How to Pursue the Truth (19)
Do you usually relate the hymns you listen to with your own states and experiences? Do you listen to and ponder attentively certain words and subject matter which relate to your experiences and understanding, or which you are able to attain? (Sometimes, God, when going through certain things, I’ll relate the hymns I hear to my own situation, while at other times I am just going through the motions.) Much of the time, you’re just going through the motions, aren’t you? If 95% of the time that you’re listening to hymns you’re just going through the motions, does such listening have any significance? What is the purpose of listening to hymns? At the very least, it allows people to calm down, to withdraw their hearts from various complicated matters and thoughts, and to be quiet before God, coming before God’s words to carefully listen to and ponder over every sentence and paragraph. Are you now too busy with tasks that you lack the time to listen and the energy to ponder, or do you simply not know how to pray-read God’s words, ponder the truth, and quiet yourselves before God? You just go about busily fulfilling your duty every day; even though it may be tough and tiring, you believe that every day is full, and you don’t feel empty or spiritually helpless. You feel that the day has not been wasted; it has value. Living aimlessly every day is called muddling along. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) Tell Me, if things continue like this, in another three, five, eight, or ten years, will you have anything significant to show for it? (No.) If you don’t meet with any special incidents or any special circumstances arranged by God, if there is no personal guidance and leadership from the Above, to give you gatherings and fellowship, and to dissect the essence of various people, events, and things, taking you by the hand and teaching you, then a lot of the time you are actually wasting each day, your progress is slow, and you gain virtually nothing in your life entry. So, whenever something happens, your ability to discern does not increase, your experience and understanding of the truth do not progress, and you also fail to experience and progress in your faith in and submission to God. When faced with something the next time, you still don’t know how to handle it according to the truth principles. In the process of fulfilling your duty and experiencing various things, you still cannot actively seek principles and practice according to the truth principles. This is wasting time. What are the ultimate consequences that wasting time leads to? Your time and energy are wasted, and the cost of your painstaking efforts is in vain. The path you have walked all these years is characterized as Paul’s path. If you have been a leader or worker for many years but your life entry is shallow, your stature is small, and you do not understand any truth principles, then you are ill-suited for the role and unable to complete a task independently. Leaders and workers are unsuitable for their roles, and the ordinary brothers and sisters cannot live the church life independently, cannot eat and drink God’s words independently, do not know how to experience God’s work, and have no life entry. If no one supervises or guides them, they could go astray; if leaders and workers are not supervised or directed in their work, they could deviate, establish an independent kingdom, be deceived by antichrists, and even follow antichrists without realizing it, still thinking that they are expending themselves for God. Isn’t this pitiful? (It is.) Your current situation is exactly like this: both poor and pitiful. When faced with situations, you are helpless and have no way to go. When it comes to actual problems and the actual content of work, you don’t know how to act or what to do; everything is tangled and you have no clue how to work them out. You feel quite happy with being so busy every day, physically you are exhausted, and mentally you feel a lot of pressure, but the results of your work are not that good. The principles of every truth and the paths of practice have all been clearly made known to you through the work arrangements of God’s house, but you have no path in your work, you can’t find the principles, you get into a muddle when faced with situations, not knowing how to act, and all your work is a mess. Is this not a pitiful condition? (Yes.) This is indeed a pitiful condition.
Some people say, “I’ve believed in God for over ten years; I’m a seasoned believer.” Some say, “I’ve believed in God for twenty years.” Others say, “What’s twenty years of belief? I’ve believed in God for over thirty years.” You have believed in God for quite a few years, and some of you have even served as leaders or workers for many years and have a good amount of experience. But how’s your life entry going? How well can you grasp truth principles? You’ve served as a leader or worker for many years and gained some experience in your work, but when faced with all kinds of tasks, people, and things, will you base your practice on truth principles? Will you uphold God’s name? Will you protect the interests of God’s house? Will you safeguard God’s work? Can you stand firm in your testimony? When faced with disruptions and disturbances to the church’s work brought about by antichrists and evildoers, will you have the confidence and strength to fight against them? Can you protect God’s chosen people and uphold the work of God’s house, defending the interests of God’s house and His name from being disgraced? Can you do this? From what I see, you cannot do it, nor have you done it. Every day you’re quite busy—what have you been busy with? All these years you’ve sacrificed your family and career, endured suffering, paid the price, and invested a lot of effort, but you’ve gained little. Some leaders and workers have even faced similar events, people, and circumstances many times, yet they continue to make the same mistakes, leaving the same transgressions in their wake. Doesn’t this show a lack of growth in their lives? Doesn’t it mean they haven’t gained the truth? (Yes.) Doesn’t this show that they’re still being controlled by Satan under its dark power and haven’t attained salvation? (Yes.) When all kinds of different events arise and unfold around you in the church at different times, you’re powerless to do anything. Particularly when faced with antichrists and evildoers causing disruptions and disturbances in the church’s work, you don’t know how to handle it. You just let things slide, or at best, you become angry and deal with those causing the disturbance, but the problem remains unresolved, and you have no alternative plan of action. Some even think, “I gave it all my strength and all my heart—didn’t God say we should give both these things? I’ve given my all; if there are still no results, it’s not my fault. People are just too wicked: Even when you fellowship about the truth with them, they don’t listen.” You say you gave all your strength and all your heart, but the work didn’t achieve any results. You didn’t uphold the church’s work or protect the interests of God’s house, and you let evildoers take control of the church. You allowed Satan to run rampant and shame God’s name, while you watched from the side lines, unable to do anything, incapable of handling anything even with the authority you had. You couldn’t stand firm in your testimony to God, yet you think you understood the truth and gave all your heart and strength. Is this what it means to be a good steward? (No, it isn’t.) When all kinds of evildoers and nonbelievers come out and play various roles as devils and Satans, going against work arrangements and doing something entirely different, lying and deceiving God’s house; when they disturb and disrupt God’s work, doing things that bring shame to the name of God and tarnish God’s house, the church, you do nothing but get angry when you see it, yet you can’t stand up to uphold justice, expose the evildoers, uphold the church’s work, address and handle these evildoers, and keep them from disturbing the church’s work and tarnishing God’s house, the church. By not doing these things, you have failed to bear witness. Some people say, “I don’t dare do these things, I’m afraid that if I handle too many people, I might anger them, and if they gang up on me to punish me and remove me from office, what will I do?” Tell Me, are they cowardly and timid, do they not have the truth and cannot distinguish people or see through Satan’s disturbance, or are they disloyal in their fulfillment of duty, just trying to protect themselves? What is the real issue here? Have you ever thought about this? If you are naturally timid, fragile, cowardly, and fearful; yet, after so many years of believing in God, based on an understanding of certain truths, you develop genuine faith in God, won’t you be able to overcome some of your human weakness, timidity, and fragility, and no longer be afraid of evildoers? (Yes.) Then what is the root of your inability to handle and address evildoers? Is it that your humanity is inherently cowardly, timid, and fearful? This is neither the root cause nor the essence of the problem. The essence of the problem is that people are not loyal to God; they protect themselves, their personal safety, their reputation, their status, and their way out. Their disloyalty is manifested in how they always protect themselves, retreating like a turtle into its shell whenever they face anything, and waiting until it passes before sticking their heads back out again. No matter what they meet with, they are always walking on eggshells, have a lot of anxiety, worry, and apprehension, and are unable to stand and defend the work of the church. What is the problem here? Isn’t it a lack of faith? You have no real faith in God, you do not believe that God is sovereign over all things, and you do not believe that your life, your everything is in God’s hands. You do not believe what God says, “Without God’s permission, Satan does not dare to move a single hair on your body.” You rely on your own eyes and judge the facts, you judge things based on your own calculations, always protecting yourself. You do not believe that a person’s fate is in God’s hands; you are afraid of Satan, afraid of evil forces and evil people. Is this not a lack of genuine faith in God? (Yes.) Why is there no real faith in God? Is it because people’s experiences are too shallow and they cannot see through these things, or is it because they understand too little of the truth? What is the reason? Does it have something to do with people’s corrupt dispositions? Is it because people are too cunning? (Yes.) No matter how many things they experience, no matter how many facts are placed in front of them, they don’t believe that this is the work of God, or that a person’s fate is in God’s hands. This is one aspect. Another mortal issue is that people care too much about themselves. They are not willing to pay any price or make any sacrifice for God, for His work, for the interests of God’s house, for His name, or for His glory. They are not willing to do anything that involves even the slightest danger. People care too much about themselves! Because of their fear of death, of humiliation, of being trapped by evildoers, and of falling into any kind of predicament, people go to great lengths to preserve their own flesh, striving not to let themselves enter any dangerous situations. In one respect, this behavior shows that people are all too cunning, while in another, it reveals their self-preservation and selfishness. You are unwilling to give yourself over to God, and when you say you are willing to expend yourself for God, it’s nothing more than a desire. When it comes to actually coming forward and bearing witness to God, fighting against Satan, and facing danger, death, and various difficulties and hardships, you are no longer willing. Your little desire crumbles, and you do everything possible to protect yourself first, afterward doing some superficial work that you have to do, work that can be arranged on down the line. A person’s mind is still more agile than that of a machine: They know how to adapt, they know when they encounter situations which actions contribute to their self-interests and which do not, and they are quick to apply every method at their disposal. Consequently, whenever you face certain things, your slight trust in God is unable to stand firm. You act cunningly with God, engage in tactics against Him, and play tricks, and this reveals your lack of genuine faith in God. You think God is untrustworthy, that He may not be able to protect you or ensure your safety, and that God might even let you die. You feel that God is unreliable, and that only by relying on yourself can you be sure. What happens in the end? No matter what circumstances or matters you face, you approach them using these methods, tactics, and strategies, and you are unable to stand firm in your testimony to God. No matter the circumstances, you are unable to be a qualified leader or worker, unable to exhibit the qualities or actions of a steward, and unable to display full loyalty, thus losing your testimony. Regardless of how many matters you face, you are unable to rely on your faith in God to execute loyalty and your responsibility. Consequently, the final result is that you gain nothing. In every circumstance that God has orchestrated for you, and when you have battled against Satan, your choice has always been to withdraw and escape. You haven’t followed the trajectory God has indicated or set for you to experience. So, in the midst of this battle, you miss out on the truth, understanding, and experiences you should have gained. Every time you find yourself in circumstances orchestrated by God, you go through them in the same manner, and end them all the same way. In the end, the doctrine and lessons you take away are the same. You do not have any genuine understanding, you have merely absorbed a few experiences and lessons, such as: “I shouldn’t do this in the future. When I meet with similar situations I should be cautious about that, I should remind myself of this, I should be careful with that type of person, avoid this type, and be on my guard against that type.” That’s all. What is it that you’ve gained? Is it savviness and insight, or experience and lessons? If what you gain has nothing to do with the truth, then you have gained nothing, nothing that you really ought to have gained. Thus, in circumstances orchestrated by God, you have disappointed Him; you didn’t obtain what He intended for you, so you have surely let God down. In this trial or circumstance orchestrated by God, you didn’t obtain the truth He wanted you to have. Your fear of God hasn’t increased, the truths you should understand remain unclear, you still lack understanding in the areas where you need understanding about yourself, the lessons you should have absorbed haven’t been acquired, and the truth principles you ought to follow have eluded you. At the same time, your faith in God hasn’t grown either; it remains where it first started. You are marching in place. So, what has increased? Perhaps you now understand some doctrines you didn’t know before, or you’ve seen the ugly side of a certain type of person that you previously didn’t understand. But the smallest iota related to the truth remains to you unseen, uncomprehended, unrecognized, and unexperienced. As you continue in your work or in the fulfillment of duty, you still don’t understand or know the principles you should follow. This is very disappointing to God. At the very least, in this particular circumstance you haven’t increased the loyalty to God or the faith that should have inherently been increasing within you. You haven’t achieved either of the two, which is just pitiful! Some might say, “You claim I haven’t gained anything, but that’s not correct. At the very least, I’ve gained self-knowledge and an understanding of people, events, and things around me. I have a clearer understanding of humanity and myself.” Does understanding these things count as genuine progress? Even if you don’t believe in God, when you live to the age of forty or fifty you will be more or less familiar with these things. People with a little caliber or average caliber can achieve this; they can have an understanding of themselves, of the advantages and disadvantages, the strengths and weaknesses of their humanity, as well as what they are good at and what they are not. By the time they reach their forties or fifties, they should more or less have an understanding of the humanity of the various types of people they frequently interact with. They should know which types of people are suitable to interact