your mind and ignore it. In the future, if your parents ask you, “That fellow townsman of ours is in the same church as you. Did you take care of him?” how should you respond? (In God’s house, we treat everyone equally.) You should say, “I’m not obligated to do that. Forget townsman, I wouldn’t even take care of you if you stand in opposition to God.” There are some people who are heavily influenced by these kinds of traditional family notions. As soon as they meet anybody who is somewhat related to them, or shares the same last name, or belongs to the same clan, they can’t get around them. As soon as they hear that someone shares their last name, they say, “Oh goodness, we’re all family here. Based on my current position in the family, I should call her my great-aunt. I’m one of the grandchildren compared to her.” They willingly refer to themselves as grandchildren, and when they see her they dare not address her as sister or anything else; they always call her “great-aunt.” When some people meet someone with the same surname, they feel especially close to them, regardless of what kind of person they are. Is this right? (No.) In particular, some families have a tradition of taking special care of those who are from the same clan, and they are often courteous with them and interact closely with these people. Thus, it seems like their home is always bustling with people and activity, and the family appears to be especially lively and prosperous. When something happens, distant relatives all come to lend a hand and help out, giving advice and suggestions. Influenced by this family culture, some feel that comporting themselves like this is a good thing to do; at the very least, they’re not isolated or lonely, and have people to help when matters arise. What notions do other people have? “To live among people, one must act personably.” Though this saying is difficult to explain, everyone can understand its meaning. “One must live with human sentiments. Can someone still be called a human if they don’t have human sentiments? If you’re always serious and in earnest, if you’re always concerned with principles and stances, in the end, you’ll be left without any relatives or friends. You need to have human sentiments while living among social groups. People who have nothing to do with our surname are another story, but among those with the same surname or clan, isn’t everyone close? You cannot leave any of them. When you face matters such as illness, marriage, funerals, or other major and minor events, don’t you need someone to discuss it with? When you buy a house, a car, or land, anyone can lend a helping hand. You can’t leave these people; you have to rely on them in life.” Because you are deeply influenced by this family culture, when you are out, and especially in the church, and see someone from the same clan, you subconsciously gravitate toward them, having a particular fondness for them, often giving them special care and treatment, and getting along with them in a special way. Even when they make mistakes, you are often lenient with them. For those not related by blood, you treat them impartially. But for those from your clan, you tend to be protective and favor them, which in plain terms is called “being partial to relatives.” Some people are often guided by these thoughts, not treating people or handling affairs in life based on the principles God teaches but based on the influence of family culture. Isn’t this wrong? (Yes.) For example, someone with the surname Zhang might address another person with the same surname who is a few years older as “older sister.” Others might think they are real sisters, but in fact, they’re unrelated people sharing the same surname, and have no blood relation at all. Why does she address her this way? It’s the influence of family culture. Wherever they go the two are inseparable, she shares everything with her “older sister” and not with outsiders. Why? “Because she’s a Zhang, just like me. We’re family. I have to tell her everything. If not her, then who? If I didn’t trust my family, but I trusted strangers instead, wouldn’t that be silly? However you approach it, outsiders are unreliable; only family can be trusted.” When choosing church leaders, she chooses her, and when people ask, “Why did you choose her?” she says, “Because she shares the same surname as me. Wouldn’t it be against all reason and propriety if I didn’t choose her? If I didn’t choose her, would I even be human?” Whenever the church has material benefits or good things to offer, she thinks of her first. “Why did you think of her first?” “Because she has the same surname as me, she is a part of my family. If I didn’t take care of her, who would? Would I even be human if I didn’t have this basic human sentiment?” Regardless of whether these things arise from affection or selfish motives, in short, if you are influenced and conditioned by these thoughts from your family, you should immediately turn back and stop behaving, dealing with things, and treating people using these methods. No matter how narrow or broad these methods may be, they are not the principles and methods God has taught you. At the very least, they are the thoughts and viewpoints you ought to let go of. In short, any family conditioning that does not align with the principles God teaches you should be let go of. You shouldn’t treat others or interact with them using these methods, nor should you handle matters this way. Some might argue, “If I don’t handle things this way, I won’t know how to handle them at all.” That’s easily managed. God’s words provide principles for handling various matters. If you can’t find a path of practice in God’s words, look for a brother or sister who understands this truth and ask them. They will clarify things so that you will understand. These are the things people should let go of when it comes to treating issues related to clan, surname, and the ways of the world.
Some parents often nag their daughters, saying, “As a woman, you should follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog. If you marry into a cock family, you must act like a cock; if you marry into a dog family, you must act like a dog.” The implication is that you shouldn’t strive to be a good human being but rather resign yourself to being like a cock or a dog. Is this a good path? Clearly, upon hearing it anyone would discern that it’s not, right? The phrase “follow the man you marry” is definitely directed at women—their fate is just that tragic. Under the influence and conditioning of family, women abandon themselves to depravity: They really do follow a cock if they marry a cock or a dog if they marry a dog, without striving to walk a good path, doing whatever their parents tell them to do. Although your parents instill this thought, you should discern whether such a thought is right or wrong, beneficial or harmful to how you comport yourself. Of course, we already fellowshiped on this aspect within the topic of letting go of marriage, so we won’t dissect and analyze them specifically here. In short, all these erroneous, biased, fallacious, superficial, foolish, and even evil and degenerate thoughts and viewpoints from parents are what you should let go of. Especially sayings like “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog,” which we just discussed, and “Marry a man for clothing and food”—you should discern these statements, and not be misguided by such thoughts instilled by your parents, believing that “I’m sold to the man that I marry: He’s my master, I should be whoever he wants me to be and do everything he says, and my fate is tied to him. Once we get married, both of us are bound together like two grasshoppers tied to one rope. If he prospers, so do I; if he doesn’t prosper, neither do I. Therefore, my parents’ saying, ‘Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog’ will always be right. Women shouldn’t be independent or have any pursuits, and they certainly shouldn’t have any ideas or wishes about setting the right outlook on life and walking the right path in life. They should just submissively follow the words of their parents, ‘Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog.’” Is this the right thought to have? (No.) Why is it wrong? “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog”—there is another phrase with similar meaning, that is, “Two grasshoppers tied to one rope,” which means that once you marry him, your fate is tied to his. If he prospers, so do you; if he doesn’t prosper, neither do you. Is that the case? (No.) Let’s first discuss the saying “If he prospers, so do you.” Is this a fact? (No.) Can anyone give a counter-example to refute this matter? Can’t think of one? Let Me provide an example. For instance, when a certain woman marries a man, she becomes hell-bent on following him. This is like what women tend to say, “From this day forth, I belong to you,” implying that “I’m sold to you, and my destiny is tied to yours.” Leaving out the woman abandoning herself to depravity, let’s focus for now on whether the phrase “If he prospers, so do you” is correct or not. Is it true that if he prospers, you will automatically prosper too? Suppose he starts a business and finds himself in a predicament, facing numerous challenges, encountering difficulties everywhere, lacking funds, connections, a suitable location to open a shop, a market in which to do business, and people to help. You, as his wife, are hell-bent on following him; regardless of what he does, you never detest him, but support him unconditionally. As time goes on, his business thrives, opening one store after another, yielding increasingly better