How to Pursue the Truth (16)

What was fellowshipped on at the last gathering? (At the last gathering, God mainly fellowshipped about letting go of the conditioning of one’s family with respect to tradition, superstition, and religion. God fellowshipped in detail on some superstitious sayings such as “Dumplings for departing, noodles for returning,” and “Twitching on the left eye forecasts fortune but twitching on the right eye forecasts disaster,” as well as the effect that some traditional customs related to Chinese New Year and other holidays have on people. At the same time, God fellowshipped on the correct way for us to approach these traditional and superstitious sayings and practices, which is to believe that some events will indeed occur, while also believing that everything is in God’s hands. Regardless of what these sayings may indicate or what events may occur, we all must adopt an accepting and submissive attitude and be able to put ourselves at the mercy of God’s orchestration and arrangement.) These were the basic elements of our fellowship at the last gathering. In terms of the content relating to the traditions, superstitions, and religions that families condition into people, we fellowshipped in detail on some things that people encounter in their daily lives. Although the content of our fellowship only covered the traditions, superstitions, and religions involved in the daily lives of Chinese people that we are all familiar with, and it isn’t representative of every nation and race, the traditions, superstitions, and religions clung to by people who live in different regions and among different races are the same as these in nature—they all observe some traditions, living habits, and superstitious sayings that have been passed down from their ancestors. Regardless of whether these superstitious things are a psychological effect of people’s minds or if they are objectively real, in short, your attitude toward them should be to clearly recognize the primary thought or essence behind these superstitions. At the same time, you should not be influenced or disturbed by them. Instead, you should believe that everything about people is in the hands of God, that it is not superstitions that manipulate people, and that it certainly is not superstitions that dictate people’s fates or their everyday lives. Regardless of whether superstitions are real or not, regardless of whether they are efficacious or true, in any case, when dealing with such matters, people should have a principle that aligns with the truth. They should not be enchanted or controlled by these superstitions, and they certainly should not let them interfere with the normal goals of their pursuit or their practice of the principles. Among the topics of tradition, superstition, and religion, superstition creates the greatest interference and exerts the greatest influence on people’s lives, thoughts, and viewpoints on various matters. People generally dare not give up these superstitious sayings and definitions, and the life problems that these superstitions create are never solved. The fact that people dare not break through the shackles of these superstitious statements in their daily lives proves that they do not have enough faith in God yet. They still have not truly seen through to or accurately understood the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things and His sovereignty over the fate of mankind. Therefore, when people encounter a superstitious saying or some feelings that relate to superstition, they will be bound hand and foot. Especially when major events relating to life and death, their fortunes, or the life and death of their loved ones are involved, people are shackled by these so-called superstitious taboos and statements even more, and, to a considerable degree, they are incapable of freeing themselves. They are constantly afraid that they will break a taboo and it will come true, that some misfortune might find them, and that something bad might happen to them. When it comes to superstition, people are always unable to see through to the essence of the issue, and they are even less capable of breaking free from the shackles of all kinds of superstitious statements. Of course, they are also unable to see through to the influence that superstition has on people’s lives. From the perspective of human behavior and from people’s thoughts and views on superstitions, the consciousness and perspectives of their thoughts are still plagued by Satan to a great extent, and controlled by a kind of invisible force from outside of the material world. Therefore, while people follow God and accept His words, they are still controlled by superstitious sayings that relate to their fortunes, to life and death, and to their existences. That is to say, deep within their thoughts, they still believe that these superstitious statements are truly real. What does it mean for them to believe this? It means that people are still being controlled by the invisible claws behind these superstitions, rather than truly recognizing that their fates are ruled over and orchestrated by God’s hand. It also means that they are not perfectly happy or at ease putting their fates in God’s hands, but rather they are being involuntarily controlled by Satan. For example, the daily lives, rules of survival, notions, and so on of people who regularly do business, people who often travel, and people who used to somewhat believe in superstitious activities and sayings such as face-reading, the eight trigrams and the I Ching, the studies of yin and yang, and the like, are deeply influenced, controlled, and manipulated by these superstitions. That is to say, no matter what they do, it needs to have a theoretical basis that derives from superstition. For example, when they go out, they have to see what is said on the calendar, and whether there are any taboos. When conducting business, signing contracts, buying or selling houses, and so on, they absolutely have to consult the calendar that day. If they don’t, they feel uncertain and they don’t know what might happen. They only feel certain and have peace of mind when they act and make decisions after consulting the calendar. Furthermore, because a few bad things happen as a result of them breaking some taboos, their knowledge and belief that these superstitions are real subsequently becomes more definitive, and they become bound by these superstitions. They believe more strongly that people’s fates, fortunes, and life and death are controlled by superstitious sayings and that in the unseen, mystical world there is an invisible, big hand controlling their own fortunes and controlling their own life and death. Therefore, they fervently believe in all superstitious sayings, particularly those closely related to their lives and survival, to the extent that after believing in God, although they verbally admit and believe that people’s fates are in the hands of God, they are often involuntarily disturbed and controlled by various superstitious statements in the depths of their hearts. Some people even mix up these so-called life taboos—what conflicts with what, what is doomed to happen in one’s fate, and other such superstitious statements—with the truth principles, and abide by them. These attitudes that people harbor toward superstitions severely impact the attitudes that they hold toward the truth and God’s words in the presence of God. They also severely affect the attitudes that people hold as created beings toward the Creator, and, of course, they affect God’s attitude toward those people. This is because while people follow God, they are still willingly and involuntarily being controlled and disturbed by various thoughts and sayings that involve superstition, which were instilled in them by Satan. At the same time, it is also difficult for people to let go of these different thoughts and sayings that relate to superstition.