with and which are not, which are suitable to associate with and which are not, which they should keep at a distance and which they should get close to—they are more or less able to understand all these things. If someone is muddleheaded, their caliber is too poor, they are an idiot, or they are mentally challenged, then they do not have this understanding. If you’ve believed in God for many years, heard so much truth, and experienced so many different circumstances, and your only gain is in the realm of people’s humanity, in discerning people or understanding some simple matters, can this be considered a genuine gain? (No, it cannot.) So, what is a genuine gain? It is related to your stature. If you gain something, then you progress, and you grow in stature; if you don’t truly gain anything, your stature doesn’t grow. So, what does this gain refer to? At the very least, it is related to the truth; more specifically, to truth principles. When you understand, can follow, and can practice the truth principles that should be followed while handling various matters and people, and these become your principles and standards for self-comportment, then this is a genuine gain. When these truth principles become the principles and criteria you ought to follow for self-comportment, they become a part of your life. When this aspect of the truth is wrought into you, it becomes your life, and that’s when your life grows. If you have yet to grasp the truth principles related to these kinds of matters, and you still don’t know how to handle them when you encounter them, then in this regard, you haven’t gained the truth. Clearly, this aspect of the truth is not your life, and your life has not grown. Being skilled at speaking is useless—it’s all doctrine anyway. Can you measure this? (Yes, I can.) Have you made progress during this time? (No, I haven’t.) You’ve merely used your human will and intellect to summarize some experiences, like saying, “This time I learned what types of things I will no longer say or do, what things I will do more or less of, and what I definitely will not do.” Is this a sign of growth in your life? (No, it isn’t.) This is a sign that you seriously lack spiritual understanding. All you can do is summarize rules, words, and slogans, which have nothing to do with the truth. Isn’t that what you’re doing? (Yes.) Every time you experience something, after every significant event, you admonish yourself, saying, “Gosh, in the future I should do it like this or like that.” But the next time a similar situation arises, it still ends in failure, and you get frustrated, saying, “Why am I like this?” You get angry with yourself, thinking you failed to meet your own expectations. Is this useful? It’s not that you failed to meet your own expectations, or that you’re foolish, or that the circumstances God orchestrated are wrong, and it’s certainly not that God is treating people unfairly. It’s because you’re not pursuing or seeking the truth, you’re not acting in accordance with God’s words, and you’re not listening to God’s words. You are always bringing human will into it; you are your own master, and you do not let God’s words take charge. You’d rather listen to other people than to God’s words. Is this not the case? (Yes, it is.) Do you think that by accumulating some experiences and lessons from a single event or in a particular circumstance, you have made progress? If you have genuinely made progress, when God tests you next time, you will be able to defend God’s name, protect the interests and the work of God’s house, ensure that all the work runs smoothly, and that it does not suffer any disturbance or obstruction. You will ensure that God’s name remains untarnished and unblemished, that the growth of your brothers’ and sisters’ lives suffers no losses, and that God’s offerings will be protected. This means you have made progress, you are suitable for use, and you possess life entry. Right now, you’re still not there yet; though your brains are small, they are filled with a lot of things, and you are not simple. Although you may have the sincerity to expend yourself for God and a desire to let go of and abandon everything for Him, yet when faced with matters, you are unable to forsake your various cravings, intentions, and plans. The more God’s house and God’s work encounter various difficulties, the more you shrink back, the more invisible you become, and the less likely you are to stand up and take charge of that work, to safeguard the interests of God’s house and the work of God. So, what happened to your sincerity to expend yourself for God? Why is that little bit of sincerity so fragile and vulnerable? What happened to your little bit of willingness to offer everything and abandon all of it for God? Why is it unable to stand firm? What makes it so vulnerable? What does this confirm? It confirms that you lack real stature, that your stature is pitifully small, and a little demon can easily confound you: With just a little bit of interruption, you would turn to follow this little demon. Even if you have some stature, it is limited to your experience with certain superficial matters unrelated to your own interests, and you are still barely able to protect the interests of God’s house and do a few small things that you feel you can achieve and are within the purview of your abilities. When it truly comes to standing firm in your testimony, when the church faces a large crackdown and the disturbances of evildoers and antichrists, where are you? What are you doing? What are you thinking? This clearly illustrates the problem, doesn’t it? If an antichrist, while performing their duty, deceives those above and below them and acts recklessly, disrupting and disturbing the church’s work, squandering offerings, and tricking brothers and sisters into following them, and not only do you fail to discern them, curb their efforts, or report them, but you even accompany and help the antichrist achieve the results they wish for in doing all these things, then tell Me, what effect is there in your little resolve to truly expend yourself for God? Isn’t this your true stature? When antichrists, evildoers, and all kinds of nonbelievers come to disrupt and destroy the work of God’s house, especially when they tarnish the church and disgrace God’s name, what are you doing? Have you stood up to speak out in defense of the work of God’s house? Have you stood up to curb their efforts or restrict them? Not only have you failed to stand up and stop them, you accompanied the antichrists in doing evil, aiding and abetting them, and acting as their tools and henchmen. Moreover, when someone writes a letter to inform about a problem with antichrists, you pigeonhole the letter and choose not to handle it. So, at this crucial moment, have your resolve and desire to abandon everything in order to sincerely expend yourself for God had any effect at all? If they have had no effect, then it is quite obvious that this so-called desire and resolve are not your true stature, they are not what you’ve gained from believing in God so many years. They cannot replace the truth; they are neither the truth nor life entry. They are not emblematic of a person having life, they are merely a kind of wishful thinking, a longing and a yearning that people have for something beautiful—they have nothing to do with the truth. Therefore, you have to wake up and see your true stature clearly. Don’t think that just because you have a little caliber, and have abandoned many things like education, career, family, marriage, and the prospects of the flesh, your stature is somehow great. Some people have even been leaders or workers ever since they laid a foundation in their initial faith in God. Over the years, they have accumulated certain experiences and lessons, and can preach a few words and doctrines. Because of this, they feel their stature is greater than others, that they have life entry, and are pillars and columns within God’s house and the ones whom God is perfecting. This is incorrect. Don’t think of yourselves as good—you are still far from it! You aren’t even able to discern antichrists; you have no real stature. Although you’ve been serving as leaders or workers for many years, there still isn’t an area where you can be suitable, you’re unable to do much real work, and you can only be used reluctantly. You are not a person of great talent. If any of you have a spirit of working hard and enduring hardship, at most you are a workhorse. You are not suitable. Some people become leaders or workers simply because they are enthusiastic, because they have an educational foundation and possess a certain caliber. Moreover, some churches are unable to find the ideal person to be in charge, so these people are promoted as exceptions to the rule and become subjects of training. Among these individuals, some have gradually been replaced and cast out during the process of various types of people being exposed. Although some who have continued following till now still remain, they still cannot discern anything. They have only been able to remain because they have not done anything evil. Furthermore, it is completely due to work arrangements coming from the Above, along with direct guidance, oversight, inquiry, follow-up, monitoring, and pruning and dealing with, that they are able to do some work—this does not mean they are suitable individuals. It’s because you often worship others, follow them, go astray, do wrong things, and are sent into tailspins of confusion by certain heresies and fallacies, losing your sense of direction and not knowing in whom you truly believe by the end. This is your actual stature. If I were to say that you have absolutely no life entry, that would be unfair to you. I can only say that the range of your experiences is too limited. You only have some entry after being pruned, dealt with, and seriously disciplined, but when it comes to things involving significant principles, especially when facing antichrists, false leaders causing deception and disturbances, you have nothing to show for yourselves, and you lack any testimony. In terms of life experiences and life entry, your experiences are too shallow, and you lack a genuine understanding of God. You still have nothing to show in this respect. When it comes to actual church work, you do not know how to fellowship about the truth and resolve problems; here you also have nothing to show. In these aspects, you have nothing to show for yourselves. So, you are not suitable for the roles of leader and worker. However, as ordinary believers, most of you have a little bit of life entry, though it is very slight and falls short of the truth reality. Whether you can withstand tests is yet to be observed. Only when major trials, significant temptations, or serious and direct chastisement and judgment from God actually arise, can they test whether you have a genuine stature and truth reality, whether you can stand firm in your testimony, what the answers on your test paper will be, and whether you meet God’s requirements—that’s when your true stature will be revealed. For now, saying that you have stature is still premature. Regarding the role of leader and worker, you don’t have any real stature. When you face matters, you become confused, and when confronted with disturbances from evildoers or antichrists, you are defeated. You can’t complete any important tasks independently; you always need someone to oversee, guide, and cooperate with you to get the job done. In other words, you can’t steer the ship. Whether you play the lead role or a supporting one, you can’t take it on by yourselves or complete a task independently; you are hopelessly unable to finish a task well without oversight and concern from the Above. If, in the end, a review of your work shows that you’ve done well in all aspects, that you’ve put your heart into every part of your work, that you’ve done everything well and handled it all properly and in accordance with truth principles, and that you’ve worked based on a clear understanding of the truth and seeking truth principles, so that you are able to resolve issues and do your work well, then you are suitable. However, up to this point, judging by everything you’ve experienced, you are not suitable. The key issue with your suitability is that you can’t complete your assigned tasks independently—this is one aspect. In another, if there is no oversight from the Above, you might lead people astray or cause them to abandon the right path. You cannot lead them before God or bring brothers and sisters in the church into the truth reality or onto the right track of faith in God, so that all God’s chosen people can perform their duty. You can’t achieve any of this. If there is a period of time without inquiry from the Above, there are always many deviations and flaws within the scope of work you are responsible for, as well as problems of every shape and size; and if the Above does not correct, oversee, or personally handle them, who knows how far these deviations will go or when they will stop. This is your true stature. That is why I’m saying you are quite unsuitable. Do you want to hear this? Doesn’t hearing this make you feel negative? (God, it feels quite uncomfortable in our hearts, but what God is fellowshiping about is indeed a fact. We don’t have the slightest bit of stature or truth reality. When antichrists appear, we won’t be able to discern them.) I have to point these things out to you; otherwise, you’ll feel wronged and mistreated all the time. You don’t understand the truth; you only know how to talk about some words and doctrines. During gatherings, you usually don’t even prepare a draft to speak doctrine anymore, and you no longer suffer from stage fright, and so you think you have stature. If you have stature then why aren’t you suitable? Why can’t you fellowship about the truth and address issues? You only know how to talk about words and doctrines to make your brothers and sisters approve of you. This doesn’t satisfy God, and it doesn’t make you suitable. Your ability to talk about these words and doctrines cannot resolve any actual problems. God arranges a small situation that exposes you, and it becomes clear how small your stature is, that you don’t understand the truth at all, and that you can’t see through anything; and it exposes that you are poor, pitiful, blind, and ignorant. Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) If you can accept these things, that’s good; if you can’t, take your time and think over them. Consider what I’m saying: Does it make sense, is it based on reality? Does it apply to you? Even if it does apply to you, don’t become negative. Being negative won’t help you resolve any problems. As a believer in God, if you want to perform your duty and be a leader or worker, then you can’t quit when you encounter setbacks and failures. You must get back up and continue moving forward. You need to focus on equipping yourself with certain aspects of the truth in areas where you are lacking or deficient, and where you have serious problems. Being negative or freezing up won’t resolve anything. When faced with matters, stop bringing up words and doctrines as well as different kinds of objective reasoning—these won’t help. When God tests you, and you say, “At that time, my health wasn’t very good, I was young, and my surroundings weren’t very peaceful,” will He listen to this? God will ask, “Did you hear the truth when it was fellowshiped about with you?” If you say, “Yes, I did hear it,” He will ask, “Do you have the work arrangements that were passed down?” Then you’ll say, “Yes, I have them,” and He’ll keep going: “Then why didn’t you follow them? Why did you fail so miserably? Why couldn’t you stand firm in your testimony?” Any objective reason you emphasize does not hold water. God isn’t interested in your excuses or reasoning. He doesn’t look at how much doctrine you are able to speak or how good you are at defending yourself. What God wants is your true stature and for your life to grow. No matter when, no matter what level of leader you become, or how high your status, never forget who you are and what you are before God. No matter how much doctrine you are able to speak, no matter how practiced you are in speaking doctrine, no matter what you have done or what contributions you have made to God’s house, none of these show that you possess real stature, nor are they signs of having life. When you enter into truth reality, grasp truth principles, stand firm in your testimony when faced with matters, are able to complete tasks independently, and are suitable for use, then you will have real stature. Alright, let’s conclude this discussion here and move on to the main topic of our fellowship.