economic benefits and greater income. Your husband becomes a boss, and from a boss he turns into a wealthy tycoon. He’s prospering, isn’t he? As the saying goes, “Any man with money turns bad,” which of course is a fact of this society and of this wicked world. Once your husband becomes a boss and eventually a tycoon, how easy is it for him to become corrupted? It happens in a matter of moments. After he becomes a boss and starts prospering, your good days will have come to an end. Why? Your worries will start creeping in, “Does he have another woman on the outside? Will he cheat on me? Is someone seducing him? Will he grow tired of me? Will he fall out of love?” Have your good days ended? After all these years of sharing hardship with him, you feel miserable and tired. Your living conditions have been poor, your health has deteriorated, and you’ve lost your looks. You’ve become a sallow-faced old woman. In his eyes, you may no longer have the charm of the young lady he once fell for. He might think, “Now that I am wealthy and influential, I can find someone better.” As he grows distant, he starts to have active thoughts, he starts to change. Aren’t you in danger then? He becomes a big boss, while you are a sallow-faced old lady—isn’t there a kind of disparity and inequality between you? During these times, aren’t you unworthy of him? Doesn’t he feel that he’s above your station? Doesn’t he detest you more and more? If so, your difficult days are just starting. Eventually, he may act upon his wishes and find another woman, and spend less and less time at home. When he does return, it’s mostly to argue with you, and he slams the door and leaves right after, sometimes going days without any contact. The best you can hope for, considering your past relationship, is that he might give you money and provide for your daily needs. If you really make a fuss, he might even withhold your living expenses. So, how is it? Just because he begins to prosper, has your fate improved at all? Are you happier or unhappier? (Unhappier.) You’re unhappier. Your days of misfortune have arrived. When faced with such situations, most of the time women will cry their hearts out, and due to what their parents told them: “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public,” they will bear with it, thinking, “I’ll endure it until my son grows up and can back me up. Then I’ll get rid of my husband!” Some women are fortunate enough to see the day their son becomes their pillar of strength, while others don’t get that far. When their son is still young, the husband decides to keep the child and tell his wife, “Get going, you sallow-faced old woman!” and she might be taken for a beggar and thrown out of her own home. So, when he’s prospering, do you necessarily prosper as well? Are your fates really tied together? (No.) If his business continually struggles or goes contrary to his wishes, then while he needs your support, encouragement, companionship, and care, and lacks the qualification and opportunity to become corrupted, he might still cherish you. While he isn’t prospering, you might feel safer and have somebody to accompany you, and will be able to experience the warmth and happiness of marriage. Because when he’s not prospering, no one on the outside pays attention to or values him, and you become the only person he can rely on, he treasures you. In that case, you will feel secure and relatively better and happier. But if he prospers and spreads his wings, then he will fly, but will he take you along? Is the saying from parents, “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog,” correct? (No, it isn’t.) This clearly pushes women into an abyss of suffering. How about the principle, “I’ll follow him if he walks the right path, and if he doesn’t, I’ll leave him”? This principle is also mistaken. Marrying him doesn’t mean you’ve sold yourself to him, nor should you treat him as an outsider. It’s enough for you to fulfill your responsibilities in the marriage. If things work out, great; if not, part ways. You’ve fulfilled your obligations with a clear conscience. If he needs you to fulfill your responsibilities in accompanying him, do so; if not, part ways. That’s the principle. The phrase “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog” is nonsense—it’s harmful. Why is it nonsense? It lacks principles: Regardless of what kind of person a man is, you follow him indiscriminately. If you follow a good man, then life might be worthwhile. But if you follow a bad man, aren’t you dooming yourself? Thus, no matter what kind of person he is, you should have an accurate stance on marriage. You need to understand that only the truth offers genuine protection and provides a path and principles for a dignified life. What parents offer are just small pieces of experience or strategies based on their affections or self-interests. Such advice can’t protect you at all, nor can it provide you with the right principles for practice. Take the saying, “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog,” for example. It can only lead you to become ignorant about marriage, making you lose your dignity and the opportunity to choose the right life path. More importantly, it may also make you lose the chance of salvation. So, no matter the intent behind parents’ words, whether out of concern, protection, affection, self-interest, or any other motive, you should be discerning of their various sayings. Even if their initial intention is for your well-being and protection, you shouldn’t accept them carelessly and foolishly. Instead, you should discern them and then find accurate principles for practice based on God’s words, not practicing or comporting yourself according to their words. Especially “Marry a man for clothing and food,” which previous generations often said—that is even more mistaken. Do women lack hands or feet? Can they not earn their own living or what? Why must they rely on men for clothing and food? Are women simple-minded? Compared to men, what do women lack? (Nothing at all.) That’s right, they lack nothing. Women have the ability to exist independently, which is bestowed on them by God. Since women have the ability to live independently, why should they rely on men for sustenance? Isn’t this an erroneous thought? (Yes.) This is the instilling of an erroneous thought. Women should not devalue or degrade themselves because of this saying, depending on men for their basic needs. Of course, it’s the man’s obligation to provide all the living expenses for his wife and family, ensuring his woman has enough to eat and wear. However, women should not marry solely for food and clothing or harbor such thoughts and viewpoints. Since you have the ability to live independently, why would you rely on a man for basic needs? Isn’t this, to some extent, due to the influence of their parents and the conditioning of family thoughts? If a woman receives this conditioning of family education, then she is either lazy, not wanting to do anything but just wishing to rely on someone else for issues of food and clothing, or she’s accepted her parents’ thoughts, believing women are worthless and they cannot and should not resolve these issues of food and clothing themselves, but should just rely on men for them. Isn’t this abandoning herself to depravity? (Yes.) Why is it wrong to adopt such thoughts and viewpoints? What do they impact? Why should one let go of such degraded thoughts? If a man provides for your food and clothing, and then you see him as your master, your superior, the one in charge of everything, wouldn’t you consult him for every big or small matter? (Yes.) For instance, if you believe in God, you might think, “I’ll ask the one in charge if I’m allowed to believe in God; if he says yes, I’ll believe, if not, then I won’t.” Even when God’s house asks people to fulfill their duties, you still have to ask for his approval; if he’s happy and agrees, you can fulfill your duty, but if not, you can’t. As a believer in God, whether or not you can follow Him is subject to your husband’s attitude and treatment of you. Can your husband discern whether this way is true or false? Will listening to him ensure salvation and entry into the kingdom of heaven? If your husband is wise and can hear God’s voice, if he is one of God’s sheep, then you may benefit along with him, but you are merely benefiting along with him. However, if he’s a rogue and an antichrist and cannot understand the truth, what will you do? Will you still believe? Don’t you have ears or a brain? Can’t you listen to God’s words? After hearing them, can’t you discern for yourself? Can your husband determine your fate? Does he control and orchestrate your destiny? Have you sold yourself to him? Everyone is clear about these doctrines, but when it comes to certain problems involving principles, people tend to unconsciously be influenced by their family’s conditioning of these thoughts and viewpoints. When these thoughts and viewpoints influence you, you often make incorrect judgments, and guided by the thoughts behind these erroneous judgments, you make the wrong choices, which then lead you down the wrong path, ultimately leading to ruin. You missed the opportunity to fulfill your duty, the chance to gain the truth, and the opportunity for salvation. What led to your demise? On the surface, it seems you were deceived and influenced by a man, ruined by him. But in reality, it was your own deep-rooted thought that led to your demise. That is to say, the root cause of this outcome is the thought of “Follow the man you marry, whether he be a cock or a dog.” Therefore, letting go of this thought is crucial.