Among the things that families condition into people, superstitions, in fact, interfere with people to the most severe degree, and form the most profound and lasting effects on them. Therefore, when it comes to superstitions, people should investigate and come to know them one by one in their real lives, and see whether they have received any kind of conditioning or influence from their close families, extended families, or clans with regard to superstition. If they have, they should let go of these superstitions one by one, instead of clinging to them, as these things have no connection to the truth. When the practice of a traditional way of living frequently reveals itself in a person’s daily life, it can make them obediently and involuntarily come under Satan’s control. What’s more, superstitious sayings that influence people’s thoughts are even more capable of keeping people firmly controlled under the power of Satan. Therefore, besides traditions and religions, any thoughts, views, sayings, or rules related to superstition should be promptly let go of, and not clung to. With God, there are no taboos. God’s words, requirements of humanity, and will are clearly expressed in the word of God. Moreover, everything that God tells people or demands of them in His words pertains to the truth and does not contain any strange elements. God only tells people clearly and straightforwardly how to act and what principles to abide by in what matters. There aren’t any taboos and there aren’t any finicky details or sayings. What people should abide by is to act based on the truth principles according to their own actual circumstances. To practice God’s words and abide by the truth principles, you do not need to look at the date or time; there are no taboos. There’s also no need to consult a calendar, much less a horoscope, or whether it is a full moon or a new moon that day; you do not need to worry about these things. Under God’s dominion and within God’s sovereignty, people are free and liberated. Their hearts are calm, joyful, and at peace, and not filled with panic or fear, and certainly not repression. Panic, fear, and repression are just feelings that are brought about by various superstitious sayings. The truth, God’s words, God’s requirements, and the work of the Holy Spirit bring people peace and joy, freedom and liberation, relaxation and happiness. Yet, superstition brings people the exact opposite. It binds you hand and foot, preventing you from doing this or that, stopping you from eating this or that. Whatever you do is wrong and whatever you do involves a taboo, and everything must be in accordance with the sayings of the old almanac. What time it is in the lunar calendar, what can be done on which day, whether you can go out—even haircuts, bathing, changing clothes, and seeing people all involve their own taboos. In particular, weddings and funerals, moving house, going out on errands, and looking for a job depend even more on the almanac. Satan uses all kinds of superstitious and bizarre sayings to tightly bind people’s hands and feet. What is its purpose in doing so? (To control people.) To put it in modern terms, it’s making its presence felt. What does that mean? It means to let people know of its presence, to let them know that these claims about taboos that it puts forward are real, that it has the final say, that it can do these things, and that if you don’t listen it will give you something to look at. How does that allegory go? It goes: “An old lady puts on lipstick—to give you something to look at.” It means that if you don’t listen or if you violate this taboo, then you will just have to wait and see, and you will have to bear the consequences. If people do not believe in God, they are afraid of these taboos, because after all, people are of the flesh, and they cannot fight all of the various forms of devils and Satan in the spiritual realm. But now that you have returned before God, everything about you, including your thoughts and every day of your life, is under God’s control. God watches over you and protects you. You live and exist under God’s dominion, and you are not in Satan’s grasp. Therefore, you no longer need to abide by these taboos. On the contrary, if you still fear that Satan can harm you, or that bad things will happen to you if you don’t listen to Satan or believe in the taboo things spoken of in superstitions, this proves that you still believe that Satan can control your fate. At the same time, it also proves that you are willing to submit to Satan’s manipulation and are unwilling to accept God’s sovereignty. Satan does all this to let people know that it really exists. It wants to use its magical powers to control humanity, to control every living thing. The purpose of controlling these living things is to ruin them, and the purpose and final result of it ruining them is for it to devour them. Of course, the purpose of controlling them is also to make people worship it. If the devil Satan wants to make its presence felt, it needs to demonstrate some effectiveness. For example, it can turn an egg into feces. This egg is given to an evil spirit’s altar, and if you are hungry and want to eat it, and you try to snatch it from the devil, it will turn the egg into feces to let you know its power. You will become afraid of it and dare not compete with it for food. If one thing makes you afraid of it, and then another thing makes you afraid of it, over time you will begin to blindly believe in it. If you blindly believe in it for long enough, you will start to worship it from the depths of your heart. Aren’t these the goals of Satan’s actions? Satan acts precisely for these goals. Regardless of whether it is in the south or the north, and regardless of which race of humans it is, they all worship evil and unclean spirits on bended knee. Why do they worship them on bended knee? Why can those evil and unclean spirits that they worship on bended knee continuously have incense burned for them, from one generation to the next? If you say they aren’t real, then why do so many people believe in them and continue to burn incense for them, to kowtow to them, to make vows to them and then fulfill their vows, generation after generation? Isn’t it because those evil and unclean spirits have done something? If you don’t listen to the words of the evil spirits, they will make you fall ill, make things go wrong for you, cause disasters to befall you, and make your family’s cows sick and unable to plow the fields, and even cause car accidents to happen to your family. They will look for ways to trouble you, and the more they do, the more troubles you will have. You can’t refuse to comply, and, in the end, you will have no choice but to worship them on bended knee, and you will willingly bow your head to submit to them, at which point, they will be happy. From then on, you will belong to them. Look at those people in society being controlled by fox spirits or by the various figures in the spiritual realm who appear on altars. What do we call this? We call it being possessed by evil spirits and being inhabited by evil spirits. Among the common people this is called being controlled by a spirit or having one’s body taken over by something. When evil spirits start looking for bodies to take over, their targets are unwilling to let them do so, so the evil spirits interfere with and disturb them, causing accidents and trouble to come about in their families. Those who are in business are made to suffer losses and never have any customers; they are obstructed to the point that they can’t get by and making any progress is very difficult for them. In the end, they submit and agree. After they agree, the evil spirits use their physical bodies to do things, to perform some signs and wonders, to draw other people in, to treat illnesses, to read fortunes, to even help summon spirits of the dead, and so on. Aren’t evil spirits using these means to mislead, corrupt, and control people?