Where did we leave off in our fellowship at the last gathering? (At the last gathering, God fellowshiped about “Letting go of the burdens that come from one’s family.” One part of this is letting go of expectations for one’s offspring. God explained this to us in two stages: One had to do with parents’ behavior while their children are still minors, and the other concerned their behavior when their children are adults. Regardless of the age of their children, whether they are adults or not, in reality, parents’ behavior and actions go against God’s sovereignty and arrangements. They always want to control their children’s destiny and interfere in their lives, but the path they choose and the pursuits they have are not something their parents can determine. People’s destinies are not something their parents can control. God also pointed out the correct viewpoint with which to view matters: No matter the stage of a child’s life, it is enough for their parents to fulfill their responsibilities, and the rest is about submitting to God’s sovereignty, arrangements, and predestination.) Last time, we fellowshiped about the fact that people should let go of parental expectations for their offspring. Of course, these expectations are driven by human will and ideation, and they don’t align with the fact that God arranges human destiny. These expectations are not a part of human responsibility; they are something people should let go of. Regardless of how great parents’ expectations are for their children, and regardless of how right and proper parents may believe their expectations for their children to be, as long as these expectations go against the truth that God is sovereign over human destiny, then they are something people should let go of. It can be said that this is also a negative thing; it is neither proper nor positive. It goes against parental responsibilities and beyond the scope of those responsibilities, and constitutes unrealistic expectations and demands that run contrary to humanity. Last time, we fellowshiped about some abnormal actions and conduct, as well as some extreme behavior, displayed by parents toward their children who are not yet adults, which lead to all kinds of negative influences and pressure on their children, ruining young children’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These things indicate that what parents are doing is inappropriate and unsuitable. These are thoughts and actions that people pursuing the truth should let go of, because, from the perspective of humanity, they are a cruel and inhuman way to wreck a child’s physical and mental well-being. Therefore, what parents should do for their children who are not yet adults is to fulfill their responsibilities, not plan, control, orchestrate, or determine their future and destiny. Didn’t we bring up two major aspects of parents fulfilling their responsibilities to their underage children last time? (Yes, we did.) If these two aspects are carried out, then you have fulfilled your responsibility. If they have not been carried out, then even if you raise your children into some kind of artist or talented individual, your responsibility remains unfulfilled. No matter how much effort parents put into their children, whether it means going gray with worry, becoming exhausted to the point of illness; no matter how great a price they pay, how much they pour their heart out, or how much money they dish out, none of these can be considered a fulfillment of their responsibilities. So, what does it mean when I say parents ought to fulfill their responsibilities toward their young children? What are the two main aspects? Who remembers them? (Last time, God fellowshiped about two responsibilities. One is taking care of the child’s physical health, and the other is guiding, educating, and assisting in their mental health.) It’s quite simple. In reality, taking care of a child’s physical health is easy; just don’t let them get too many bumps or bruises or eat the wrong things, don’t do anything that will negatively affect their growth, and to the greatest extent possible for parents, ensure they have enough food, that they eat well and healthily, that they get proper rest, stay free from illness or are only sick on occasion, and get them treated in a timely manner when they are sick. Can most parents achieve these standards? (Yes.) This is something people can achieve; the tasks that God gives people are easy. Because animals can meet these standards as well, if people are unable to meet them, aren’t they worse than animals? (Yes, they are.) If even animals can achieve these things, but humans can’t, then they are truly pitiful. This is the responsibility parents have toward their children’s physical health. Regarding their children’s mental well-being, this is also one responsibility parents should fulfill while raising young children. Once their children are physically healthy, parents should also promote their mental health and that of their thoughts, ensuring that they think about problems in ways and directions that are positive, active, and optimistic, so that they can lead a better life and not be radical, misguided, or hostile. What else? They should be able to grow up to be normal, healthy, and happy. For example, when children start to understand what their parents are saying and can have simple, normal conversations with them, and when they begin to show interest in new things, parents can tell them Bible stories or share simple stories about self-comportment to guide them. This way, children can understand what it means to comport oneself, and what to do in order to be a good child and a good person. This is a form of mental guidance for children. Parents should not just tell them that they should earn a lot of money when they grow up or become high-ranking officials, which would grant them endless wealth and prevent them from suffering or doing hard manual labor, and give them the power and prestige to boss others around. They should not instill such negative things into their children, but should share positive things with them. Or, they should tell their children stories that are age-appropriate and carry a positive educational message. For instance, teaching them not to lie and not to be a child who lies, making them understand that one must bear the consequences of lying, explaining their own attitude toward lying, and emphasizing that children who lie are bad children, and people don’t like children like this. At the very least they should let their children know that they must be honest. Additionally, parents should prevent their children from developing extreme or radical ideas. How can this be prevented? Parents need to teach their children to be tolerant toward others, to exercise patience and forgiveness, not to be willful or selfish when things arise, and to learn to be kind and harmonious in their interactions with others; if they encounter wicked or bad people who try to harm them, they should learn to walk away rather than addressing the situation with confrontation and violence. Parents should avoid planting the seeds or thoughts of violent tendencies in their young children’s minds. They should make it clear that violence is not something parents appreciate, and children who are prone to violence are not good children. If people have violent tendencies, they may eventually turn to committing crimes and face societal restraint and punishment according to law. People with violent tendencies are not good people, they are not people who are well regarded. In another respect, parents should educate their children to become self-reliant. Children should not expect food and clothing to just be handed to them; they should learn to do things themselves whenever they are able or know how to do them, avoiding a persistent mindset of laziness. In various ways, parents should guide their children to understand these positive and correct matters. Of course, when they see negative things happen or arise, parents should simply inform their children that such behavior is not good, that this is not what good children do, that they themselves do not like such behavior, and children who do this may face legal punishment, penalties, and retribution in the future. In short, parents should convey to their children the simplest and most fundamental principles of how to comport oneself and act. At the very least, while they are not yet adults, children should learn to practice discernment, to distinguish between good and bad, to know what actions define a good person versus a bad person, what things demonstrate the conduct of a good person, and which actions are considered evil and demonstrate the conduct of a bad person. These are the most basic things they should be taught. In addition, children should understand that some behaviors are despised by others, such as stealing or taking others’ belongings without permission, using their possessions without approval, spreading gossip, and sowing discord among people. These and similar actions are all indicative of conduct of a bad person, they are negative things, and they are not pleasing to God. As children grow a little older, they should be taught not to be willful in anything they do, not to lose interest quickly, or be impulsive or rash. They should consider the consequences of whatever action they may take, and if they know that those consequences could turn out unfavorably or be disastrous, then they should stay their hand, not letting profits or desires go to their head. Parents should also educate their children about the typical words and actions of bad people, providing them with a basic understanding of bad people and standards against which to measure them. They should learn not to trust strangers or their promises too easily, and not to accept things from strangers without caution. All of these things should be taught to them, because the world and society are wicked and full of traps. Children should not lightly put their trust in just anyone; they should be taught to discern evildoers and bad people, to be cautious of and distance themselves from evildoers, so that they can avoid being framed or deceived by them. Regarding these fundamental lessons, parents should guide and direct their children with a positive perspective during their formative years. In one respect, they should strive to ensure that their children grow up healthy and strong during their upbringing, and in another, they should foster their children’s healthy mental growth. What are the signs of a healthy mind? They are that a person has the right perspective on life and can take the right path. Even if they don’t believe in God, they still avoid following evil trends during their formative years. If parents notice any deviation in their children, they should promptly check their behavior and correct it, and guide their children rightly. For instance, if their children are exposed to certain things that happen as a part of evil trends or certain incorrect arguments or thoughts and viewpoints during their early years, in cases where they do not have discernment they might follow or imitate them. Parents should detect these issues early on and provide immediate correction and accurate guidance. This is also their responsibility. In short, the goal is to ensure that children have a fundamental, positive, and correct direction for development in their thoughts, self-comportment, treatment of others, and perception of various people, events, and things, so that they might develop in a constructive direction rather than a wicked one. For instance, unbelievers often say, “Life and death are preordained; wealth and honor are decided by Heaven.” The amount of suffering and enjoyment a person should experience in life is predetermined by God and cannot be changed by humans. In one respect, parents should inform their children of these objective facts, and in another, teach them that life is not just about physical needs, and it certainly isn’t about pleasure. There are more important things for people to do in this life than eating, drinking, and seeking entertainment; they should believe in God, pursue the truth, and pursue salvation from God. If people only live for pleasure, for eating, drinking, and seeking entertainment in the flesh, then they are like zombies, and their lives have no value at all. They do not create any positive or meaningful value, and they do not deserve to live or even to be human. Even if a child doesn’t believe in God, at the very least let them be a good person and one who attends to their proper duty. Of course, if they are chosen by God and are willing to participate in church life and fulfill their own duty as they grow up, that’s even better. If their children are like this, then parents should fulfill their responsibilities toward their underage children even more based on the principles God has admonished to people. If you don’t know whether they will believe in or will be chosen by God, at the very least you should fulfill the responsibilities you have to your children during their formative years. Even if you don’t know or are unable to comprehend these things, you should still perform these responsibilities. To the greatest extent possible, you should carry out what obligations and responsibilities you ought to perform, sharing what positive thoughts and things you already know with your children. At the very least, ensure that their spiritual growth follows a constructive direction, and that their minds are clean and healthy. Do not make them study all kinds of skills and knowledge from a young age under your expectations, cultivation, or even oppression. Even more serious, some parents accompany their children when they participate in various talent shows, and academic or athletic competitions, following all kinds of social trends and going to events like press hearings, signings, and study sessions, and attending whatever competitions and acceptance speeches at award ceremonies, etc. As parents, at the very least they shouldn’t let their children follow in their footsteps by doing these things themselves. If parents bring their children to such activities, in one respect, it is clear that they have not fulfilled their responsibilities as parents. In another, they are openly leading their children down a path of no return, hindering their constructive mental development. Where have these parents led their children? They have led them into evil trends. This is something parents shouldn’t do. Furthermore, regarding the future paths their children will take and the careers that they will pursue, parents should not instill such things as, “Look at so-and-so, they’re a pianist who started playing the piano at the age of four or five. They didn’t indulge in playtime, they had no friends or toys, and they practiced the piano every day. Their parents accompanied them to piano lessons, consulted various teachers, and entered them into piano competitions. Look at the famous person they are now, well-fed, well-dressed, surrounded by an aura of light and respected wherever they go.” Is this the kind of education that promotes the healthy development of a child’s mind? (No, it’s not.) What kind of education is it, then? It’s the education of the devil. This type of education is damaging to any young mind. It encourages them to aspire to fame, to covet various auras, honors, positions, and enjoyments. It makes them yearn for and pursue these things from a young age, driving them to anxiety, intense apprehension, and worry, and even causing them to pay every kind of price to get it, waking up early and working late to look over their homework and study different skills, and losing their childhood years, exchanging those precious years for these things. Regarding that which is promoted by evil trends, underage children do not have the ability to resist or discern it. So, as the guardians of their underage children, parents should fulfill this responsibility by helping them discern and resist various viewpoints that come from the world’s evil trends and all negative things. They should provide positive guidance and education. Of course, everyone has their own aspirations, and some young children, even if their parents discourage certain pursuits, may still desire them. Let them wish for what they want; parents must fulfill their responsibilities. As a parent, you have an obligation and a responsibility to regulate your children’s thoughts and guide them in a positive and constructive direction. As for whether they choose to listen to you or want to act out your teachings when they grow up, that’s their personal choice, which you cannot interfere with or control. In short, during their children’s formative years, parents have a responsibility and obligation to instill various healthy, proper, and positive thoughts and viewpoints, as well as life goals, in their children’s minds. This is the responsibility of parents.