Now, looking back at the thoughts and viewpoints from parents and families we fellowshiped about that involve principles and strategies for dealing with the world, game rules, the ways of the world, race, males and females, marriage, and so on—is there any among these that is positive? Is there any that can guide you to some extent down the path of pursuing the truth? (No.) Not a single one helps you become a true or qualified created being. On the contrary, each one of them harms you deeply, corrupting you through the conditioning of such thoughts and viewpoints, leading to people today being bound, controlled, influenced, and troubled by various fallacious thoughts and viewpoints in their innermost being. While deep in people’s hearts, the family is a place of warmth, a place filled with childhood memories and a haven for the soul, the various negative influences family gives people should not be underestimated. The warmth of family cannot dissolve these wrong thoughts. The warmth of family and the beautiful memories it brings only provide some solace and satisfaction at the level of physical affection. However, regarding things like how to comport oneself and deal with the world, the path one should take, or what kind of outlook on life and values to establish, family conditioning is entirely detrimental. From this perspective, even before entering society, one has already been corrupted by various thoughts and viewpoints in their family—they have already undergone the conditioning, control, and influence of various erroneous thoughts and viewpoints. One can say that the family is the place where all erroneous thoughts and viewpoints are first received and the place where these begin to be brought into play and freely applied. Families play this type of role in everyone’s life and their everyday life. Our fellowship on this subject matter isn’t about asking people to let go of family in terms of affection or formally break away or sever ties with their family. It’s merely about requiring people to specifically recognize, discern, and of course, more accurately and practically let go of the various erroneous thoughts and viewpoints instilled by their family. This is the specific practice one who pursues the truth should adopt when addressing family-related topics.
There are many more topics related to family. Isn’t it true that these sayings which family conditions into people, the ones we’ve fellowshiped on, are quite common? (Yes, it is.) We often hear them spoken among families—if not in one family, then in another. Aren’t these sayings widespread and representative? The vast majority of families have instilled these thoughts and viewpoints to varying degrees. Every saying we’ve fellowshiped on appears in different ways in the majority of families and is instilled at various stages of a person’s growth. From the day one is instilled with these thoughts, they begin to accept them, gaining a certain awareness and acceptance toward them, and then, without the ability to defend themselves, they adopt these thoughts and viewpoints as their strategies and ways of dealing with the world in order to live and survive in the future. Of course, many also take them as their baseline to gain a foothold in society. Thus, these thoughts and viewpoints not only pervade people’s daily lives but also their inner world and the various problems they encounter on their path of survival. When different issues arise, the various thoughts and viewpoints stored within people’s hearts guide how people handle these matters; when these different issues arise, they are dominated and governed by different thoughts and viewpoints, as well as principles and strategies for dealing with the world. People can deftly apply these erroneous thoughts and viewpoints in real life. Under the guidance of various wrong thoughts and viewpoints, they naturally tread an incorrect path. As their actions, behavior, lives, and existence are dictated by wrong thoughts, it’s inevitable that the paths they take in life are also misguided. Since the root of their guiding thoughts is wrong, their path is naturally wrong. The direction of their path is skewed, making the eventual outcome quite clear. People, conditioned by the various thoughts of their family, take the wrong path, and then they are led astray by this wrong path. Consequently, they are headed toward hell, toward destruction. In the end, the root cause of their doom lies in the various wrong thoughts conditioned by their families. Given the severe consequences, people should let go of the conditioning of various thoughts their family gave to them. At present, the influence of the conditioning of various erroneous thoughts on people is to prevent them from accepting the truth. Guided by these wrong thoughts and due to their existence, people often can’t grasp the truth and even reject and resist it in their hearts. Even worse, of course, some people might make the decision to betray God. This is how it is now, but looking long-term, under the circumstances that people cannot accept the truth or they betray the truth, these erroneous thoughts lead them to walk a misguided path in opposition to the truth, betraying and rejecting God. Under the guidance of such an erroneous path, even if they appear to listen to God speaking and accept His work, they ultimately cannot be truly saved due to the wrong path they’re on. It’s truly regrettable. Therefore, given that the influence of your family can lead to such severe consequences, one shouldn’t trivialize these thoughts. If you have been conditioned by corresponding wrong thoughts from your family on different issues, then you should examine and let go of them—do not hold onto them any longer. No matter the thought, if it is wrong and goes against the truth, the only correct path you should choose is to let it go. The accurate practice of letting go is this: The criteria or basis on which you view, do, or handle this matter should no longer be the erroneous thoughts instilled by your family, but should be based on God’s words instead. Although this process may require you to pay some price, making you feel like you are acting against your will, that you are losing face, and may even result in suffering a loss to your fleshly interests, no matter what you face, you should persistently align your practice with God’s words and the principles He tells you, and you shouldn’t give up. The process of this transformation will surely be challenging, it won’t be smooth sailing. Why won’t it be smooth? It’s a contest between negative and positive things, a contest between evil thoughts from Satan and the truth, and also a contest between your will and desire to accept the truth and positive things versus the erroneous thoughts and viewpoints