If believers in God hold the same views and opinions as unbelievers regarding these superstitious sayings, what is the nature of this? (It is defying and blaspheming God.) That’s right, this response is very accurate, it is a serious blasphemy against God! You follow God and say that you believe in Him, but at the same time, you are being controlled and disturbed by superstitions. You are even capable of following the thoughts instilled in people by superstitions, and even more seriously, some of you are afraid of these thoughts and facts that involve superstitions. This is the greatest blasphemy against God. Not only are you unable to bear witness for God, but you are also following Satan in resisting God’s sovereignty—this is a blasphemy against God. Do you understand? (Yes.) The essence of people believing in superstitions or following superstitions is to blaspheme against God, so shouldn’t you let go of the various kinds of conditioning that superstitions have on you? (Yes.) The simplest way to practice letting go of them is to not let yourself be disturbed by them, regardless of if those superstitions are real or not, and no matter what they are going to bring about. Even if the statements made by superstitions about a certain thing are objectively real, you should not be disturbed or controlled by them. Why? Because everything is orchestrated by God. Even if Satan can accomplish something, it is done with God’s permission. Without God’s permission, as God has said, Satan does not even dare to touch a single hair on your head. This is a fact, and it is a truth that people should believe in. Therefore, no matter which of your eyelids twitch, or if you have dreams about your teeth falling out, losing your hair, or death, or any kind of nightmare, you should believe that these things are in the hands of God, and you should not be influenced or disturbed by them. No one can change the things that God wants to accomplish, and no one can change the things that God has ordained. Things that are ordained and planned by God are facts that have already been accomplished. Regardless of whether you have a premonition or what kind of omens these devils and Satan of the spiritual realm give you, you should not be disturbed by them. Just believe that all of this is in God’s hands, and that people should submit to God’s orchestration and arrangement. The things that are about to happen or things that cannot happen are all within God’s control and within His ordination. No one can change them, and less still can anyone interfere with them. This is a fact. It is the Creator that people should worship on bended knee, not any force in the spiritual realm that can make superstitions come true or be restored. No matter how vast the magic powers that the devils and Satan possess are, no matter what miracles they can perform, or whatever things they can make come true, or what person’s premonitions and what superstitious sayings they can turn into reality, none of this means that they hold people’s fates in their hands. What people worship on bended knee and believe in should not be the devils and Satan, but the Creator. These are the things that people should understand when it comes to the topic of family conditioning involving traditions, superstitions, and religions. In short, whether it involves tradition, superstition, or religion, as long as something has nothing to do with God’s words, the truth, or God’s requirements for people, then people should abandon it and let it go. Regardless of whether it is a lifestyle or a kind of thinking, or whether it is a rule or a theory, as long as it does not involve the truth, it is something that people should discard. For example, in people’s notions, things to do with religion, such as Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and so on, are considered to be relatively noble and sacred in comparison to superstition, tradition, or idolatry. People feel some admiration or favor for them in their notions and in the depths of their minds, but even so, people should let go of symbols, holidays, and tokens related to religion and should not overly cherish them or treat them the same as the truth, worshiping them on bended knee, or even reserving a place for them in their hearts. This should not be done. Religious symbols, religious activities, religious holidays, some iconic religious things, as well as some relatively noble sayings in religion, and so on, all fall within the scope of the topic of religion that we have spoken about. In short, the purpose of saying all this is to make you understand one fact: When it comes to things involving superstition, tradition, and religion, no matter whether they are noble or relatively strange, as long as they do not involve the truth, as long as they have nothing to do with the truth, they should all be let go of, and people should not cling to them. Of course, topics that violate the truth principles should especially be abandoned and they absolutely must not be kept. People should categorically let go of all these things that come from the conditioning and influence of their families, one by one, and not allow themselves to be affected by them. For example, when you meet some brothers and sisters at Christmastime, as soon as you see them you say, “Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas!” Is it good to say: “Merry Christmas”? (No, it’s not.) Is it appropriate to say, “Since it commemorates the day when Jesus was born, shouldn’t we take the day off and do nothing at all, and no matter how busy we are with our work and duties, shouldn’t we stop and concentrate on commemorating the most memorable day in that past period of God’s work?” (No, it is not appropriate.) Why is it not appropriate? (Because it is work that God did in the past, and it is something that has nothing to do with the truth.) Doctrinally, this is the case. In theory, you have grasped the root of this issue, but what about in reality? This is the simplest matter, and you can’t give Me an answer. God does not like it when people do such things; He detests seeing it. It’s as simple as that. During the holiday celebrations, unbelievers say, “Happy New Year! Happy Christmas!” If they greet Me, I just nod and say, “You too!” meaning “Merry Christmas to you too.” I go through the motions of this greeting, and that’s it. But I never say this when I meet brothers and sisters. Why is that? Because it is a holiday of unbelievers, a commercial holiday. In the West, almost every holiday, whether traditional or man-made, is actually related to commerce and linked to the economy. Even for some nations with long histories, their holidays are merely related to tradition and have gradually evolved into various commercial activities since the 20th century, and are excellent business opportunities for merchants. Regardless of whether these holidays are commercial or traditional, in any case, they have nothing to do with people who believe in God. No matter how enthusiastic unbelievers or even religious individuals may be about these holidays or how grand and magnificent these holidays are in whichever country or nation, they don’t have anything to do with those of us who follow God and they are not holidays that we should observe, let alone celebrate or commemorate. Let alone the traditional holidays that come from unbelievers, no matter from what race, ethnic group, or time period, they have nothing to do with us. Even anniversaries that relate to each period and each segment of the three stages of God’s work have nothing to do with us. For example, the holidays from the Age of Law have nothing to do with us, and Easter, Christmas, and so on from the Age of Grace certainly have nothing to do with us. By fellowshipping about these things, what is it that I want to make people understand? That God does not observe holidays or any regulations in the things that He does. He acts freely and liberated, without any taboos, and He never commemorates any holidays. Even if it is the beginning, the end, or a special day of God’s past work, God never commemorates it. God does not commemorate and does not pointedly make people aware of these dates, days, or times. In one respect, this tells people that God does not commemorate these days, that God does not care about these days. In another respect, it tells people that there is no need for them to commemorate or celebrate these days, that they should not keep these days. People don’t need to remember any days or times that relate to God’s work, let alone commemorate them. What do people need to do? They need to submit to God’s orchestration and accept God’s sovereignty under His guidance. They need to accept the truth and submit to the truth in their daily lives. It’s as simple as that. In this way, won’t life be easier and more pleasant for people? (Yes.) Therefore, fellowshipping on these matters actually brings liberation and freedom to every person, and not bondage. Because in one respect, these topics are objective facts and true things that people should understand, and in another respect, they also free people and allow them to let go of these things they should not adhere to. At the same time, they also let people know that these things do not represent the truth, and that there is only one way of God that people should adhere to, and that is the truth. Do you understand? (Yes.)