Some parents say, “I don’t even know how to educate my children. I’ve been muddle-headed ever since I was a child, just doing whatever my parents told me without distinguishing right from wrong. Even now, I still don’t know how to educate children.” Don’t worry about not knowing; it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What’s worse is when you do know but don’t put it into practice, still educating your children exclusively to excel, and saying, “I’m no good anymore, but I want my children to surpass me. The younger generation basks in the light of their elders, and should outshine them. I am currently serving as section chief; therefore, my child must be a mayor, a governor, or even rise to higher levels of government or become the president.” There’s no need to say anything more to such people. We don’t engage with people like this. The parental responsibility we’re talking about is positive, proactive, and relates to the truth. For those pursuing the truth, if you wish to fulfill your responsibility toward your children, but are unsure how to fulfill that responsibility, then start learning from the beginning—it’s easy. Teaching adults is not easy, but teaching children is, isn’t it? Learn and teach simultaneously, teaching what you’ve just learned. Isn’t that easy? Educating your children is easy. It’s even better to fulfill your responsibility concerning your children’s mental health. Even if you can’t do this perfectly, it’s better than not educating them at all. Children are young and naive; if you let them get their information from television and various sources, pursue whatever they like, and think and act as they please without education or regulation, you haven’t fulfilled your responsibility as parents. You’ve failed in your duty, and you haven’t completed your responsibility and obligation. If parents must fulfill their responsibility to their children, then they cannot be passive, but must actively study some knowledge and learning that can help nurture their children’s mental health, or some basic principles related to the truth, starting from the beginning. These are all things parents should do: It’s called fulfilling one’s responsibility. Of course, your learning will not be in vain. During the process of learning and of educating your children, you will also gain something. Because, while teaching your children to develop their mental health in a constructive direction, as an adult, you will inevitably come into contact with and learn about certain positive ideas. When you approach these positive ideas or principles and criteria for self-comportment and action meticulously and seriously, you will unconsciously gain something—it will not be in vain. Fulfilling your responsibility to your own children is not something you do for the sake of others; you should do it because of your relationship to them both emotionally and by blood. Even if your children act or behave in a way that does not meet your expectations after you do this, at the very least, you’ve gained something. You know what it means to educate your children and to fulfill your responsibility toward them. You have already done your duty. As for the paths your children later choose to follow, how they choose to comport themselves, and the destinies that await them in life, that’s no longer your concern. When they reach adulthood, you can only stand by and watch their life and destiny unfold. You no longer have the obligation or responsibility to participate. If you didn’t provide timely guidance, education, and boundaries in certain matters for them when they were minors, you may regret it when, as adults, they say or do unexpected things or display thoughts and behaviors you didn’t anticipate. For instance, when they were young, you constantly educated them, saying, “Study hard, go to college, pursue postgraduate studies or a Ph.D., find a good job, find a good match to marry and start a family with, and then life will be good.” Through your education, encouragement, and various forms of pressure, they lived and pursued the course you set for them and achieved what you expected, just as you wished, and now they are unable to turn back. If, having come to understand certain truths and the will of God because of your faith, and having gained possession of correct thoughts and viewpoints, now you try to tell them not to pursue those things anymore, they’re likely to counter instead, “Aren’t I doing exactly what you wanted? Didn’t you teach me these things when I was young? Didn’t you demand this of me? Why are you stopping me now? Is what I’m doing wrong? I’ve achieved these things and I’m able to enjoy them now; you should feel happy, satisfied, and proud of me, shouldn’t you?” How would you feel upon hearing this? Should you be happy or in tears? Wouldn’t you feel regret? (Yes.) You can’t win them back now. If you hadn’t educated them this way when they were young, if you had given them a happy childhood without any pressure, without teaching them to be a cut above the rest, to hold a high office or make a lot of money, or to pursue fame, profit, and status, if you had simply let them be good, ordinary people, without demanding that they earn a lot of money, enjoy so much, or return so much to you, merely asking that they be healthy and happy, to be a simple and happy individual, perhaps they would have been receptive to some of the thoughts and viewpoints you hold after believing in God. Then, their lives might be happy now, with less pressure from life and society. Although they didn’t gain fame and profit, at least their hearts would have felt happy, quiet, and peaceful. But during their developmental years, due to your repeated instigation and urging, under your pressure, they relentlessly pursued knowledge, money, fame, and profit. In the end, they gained fame, profit, and status, their lives improved, they enjoyed more, and they earned more money, but their lives are exhausting. Every time you see them, they have a tired look on their face. Only when they return home, back to you, do they dare to take off their masks and admit they’re tired and want to rest. But as soon as they step outside, they’re not the same anymore—they put on the mask again. You look at their tired and pitiful expression, and you feel sorry for them, but you have no power to make them turn back. They can’t anymore. How did this happen? Isn’t it related to your parenting? (Yes.) None of this was something they naturally knew or pursued from a young age; it has a definite relation to your parenting. When you see their face, when you see their life in this state, don’t you feel upset? (Yes.) But you are powerless; all that remains is regret and sorrow. You may feel that your child has been taken completely away by Satan, that they are unable to return, and you have no power to rescue them. This is because you did not fulfill your responsibility as parents. You are the ones who harmed them, who led them astray with your flawed ideological education and guidance. They can never return, and in the end you are left only with regret. You look on helplessly while your child suffers, corrupted by this evil society, burdened by life’s pressures, and you have no way to help them. All you can say is, “Come home more often, and I’ll cook you something delicious.” What problems can a meal resolve? It can’t solve anything. Their thoughts have already matured and taken shape, and they’re not willing to let go of the fame and status they’ve attained. They can only forge ahead and never turn back. This is the pernicious result of parents providing the wrong guidance and instilling wrong ideas into their children during their formative years. Therefore, during these years, parents should fulfill their responsibility, guide their children’s mental health, and steer their thoughts and actions in a constructive direction. This is a very important matter. You might say, “I don’t know much about educating children,” but can’t you even fulfill your responsibility? If you truly comprehend the world and this society, if you truly grasp what fame and profit are, if you can truly abandon worldly fame and profit, then you should protect your children and not allow them to accept these incorrect ideas from society too quickly during their formative years. For example, when some children enter junior high school, they start to notice things like how many billions of dollars in assets a certain business tycoon has, what kind of luxury cars the richest person in the locality owns, what position another person holds, how much money they have, how many cars they have parked at their house, and what kinds of things they enjoy. Their minds start to wonder: “I’m in junior high now. What if I can’t find a good job after college? Without a job, what will I do if I can’t afford a mansion and luxury cars? How can I become exceptional without money?” They begin to worry and envy those in society who have prestige and whose lives are extravagant and luxurious. When children become aware of these things, they start to take in various information, events, and phenomena from society, and in their young minds, they begin to feel pressured and anxious, and to be concerned about and plan for their future. In such a situation, shouldn’t parents fulfill their responsibility and provide comfort and guidance, helping them understand how to properly view and handle these matters? They should make sure that their children do not get caught up in these things from a young age, so that they can develop the right viewpoint toward them. Tell Me, how should parents address these matters with their children? Nowadays, aren’t children exposed to various aspects of society at a very young age? (Yes.) Don’t children know a lot these days about singers, movie stars, sports stars, as well as internet celebrities, business tycoons, rich people, and multimillionaires—how much money they earn, what they wear, what they enjoy, how many luxury cars they have, and so on? (Yes.) Therefore, parents in this complex society should fulfill their parental responsibility, protect their children, and provide them with a healthy mind. When children become aware of these matters or hear and receive any unhealthy information, parents should teach them to develop the right thoughts and viewpoints so that they are able to step away from these matters in a timely manner. At the very least, parents should impart a simple doctrine to them: “You are still young, and at your age, your responsibility is to study well and learn what you need to learn. You don’t need to think about other thing; as for how much money you will earn or what you will buy, you don’t have to take care of these matters—they are for after you grow up. For now, focus on doing your schoolwork, completing the work your teachers assign, and managing things in your own life. You don’t need to think too much about anything else. It won’t be too late to consider these matters after you enter society and come into contact with them. The things happening now in society are the concern of adults. You are not an adult, so these are not things you should be thinking about or participating in. Right now, focus on doing your schoolwork well, and listen to what we tell you. We are adults and know more than you, so you should listen to us, to whatever we say. If you learn about those matters in society, and you follow and imitate them, that won’t be beneficial for your studies and schoolwork—it may affect your learning. What kind of person you become later or what kind of career you will have: These are things to consider later. Right now, your task is to attend to your studies. If you don’t excel in your studies, you won’t succeed in your education, and you won’t be a good child. Don’t think about other matters; they are not relevant to you. When you are older, then you will understand those things.” Isn’t this the most fundamental doctrine that people should understand? (Yes.) Let children know: “Your task right now is to study, not to eat, drink, and have fun. If you don’t study, you’ll waste your own time and neglect your education. The things in society related to eating, drinking, seeking entertainment, and sundry other matters are all matters for adults. Those who are not yet adults should not engage in those activities.” Are these words easy for children to accept? (Yes.) You are not depriving them of the right to know about these matters or to feel envious about them. At the same time, you are pointing out what it is they should be doing. Is this a good way to educate children? (Yes.) Is it a simple course of action? (Yes.) Parents should learn to do this and, so far as they are able, study how to educate and see to their underage children based on their own ability, conditions, and qualities; they should fulfill their responsibility to them, and do all this to the best of their ability. There are no strict or rigid standards for this; it varies from person to person. Everyone’s family circumstances are different, and everyone’s qualities are different. Therefore, when it comes to fulfilling the responsibility of educating one’s children, each person has their own methods. You should do whatever works effectively, what yields the desired results. You should adapt to your children’s personality, age, and gender: Some might need a little more sternness, while others might require a gentler approach. Some might benefit from a more demanding style, while others might thrive in a relaxed environment. Parents should adjust their methods based on their children’s individual situation. In any case, the ultimate goal is to ensure their mental health, to guide them in a constructive direction both in their thoughts and in the criteria for their actions. Do not impose anything that may run contrary to humanity, anything that goes against the laws of natural development or exceeds what they can achieve in their current age range or the extent of their qualities. When parents can do all this, then they have already fulfilled their responsibility. Is this difficult to achieve? It is not a complex matter.
Parents’ expectations for their offspring involve two aspects: One aspect has to do with expectations during their children’s formative years, and the other involves expectations when their children become adults. Last time, our fellowship briefly touched upon expectations when children become adults. What did we fellowship about? (God, last time we fellowshiped about parents hoping that their adult children will have a smooth work environment, happy and fulfilling marriages, and successful careers.) That is roughly what we fellowshiped about. After parents raise their children to adulthood, their children become adults, and they face circumstances involving work, career, marriage, family, and living by themselves independently, even raising their own offspring. They will leave their father and mother and be independent, facing every problem they may encounter in life on their own. Because their children are now grown, parents no longer carry the responsibility of caring for their children’s physical health or being directly involved in their lives, work, marriage, family, and so on. Of course, due to emotional and familial bonds, parents can offer superficial care, provide occasional advice, give a few suggestions or assistance from the role of someone with experience, or temporarily provide necessary care. In short, once children become adults, parents have mostly fulfilled their responsibilities toward their children. Therefore, some expectations that parents may have for their adult children, at least from My perspective, are unnecessary. Why are they unnecessary? Because, regardless of what parents expect their children to become, what kind of marriage, family, work, or career they expect them to have, whether they will be rich or poor, or whatever parents’ expectations may be, these are nothing more than expectations, and as adults, their children’s lives are ultimately in their own hands. Of course, fundamentally speaking, the destiny of their son or daughter’s entire life, and whether they are rich or poor, all of it is ordained by God. Parents have no responsibility or obligation to oversee these matters, nor do they have the right to intervene. Therefore, parental expectations are simply a kind of well-wishing founded in their affections. No parent is willing for their child to be poor, unmarried, divorced, have a dysfunctional family, or experience hardship at work. Not one of them expects these things for their child; they undoubtedly expect the best for their children. However, if parents’ expectations conflict with the reality of their children’s lives, or if that reality goes against their expectations, how should they approach this? This is what we need to fellowship about. As parents, when it comes to the attitude one should foster toward their adult children, apart from blessing them in silence and having good expectations for them, no matter what kind of livelihood their children lead, what kind of destiny or life they have, parents can only let it happen. No parent can change any of this, nor can they control it. Although you gave birth to your children and raised them, as we’ve discussed before, parents are not the masters of their children’s destinies. Parents conceive their children’s physical body and raise them to adulthood, but as for what kind of destiny their children will have, this is not something given or chosen by their parents, and their parents certainly don’t decide it. You wish for your children to do well, but does that guarantee they will? You do not wish for them to encounter misfortune, bad luck, and all kinds of unfortunate events, but does that mean they will be able to avoid them? Regardless of what your children face, none of those things are subject to human will, nor is any of it determined by your needs or expectations. So, what does this tell you? Since children have become adults, are capable of taking care of themselves, of having independent thoughts, views on things, principles of self-comportment, and outlooks on life, and are no longer influenced, mastered, constrained, or managed by their parents, then they are truly an adult. What does it mean that they have become an adult? It means that their parents should let go. In written language, this is called “letting go,” allowing children to independently explore and take their own path in life. What do we say in spoken language? “Step aside.” In other words, parents should stop giving orders to their adult children, saying things like, “You should look for this job, you should work in this industry. Don’t do that, it’s too risky!” Is it appropriate for parents to give orders to their adult children? (No, it’s not.) They always want to keep their adult children’s lives, work, marriage, and family under their control and within their line of vision, getting anxious, worried, fearful, and concerned if they don’t know about something or can’t control it, saying, “What if my son doesn’t consider that matter carefully? Could he get into legal trouble? I don’t have the money for a lawsuit! If he gets sued and there’s no money, could he end up in jail? If he goes to jail, could he be falsely accused by wicked people, and serve eight or ten years? Will his wife leave him? Who will take care of the children?” The more they think about it, the more they have to worry about. “My daughter’s job is not going well: People are always mistreating her, and her boss isn’t good to her either. What can we do? Should we find her another job? Should we pull some strings, do some networking, spend some money, and get her a job in a government department where she can have a light load every day as a government employee? Even though the salary isn’t high, at least she won’t be mistreated. We couldn’t bring ourselves to hit her when she was young and we pampered her like a princess; now, she’s getting bullied by other people. What should we do?” They worry to the point where they can’t eat or sleep, and their mouths get all blistered up from the anxiety. Whenever their children face anything they become anxious and take it to heart. They want to be involved in everything, standing in on every situation. Whenever their children become ill or encounter some difficulty, they feel agonized and miserable, saying, “I just want you to be well. Why aren’t you well? I want everything to go smoothly for you, I want everything to go just as you wish, just as you plan it to go. I want you to enjoy success, not to have bad luck, to be cheated, or to be framed and get into legal trouble!” Some children take out a mortgage on a house, and their mortgage can last for thirty or even fifty years. Their parents start worrying, “When will all these loans be paid off? Isn’t this the same as being a mortgage slave? Our generation didn’t need a mortgage to buy a house. We lived in company-provided apartments and paid a few bucks in rent each month. Our living situation felt so relaxed. Nowadays, it’s really tough for these young people; it really isn’t easy for them. They have to take out a mortgage, and even though they live well, they work so hard every day—they’re exhausted! They often stay up late working overtime, their eating and sleeping schedules are irregular, and they’re always eating takeout. Their stomachs suffer and so does their health. I have to cook for them and clean their place. I have to tidy up for them because they don’t have the time—their lives are a mess. I’m an old lady now with old bones, and I can’t do much, so I’ll just become their maid. If they hire an actual maid, they’ll have to spend money, and they might not be trustworthy. So, I’ll be their maid for free.” So she becomes a servant, cleaning her children’s home every day, tidying up, cooking when it’s time to eat, buying vegetables and grains, and taking on endless responsibilities. She goes from being a parent to being an old servant, a maid. When her children come home and aren’t in a good mood, she has to watch their expressions and speak cautiously until her children are happy again, and only then can she be happy. She’s happy when her children are happy, and worries when her children are worried. Is this a valuable way to live? It’s no different from losing oneself.