in your heart. Since there is a contest, one may suffer and should pay a price—this is what you must do. If someone wants to walk the path of pursuing the truth and attain salvation, they must accept these facts and experience these contests. Of course, during these contests, you will definitely pay some price, suffer some pain, and give up certain things. Regardless of what the process looks like, ultimately being able to achieve fearing God and shunning evil, gaining the truth, and attaining salvation—that is the ultimate goal. Thus, any price paid for this goal is worth it because it’s the most correct goal and is what you should pursue to become a qualified created being. To achieve this goal, regardless of how much effort or price you must pay, you shouldn’t compromise, evade, or be afraid, because as long as you pursue the truth and aim to fear God, shun evil, and be saved, then when you face any contest or battle, you’re not alone. God’s words will accompany you; you have God and His words as your support, so you shouldn’t be afraid, right? (Yes.) So, from these few points, whether it’s wrong thought conditioning from family or from any other source, one should choose to let it go. For instance, as we just fellowshiped, your family often tells you, “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him.” In reality, the practice of letting go of this thought is simple: Just act according to the principles God tells people. “The principles God tells people”—this phrase is quite broad. How is it specifically practiced? You don’t need to dissect whether you have an intention to do harm to others, nor do you need to guard yourself against others. So, what should you do? In one respect, you should be able to properly maintain harmonious relationships with others; in another, when dealing with various people, you should use God’s words as a basis and the truth as a criterion to discern what kind of person they are, and then treat them based on the corresponding principles. It’s that simple. If they are brothers and sisters, treat them as such; if they are earnest in their pursuit, and make sacrifices and expend themselves, then treat them as brothers and sisters who sincerely perform their duty. If they are nonbelievers, unwilling to perform their duty, just wishing to live their lives, then you shouldn’t treat them as brothers and sisters but as unbelievers. When you view people, you should look at what type of person they are, their disposition, humanity, and their attitude toward God and the truth. If they can accept the truth and are willing to practice it, treat them as true brothers and sisters, as family. If their humanity is bad, and they only pay lip service to willingly practicing the truth, having the ability to discuss doctrine but never practicing the truth, then treat them as mere service-doers, not as family. What do these principles tell you? They tell you the principle with which to treat different types of people—this is a principle we have often discussed, that is, treating people with wisdom. Wisdom is a general term, but specifically, it means having distinct methods and principles for dealing with different types of people—all based on the truth, not on personal feelings, personal preferences, personal views, on the advantages and disadvantages they present for you, or on their age, but solely on God’s words. Therefore, in dealing with people, you don’t need to examine whether you have an intention to do harm to others or guard yourself against others. If you treat people with the principles and methods God has given you, all temptations will be avoided, and you won’t fall into any temptations or conflicts. It’s that simple. This principle is also appropriate when dealing with the world of unbelievers. When you see someone, you will think, “He is evil, a devil, a demon, a thug, or a rogue. I don’t need to guard against him; I won’t pay attention to him or provoke him. If work necessitates interaction, then I’ll handle it in an official and impartial manner. If it’s unnecessary, I’ll avoid contact or association, and neither will I defend him nor fawn over him. He won’t be able to find fault with me. If he wants to bully me, I have God. I’ll rely on God. If God allows him to bully me, I’ll accept this and submit. If God doesn’t allow it, he won’t be able to harm a hair on my head.” Isn’t this genuine faith? (Yes.) You must have this genuine faith and not be afraid of him. Don’t say he’s just a local thug or a small fry: Even when facing the great red dragon, we abide by this principle. If the great red dragon forbids you from believing in God, do you reason with it? Do you preach to it? (No.) Why not? (Preaching to it is pointless.) It is a devil, not worthy of listening to sermons. Pearls must not be cast before swine. The truth isn’t spoken for beasts or devils; it’s meant for humans. Even if the devils or beasts could understand, it wouldn’t be preached to them. They aren’t deserving! How’s this principle? (Good.) How do you treat those with bad humanity, the wicked, the muddled, and the unreasoning bullies in the church, or those in society with some power, who come from big families, or possess some prominence? Treat them as they should be treated. If they’re brothers and sisters, associate with them. If not, ignore them and treat them as nonbelievers. If they fit the principles for sharing the gospel, share it with them. If they aren’t the object of the gospel, don’t meet or associate with them in this lifetime. It’s that simple. With the devils and Satan, there’s no need for guarding yourself, framing a case against them, or for revenge. Just ignore them. Don’t provoke them, and don’t associate with them. If, for some reason, interacting or dealing with them is unavoidable, then deal with matters in an official and impartial manner and based on principles. It’s that simple. The principles and methods God teaches for people to act and behave help you comport yourself with dignity, allowing you to live with increasing human likeness. Whereas the way your parents teach you, while appearing on the surface to protect you and look out for you, actually misleads you and pushes you into an abyss of suffering. What they teach isn’t the right way or a wise approach to comport oneself, but a sly and despicable way that’s contradictory and unrelated to the truth. So, if you only accept the thoughts conditioned into you by your parents, it becomes hard and laborious for you to accept the truth, and practicing the truth becomes challenging. However, if you genuinely have the heart to let go of the thoughts concerning self-comportment and principles for dealing with the world that come from your family, accepting the truth becomes easier, and so does practicing it.