When it comes to the topic of family, in addition to letting go of the conditioning of one’s family, there are other aspects that people should let go of. We previously fellowshipped on the conditioning that family has on one’s thinking, and then we fellowshipped on the various sayings about life that are conditioned into people by their families. All families provide people with a stable life and room for growth. They also provide people with a sense of security, something to depend on, and a source of basic necessities during the process of their growth. In addition to the fulfillment of their emotional needs, people also get their material needs fulfilled by their families. Of course, they also receive life necessities and some general life knowledge that they need while growing up. There are many things that people get from their families, so for each individual, family is a part of life that is difficult to cut off. The benefits that family brings people are numerous, but looking at it from the perspective of the content of our fellowship, the various negative influences, and the negative life attitudes and perspectives that family brings upon people are also numerous. That is to say, while your family brings you many essential things for your physical life, providing for your basic needs, and giving you an emotional anchor and support, at the same time, it also brings you some unnecessary troubles. Of course, it is difficult for people to escape from and let go of these troubles before they understand the truth. To a certain extent, your family brings both great and small disturbances into your daily life and existence, which makes your feelings toward your family often complex and contradictory. Since your family satisfies your emotional needs while also interfering with your life on an emotional level, the term “family” evokes complex and difficult-to-articulate thoughts for most people. You feel full of nostalgia, attachment, and, of course, gratitude toward your family. But at the same time, the entanglements brought upon you by your family make you feel that it is a great source of trouble. That is to say, after a person becomes an adult, their concept, thoughts, and perspectives on their family become relatively complex. If they completely let go, abandon, or stop thinking about their family, their conscience will not be able to bear it. If they do think about their family, reminisce, and wholeheartedly throw themselves into it like when they were a child, they will feel unwilling to do so. People often experience this kind of state, this kind of thought, view, or condition when dealing with their families, and these thoughts and views or conditions also come from the conditioning of their families. This is the topic that we will fellowship on today: the burden that families bring upon people.

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

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

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

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

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

When it comes to handling parents’ expectations, is it clear what principles should be followed and what burdens should be let go? (Yes.) So, what exactly are the burdens that people carry here? They must listen to their parents and let their parents live a good life; everything their parents do is for their own good; and they must do what their parents say to be filial. Additionally, as adults, they must do things for their parents, repay their parents’ kindness, be filial to them, accompany them, not make them feel sad or disappointed, not let them down, and do everything they can to minimize their suffering or even eliminate it entirely. If you can’t achieve this, you are ungrateful, unfilial, you deserve to be struck down by thunder and spurned by others, and you are a bad person. Are these your burdens? (Yes.) Since these things are people’s burdens, people should accept the truth and properly face them. Only by accepting the truth can these burdens and wrong thoughts and views be let go of and changed. If you don’t accept the truth, is there another path for you to take? (No.) Thus, whether it’s letting go of burdens of the family or of the flesh, it all starts with accepting the correct thoughts and views and accepting the truth. As you start accepting the truth, these wrong thoughts and views within you will gradually be dismantled, discerned, and seen through, and then gradually they will be rejected. During the process of dismantling, discerning, and then letting go of and rejecting these wrong thoughts and views, you will gradually change your attitude and approach toward these matters. Those thoughts that come from your human conscience or feelings will gradually weaken; they will no longer trouble or bind you deep within your mind, control or influence your life, or interfere with your performance of duty. For example, if you have accepted the correct thoughts and views and accepted this aspect of the truth, when you hear the news of your parents’ death, you will merely shed tears for them without thinking about how during these years you haven’t repaid their kindness in raising you, how you made them suffer so much, how you didn’t recompense them in the slightest, or how you didn’t let them live a good life. You won’t blame yourself for these things anymore—rather, you will exhibit normal expressions stemming from the needs of normal human feelings; you will shed tears and then experience a bit of longing for them. Soon these things will become natural and normal, and you will quickly immerse yourself in a normal life and performing your duties; you will not be troubled by this matter. But if you don’t accept these truths, then when you hear the news of your parents’ passing, you will cry endlessly. You will feel pity for your parents, that for their whole lives they didn’t have it easy, and that they raised such an unfilial child as you; when they were sick, you didn’t wait on them at their bedside, and when they died, you didn’t wail at their funeral or go into mourning; you let them down, you disappointed them, and you didn’t let them live a good life. You will live with this sense of guilt for a long time, and whenever you think about it you will cry and feel a dull aching in your heart. Whenever you encounter related circumstances or people, events, and things, you will have an emotional reaction; this sense of guilt may accompany you for the rest of your life. What is the reason for this? It is that you never accepted the truth or the correct thoughts and views as your life; instead, your old thoughts and views have continued to hold sway over you, influencing your life. So, you will spend the remainder of your life in pain because of your parents’ passing. This continuous suffering will have consequences that go well beyond a little fleshly discomfort; it will affect your life, your attitude toward performing your duties, your attitude toward the work of the church, your attitude toward God, as well as your attitude toward any person or matter that touches your soul. You may also become disheartened and discouraged toward more matters, become despondent and passive, lose faith in life, lose enthusiasm and motivation for anything, and so on. In time, the impact will not be limited to your simple daily life; it will also affect your attitude toward performing your duties and the path you take in life. This is very dangerous. The consequence of this danger may be that you cannot perform your duties as a created being adequately, and you may even stop performing your duties halfway or harbor a resistant mood and attitude toward the duties you perform. In short, this kind of situation will inevitably worsen over time and cause your mood, emotions, and mentality to evolve in a malignant direction. Do you understand? (Yes.) The fellowship of these topics today, in one aspect, tells you to establish correct thoughts and views, the source of which is based on the essence of these matters themselves. Because the root and essence are just so, people should realize them, and they should not be deceived by these representations or by thoughts and views stemming from feelings and impetuousness. This is one aspect. The other is, only when people do this can they avoid taking detours and deviations, and instead live life as it comes in an environment ruled over and orchestrated by God. In summary, only by accepting these correct thoughts and views and being guided by them can people cast off these burdens that come from their parents, let go of these burdens, and be able to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. By doing so, one can live more freely and unrestrainedly, with peace and joy, rather than constantly being driven by the effects of impetuousness, feelings, or conscience. Having discussed so much, do you now have some understanding of the burdens that parents’ expectations create? (Yes.) Now that you have some accurate understanding, doesn’t your spirit feel much more relaxed and liberated? (Yes.) When you have real understanding and real acceptance and submission, your spirit will be liberated. If you continue to resist and refuse, or merely treat these truths as theory, instead of regarding these matters based on facts, then it will be difficult for you to let go. You will only be able to act according to the orchestrations of the thoughts and feelings of the flesh in dealing with these matters; ultimately, you will live within the snare of these feelings, where there is only pain and sorrow, and no one will be able to save you. When facing these matters entangled in this emotional snare, people have no way out. You can only be freed from the entanglements and bindings of feelings by accepting the truth, right? (Yes.)