Is it possible for parents to bear the cost of their children’s destinies? In order to pursue fame, profit, and worldly pleasures, children are willing to endure whatever hardships come their way. Moreover, as adults, is it okay for them to face whatever hardships are necessary for their own survival? As much as they enjoy, that much should they also be prepared to suffer—this is natural. Their parents have fulfilled their responsibilities, then regardless of what their children want to enjoy, they should not foot the bill. No matter how good a life parents want their children to have, if their children want to enjoy good things, then they should bear all the pressure and suffering themselves, not their parents. Therefore, if parents always want to do everything for their children and bear the cost for their hardships, willingly becoming their slaves, then isn’t this excessive? It’s unnecessary because it goes beyond what parents should be expected to do. Another major reason is that, no matter what or how much you do for your children, you cannot change their destiny or alleviate their suffering. Every person trying to get by in society, whether they pursue fame and profit or take the correct path in life, as an adult they must take responsibility for their own desires and ideals, and they should pay their own way. Nobody should take on anything for them; even their parents, the people who gave birth to them and raised them, the people closest to them, are not obligated to pay their way or share their suffering. Parents are no different in this regard because they cannot change anything. Therefore, anything you do for your children is in vain. Because it’s in vain, you should give up this course of action. Although the parents may be old and have already fulfilled their responsibilities and obligations to their children, although anything parents do is insignificant in their children’s eyes, they should still have their own dignity, their own pursuits, and their own mission to fulfill. As someone who believes in God and pursues the truth and salvation, the energy and time you have left in your life should be spent performing your duty and on whatever God has entrusted to you; you shouldn’t spend any time on your children. Your life does not belong to your children, and it should not be consumed for their lives or survival, nor to satisfy your expectations of them. Instead, it should be devoted to the duty and entrusted task that God has given you, as well as the mission you should fulfill as a created being. This is where the value and meaning of your life lie. If you are willing to lose your own dignity and become a slave to your children, to worry about them, and to do anything for them in order to satisfy your own expectations for them, then all of this is meaningless and devoid of value, and it will not be commemorated. If you persist in doing so and do not let go of these ideas and actions, it can only mean that you are not someone who pursues the truth, that you are not a qualified created being, and that you are quite rebellious. You cherish neither the life nor the time given to you by God. If your life and your time are spent only for your flesh and affections, and not for the duty God has given you, then your life is unnecessary and devoid of value. You don’t deserve to live, you don’t deserve to enjoy the life God has given you, and you don’t deserve to enjoy everything that God has given you. God gave you children only for you to enjoy the process of raising them, to gain life experience and knowledge from it as parents, to let you experience something special and extraordinary in human life, and then to let your offspring multiply…. Of course, it is also to fulfill the responsibility of a created being as a parent. It is the responsibility God ordained for you to fulfill toward the next generation, as well as the role you play as parents for the next generation. In one respect, it is to go through this extraordinary process of raising children, and in another, it is to play a role in propagating the next generation. Once this obligation is fulfilled, and your children grow up into adults, whether they become highly successful or remain plain, ordinary, and simple individuals, it has nothing to do with you, because their destiny is not determined by you, nor is it your choice, and you certainly did not give it to them—it is ordained by God. Since it is ordained by God, you should not interfere or stick your nose into their life or their survival. Their habits, daily routines, and attitude toward life, whatever survival strategies they have, whatever outlook on life, whatever their attitude toward the world—these are their own choices to make, and they are not your concern. You have no obligation to correct them or to bear any suffering on their behalf to ensure that they are happy every day. All of these things are unnecessary. Each person’s destiny is determined by God; therefore, how much blessing or suffering they experience in life, what kind of family, marriage, and children they have, what experiences they go through in society, and what events they experience in life, they themselves cannot foresee or change such things, and parents have even less of an ability to change them. Therefore, if children encounter any difficulties, parents should help positively and proactively if they have the ability to do so. If not, it is best for parents to relax and view these matters from the perspective of created beings, treating their children equally as created beings. The suffering you experience, they must also experience; the life you live, they must also live; the process you have gone through of raising young children, they will also go through; the twists and turns, fraud and deception you experience in society and among people, the emotional entanglements, and interpersonal conflicts, and every similar thing you have experienced, they will experience it too. They, like you, are all corrupted human beings, all carried away by the currents of evil, corrupted by Satan; you cannot escape it, and neither can they. Therefore, wanting to help them avoid all suffering and enjoy all the blessings in the world is a silly delusion and a foolish idea. No matter how vast the wings of an eagle may be, they cannot protect the young eaglet throughout its entire life. The young eaglet will eventually reach a point when it must grow up and fly alone. When the young eaglet chooses to fly alone, no one knows where its stretch of sky may be, or where it will choose to fly. Therefore, the most rational attitude for parents after their children grow up is to let go, to let them experience life on their own, to let them live independently, and face, handle, and resolve the various challenges in life independently. If they seek help from you and you have the ability and conditions to do so, of course you can lend a helping hand and provide necessary aid. However, the prerequisite is that, no matter what help you provide, whether it’s financial or psychological, it can only be temporary and cannot change any substantial issues. They must navigate their own path in life, and you have no obligation to shoulder any of their affairs or consequences. This is the attitude parents should have toward their adult children.
Having understood the attitude parents should have toward their adult children, should parents also let go of their expectations for their adult children? Some ignorant parents cannot comprehend life or destiny, do not recognize God’s sovereignty, and tend to do ignorant things when it comes to their children. For example, after their children become independent, they may encounter certain special situations, hardships, or major incidents; some face illnesses, some get involved in lawsuits, some get divorced, some are deceived and scammed, and some are kidnapped, harmed, severely beaten, or face death. There are even some who fall into drug abuse, and so on. What should parents do in these special and significant situations? What is the typical reaction of most parents? Do they do what they ought to do as created beings with the identity of parents? Very seldom do parents hear such news and react as they would if it had happened to a stranger. A majority of parents stay up all night till their hair turns gray, they lose sleep night after night, have no appetite during the day, rack their brains with thinking, and some even weep bitterly, till their eyes turn red and their tears run dry. They pray fervently to God, for God to take their own faith into account and protect their children, show them favor and bless them, show mercy, and spare their lives. As parents in such a situation, their human weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and feelings toward their children are all exposed. What else is revealed? Their rebellion against God. They implore God and pray to Him, beseeching Him to keep their children from calamity. Even if a disaster occurs, they pray that their children won’t die, that they can escape danger, they won’t be harmed by evildoers, their illnesses won’t grow more severe but will improve, and so on. What are they really praying for? (God, with these prayers they are making demands of God, with an undertone of complaint.) In one respect, they are extremely dissatisfied with their children’s plight, complaining that God shouldn’t have allowed such things to happen to their children. Their dissatisfaction is mixed with complaint, and they ask God to change His mind, not to act like this, to deliver their children from danger, to keep them safe, to heal their sickness, to help them escape lawsuits, to avert calamity when it arises, and so on—in short, to make everything go smoothly. By praying like this, in one respect, they are complaining to God, and in another, they are making demands of Him. Isn’t this a manifestation of rebellion? (It is.) Implicitly, they are saying that what God is doing is not right or good, that He shouldn’t act like this. Because these are their children, and they are believers, they think God shouldn’t let such things happen to their children. Their children are different from others; they should receive preferential blessings from God. On account of their faith in God, He ought to bless their children, and if He does not, they become distressed, they cry, throw a tantrum, and no longer want to follow God. If their child dies, they feel that they can’t go on living either. Is that the sentiment they have in mind? (Yes.) Isn’t this a form of protest against God? (It is.) This is protesting against God. It’s like dogs who demand to be fed at mealtime, and throw a tantrum if it’s even slightly delayed. They snatch up the bowl in their mouth and bang it against the floor—isn’t this unreasonable? (Yes.) Sometimes, if you give them meat for a couple days in a row but occasionally go a day without meat, then dogs in their animal temper might dump their food on the floor, or else take the bowl in their mouth and knock it against the ground, telling you they want to be given meat, that meat is what they believe they should be given, and that it is unacceptable not to give them meat. People can be just as unreasonable. When their children face troubles, they complain to God, make demands of Him, and protest against Him. Isn’t this more or less the behavior of animals? (Yes.) Animals don’t understand the truth or people’s so-called doctrines and human feelings. When they throw tantrums or act out, it’s somewhat understandable. But when people protest against God in this way, are they being reasonable? Can they be forgiven? If animals behave like this, people might say, “This little fellow has quite the temper. It even knows how to protest; that’s quite clever. I guess we shouldn’t underestimate it.” They find it amusing, and think this animal is anything but simple. So, when an animal throws a tantrum, people hold it in higher regard. If a person were to protest against God, should God have that same regard for them and say, “This fellow comes with such demands; they’re anything but simple!” Would God hold you in high regard like this? (No.) So, how does God define this behavior? Is it not rebellion? (It is.) Do people who believe in God not know that this behavior is wrong? Hasn’t the epoch of “One person’s belief in the Lord brings blessings to the whole family” passed a long time ago? (Yes, it has.) Then why do people still fast and pray like this, pleading shamelessly with God to protect and bless their children? Why do they still dare to protest and contend with God, saying, “If You don’t do it like this, I’ll keep praying; I will fast!” What does fasting mean? It means going on a hunger strike, which in another sense is acting shamelessly and throwing a fit. When people act shamelessly toward other people, they might stamp their feet, saying, “Oh, my child is gone; I don’t want to live anymore, I can’t go on!” They don’t do this when they’re before God; they speak quite elegantly, saying, “God, I implore You to protect my child and cure their illness. God, You are the great physician who saves people—You can do all things. I beseech You to watch over and protect them. Your Spirit is everywhere, You are righteous, You are a God who shows mercy to people. You care for and cherish them.” What is meant by this? Nothing of what they’re saying is wrong, it’s just not the right time to say such things. The implication is that if God doesn’t save your child and protect them, if He doesn’t fulfill your wishes, then He isn’t a loving God, He is devoid of love, He isn’t a merciful God, and He isn’t God. Isn’t this the case? Isn’t this acting shamelessly? (Yes.) Do people who act shamelessly revere God as great? Do they have God-fearing hearts? (No.) People who act shamelessly are just like scoundrels—they lack God-fearing hearts. They dare to contend and protest against God, and even act in an unreasonable manner. Isn’t this the same as looking for death? (Yes.) Why are your children so special? When God orchestrates or rules someone else’s fate, you think it’s fine as long as it has nothing to do with you. But you think He shouldn’t be able to rule the fate of your children? In the eyes of God, all humanity is under God’s sovereignty, and no one can escape the sovereignty and arrangements set by God’s hands. Why should your children be an exception? God’s sovereignty is ordained and planned out by Him. Is it okay for you to want to change it? (No, it isn’t.) It isn’t okay. Therefore, people must not do foolish or unreasonable things. Whatever God does is based on predetermined causes and effects—what does it have to do with you? If you resist God’s sovereignty, you’re looking for death. If you don’t want your children to experience these things, that stems from emotion, not justice, mercy, or kindness—it is merely the result of an emotional effect. Emotion is the spokesperson of selfishness. That emotion you have isn’t worth showcasing; you can’t even justify it to yourself, and yet you still want to use it to blackmail God. Some people even say, “My child is sick, and if he dies, I won’t go on living!” Do you really have the nerve to die? Try dying then! Is the faith of such people genuine? Will you really stop believing in God if your child dies? What can their death possibly change? If you don’t believe in God, neither God’s identity nor His status will change. God is still God. He is not God because you believe in Him, nor does He stop being God because of your disbelief. Even if all humanity didn’t believe in God, God’s identity and essence would remain unchanged. His status would remain unchanged. He will always be the One who is sovereign over the fate of all humanity and over the universe world. It has nothing to do with whether you believe or not. If you believe, you will be shown favor. If you do not believe, you won’t have the opportunity for salvation, and you will not attain it. You love and protect your children, you have feelings for your children, you can’t let go of them, and so you don’t allow God to do anything. Does this make sense? Is this in line with the truth, with morality, or with humanity? It is not in line with anything, not even morality, isn’t that right? You’re not cherishing your children, you’re shielding them—you’re under the influence of your feelings. You even say that if your child dies, you won’t go on living. Since you are so irresponsible toward your own life and don’t cherish the life God has given you, if you want to live for your children, then just go ahead and die together with them. Whatever illness they come down with, you should quickly get infected with the same disease and die together; or just find a rope to hang yourself, won’t that be easy? After you die, will you and your children be the same kind? Will you still have that same physical relationship? Will you still have feelings for one another? When you return to the other world, you will change. Isn’t that how it will be? (Yes.) When people look at things with their eyes and judge whether they are good or bad, or what their nature is, what do they rely on? They rely on their thoughts. Just by looking at things with their eyes, they cannot see past the material world; they cannot see into the spiritual world. What will people think in their minds? “In this world, the people who gave birth to me and raised me are the closest and dearest to me. I also love the people who gave birth to me and raised me. No matter when, my child is always the closest to me, and I always cherish my child the most.” This is the extent of their mental landscape and horizon; this is how “broad” their mental landscape is. Is this a foolish thing to say or not? (It is foolish.) Isn’t it childish? (It is childish.) So childish! Your children are only related to you by blood in this life; what about their past life, how were they related to you then? Where will they go after they die? Once they die, their body breathes its last, their soul departs, and they completely bid farewell to you. They won’t recognize you anymore, they won’t even stay for a second, they will simply return to the other world. When they return to that other world, you cry, you miss them, and feel miserable and tormented, saying, “Oh, my child is gone, and I won’t be able to see them ever again!” Does a dead person have any awareness? They have no awareness of you, they don’t miss you in the slightest. Once they leave their body, they immediately become a third party, and they have no relationship with you anymore. How do they view you? They say, “That old lady, that old man—who are they crying for? Oh, they’re crying for a body. I feel like I’ve just been separated from that body: I’m not so heavy now, and I don’t have the pain of illness anymore—I’m free.” That is what they feel. After they die and leave their body, they continue to exist in the other world, appearing in a different form, and they no longer have any relationship to you. You cry and long for them here, suffering for their sake, but they feel nothing, they know nothing. After many years, due to fate or coincidence, they may become your co-worker, or your fellow countryman, or they may live far away from you. Though you live in the same world, you will be two different people with no connection between you. Even if some people may recognize that they were so-and-so in the previous life due to special circumstances or because of something special that was said, yet they feel nothing when they see you, and you feel nothing when you see them. Even if they were your child in the previous life, you feel nothing for them now—you only think about your deceased child. They feel nothing for you either: They have their own parents, their own family, and a different surname—they have no relationship to you. But you’re still over there missing them—what are you missing? You are merely missing the physical body and the name that was once related to you by blood; it’s just an image, a shadow that lingers in your thoughts or mind—it has no actual value. They have been reincarnated, transformed into a human or any other living being—they have no relation to you. Therefore, when some parents say, “If my child dies, I won’t go on living either!”—that’s just plain ignorance! Their lifespan has reached its end, but why should you stop living? Why do you speak so irresponsibly? Their lifespan has come to an end, God has cut their thread, and they have another task—what business is it of yours? If you have another task, God will also cut your thread; but you don’t yet, so you have to keep living. If God wants you alive, you cannot die. Whether it involves one’s parents, children, or any other relatives or people related by blood in their life, when it comes to feelings, people should have the following view and understanding: Regarding the feelings that exist between people, if they are related by blood, then fulfilling one’s responsibility is enough. Apart from fulfilling their responsibilities, people have neither the obligation nor the ability to change anything. Therefore, it is irresponsible for parents to say, “If our children are gone, if we as parents must bury our own children, then we won’t go on living.” If children really are buried by their parents, it can only be said that their time in this world was only so long, and they had to go. But their parents are still here, so they should continue to live well. Of course, according to their humanity, it is normal for people to think about their children, but they should not squander the time they have left missing their deceased children. This is foolish. Therefore, when dealing with this matter, in one respect people should take responsibility for their own life, and in another they ought to fully comprehend familial relationships. The relationship that truly exists between people is not based on ties of flesh and blood, but it is a relationship between one living being and another created by God. This kind of relationship carries no ties of flesh and blood; it is only between two independent living beings. If you think about it from this angle, then as parents, when your children are unfortunate enough to fall sick or their lives are in danger, you ought to face these matters correctly. You should not give up the time you have left, the path you ought to take, or the responsibilities and obligations you should fulfill, because of your children’s misfortunes or passing—you should face this matter correctly. If you have the right thoughts and viewpoints and can see through these things, then you will be able to quickly overcome despair, grief, and longing. But what if you can’t see through them? Then it may haunt you for the rest of your life, until the day you die. However, if you can see through this circumstance, there will be a limit to this season of your life. It will not go on forever, nor will it accompany you for the latter part of your life. If you can see through this, then you can let go of a part of it, which is a good thing for you. But if you can’t see through the familial ties shared with your children, then you will be unable to let go, and this will be a cruel matter for you. No parents are without emotion when their children pass away. When any parents experience having to bury their children, or when they witness their children in an unfortunate situation, they will spend the rest of their lives thinking about and worrying over them, trapped in pain. No one can escape from it: It is a scar and an indelible mark on the soul. It is not easy for people to let go of this emotional attachment while living in the flesh, so they suffer for it. However, if you can see through this emotional attachment with your children, it will become much less intense. Of course, you will suffer to a much lesser extent; it is impossible not to suffer at all, but your suffering will be greatly reduced. If you can’t see through it, this matter will go cruelly with you. If you can, it will have been a special experience that caused severe emotional trauma, giving you a deeper appreciation and understanding of life, familial ties, and humanity, and enriching your life experience. Of course, this specific kind of enrichment is something that no one wants to possess or encounter. Nobody wants to face it, but if this matter arises, you have to deal with it correctly. To prevent cruelty to yourself, you should let go of your previously held traditional, rotten, and mistaken thoughts and viewpoints. You should face your emotional and blood ties in the right way, and view the passing of your children correctly. Once you truly comprehend this, you’ll be able to let go of it completely, and this matter will no longer torment you. You understand Me, don’t you? (Yes, I understand.)