As regards family conditioning, apart from the thoughts and viewpoints we’ve mentioned, is there anything else? Please summarize. There are many things that come from family, and in China, people call this “dining table culture.” For example, at the dining table, a child might say, “Our class monitor, that girl with the three stripes on her sleeve, always checks my homework and says I haven’t finished it, even though I have. She’s always picking on me.” The parents might respond, “You’re a boy, and she’s a girl. Why are you bothering about her? Focus on your studies and make your mother proud. When you become the class monitor, you can check her homework, and that will settle things, won’t it?” Upon hearing this, the child might think, “That makes sense. I’m a boy, and even if she’s the class monitor, she’s still a girl. I shouldn’t bother with her. If she starts bothering me again, I’ll just ignore her and that will be the end of it. The more she bothers me, the harder I’ll study. I’ll surpass her, and in the next term, I’ll become the class monitor and be in charge of her. That should settle things.” This is an example of dining table culture. At the dining table, if a boy starts to cry, parents might say, “Hold it in! Why are you crying? Good-for-nothing!” Does crying mean that you’re good for nothing? Does that mean people who don’t cry are promising? Is every boy who has never cried an individual who is promising? Take a look at those up-and-coming people—did they or did they not cry and shed tears when they were young? Did they have emotions? Did they experience joy, anger, grief, and happiness? They experienced all of these. Regardless of whether someone is a prominent figure or an ordinary person, everyone has a side of human fragility or human instinct. Due to parental education and social background, people often perceive this side as weak, cowardly, incompetent, or easily bullied. They never dare to reveal it openly; instead, they secretly express it in a corner. Some prominent figures, when facing the most challenging times in their careers, with no one to help or support them, might wait until all the soldiers, subordinates, and servants around them have withdrawn. Then, they vent their emotions by howling like wolves in the bathtub. After shouting, they think about it, “Did anyone hear that? Was I too unrestrained? I’d better tone it down a bit!” But toning it down seems insufficient, so they cover their mouths with a towel and continue howling like wolves. Normal humanity requires the release and expression of various emotions. However, under the immense pressures of this society and the oppression of various public opinions, no one dares to express their emotions normally. Because, starting from family teaching and conditioning, every individual has been instilled with certain erroneous beliefs, like “A man should be self-reliant,” “To forge iron, one must be strong,” “One needn’t worry about rumors if one is upright,” and “If you have a clear conscience, you need not fear ghosts knocking at your door.” There is also “The nice person gets bullied, just as the gentle horse gets ridden,” which conveys the message that one should avoid being an easy target, but should bully others instead. What does “nice” mean in the context of “The nice person gets bullied, just as the gentle horse gets ridden”? It means guileless, simple, loyal, kind, and upright. That is, it suggests that you should avoid being this type of person, because such people are easy targets. So, what should you become instead? You should become a ruffian, a rogue, a scoundrel, a villain, an evildoer, a hoodlum—then no one will dare mess with you. Wherever you go, if reasoning doesn’t work, you must act like a scoundrel, and be able to make a scene, throw tantrums, be unreasonable, and create chaos. People thrive who behave in this way. In any workplace or social group, most people fear individuals like this, and no one dares to provoke them. They’re like stinking dog excrement or annoying insects, and once you get them on you, it’s hard to shake them off. You have to become this type of person. Don’t let people think you’re an easy target or easily provoked. There should be thorns all over your body. If you don’t have any thorns, you won’t be able to establish yourself in this society. There will always be someone to bully you. Family education serves as a guide for your life’s path, as well as a specific teaching and instillation of principles on how to comport yourself. That is, parents use these thoughts and sayings to educate you on how to comport yourself, behave, and deal with things. What kind of person do they tell you to be? On the surface, some parents may say things that sound good, like, “My child doesn’t need to rise to prominence or become a celebrity; being a good person is enough.” However, they also tell their children phrases like, “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him,” “The nice person gets bullied, just as the gentle horse gets ridden,” and “A man should be self-reliant.” So, after so much talking, are they telling their children to be good people or something else? (They are encouraging them to be fierce, or at least capable of protecting themselves.) Tell Me, are most parents willing to see their children bully others or would they rather see them be particularly upright and walk the right path but frequently get bullied and be subject to some exclusion? Which type of person should the child become to make their parents the happiest, the proudest, and their faces glow most radiantly? (Parents feel proud when their children are able to bully others, but they consider it shameful if their children are often mistreated while walking the right path.) If you walk the right path but are frequently mistreated, your parents will feel sorrow, sadness, heartache, and won’t be willing to let it happen. What lies at the root of this? Regardless of the reasons, every thought and viewpoint that parents teach their children about how to comport themselves and act is incorrect and runs contrary to the truth. In short, these thoughts and viewpoints parents instill in you will never lead you to the presence of God, nor will they guide you onto the path of pursuing the truth. Of course, people will never attain salvation under the guidance of such thoughts and viewpoints. This is an undeniable fact. So, no matter what your parents’ intentions or motivations are, no matter what influence they have on you, if what you live out contradicts the truth, opposes the truth, and prevents you from submitting to God and the truth, then you should let go of it.
Concerning the various thoughts from family conditioning that have constituted these last few fellowship sessions, although these thoughts are widely used and promoted among people, regardless of how widely accepted they are or how many people embrace them, and no matter how much people rely on them, considering the harm they bring to individuals, it is imperative for people to let go of these thoughts and viewpoints. They must reexamine or confront various matters corresponding to these thoughts and viewpoints, searching for the correct paths of practice and truth principles in God’s words, and enter the truth realities under the premise of letting go of this thought conditioning, thereby gaining hope for salvation. Through these sessions of fellowship on the thoughts and viewpoints and various specific sayings conditioned into you by family, I wonder to what extent you have recognized the various thoughts and viewpoints that exist deep within your souls. In short, no matter what, these fellowship sessions should serve as a wake-up call, providing people with a fresh understanding of the concept of family, as well as a brand new understanding and comprehension of the conditioning of family relatives, family thoughts, and family culture, giving them a brand new method of approach as well as the ability to adopt the correct perspective and stance in how they approach their family. No matter the outward manner in which you approach your family, in short, regarding the erroneous thoughts and viewpoints about how to view people and things, comport oneself, and act, with which your family influenced you, you should discern each of them, then let go of these thoughts one by one, in order to embrace with a pure understanding the viewpoints and methods that God teaches people, and accept the various correct viewpoints and methods God imparts to people for how to view people and things, comport oneself, and act. This is what individuals genuinely pursuing the truth should do.