In addition to parents’ various expectations and approaches when it comes to their children’s studying and career choices, they also have various expectations regarding marriage, don’t they? What are some of these expectations? Please share. (Typically, parents will tell their daughters that their future husband must at least be rich, have a house and a car, and be able to take care of them. That is, they should be able to meet the daughter’s material needs and also have a sense of responsibility. These are the criteria for choosing a spouse.) Some of the things parents say come from their own experiences, and although they have your best interests in mind, there are still some issues. Parents also have their own opinions and preferences when it comes to their expectations for your marriage. They require their children to find a spouse who, at the very least, has money, status, and capability, and who is formidable so they won’t be pushed around by others outside the home. And if others bully you, this person must be able to stand up to them and protect you. You might say, “I don’t care. I’m not such a materialistic person. I just want to find someone who loves me and whom I love too.” To this, your parents say, “Why are you such a dunce? Why are you so simple-minded? You are young and inexperienced, and you don’t understand the hardships in life. Have you ever heard the saying ‘Everything goes wrong for a poor couple’? In life, you need money for this and money for that; do you think you’ll live a good life if you don’t have money? You need to find someone who is rich and capable.” You answer, “But even rich and capable people are not reliable.” Your parents reply, “Even if they’re not reliable, you have to get your basic needs squared away first. You’d have whatever you want to eat and wear, and you’d be well-fed and well-dressed, something everyone would envy.” You respond, “But my soul wouldn’t be happy.” To this, your parents say, “What even is a soul? Where is it? So what if your soul is not happy? As long as you’re physically comfortable, that’s all that matters!” There are some people who, based on their current life circumstances, wish to remain single. Although they are quite old, they don’t want to date, let alone enter into marriage. This makes their parents anxious, so they keep urging them to marry. They arrange blind dates and introduce potential partners. They do everything possible to quickly find a well-matched and respectable person for their children to marry; even if they are not well-matched, at the very least their qualifications must be good, such as being a university graduate, having a master’s or Ph.D., or otherwise having studied abroad. Some people can’t stand their parents’ nagging. At first, they think it’s great that they are single and only have themselves to take care of. Especially after believing in God, they are very busy performing their duties every day and don’t have time to think about these things, so they don’t date and won’t get married in the future. However, they can’t get past their parents’ scrutiny. Their parents disagree, always urging and pressuring them. Whenever they see their children, they start nagging: “Are you dating someone? Is there anyone you’ve taken a fancy to? Hurry up and bring them home so we can check them out for you. If they’re suitable, just go and tie the knot already; you’re not getting any younger! Women don’t get married after they’re thirty and men don’t search for a partner after they’re thirty-five. What are you trying to do, turn the world upside down? Who will take care of you when you get old if you don’t get married?” Parents always worry and busy themselves with this, wanting you to seek out this or that kind of person, pushing you to get married and find a partner. And after you do get married, your parents keep pestering you: “Hurry up and have a child while I’m still young. I’ll take care of them for you.” You say, “I don’t need you to take care of my children. Don’t worry.” They respond, “What do you mean, ‘Don’t worry’? Hurry up and have a kid! After they’re born, I’ll look after them for you. Once they’re a bit older, then you can take over.” Whatever expectations parents have for their children—regardless of the parents’ attitudes or whether these expectations are correct—it always feels like a burden for the children. If they do listen to their parents, they’ll feel uncomfortable and unhappy. If they don’t listen to their parents, they’ll have a guilty conscience: “My parents aren’t wrong. They’re so old and don’t get to see me getting married or having kids. They feel sad, so they urge me to get married and have kids. This is also their responsibility.” So, when it comes to handling parents’ expectations in this regard, deep down people always have the vague sense that it’s a burden. Whether they listen or not, it seems wrong, and either way they feel like disobeying their parents’ demands or desires is so disgraceful and immoral. It’s a matter that weighs on their conscience. Some parents even interfere with their children’s lives: “Hurry up and get married and have kids. Give me a big, healthy grandson first.” In this way they even try to interfere with the baby’s gender. Some parents also say, “You already have a daughter, hurry up and give me a grandson, I want both a grandson and a granddaughter. You and your spouse are busy believing in God and performing your duties all day long. You’re not doing your proper job; having children is a big deal. Don’t you know, ‘Of the three filial impieties, having