Some people say, “Children are assets given to parents by God, so they amount to parents’ private property.” Is this statement correct? (No, it isn’t.) Some parents, upon hearing this, say, “This is a correct statement. Nothing else belongs to us, only our children, who are our own flesh and blood. They are what is dearest to us.” Is this statement correct? (No.) What is incorrect about it? Please explain your reasoning. Is it appropriate to treat children as one’s private property? (No, it is not appropriate.) Why is it not appropriate? (Because private property belongs to oneself and not to others. However, the relationship between children and parents is actually nothing more than a fleshly relationship. Human life comes from God, it is the breath given by God. If someone believes that they have given life to their children, their perspective and position are incorrect, and they also do not believe at all in God’s sovereignty and arrangement.) Isn’t this the case? Aside from a physical relationship, in God’s eyes, the lives of children and parents are independent. They do not belong to each other, nor do they have a hierarchical relationship. Of course, they certainly do not have a relationship of owning or being owned. Their lives come from God, and God is sovereign over their destinies. It’s simply that children are born from their parents, parents are older than their children, and children younger than their parents; yet, based on this relationship, this superficial phenomenon, people believe that children are the accessories and private property of their parents. This isn’t looking at the matter from its roots, but only considering it based on the surface-level, the flesh, and one’s affections. Therefore, this manner of consideration is itself wrong, and this perspective is wrong. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Since children are not the accessories or private property of their parents, but independent people, regardless of what manner of expectations parents have for their children after they grow up, these expectations must remain as ideas in their minds—they cannot be turned into reality. Naturally, even if parents have expectations for their adult children, they should not try to realize them, nor should they use them to make good on their own promises or make any sacrifices or pay any prices for them. So, what should parents do? They should choose to let go after their adult children have acquired independent lives and the ability to survive. Letting go is the only true way to show them respect and take responsibility for them. Always dominating their children, controlling them, or wanting to interfere and participate in their lives and survival is an ignorant and senseless behavior on the part of parents, and it is a childish way of doing things. No matter how high the expectations parents have for their children may be, they cannot change anything and will not possibly become reality. Therefore, if parents are wise, they should let go of all these realistic or unrealistic expectations, adopt a correct perspective and stance from which to handle their relationship with their children and approach every action taken by their adult children or event that happens to them. That is the principle. Is it appropriate? (Yes, it’s appropriate.) If you can accomplish it, this proves that you accept these truths. If you can’t, and you insist on doing things your own way, thinking that family affection is the greatest and most important thing, and the most significant thing in the world, as if you can oversee the fate of your children and hold their destiny in your hands, then go ahead and try it—see what the final result will be. It goes without saying that it can only end in miserable defeat, with no good outcome.
In addition to having these expectations for adult children, parents also have a requirement for their own children that is common among all parents in the world, which is that they hope they can be filial children and treat their parents well. Of course, some specific ethnic groups and regions have more specific requirements for their children. For example, in addition to being filial to their parents, they also need to care for their parents till death and arrange their funerals, live with their parents after reaching adulthood, and take responsibility for their parents’ livelihoods. This is the last aspect of parental expectations toward their offspring that we will discuss now—demanding that their children be filial and take care of them in their old age. Is this not the original intention of all parents in having children, as well as a basic requirement for their children? (Yes, it is.) Parents ask their children when they are still young and don’t understand things: “When you grow up and earn money, who are you going to spend it on? Will you spend it on mommy and daddy?” “Yes.” “Will you spend it on daddy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Will you spend it on mommy’s parents?” “Yes.” How much money can one child earn in total? They have to support their parents, both sets of grandparents, and even their distant relatives. Tell Me, isn’t this a heavy burden for a child, aren’t they unlucky? (Yes.) Even though they speak in the innocent, naive way that children do, and don’t know what they are actually saying, this reflects a certain reality, which is that parents raise their children with a purpose, and that purpose is neither pure nor simple. When their children are still very young, the parents already start setting demands and are always testing them, asking: “When you grow up, will you support mommy and daddy?” “Yes.” “Will you support daddy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Will you support mommy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Who do you like the best?” “I like mommy best.” Then dad gets jealous, “What about daddy?” “I like daddy best.” Mom gets jealous, “Who do you really like the best?” “Mommy and daddy.” Then both parents are satisfied. They strive for their children to be filial starting when they have just barely learned to speak, and they hope that their children will treat them well when they grow up. Although these young children cannot express themselves clearly and don’t understand much, parents still want to hear a promise in their children’s answers. At the same time, they also want to see their own future in their children and hope the children they are raising will not be ungrateful, but filial children who will take responsibility for them, and even more so, on whom they will be able to rely, and who will support them in their old age. Although they have been asking these questions since their children were young, they are not simple questions. They are completely requirements and hopes arising from the depths of these parents’ hearts, very real requirements and very real hopes. So, as soon as their children start to gain an understanding of things, parents hope that they can show concern when their parents are sick, accompany them at their bedside and take care of them, even if it’s just pouring water for them to drink. Although they can’t do much, they can’t provide financial or more practical help, at least their children should display this much filial piety. Parents want to be able to see this filial piety while their children are young, and verify it from time to time. For example, when the parents are not feeling well or are tired from work, they look to see if their children know to bring them drinks, to bring their shoes, to wash their clothes, or to make them a simple meal, even if it’s just scrambled eggs with rice, or if they’ll ask their parents, “Are you tired? If you are, let me make you something to eat.” Some parents go out during holidays and deliberately do not come back at mealtimes to prepare food, just to see if their children have grown up and become sensible, if they know to cook for them, if they know to be filial and considerate, if they can share in their hardships, or if they are heartless ingrates, if they raised them for nothing. While their children are growing up, and even during adulthood, their parents are constantly testing them and prying into this matter, and at the same time, they are constantly making demands of their children, “You shouldn’t be such heartless ingrates. Why did we, your parents, even raise you? It was so that you’d take care of us when we got old. Did we raise you for nothing? You should not defy us. It wasn’t easy for us to raise you. It was hard work. You should be considerate and know these things.” Especially during the so-called rebellious phase, that is, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, some children are not very sensible or discerning, and they often defy their parents and cause trouble. Their parents cry, make a scene, and nag them, saying, “You don’t know how much we suffered to look after you when you were young! We didn’t expect you to grow up like this, not at all filial, ignorant of how to share the burden of household chores or our hardships. You don’t know how difficult all this is for us. You are not filial, you are defiant, you are not a good person!” Besides getting angry at their children for being disobedient or exhibiting radical behavior in their studies or in daily life, another reason for their anger is that they cannot see their own future in their children, or they see that their children will not be filial in the future, that they are neither considerate nor do they feel sorry for their parents, that they don’t hold their parents in their hearts, or more precisely, that they don’t know to go and be filial to their parents. So, in the eyes of their parents, they cannot place their hopes in such children: They may be ungrateful or defiant, and their parents are heartbroken, feeling that the investments and expenses they made for the sake of their children were in vain, that they made a bad deal, it wasn’t worth it, and they regret it, feeling sad, distressed, and in anguish. But they are unable to get back what they spent, and the more they can’t get it back, the more regret they feel, the more they want to demand that their children be filial, saying, “Can’t you be a bit more filial? Can’t you be more sensible? Can’t we be able to count on you when you grow up?” For example, say that parents need money, and they don’t make a peep about it, but their children bring that money home for them. Suppose that parents wish to eat meat or something delicious and nutritious, and they don’t say anything about it, but their children bring that food home for them. Those children are especially considerate of their parents—no matter how busy they are with work or how heavy their own family burdens are—they always bear their parents in mind. Then their parents will think, “Ah, my child can be counted on, they are finally grown up, all the energy spent raising them was worth it, the money spent on them was worth it, we’ve seen a return on our investment.” But if their children do anything that is slightly beneath what their parents expect, they will judge it based on how filial they are, determining that they are unfilial, unreliable, ungrateful, and that they brought them up in vain.