One significant thought and viewpoint instilled into people by families is that they should be fierce and use various means to protect themselves. Considering how people protect their interests, flesh, and personal safety after deriving means and methods for dealing with the world from the conditioning of various thoughts and viewpoints, what is the primary purpose behind families instilling these thoughts? It is to protect individuals from being bullied. Now, let’s examine the essence of being bullied. Is it a good thing to be bullied? Can it be avoided? Does anyone exist who has never been bullied? What does being bullied entail? Apart from hoping their children can integrate into society and establish themselves normally, parents also have a constant fear that their children will be bullied. Therefore, your parents often share certain hacks and means with you for dealing with the world, using these methods to protect you and prevent you from being bullied. Because your parents cannot accompany or protect you all the time, when you spread your wings and have to fly on your own, they arm you with certain thoughts and viewpoints to ensure that you’re not bullied. Are these thoughts and viewpoints correct? Do you fear being bullied? Do you hold this thought and viewpoint: “When I arrive in society and social groups, and especially when I interact with unbelievers, I’m afraid that I’ll be bullied—this is what concerns me most. If I encounter someone roughly equal to me, I can still stand up for myself. But if I encounter someone more fierce than I am, I won’t dare to resist. I’ll just accept whatever bullying comes my way. I can’t do anything about it. They have backers and people behind the scenes, and I’ll have to endure it.” Is this the prevailing thought and viewpoint for most people? (I used to have such viewpoints. After putting my faith in God, I began to get along harmoniously with my brothers and sisters. When interacting with unbelievers, even if faced with bullying and persecution, I know that this is permitted by God, and there is a lesson I need to learn. So, I am less afraid and instead have learned to rely on God to experience it.) What type of person is particularly fearful? (Those who lack faith in God.) Apart from these individuals, there are also those who are especially timid, who are introverted and have low self-esteem, who are weak and feeble, who are physically less attractive or of a smaller stature, who come from impoverished backgrounds—especially those whose family backgrounds are mocked or discriminated against—who carry a low social status, lack skills or expertise, and work as manual laborers, and those with physical disabilities, among others. All of these people are more susceptible to being bullied and are afraid of it. Is bullying a prevalent issue in society? (Yes.) Wherever there are people, these things will happen there. How does bullying come about? (Because, after humankind was corrupted by Satan, they became very evil, desiring to bully others while not being bullied themselves. So, these instances of oppression are everywhere.) This is one aspect. Some people don’t want to be bullied by others, so they take the initiative, bullying others first and intimidating them so that no one dares to bully them. In fact, deep down, they don’t want to comport themselves like this; it’s tiring for them too. When you knock everyone else down, aren’t you tired as well? There’s a saying, “Kill a thousand enemies, lose eight hundred of your own.” Take a hedgehog, for example: After it shoots out its quills, isn’t its nervous system exhausted? It hurts people when it pokes them, and it’s tired too. So, why do it if it’s so tiring? It’s for self-preservation—the hedgehog has to put in some effort to protect itself. Because this evil world lacks any positive or accurate principles for treating various people, and people are classified based on Satan’s philosophy of dealing with the world and the social hierarchy, divergence and hierarchies arise among people based on these principles and criteria of unequal division. When this happens, people can’t interact fairly and harmoniously. They compete to be in the upper echelons, to be the best of the best. Those at the top can lord over others, and bully and control them at will. Because this society is unfair, the principles for treating people are unfair. Thus, interactions between people will certainly not be harmonious, and the principles, methods, and means for people to interact with each other all become unfair. This unfairness specifically speaks to people comparing power, family background, skills, abilities, physical appearance, height, as well as tactics, schemes, and strategies. Where do all these things come from? They don’t come from the truth or from God—they come from Satan. These things from Satan become instilled in people, and they live by them, so how do you think people will interact with each other? Will they treat everyone fairly? (No, they won’t.) Absolutely not. Can even the simplest principle of election in God’s house function in the evil world dominated by Satan? (It can’t.) What’s the essence of why it doesn’t work? It’s that this evil world isn’t ruled by the truth; it’s governed by evil trends, as well as Satan’s various thoughts and its philosophies. So, it can only be that people bully and control one another—this is the only possible state of affairs. It’s impossible to avoid bullying—it’s quite normal. Because the world isn’t under the rule of the truth, in this evil world, when people interact with each other, if you’re not someone who bullies others, then you’re the one who gets bullied. Your role can only consist of these two things. In reality, every person both bullies others and gets bullied. This is because there are always people above and below you. You bully others because you have a higher status than they do, but at the same time, while you’re bullying them, there are people with even higher status and standing than you, and they’ll bully you, and you’ll have to endure their bullying. One class of people bullies another class: This is the relationship between people, that of bullying and being bullied. It is the only relationship. There is no genuine familial affection, no love, no tolerance, no patience, and no possibility of treating every person justly and fairly according to principles. Because this world is not ruled by the truth, but by Satan, the relationships that form between people can only be those of bullying and being bullied, of using and being used. This is inevitable, and no one can escape it. You may say you are a boss in the underworld, and have many henchmen and lackeys, all of whom you bully and control. But even an underworld boss has superiors, and there’s also the government. While it’s said that officials and bandits are one family, sometimes the government intentionally looks for trouble, gets leverage, and won’t let you off the hook. You’ll have to pay a sum to the police station and cozy up to them. You see, even though an underworld boss seems grand, when they go to the police station, they still have to bow and scrape—they dare not be arrogant. As the sayings of unbelievers go, “While the priest climbs a post, the devil climbs ten,” and “There’s always a bigger fish.” This means that every person bullies others and is bullied, and this is the essence and phenomenon of bullying.
Concerning the matter of bullying, since it’s something that nobody can avoid, how should a person handle it? In the church, even though you might not fear being bullied, does this kind of thing exist? Can it happen? When you interact with unbelievers, you may be bullied by them. So, does this not occur within the church? (It does occur.) It does, to varying degrees, because all people are corrupted by Satan. Before people attain salvation, they often reveal corruption, and one aspect of those revelations of corruption is treating others according to their own will, not dealing with them fairly. When this unfair treatment of others arises, bullying and being bullied also occur. So, these things do happen occasionally, and people can’t escape or avoid them. What’s the correct principle for handling and dealing with this matter? (According to God’s words, according to principles.) In theory, that’s how it’s said. What about the specific way to practice it? How do you understand the matter of bullying and being bullied? For example, say that you write a letter to report problems with a false leader, and the false leader wants to bully you, saying, “If you don’t behave yourself, if you continue reporting my problems to the higher-ups, snitching on me, or writing something negative in my evaluations, I’ll kill you! I have the power to expel you. Aren’t you afraid?” How would you handle this situation? They’re threatening you; to put it specifically, they’re bullying you. They have the power, and you’re an ordinary believer, so they arbitrarily torment you without any principles or baseline. They treat you the way Satan treats people. To put this in concrete terms, aren’t they bullying you? Aren’t they trying to torment