no heir is the worst’? Do you think just having a daughter is enough? You better hurry up and give me a grandson too! You’re the only child in our family; if you don’t give me a grandson, won’t our family line come to an end?” You contemplate, “That’s right, if the family line ends with me, wouldn’t I be letting down my ancestors?” So, not getting married is wrong, and getting married but not having children is also wrong; but then it’s also not good enough to have a daughter, you must have a son. Some people have a son first, but their parents say, “One is not enough. What if something happens? Have another one so they can keep each other company.” When it comes to their children, parents’ word is law and they can be utterly unreasonable, capable of articulating the most skewed logic—their children are simply at a loss as to how to deal with them. Parents interfere and criticize their children’s lives, work, marriage, and attitudes toward various things. Children can only swallow their anger. They cannot hide from their parents or shake them off. They cannot scold or educate their own parents—so what can they do? They endure it, try to see them as seldom as possible, and they avoid bringing these issues up if they absolutely must meet. And if the matters do get raised, they will instantly cut them off and go hide somewhere. However, there are some people who, in order to meet their parents’ expectations and not disappoint them, agree to their parents’ demands. You might reluctantly rush into dating, marriage, and having kids. But it is not enough to have one child; you must have several. You do this to satisfy your parents’ demands and make them happy and joyful. Regardless of whether you can satisfy your parents’ wishes, their demands would be troublesome for any child. Your parents aren’t doing anything against the law, and you can’t criticize them, talk to anyone else about it, or reason with them. As you go back and forth like this, the matter becomes your burden. You always feel that so long as you can’t meet your parents’ demands for marriage and children, you will be unable to face your parents and ancestors with a clear conscience. If you haven’t met your parents’ demands—that is, you haven’t dated, haven’t entered into marriage, and haven’t had kids and continued the family lineage like they asked—you will feel pressure inside. You can only relax a little if your parents say they won’t interfere in these matters, giving you freedom to take things as they come. However, if the social feedback coming from your extended relatives, friends, classmates, colleagues, and everyone else is to condemn you and talk about you behind your back, then it is also a burden for you. When you are 25 and unmarried, you don’t think it matters much, but when you reach 30, you start feeling like it’s not so good, so you avoid these relatives and family members, and don’t bring it up. And if you’re still unmarried at 35, people will say, “Why aren’t you married? Is there something wrong with you? You’re kind of a weirdo, aren’t you?” If you are married but do not want children, they will say, “Why haven’t you had kids after getting married? Other people get married and have a daughter and then a son, or they have a son and then a daughter. Why don’t you want children? What’s the matter with you? Don’t you have any human feelings? Are you even a normal person?” Whether it comes from parents or society, these issues become a burden for you in different environments and backgrounds. You feel you are in the wrong, especially at your particular age. For example, if you are between thirty and fifty and are still unmarried, you don’t dare meet people. They say, “That woman has never been married her entire life, she’s an old spinster, no one wants her, no one will marry her.” “That guy, he has never had a wife his whole life.” “Why didn’t they get married?” “Who knows, maybe something is wrong with them.” You ponder, “There isn’t anything wrong with me. So why haven’t I gotten married then? I didn’t listen to my parents and I’m letting them down.” People say, “That guy isn’t married, that girl isn’t married. Look how pitiful their parents are now. Other parents have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but they are still single. Their ancestors must have done something terrible, huh? Isn’t this leaving the family without an heir? They won’t have any descendants to continue the family line. What’s the matter with that family?” No matter how adamant your current attitude is, as long as you are a mortal, ordinary person, and you do not have enough truth to understand this matter, sooner or later you will be troubled and disturbed by it. Nowadays, there are many 34- or 35-year-olds in society who are still unmarried, which is not a big deal. However, at 35 or 36 and up, there are fewer people who are unmarried. Based on the current age range of unmarried people, if you are below 35, you might think, “It’s normal to not be married, no one says anything about it. If my parents want to say something, let them. I’m not scared.” But once you are past the age of 35, people will look at you with different eyes. They’ll say you are single, a bachelor, or a leftover woman, and you won’t be able to bear it. This matter will become your burden. If you do not have a clear understanding or definite principles of practice for this matter, sooner or later, it will become a bother for you, or it will disrupt your life during a special time. Doesn’t this involve some truths that people should understand? (Yes.)