There are also some parents who are occasionally busy with work or running errands, and they come home a bit later to find that their children made dinner without saving any for them. These young people haven’t yet reached that age, they may not think about it or have the habit of doing this, or some people may simply lack that humanity, and not be able to show consideration or care for others. They might also be influenced by their parents, or it could be that their humanity is inherently selfish, so they cook and eat themselves without leaving any for their parents or making an additional portion. When the parents come home and see this, they take it to heart and get upset. What are they upset about? They think that their children are neither filial nor sensible. Especially when it comes to single mothers: Seeing their children behave like this makes them even more upset. They start crying and shouting, “You think it was easy for me to raise you for so many years? I’ve been both a father and a mother to you, raising you all this time. I work so hard, and when I come home, you don’t even cook a meal for me. Even if it’s just a bowl of porridge, if it’s not even hot, it would still be a nice gesture of your love. How can you not understand this at your age?” They don’t understand and don’t act appropriately, but if you didn’t have this expectation of them, would you be so angry? Would you take this matter so seriously? Would you consider it as a criterion of filial piety? If they don’t cook for you, you can still cook for yourself. If they weren’t there, wouldn’t you still have to go on living? If they aren’t filial to you, shouldn’t you have just not given birth to them? If they really never learn how to cherish and take care of you their whole lives, what should you do? Should you treat this matter correctly or be angry, upset, and regretful about it, always at loggerheads with them? What is the right thing to do? (Approach the matter correctly.) All in all, you still don’t know what to do. In the end, you just tell people, “Don’t have children. You regret every child you give birth to. There is nothing good in having children, or in raising them either. They always grow up to be heartless ingrates! It’s better to be good to yourself and not to put your hopes in anyone. No one is reliable! Everyone says that children can be relied upon, but what can you rely on? It’s more like they can rely on you. You treat them well in a hundred different ways, but in return, they think that being a little bit nicer to you is an immense kindness, and that it counts as doing right by you.” Is this statement wrong? Is it a kind of opinion, a kind of thought and viewpoint that exists in society? (Yes, it is.) “Everyone says that raising children helps provide for you in old age. It’s not easy to get them to even make a meal for you, let alone provide for you in old age. Don’t count on it!” What kind of statement is this? Isn’t it just a lot of grumbling? (Yes, it is.) How does this grumbling come about? Isn’t it because parents’ expectations for their children are too high? They have standards and requirements for them, demanding them to be filial, considerate, obedient to every word they say, and to do whatever necessary to be filial and to do what children ought to. Once you set these demands and standards, it is impossible for your children to meet them no matter what they do, and you will be full of grumbling, and have a pile of complaints. No matter what your children do, you will regret giving birth to them, feeling that the losses outweigh the gains and that there is no return on your investment. Isn’t this how it is? (Yes.) Isn’t this because your goal in raising children is wrong? (Yes.) Is it right or wrong to bring such consequences about? (It’s wrong.) Giving rise to such consequences is wrong, and clearly, your initial goal in raising children was also wrong. Raising children is in itself a responsibility and obligation of human beings. Originally, it was human instinct, and later it became an obligation and responsibility. Children do not need to be filial to their parents or to support their parents in their old age, and it is not as if people should only have children if they are filial. The origin of this goal is itself impure, so it ultimately leads people to voice this kind of mistaken thought and viewpoint: “Oh goodness, don’t raise children, whatever you do.” Since the goal is impure, its resulting thoughts and viewpoints are also incorrect. So, don’t they need to be corrected and let go of? (Yes.) How should one let go of and correct them? What kind of goal is a pure one to have? What kind of thought and viewpoint is correct? In other words, what is the correct way to handle one’s relationship with their children? First of all, raising children is your choice, you willingly gave birth to them, and they were passive in being born. Apart from the task and responsibility given to humans by God to produce offspring, and apart from God’s ordination, for those who are parents, their subjective reason and starting point is that they were willing to give birth to their children. If you are willing to bear children, then you should raise them and nurture them into adults, allowing them to become independent. You are willing to bear children, and you have already gained much from raising them—you have benefited greatly. First of all, you have enjoyed a joyful time living together with your children, and you’ve also enjoyed the process of raising them. Although this process has had its ups and downs, it was mostly filled with the happiness of accompanying your children and being accompanied by them, which is a necessary process for humanity. You have enjoyed these things, and you’ve gained a lot already from your children, isn’t that right? Children bring happiness and companionship to their parents, and it’s parents who, through paying prices and investing their time and energy, get to watch these small lives gradually grow into adults. Starting as clueless and young lives that don’t know anything at all, their children gradually learn to speak, gain the ability to put words together, to learn and differentiate various types of knowledge, to have conversations and communication with their parents, and to view matters fairly. This is the kind of process parents undergo. To them, this process cannot be replaced by any other event or role. Parents have already enjoyed and gained these things from their children, which is a great comfort and reward to them. In fact, just from the act of bearing and raising children, you have already gained a lot from them. As for whether your children will be filial to you, whether you can rely on them before you die, and what you can obtain from them, these things depend on whether you are destined to live together, and it’s up to God’s ordination. In another respect, what kind of environment your children live in, their living conditions, whether they have the conditions to be able to take care of you, whether they are financially comfortable, and whether they have extra money to provide you with material enjoyment and assistance, also depends on God’s ordination. Moreover, subjectively as parents, whether you have the fate to enjoy the material things, money, or emotional comfort that your children give you also depends on God’s ordination. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) These are not things that can be solicited by humans. You see, some children are not liked by their parents, and their parents are not willing to live with them, but God has ordained for them to live with their parents, so they are unable to travel far away or leave their parents. They are stuck with their parents for their entire lives—you couldn’t drive them away if you tried. Some children, on the other hand, have parents who are very willing to be with them; they are inseparable, always missing each other, but for various reasons, they are unable to reside in the same city as their parents, or even in the same country. It is difficult for them to see each other’s faces and talk to one another; even though communication methods have become so developed, and video chat is a possibility, it is still different from living together day in and day out. Their children for whatever reason go abroad, work or live in another place after getting married, and so on, and they are separated from their parents by a long, long distance. It is not easy to meet up even once, and making a phone or video call depends on the time. Because of the time difference or other inconveniences, they are unable to communicate with their parents very often. What are these major aspects related to? Aren’t they all related to God’s ordination? (Yes.) It is not something that can be decided by the subjective wishes of either parent or child; most of all, it depends on God’s ordination. In another respect, parents worry about whether they can rely on their children in the future. What do you want to rely on them for? To bring tea and pour water? What kind of dependence is that? Can’t you do that yourself? If you are healthy and able to move and take care of yourself, to do everything on your own, isn’t that great? Why do you have to rely on others to serve you? Is it really happiness to enjoy your children’s care and companionship, as well as them serving you both at the dinner table and away from it? Not necessarily. If you are unable to move, and they really do have to serve you both at table and away from it, does that constitute happiness for you? If you were given a choice, would you choose to be healthy and not need your children’s care, or would you choose to be paralyzed in bed with your children by your side? Which one would you choose? (To be healthy.) It’s so much better to be healthy. Whether you live to be 80, 90, or even 100 years old, you can keep taking care of yourself. This is a good quality of life. Although you may grow old, your wits may become slow, you may have a bad memory, eat less, do things more slowly and not as well, and going out is not as convenient, it’s still great that you’re able to take care of your own basic needs. It’s enough to occasionally receive a phone call from your children to say hello or have them come home and stay with you during the holidays. Why demand any more from them? You’re always relying on your children; will you only be happy when they become your slaves? Isn’t it selfish for you to think that way? You’re always demanding that your children be filial and that you be able to rely on them—what is there to rely on? Did your parents rely on you? If your parents didn’t even rely on you, why do you think you should rely on your own children? Isn’t that being unreasonable? (Yes.)
Regarding the matter of expecting their children to be filial to them, in one respect, parents must know that everything is orchestrated by God and depends on God’s ordination. In another, people have to be reasonable, and by giving birth to their children parents are inherently experiencing something special in life. They have already gained a lot from their children and come to appreciate the sorrows and joys of parenting. This process is a rich experience in their lives, and of course it is also a memorable one. It compensates for the shortcomings and ignorance that exist in their humanity. As parents, they have already gained what they ought to gain out of raising their children. If they are not content with this and demand that their children serve them as attendants or slaves, and expect their children to repay them for raising them by showing their parents filial piety, taking care of them in their old age, sending them off in burial, placing them in a coffin, keeping their body from rotting in the house, weeping bitterly for them when they pass, going into mourning and grieving them for three years, etc., letting their children use these to pay back their debt, then it becomes unreasonable and inhumane. You see, in terms of how God teaches people to treat their parents, He only requires them to be filial to their parents, and does not at all require that children support their parents until death. God does not give people this responsibility and obligation—He never said anything like this. God only advises children to be filial to their parents. Showing filial piety to parents is a general statement with a broad scope. Speaking about it in specific terms today, it means fulfilling your responsibilities within your ability and conditions—that’s enough. It’s that simple, that is the only requirement for children. So, how should parents understand this? God does not demand that “Children must be filial to their parents, take care of them in their old age, and send them off.” Therefore, those who are parents should let go of their selfishness and not expect everything about their children to revolve around them just because they gave birth to them. If children do not revolve around their parents and do not consider them the center of their lives, then it isn’t right for parents to constantly scold them, plague their conscience, and say things like “You are ungrateful, unfilial, and disobedient, and even after raising you for so long I still can’t rely on you,” always scolding their children like this and putting burdens on them. Demanding that one’s children be filial and accompany them, take care of them in old age and bury them, and constantly think about them wherever they go, is an inherently wrong course of action and inhumane thought and idea. This kind of thinking may exist to a greater or lesser degree in different countries or among different ethnic groups, but looking at traditional Chinese culture, Chinese people particularly emphasize filial piety. From ancient times to the present, this has always been discussed and emphasized as a part of people’s humanity and a standard for measuring whether someone is good or bad. Of course, in society, there is also a common practice and public opinion that if children are not filial, their parents will also feel ashamed, and the children will feel unable to bear this mark on their reputation. Under the influence of various factors, parents are also deeply poisoned by this traditional thinking, demanding without thinking or discernment that their children be filial. What is the point of raising children? It is not for your own purposes, but a responsibility and obligation that God has given you. One aspect is that raising children belongs to human instinct, while another is that it is a part of human responsibility. You choose to give birth to children due to instinct and responsibility, not for the sake of preparing for old age and being taken care of when you’re old. Isn’t this viewpoint correct? (Yes.) Can people without children avoid getting old? Does getting old necessarily mean that one will be miserable? Not necessarily, right? People without children can still live to old age, and some are even healthy, enjoy their later years, and go to the grave in peace. Can people with children definitely enjoy their later years in happiness and health? (Not necessarily.) Therefore, the health, happiness, and living situation for parents who reach old age, as well as the quality of their material life, actually have little to do with their children being filial to them, and there is no direct relationship between the two. Your living situation, quality of life, and physical condition in old age are related to what God has ordained for you and the living environment He arranges for you, and they have no direct relationship to whether your children are filial or not. Your children are not obligated to bear the responsibility for your living situation in later years. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) Therefore, regardless of the attitude children have toward their parents, whether they are willing to take care of them, do a rough job of it, or do not want to take care of them at all, it is their attitude to have as children. Let’s put talking from the perspective of children aside for now, but speak instead only from the perspective of parents. Parents should not demand that their children must be filial, must take care of them in their old age, and must bear the burden of their parents’ later life—there is no need for that. In one respect, it is an attitude that parents should have toward their children, and in another, it is the dignity that parents should possess. Of course, there is also a more important aspect: It is the principle that parents as created beings should abide by in treating their children. If your children are attentive, filial, and willing to take care of you, you don’t need to refuse them; if they are unwilling to do so, you don’t need to moan and groan all day long, feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied in your heart, or hold grudges against your children. You should take responsibility and bear the burden for your own life and survival so far as you are able, and you should not put it off on others, especially your children. You should proactively and correctly face a life without the company or help of your children, and even if you are distant from your children, you can still face whatever life brings you on your own. Of course, if you require essential help from your children, you can ask them for it, but it should not be based on the idea that your children must be filial to you or that you must rely on them. Instead, both parties should approach doing things for each other from the perspective of fulfilling their responsibilities, so as to handle the relationship between parent and child rationally. Of course, if both sides are rational, give each other space, and respect each other, in the end, they will definitely be able to get along better and more harmoniously, cherish this familial affection, and cherish their care, concern, and love for each other. Of course, doing these things based on mutual respect and understanding is more humane and appropriate. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) When children can approach and carry out their responsibilities correctly, and as their parents, you no longer put any excessive or extraneous demands on your children, then you will find that everything they do is quite natural and normal, and you will think it’s a pretty good thing. You won’t treat them with the same critical eye as before, finding whatever they do displeasing, wrong, or insufficient to repay the debt of having raised them. On the contrary, you will face everything with the right attitude, be grateful to God for the company and filial piety your children provide, and think that your children are pretty decent, and that they are humane. Even without the company and filial piety of your children, you won’t blame God, nor will you regret raising them, let alone hate them. In short, it is paramount for parents to correctly face whatever attitude their children have toward themselves. Facing this correctly means not placing any excessive demands on them, not behaving extremely toward them, and certainly not making any inhumane or negative critique or judgments about anything they do. That way, you will begin to live with dignity. As parents, according to your own ability, conditions, and of course, God’s ordination, you ought to enjoy whatever God gives you, and if He doesn’t give you something, then you should also thank God, and submit to Him. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, saying “Look at so-and-so’s family, their child is so filial, always taking his parents out for a drive and going on vacations in the south. Every time they come back, they are loaded with bags of all sizes. That child is so filial! Just look at their kid, he’s someone they can rely on. You’d have to raise a son like that to have someone to take care of you in old age. Now look at our son: He comes home empty-handed and never buys us anything; not only is he empty-handed, but he rarely comes home at all. If I don’t call him, he doesn’t come home. But once he comes back home, all he wants is food and drink, and he doesn’t even want to do any work.” Since that’s the case, just don’t call him back home. If you call him back home, aren’t you asking to be miserable? You know that if he comes home, he will just eat and drink for free, so why call him? If you don’t have any motive for doing so, would you still call him home? Isn’t it just because you are debasing yourself and being selfish? You always want to rely on him, hoping you didn’t raise him in vain, hoping that the one you yourself raised may not be a heartless ingrate. You always want to prove that the one you raised is not a heartless ingrate, that your child is a filial one. What’s the use of proving this? Can’t you live your own life well? Can’t you live without children? (Yes.) You can go on living. There are too many examples like this, aren’t there?