you? (Yes.) So, how would you handle this? Would you compromise or stand by the principles? (Stand by the principles.) In theory, people should stand by the principles and not be afraid of this false leader. What’s the basis for this? Why shouldn’t you be afraid of them? If they really expel you, will you be frightened? Because they really can expel you, you might not dare to stand by the principles, and you might be scared. Where does this matter get stuck? How can you be scared? (Because I don’t believe that the house of God is under the rule of the truth.) That’s one aspect of it. You need to have this faith and say, “You’re a wicked person. Don’t think that just because you’re a leader now you have the power to expel me. Expelling me would be wrong. This matter will be exposed sooner or later. The house of God is not under your sole authority. If you expel me today, you’ll be punished eventually. If you don’t believe it, just wait and see. The house of God is ruled by the truth, by God. People can’t punish you, but God can reveal you and cast you out. When your wrongdoings are exposed, that’s when you’ll face your punishment.” Do you have this faith? (Yes.) You do? Then why can’t you say this? It seems like you’ll be in danger if you encounter such situations; you lack courage and genuine faith. When you really face these matters, when you encounter wicked individuals and antichrists who are this fierce, whose methods of tormenting people are comparable to those of the great red dragon, what will you do then? You’ll start crying, saying, “Oh, I’m small in stature, I’m timid, I’ve always been afraid of trouble, I’m even afraid of a falling leaf hitting my head. I really hope that I don’t have to face such people. What would I do if they bullied me?” Are they bullying you? They’re not bullying you; that’s Satan tormenting you. Looking at it from a human perspective, you would say, “This person is formidable, has status, and bullies guileless people with no status.” Is that what’s happening? From the standpoint of the truth, that’s not bullying; it’s Satan making people suffer, tormenting them, fooling them, corrupting them, and trampling on them. How should you deal with and handle these actions from Satan? Should you be afraid? (I shouldn’t; I should report them and expose them.) In your heart, you shouldn’t be afraid of them. If reporting their issues and contending against them isn’t appropriate at the moment, you should temporarily endure them and find a suitable time to report them later. If there are discerning individuals like you among your brothers and sisters, you should unite to report and expose their evil deeds. If no one else has discernment, and when you step forward to report them, everyone rejects you, exercise patience for the time being. When the higher-level leaders come to your church to check and follow up on the work, find an appropriate time to report their issues to those leaders, clearly stating their evil deeds in full detail and letting the leaders remove them. Is this wise? (Yes.) In one respect, you must have faith and not fear wicked individuals, antichrists, or Satan. In another, you shouldn’t see their actions toward you as one person bullying another; you should see the essence of this as Satan fooling, tormenting, and trampling over people. Then, depending on the situation, you should exercise wisdom to deal with their tormenting, find the right time to expose and report them, and safeguard the interests of the house of God and the church’s work. This is the testimony in which you should stand firm and the duty and obligation you should fulfill as a person. No matter how they bully you or treat you unfairly, don’t see it as bullying. It’s not them bullying you; it’s Satan fooling, trampling over, and tormenting people. Would you say that the great red dragon is bullying you when it persecutes believers in God? (No.) It’s not bullying you. Why does it persecute you? (Because its essence is to resist God.) Its essence is to resist God. It regards God as an enemy and sees all of God’s work as a nail in its eye and a thorn in its side. It also regards the people selected by God as enemies. If you follow God, it will hate you, just as it says in the Bible: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The great red dragon hates people, hates God, regards God as an enemy, and even more so regards those who follow God, especially the ones who practice the truth, as enemies. That’s why it wants to persecute you, to kill you, to prevent you from following God, to make you worship and follow it, and to make you curse God. You might say, “I won’t curse Him.” Then it will threaten you, “If you don’t curse God, you will die!” It will try to compel you to say, “The Communist Party is good,” and you will respond, “I won’t say that.” Then it will say, “If you don’t say it, I will give you a hard time, I’ll treat you and answer you with cruel torture!” Is that bullying you? No, that’s Satan abusing people. Do you understand? (I understand.) You must have the correct understanding when dealing with the matter of bullying. In society and among groups of people, if you look at it from a human perspective, every person takes on roles of both being a bully and being bullied. But if you look at it from the perspective of the truth, you shouldn’t see it this way. The essence of the behavior of any person who wants to bully you and control you is not considered bullying. Rather, it’s Satan’s fooling, abuse, manipulations, trampling, and corruption. To be specific, it means they are not treating you according to rational and humane methods, they are not treating you fairly, but rather, they are adopting Satan’s perspective and stance, and using Satan’s thoughts as their guide in how they treat you, talk to you, and interact with you. For instance, suppose you and a wicked person share a room. You arrive first, so you should pick a suitable location first, and you choose the lower bunk. As soon as they arrive and see this, they say, “Was it right for you to choose the lower bunk? I haven’t even chosen yet, is it your turn? You dare to sleep on the lower bunk in spite of me? The audacity! You didn’t even discuss it with me and just went ahead and chose the lower bunk to sleep. Get on the top bunk!” You respond, “Why shouldn’t you sleep on the top bunk? You arrived after me; according to that order, you should sleep on the top bunk.” They say: “Order? I’ve never followed any order! I don’t line up anywhere; I wouldn’t even line up to meet the president! Did you even bother to find out who I am? You dare to talk to me about lining up—the audacity! You want to die? Get on the top bunk!” So, you have to obediently go up to sleep on the top bunk. Is this bullying you? From a human perspective, this appears to be bullying. They see you as guileless, as someone they can manipulate. They give you an intimidating show of power first and teach you a lesson to make you understand who they are. This is looking at it from a human perspective or from the perspective of human feelings or flesh. But, if you view this from the perspective of the truth, can you see it the same way? You picked the lower bunk first, everything was in order, but they insisted that you move, bothering you to switch to the top bunk. Isn’t this unreasonable? Isn’t this them tormenting you? Aren’t they not treating you like a human? Aren’t they being disrespectful to you? Aren’t they acting like they’re the boss, and treating you as a servant or a slave? What’s the logic of their thoughts? Every person who isn’t as formidable as they are is their servant, someone they can command, someone they can torment. From the perspective of the truth, this cannot be called bullying; it’s about tormenting people. Who is able to torment people? Wicked people, demons, thugs, hooligans, scoundrels, people who are unreasonable, lack humanity, and have no respect for anyone. They don’t follow rules anywhere they go. They act like they’re the boss, like anything good, advantageous, or beneficial belongs only to them. Others are not allowed to have any share in such things or even think about taking them. Isn’t this a scoundrel? (Yes.) This is what scoundrels and demons do. They are tormenting you like this, so wouldn’t you feel afraid? You would think, “Oh goodness, so there are people this formidable after all. They even think it’s wrong for me to sleep on the bottom bunk. What’s going on?” You would get frightened, and from then on, when you talked to them, you’d have to be selective. You’d have to ponder on it, thinking: “I can’t upset them, and I can’t provoke them. If I provoke them, they’ll give me a hard time.” If you have this kind of mindset, then they’ve achieved their goal. What’s their goal? They want to scare you, make you fear them, create a hierarchical difference between you and them, where they’re the boss, and you’re the servant, and wherever you go, you have to listen to them and yield to them. Isn’t this the principle of how Satan does things? They have to be your boss, and you have to be their servant. You have to be arbitrarily disciplined, bossed around, and toyed with by them; you must yield to them in everything. You can’t stand as equals with them; if you want to be equal to them, the only situation where you can will be when they’re dead—you only deserve to be equals with a dead person. Tell Me, to what extent have you been bullied by them? Deep down in your heart, have their evil deeds and imposing manner frightened you? (Yes.) You’ve accepted this fact, you’ve compromised, so can we say that as a consequence you’ve been corrupted by them? They have you firmly in their grip; when they do evil things and violate principles, you won’t dare to speak up because back then they sent you from the lower bunk to the top bunk with a single kick. You won’t dare provoke them again; when you see them, you’ll walk around them, and the mere mention of them will make you break out in a cold sweat. Isn’t this being frightened by them? You do not dare to treat them fairly according to principles; they have you firmly in their grip. What’s the essence of them having you firmly in their grip? It means they possess you and control you. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) So, how should people approach this situation to avoid being controlled by them? You should regard the matter of evil individuals bullying people as a phenomenon of Satan corrupting and abusing people. After you have seen through to this essence, how should you approach it? Deep in your heart, you should abhor and reject the evil individuals, not fear them. You should think, “Oh, you want me to sleep on the top bunk? Fine, I’ll sleep on the top bunk. But today I’ve seen another wicked person’s actions, I’ve recognized the essence of one more wicked person, and from now on I’ll be able to discern one more kind of behavior that wicked people engage in during their daily lives and behind people’s backs. Starting today, I’ll closely watch what they say and do, and whether they engage in deception. If God’s house uses them, I’ll see whether they act according to principles, whether they uphold the interests of God’s house, whether they squander offerings, and whether they still torment others.” Deep within your heart, you should pray: “God, please expose this wicked person, enable me to discern their evil deeds and their essence. Help me gather evidence of their evil deeds, and grant me courage, enable me to not fear wicked people, to have faith and strength to fight against them.” Although you’ll still share the same room with them, and nothing will have changed on the surface, deep within your heart, you won’t fear them because everything they do to you isn’t bullying; it’s a revelation and exposure of their satanic nature. When you view them like this, will you still be afraid of them? With every evil deed they reveal and every absurd word they utter, you will curse them in your heart, saying, “You are a devil, you are Satan, you do evil and resist God, and sooner or later, you will be cursed. God will not let you escape; you will eventually be exposed!” This is how you should deal with wicked people. You must have the faith and strength to fight with them, and you must pray to God, then your heart will have strength, and you won’t fear them. How about this? Aren’t these tactics effective? (They are effective.) When you discern them like this from the standpoint of the truth, isn’t it more practical than what your parents taught you: “One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him”? What’s the use of guarding? You can’t guard against Satan abusing and corrupting you. Satan corrupting and abusing you are not things that can be guarded against—they’re everywhere. Satan’s corruption of people isn’t just on the surface, it isn’t just external; it also corrupts you in your thoughts. Can you guard against that? The most important thing is for you to equip yourself with the truth and rely on God. Not only should you discern the actions of wicked people, but also the essence of wicked people, and at the same time, you should discern the various thoughts and viewpoints expressed by wicked people. Then, equip yourself with the truth, using God’s words and the truth to expose and dissect them, so that your brothers and sisters can also gain discernment. Then, everyone can rise up to reject them together. How wonderful is that? If you’re always on the defense, always on guard, always refusing or avoiding, that’s being a coward, that’s not the manifestation of an overcomer.
Having fellowshiped about all of this, do you now have a new view of the matter of people being bullied? Is bullying right? (No, it’s not.) What is the nature of bullying? (It’s wicked people tormenting others.) In essence, it’s wicked people and Satan tormenting others and fooling them. Now, what’s the nature of being bullied? (It’s being weak, not practicing the truth, not daring to rise up and resist.) That’s right, fearing wicked people, fearing evil forces, lacking the faith to fight with Satan, lacking the faith to recognize, discern, and see through the ugly face of Satan, and lacking the faith to resist Satan’s trampling and abuse of you—isn’t this the nature of it? (Yes.) Those without faith always have a knot in their hearts; they’re always afraid, thinking, “I mustn’t be bullied by others. I don’t bully others, and I mustn’t be bullied by others, just like my mom said, ‘One should never intend to do harm to others, but should always guard against the harm others might do to him.’” They pray to God, saying, “Oh God, please don’t let me encounter wicked people; I’m timid, I’ve always been guileless and simple. I believe in You and follow You; You must protect me!” This is being spineless. You’ve heard so many truths, and you understand so many truths. You’re not afraid of the devils and Satan, so are you afraid of a wicked person? Are you afraid of the great red dragon? (If caught, I’ll be afraid, but I can pray to God and rely on Him.) That means you haven’t been frightened by its wickedness. This is also a manifestation that only comes with a certain foundation of faith. Some people say, “You say I’m afraid of the great red dragon. If I were afraid of the great red dragon, could I have come this far? Isn’t that a fact? But if you ask me to say that I’m not afraid of the great red dragon, I still feel a little afraid to do so. What if the great red dragon hears about it?” There’s still some fear there. Such people are a bit afraid to publicly say that the great red dragon is evil and cruel; they lack that faith and their stature is still too small. I’m not asking you to openly contend with the great red dragon or to provoke it. But deep in your heart, at the very least, you should know that the great red dragon, this demon, treats people with abuse, corruption, fooling, trampling, and then devours them. This isn’t bullying; it’s not as if it bullies and torments believers because they are guileless, rule-following, and law-abiding. That’s nonsense, it’s a statement that lacks spiritual understanding. The great red dragon is abusing you. How does it abuse you? It threatens, intimidates, persecutes, and tortures you. What’s the purpose of it abusing you? To make you give up your faith, to make you deny God, to abandon God, then to compromise with it, and ultimately, to make you worship it, follow it, be subjugated by it, accept its various thoughts, and kneel in worship before it. It delights in this; this is its purpose for persecuting you. Because it sees that you follow God and not it, it becomes jealous, and it won’t let you go. Of course, if you don’t follow God, will it let you go? (No, it also abuses those who don’t believe in God.) That’s right, in colloquial terms, that’s just the kind of thing it is; more accurately, this is its nature essence. Even those who follow it, those who sing its praises, are still abused, fooled, and trampled upon by it, and after using them, it throws them away, even killing some of them to shut their mouths, ultimately devouring them completely. In any case, it does not end well for them. No matter what, people should see clearly that the ultimate purpose of families conditioning and instilling various thoughts and viewpoints into people is not really to protect them or lead them onto the right path. Instead, it’s to steer people away from God, to make them live by Satan’s philosophies, and to make people repeatedly and cyclically accept the trampling of various thoughts and the conditioning of various evil trends that come from society and Satan. Regardless of the initial intentions or purposes behind families doing this, in the end, this cannot guide people onto the right path or lead them to enter into the truth reality and ultimately attain salvation. Therefore, the various thoughts and viewpoints that come from families are something people must let go of, something that they should let go of in the process of and on the path of pursuing the truth. Well, let’s conclude our fellowship here for today. Goodbye!
March 4, 2023
a. Han Xin was a famous general of the Han dynasty, who was once forced to crawl between the legs of a butcher who mocked him for his cowardice before he became famous.