In terms of getting married and having children, what truths should people understand in order to let go of the burdens these matters bring? First of all, is the choice of a marriage partner determined by human will? (No.) It’s not that you can just go and meet whichever type of person it is you desire, and it’s certainly not the case that God will prepare for you the exact type of person you want. Rather, God has already ordained who your marriage partner will be; whoever it is meant to be, it shall be. You don’t need to be affected by any interference caused by your parents’ needs or the conditions they put forward. Additionally, can the marriage partner your parents ask you to find, who is both wealthy and of high status, determine your own future wealth and status? (No.) It cannot. There are quite a few women who married into affluent families only to be driven out and reduced to picking through trash on the streets. Constantly seeking to climb the social ladder for wealth and prestige, they end up in ruins with their reputation in tatters, far worse off than even ordinary people. They spend their days carrying around a cheap laundry bag to collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans, then exchanging them for a few bucks, and finally buying a cup of coffee at a café so they can feel like they are still living the life of a wealthy person. How miserable! Marriage is a significant event in one’s life. Just like what kind of parents one is destined to have, marriage is not based on the needs of your parents or your family, nor is it based on your personal taste and preferences; it is completely within God’s ordination. At the right time, you will meet the right person; at a suitable time, you will meet the one who suits you. All of these arrangements of the unseen, mystical world are under the control and sovereignty of God. In this matter, there is no need for people to heed the arrangements of others, be directed by others, or be manipulated and influenced by them. So, when it comes to marriage, no matter what expectations your parents have, and no matter what plans you have, you don’t need to be influenced by your parents, nor should you be influenced by your own plans. This matter should be completely based on the word of God. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a partner or not—even if you are looking for one, it should be according to the word of God, not according to your parents’ demands or needs and not according to their expectations. So, when it comes to marriage, your parents’ expectations should not become your burden. Finding a marriage partner is about assuming responsibility for the remainder of your own life and for your spouse; it’s about submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. It is not about meeting your parents’ demands or fulfilling their expectations. Whether you seek a partner and what kind of partner you seek should not be based on your parents’ expectations. Your parents do not have the right to control you in this matter; God has not given them the right to arrange your marriage from beginning to end. If you are seeking a partner for marriage, it must be done according to God’s words; if you choose not to seek one, that’s your freedom. You say: “In my whole life, whether I’m performing my duties or not, I just like being single. Being on my own is so freeing—like a bird, with one flap of my wings I can take off just like that. I’m not burdened with a family and I’m by myself wherever I go. It’s great! I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. I have God with me, accompanying me; I am not often lonely. On occasion I feel like tuning out completely, which is what the body needs. Taking a moment to completely tune out isn’t a bad thing. Every now and then, when I feel empty or lonely, I will come before God to have a heart-to-heart with Him and share a few words. I will read His words, learn hymns, watch testimonial videos of life experiences, and watch movies from the house of God. It’s great, and I don’t feel lonely anymore afterward. I don’t care about whether I’ll be lonely or not later on. In any case I’m not lonely now; there are many brothers and sisters around me with whom I can have heartfelt conversations. Searching for a marriage partner can be quite bothersome. There are not many normal people who can earnestly live a good life, so I don’t want to look for one. If I found someone and we couldn’t make it work and got divorced, what would the purpose of all that hassle have been? Having already seen through this point now, I’m better off not seeking a partner. If the purpose of finding someone to marry is only for momentary happiness and joy, and you end up having to get divorced anyway, that’s just a hassle, and I’m not willing to put up with such a hassle. As for the issue of having kids, as a human being—and not just a tool for producing heirs—it is neither my responsibility nor my obligation to carry on any family lineage. Whoever wants to carry it on can go ahead. No surname belongs to just one person.” What does it matter if the family lineage is broken? Isn’t it just a matter of surnames of the flesh? Souls have no relations to each other; there’s no inheritance or continuation among them to speak of. Humankind shares one ancestor; everyone is a descendant of that ancestor, so there’s no question of the lineage of humankind ending. Carrying on a lineage is not your responsibility. Walking the right path in life, living a free and liberated life, and being a true created being are what people should pursue. Being a machine for propagating humankind is not a burden you should carry. It is also not your responsibility to reproduce or continue a family lineage for the sake of some family. God has not given you this responsibility. Whoever wants to procreate can go ahead and procreate; whoever wants to continue their lineage can do so; whoever is willing to take on that responsibility can take it on; it has nothing to do with you. If you are not willing to take on that responsibility and you are unwilling to fulfill this obligation, that is fine, it is your right. Isn’t this appropriate? (Yes.) If your parents keep nagging, you can tell them: “If you resent that I’m not reproducing and continuing the family line for you, then figure out a way to have another kid and let them continue it. Anyway, this matter is not my concern; you can delegate it to whomever you want.” After saying this, won’t your parents have nothing to respond with? When it comes to their children’s marriages and having kids, parents, whether they believe in God or not, should know at their advanced age that a person’s wealth or poverty, number of children, and marital status in life are determined by Heaven; they are all fixed in advance, and are not something that anyone can decide. Therefore, if parents forcefully demand things from their children in this way, they are undoubtedly ignorant parents, they are foolish and clueless. When dealing with foolish and clueless parents, just treat what they say like a puff of air and let it go in one ear and out the other, and that’s the end of it. If they nag too much, you can say, “Alright, I promise you, I will get married tomorrow, have a child the day after tomorrow, and let you hold a great-grandchild the day after that. How does that sound?” Just fob them off and then turn around and walk away. Isn’t that a composed way to handle it? In any case, you have to perceive this matter thoroughly. As far as marriage goes, let’s first put aside the fact that marriage is ordained by God. God’s attitude toward this matter is to grant people themselves the right to choose. You can choose to be single, or you can choose to enter into marriage; you can choose to live life as a couple, or you can choose to have a whole big family. This is your freedom. No matter what your basis for making these choices is or what purpose or result you want to achieve, in short, this right is given to you by God; you have the right to choose. If you say, “I am too busy with the work of performing my duties, I am still young, and I don’t want to get married. I want to be single, expend myself for God full-time, and perform my duties well. I’ll deal with the big issue of marriage later—when I’m fifty years old and feeling lonely, when I have a lot to say but no outlet for my gabbing, then I’ll find someone,” that is also fine, and God will not condemn you. If you say, “I feel like my youth is slipping away, I have to seize the tail end of my youth. While I’m still young and have some looks and a bit of charm, I should hurry up and find a partner to accompany me and chat with, someone who cherishes and loves me, with whom I can spend my days and get married,” this is also your right. Of course, there is one thing: If you decide to enter into marriage, you first need to carefully consider what duties you are currently performing within the church, if you are a leader or a worker, if you have been selected for cultivation within the house of God, whether you are undertaking important work or duties, what tasks you’ve currently received, and