Some people cling to a rotten and outdated notion, saying, “It doesn’t matter whether people have children to be filial to them and whether their children are filial while they are still alive, but when they die, their children must carry them out in a coffin. If they don’t have their children at their side, no one will know when they die, and their body will rot in their house.” So what if no one will know? When you die, you’re dead, and you’re no longer conscious of anything anymore. When your body dies, your soul immediately leaves it. No matter where the body is or what it looks like after death, isn’t it dead anyway? Even if it is carried out in a coffin at a grand funeral and buried in the ground, the body will still rot, won’t it? People think, “Having children by your side to put you in a coffin, to wear burial clothes for you, to put on makeup, and to arrange a grand funeral is a glorious thing. If you die without anyone arranging a funeral for you or sending you off, it’s like your whole life has had no proper conclusion.” Is this idea correct? (No, it isn’t.) Nowadays, young people don’t pay much attention to these things, but there are still people in remote areas and older people with little insight who have the thought and viewpoint deeply planted in their heart that children must take care of their parents in old age and send them off. No matter how you fellowship about the truth, they do not accept it—what is the final consequence of this? The consequence is that they suffer greatly. This tumor has long been hidden inside of them, and they will be poisoned by it. When they dig it out and remove it, they will no longer be poisoned by it, and their lives will be free. Any wrong actions are caused by wrong thoughts. If they are afraid of dying and rotting in their house, they will always be thinking, “I have to raise a son. When my son grows up, I can’t let him go very far away. What if he’s not by my side when I die? Not having someone who will take care of me in old age or send me off would be my greatest regret in life! If I have someone to do this for me, then my life would not have been lived in vain. It would be a perfect life. No matter what, I cannot be the subject of ridicule by my neighbors.” Isn’t this a rotten ideology? (Yes, it is.) It is narrow-minded and degenerate, attaching too much importance to the physical body! In reality, the physical body is worthless: After experiencing birth, old age, sickness, and death, there is nothing left. Only if people have gained the truth while alive, when they are saved, then they will live forever. If you haven’t gained the truth, then when your body dies and decays, there will be nothing left; no matter how filial your children are to you, you won’t be able to enjoy it. When a person dies and their children bury them in a coffin, can that old body feel anything? Can it perceive anything? (No, it cannot.) It has no perception at all. But in life, people attach great importance to this matter, demanding a lot from their children in whether they can send them off—which is foolish, isn’t it? (Yes, it is.) Some children say to their parents, “We believe in God. While you are alive, we will be filial to you, take care of you, and serve you. But when you die, we will not arrange a funeral for you.” When parents hear this, they get angry. They don’t get angry about anything else you say, but as soon as you mention this, they explode, saying, “What did you say? You unfilial thing, I’ll break your legs! I’d rather not have given birth to you—I’ll kill you!” Nothing else you say bothers them, only this. During their lifetime, their children had many opportunities to treat them well, but they insisted that they send their parents off. Because their children started believing in God, they told them, “When you die, we won’t hold a ceremony for you: We’ll cremate you and find a place to store the urn. While you are still alive, we’ll let you enjoy the blessing of having us around, we’ll provide you with food and clothing, and spare you from being wronged.” Isn’t this realistic? The parents reply, “None of that matters. What I want is for you to arrange a funeral for me after I die. If you don’t care for me in my old age and send me off, then I’ll never let it go!” When a person is this foolish, they can’t understand such simple reasoning, and no matter how you explain it to them they still won’t comprehend—they are like an animal. Therefore, if you pursue the truth, as parents, you should first and foremost let go of the traditional, rotten, and degenerate thoughts and viewpoints surrounding whether children are filial, care for you in old age, and send you off with a burial, and approach this matter correctly. If your children truly are filial to you, then accept it from them correctly. But if your children don’t have the conditions, energy, or desire to be filial to you, and when you grow old, they can’t take care of you by your side or send you off, then you don’t need to demand it or feel sad. Everything is in God’s hands. Birth has its time, death has its place, and God has ordained where people are born and where they die. Even if your children make any promises to you, saying, “When you die, I will definitely be by your side; I will never let you down,” God hasn’t orchestrated these circumstances. When you’re about to die, your children may happen not to be by your side, and no matter how hard they try to rush back, they may not make it in time—they won’t get to see you for the last time. It may be three to five days since you breathed your last breath, your body has all but decayed, and only then do they come back. Are their promises good for anything? They can’t even be the master of their own lives. I’ve already told you this, but you just don’t believe it. You insist on making them promise. Are their promises good for anything? You’re satisfying yourself with illusions, and you think that your children can stand by their promises. Do you really think that they can? They can’t. Every single day, where they’ll be and what they’ll do, as well as what their future holds—they don’t even know these things themselves. Their promises are actually serving to deceive you, giving you a false sense of security, and you believe them. You still can’t comprehend that a person’s fate is in God’s hands.
How much parents and their children are fated to be together, and how much they can gain from their children—unbelievers call this “receiving assistance” or “not receiving assistance.” We don’t know what it means. Ultimately, whether one can rely on their children is, in plain terms, predestined and ordained by God. It’s not like everything plays out exactly how you wish. Of course, everyone wants things to go well and to reap benefits from their children. But why have you never considered whether you are fated for that, whether it is written in your destiny? How long the bond between you and your children will last, whether any job you do in life will have a connection with your children, whether God has arranged for your children to participate in the significant events of your life, and whether your children will be among those involved when you experience a major life event—all of these depend on God’s ordination. If God has not ordained it, then after raising your children into adulthood, even if you don’t drive them out of the house, when the time comes they will leave on their own. This is something that people need to comprehend. If you can’t comprehend this matter, you will always hold on to personal desires and demands, and establish various rules and accept various ideologies for the sake of your own physical enjoyment. What will happen in the end? You’ll find out when you die. You have done a lot of foolish things in your lifetime, and you have thought of many unrealistic things that do not conform to facts or to God’s ordination. Won’t it be too late to realize all this on your deathbed? Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) Take advantage while you are still alive and your brain is not yet muddled, while you are still able to accept certain positive things, and quickly accept them. Accepting them does not mean that you turn them into an ideological theory or slogan, but that you try to do these things and put them into practice. Gradually let go of your own ideas and selfish desires, and don’t think that, as parents, whatever you do is right and acceptable, or that your children ought to accept it. This kind of reasoning does not exist anywhere in the world. Parents are human beings—are their children not? Children are not your accessories or slaves; they are independent created beings—what does whether they are filial or not have to do with you? Therefore, no matter what kind of parents you are, how old your children are, or whether your children have reached the age of being filial to you or the age of living independently, as parents you should adopt these ideas and establish the correct thoughts and viewpoints on how to treat your children. You should not go to extremes, nor should you measure everything according to those wrong, decadent, or outdated thoughts and viewpoints. Those thoughts and viewpoints may align with human notions, human interests, and the physical and emotional needs of humans, but they are not the truth. Regardless of whether you think they are proper or improper, these things can only bring you various troubles and burdens in the end, trap you in various predicaments, and make you reveal your hotheadedness to your children. You’ll state your reasoning, they’ll state theirs, and in the end, you’ll both hate each other and blame one another. Family won’t act like family anymore: You’ll turn on each other and become enemies. If everyone accepts the truth and the correct thoughts and viewpoints, these matters will be easy to face, and the contradictions and disputes that arise from them will be resolved. However, if they insist on traditional notions, not only will these problems remain unresolved, but their contradictions will deepen. Traditional culture is not a criterion in itself for evaluating matters. It has to do with humanity, and things of the flesh like people’s affections, selfish desires, and hotheadedness are mixed up in it. Of course, there is also something that is the most essential to traditional culture, that is, hypocrisy. People use the filialness of their own children to prove that they educated them well and their children possess humanity; similarly, children use filialness toward their parents to prove that they are not ungrateful people but humble and modest gentlemen and ladies, thereby gaining a foothold amid various races and groups in society and making it their means for survival. This is inherently the most hypocritical and essential aspect within traditional culture, and it is not a criterion for evaluating matters. Therefore, with regard to parents, they should let go of these requirements for their children and use the correct thoughts and viewpoints to treat their children and view their children’s attitudes toward themselves. If you do not possess or understand the truth, you should at least look at it from the perspective of humanity. How does one look at it from the perspective of humanity? Children living in this society, in various groups, job positions, and social classes do not lead easy lives. They have things they have to face and deal with in various different environments. They have their own lives and a destiny established by God. They also have their own survival methods. Of course, in modern society, the pressures put on any independent person are very great. They face problems of survival, relationships between superiors and subordinates, and problems having to do with children, etc.—the pressure of all this is huge. To be fair, no one has it easy. Especially in today’s chaotic, fast-paced living environment, full of competition and bloody conflict everywhere, nobody’s life is easy—everybody’s is rather difficult. I won’t go into how this came about. Living in such an environment, if a person does not believe in God and does not fulfill their duty, they have no path left for them to take. Their only path is to pursue the world, to keep themselves alive, to constantly adapt to this world, and to fight for their future and survival at all costs in order to get through each day. In fact, every day is painful to them, and they are struggling through every day. Therefore, if parents go on to additionally demand that their children do this or that, it will undoubtedly add insult to injury, wrecking and tormenting their body and mind. Parents have their own social circles, lifestyles, and living environments, and children have their own living environments and spaces, as well as their own living backgrounds. If parents intervene too much or make excessive demands on their children, asking them to do this and that for them in order to repay the efforts they once put forth for the sake of their children; if you look at it from this perspective, it is quite inhumane, isn’t it? Regardless of how their children live or survive, or the difficulties they encounter in society, parents have no responsibility or obligation to do anything for them. That being said, parents should also refrain from adding any troubles or burdens to their children’s complicated lives or difficult living situations. This is what parents ought to do. Don’t demand too much from your children, and don’t blame them too much. You should treat them fairly and equally, and consider their situation with empathy. Of course, parents should also handle their own lives. Children will respect parents like this, and they will be worthy of respect. As parents, if you believe in God and fulfill your duties, then regardless of the duties you fulfill in God’s house, you won’t have time to think about things like demanding that your children be filial and relying on them to support you in old age. If there are still people like this, they are not true believers, and they certainly aren’t pursuers of the truth. They are all just fools and nonbelievers. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) If parents are busy, if they have duties to fulfill and are busy with work, then they certainly should not bring up whether their children are filial or not. If parents are always bringing it up, saying, “My children aren’t filial: I can’t rely on them, and they won’t be able to support me in old age,” then they are just indolent and idle, looking for trouble without a cause. Isn’t that the case? What should you do if you encounter parents like this? Teach them a lesson. How should you do it? Just say, “Are you unable to live on your own? Are you to the point where you can no longer eat or drink? Are you to the point where you can no longer survive? If you’re able to live, then go ahead and live; if you’re not, then die!” Do you dare say something like this? Tell Me, is it inhumane to say it? (I don’t dare say that.) You’re unable to say it, aren’t you? You can’t bear to say it. (That’s right.) When you get a little older, you’ll be able to say it. If your parents have done too many infuriating things, then you will be able to say it. They have been really good to you and never hurt you; if they do hurt you then you’ll be able to say it. Isn’t that so? (Yes). If they’re always demanding that you come home, saying, “Come home and bring me money, you ungrateful child!” and scold you and curse you every day, then you will be able to say it. You’ll say, “If you’re able to live, then go ahead and live; if not, then die! Can’t you go on living without children? Look at those elderly people who don’t have children, aren’t they living well and happy enough? They take care of their own lives every single day, and if they have some free time, they go out for a walk and exercise their bodies. Each day, their lives appear quite fulfilling. Look at you—you lack nothing, so why can’t you go on living? You’re debasing yourself and you deserve to die! Should we be filial to you? We are not your slaves, nor are we your private property. You have to walk your own path, and we are not obligated to bear this responsibility. We’ve given you enough to eat, to wear, and to use. Why are you messing around? If you keep messing around, we’ll send you to a nursing home!” This is how one should deal with parents like that, isn’t it? You can’t spoil them. If their children are not there to take care of them, they cry and sob all day, as if the sky is falling, as if they can’t go on living. If they can’t go on living, let them die and see for themselves—but they won’t die, they cherish their lives too much. Their philosophy of living is to depend on others to live better, freer, and more willfully. They have to build their happiness and joy on the suffering of their children. Shouldn’t these parents die? (Yes.) If their children pay them company and serve them every day, then they feel happy, joyful, and proud, while their children have to suffer and take it. Shouldn’t these parents die? (Yes.)
Let’s conclude our fellowship here today concerning the last item of parents’ expectations for their offspring. Has the matter been made clear regarding parents’ approach to whether their children are filial, reliable, take care of them in their old age, and send them off? (Yes.) As parents, you should not make such demands, have such thoughts and viewpoints, or place such hopes in your children. Your children do not owe you anything. It is your responsibility to raise them; whether you do this well or not is another matter. They do not owe you anything: They are good to you and take care of you purely out of fulfilling a responsibility, not to repay any debt, because they owe you nothing. Therefore, they are not obligated to be filial to you or to be someone you can depend and rely on. Do you understand? (Yes.) They take care of you, are someone you can rely on, and give you a little money to spend—this is just their responsibility as children, it is not being filial. We previously mentioned the metaphor of crows feeding their parents and lambs kneeling to suck milk. Even animals understand this doctrine and can carry it out, of course humans should too! Humans are the most advanced created beings among all living things, created by God with thoughts, humanity, and emotions. As humans, they understand this without needing to be taught. Whether children can be filial or not depends broadly on whether God has ordained a destiny to exist between you both, whether a complementary and mutually supportive relationship will exist between you, and whether you can enjoy this blessing; more minutely, it depends on whether your children possess humanity. If they truly possess conscience and reason, then you don’t need to educate them—they will understand it from a young age. If they understand it all from a young age, don’t you think they will understand even more as they grow up? Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) From a young age they understand such doctrines as “Earning money to spend on mom and dad is what good children do,” so won’t they understand it even more when they grow up? Do they still need to be educated? Do parents still need to teach them such ideological lessons? There is no need. Therefore, it is a foolish course of action for parents to demand that their children must be filial, take care of them in their old age, and send them off. Are the children you give birth to not human? Are they trees or plastic flowers? Do they really not understand, do you really have to educate them? Even dogs understand this. Look, when two little dogs are with their mother, if other dogs start running at their mother and barking, they won’t stand for it: They protect their mother from behind the fence and don’t let other dogs bark at her. Even dogs understand this, of course humans should too! There is no need to teach them: Fulfilling responsibilities is something that humans can do, and parents don’t need to instill such thoughts in their children—they will do it on their own. If they don’t possess humanity, then even under the right conditions, they won’t do it; if they do possess humanity and have the right conditions, then they will naturally do it. Therefore, parents don’t need to demand, prompt, or blame their children concerning whether or not they are filial. This is all unnecessary. If you can enjoy the filial piety of your children, it counts as a blessing. If you cannot enjoy it, it does not count as your loss. Everything is ordained by God, isn’t it? Okay, let’s end our fellowship here for today. Goodbye!
May 27, 2023