what your present circumstances are. If you enter into marriage, will it influence your performance of duties? Will it then also influence your pursuit of the truth? Will it impact your work as a leader or worker? Will it impact your attainment of salvation? These are all questions you need to consider. Although God has granted you such a right, when you exercise this right, you need to carefully consider what choice you are about to make and what consequences this choice may bring. Regardless of the consequences that may arise, you should not blame others, nor should you blame God. You should take responsibility for the consequences of your own choices. Some people say: “Not only will I get married, but I also want to have a bunch of children. After having a son, I will have a daughter, and we will live happily as a family for a lifetime, keeping each other company in joy and harmony. When I am old, my children will gather around me to care for me, and I will enjoy the bliss of family life. How wonderful that will be! As for performing my duties, pursuing the truth, and attaining salvation, those all are secondary. I’m not concerned with those things right now. I will settle the matter of having children first.” That is also your right. However, no matter what consequences your choice brings you in the end, be they bitter or sweet, sour or astringent, you must bear them yourself. No one will pick up the tab for your choices or take responsibility for them, including God. Understood? (Yes.) These matters have been clearly explained. In regard to marriage, you should let go of the burdens you ought to let go of. Choosing to be single is your freedom, choosing to enter into marriage is also your freedom, and choosing to have many children is your freedom as well. Whatever your choice may be, it is your freedom. On one hand, choosing to enter into marriage does not mean you have thus repaid your parents’ kindness or fulfilled your filial duty; of course, choosing to be single does not mean you are defying your parents either. On the other hand, choosing to enter into marriage or have many children is not rebelling against God, nor is it defying Him. You will not be condemned for it. Choosing to be single will also not be the reason God ultimately grants you salvation. In short, whether you are single, married, or have many children, God will not determine whether you can ultimately be saved based on these factors. God does not look at your marital background or marital status; He looks only at whether you are pursuing the truth, your attitude toward performing your duties, how much of the truth you have accepted and submitted to, and whether you act according to the truth principles. Ultimately, God will also set aside your marital status to examine the path in life, the principles by which you live, and the rules by which you survive that you have chosen to determine whether you will be saved. Of course, there is one fact we must mention. For those who are single or divorced, as in those who have not entered or who left marriage, have one thing going for them, which is that there is no need for them to be responsible for anyone or anything within the framework of marriage. They do not have to shoulder these responsibilities and obligations, so they are relatively more free. They have more freedom in terms of time, more abundance in terms of energy, and more personal freedom to some extent. For example, as an adult, when you go out to perform your duties, no one can restrict you—not even your parents have this right. You pray to God yourself, He will make arrangements for you, and you can pack your bags and leave. But if you are married and have a family, you are not as free. You have to be responsible for them. First of all, in terms of living conditions and financial resources, you have to at least provide food and clothing for them, and when your children are young you must bring them to school. You must bear these responsibilities. In these situations, married people are not free because they have social and family obligations they must fulfill. It is simpler for those who are unmarried and have no children. When performing their duties in God’s house they will not go hungry or cold; they will have both food and shelter. They do not need to run around earning money and working because of the needs of family life. That’s the difference. In the end, when it comes to marriage, the point remains the same: You should not carry any burdens. Whether it’s your parents’ expectations, traditional views from society, or your own extravagant desires, you should not bear any burdens. It is your right to choose to be single or enter into marriage, and it is also your right to decide when to leave singledom and when to enter into marriage. God makes no conclusive judgment on this matter. As for how many children you have after entering into marriage, this has been preordained by God, but you can also choose for yourself based on your actual circumstances and pursuits. God will not impose rules on you. Suppose that you are a millionaire, multimillionaire, or billionaire, and you say, “Having eight or ten children is not a problem for me. Raising a whole bunch of kids won’t compromise my energy for performing my duties.” If you’re not afraid of the hassle, then go ahead and have them; God will not condemn you. God will not change His attitude toward your salvation because of your attitudes on marriage. That’s how it is. Is this clear? (Yes.) There is another aspect, which is that if you currently choose to be single, you must not have any sense of superiority just because you are single, saying: “I am a member of the single elite and I have the right to be prioritized for salvation in God’s presence.” God has not given you this privilege, understood? You may say, “I’m married. Does that make me inferior?” You are not inferior. You are still a member of corrupt humankind; you have not been degraded or trampled upon because you entered into marriage, nor have you become more corrupt, harder to save, or more hurtful to God’s heart than others, causing God to not want to save you. These are all people’s erroneous thoughts and views. A person’s marital status has nothing to do with God’s attitude toward them, nor does a person’s marital status have anything to do with whether they can ultimately be saved. So what is attaining salvation related to? (It is based on one’s attitude toward accepting the truth.) That’s right, it is based on a person’s attitude toward treating the truth and accepting the truth, and whether they are able to use God’s words as a basis and the truth as a criterion to view people and things and to comport themselves and act. This is the basis for measuring a person’s final outcome. Now that we have reached this point in our fellowship, are you basically able to let go of the burdens brought about by the issue of marriage? (Yes.) Being able to let go of them will benefit your pursuit of the truth. If you do not believe this, you can ask those who have gotten married what their hope of receiving salvation is like, and they would say, “I was married for so many years and got divorced because of my belief in God. I wouldn’t dare to say that I will be saved.” You can ask those slightly older young people in their thirties who haven’t gotten married, but in the many years they have believed, they have not pursued the truth and are like unbelievers. You can ask them, “Can you be saved by believing in God in this way?” They also will not dare say they can be saved. Isn’t this how it is? (Yes.)

These are the truths that people should understand about marriage. None of the topics we fellowshipped can be explained clearly in just a few words. There are many various facts that should be dissected, as well as the circumstances of various kinds of people. Based on these various circumstances, the truths that people should understand cannot be explained clearly in just a few words. For every problem, there are truths that people should understand, as well as factual realities that people should understand, and even more so the fallacious thoughts and views people harbor, which should be understood as well. Of course, these fallacious thoughts and views are the things that people should let go of. When you let go of these things, your thoughts and views on a matter will be relatively positive and relatively accurate. Then, when you are confronted with this kind of matter again, you will no longer be constrained by it; you will not be constrained and influenced by some fallacious and absurd thoughts and views. You will not be bound or disturbed by it; instead, you will be able to properly face this matter, and your evaluation of others or yourself will be relatively accurate. This is the positive result that can be embodied in people when they view people and things, comport themselves, and act according to God’s words and the truth principles. Alright, let’s end our fellowship here for today. Goodbye!

April 1, 2023


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

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