Daily Words of God: Knowing God | Excerpt 158
Satan corrupts man through social trends. “Social trends” include many things. Some people say: “Does it mean the latest fashions, cosmetics, hairstyles, and gourmet foods?” Are these things considered social trends? They make up one part of social trends, but we will not be talking about them here. We only wish to talk about the ideas that social trends bring about in people, the way they cause people to conduct themselves in the world, and the life goals and outlook that they bring about in people. These are very important; they can control and influence man’s state of mind. These trends arise one after another, and they all carry an evil influence that continually debases mankind, causing people to lose conscience, humanity and reason, weakening their morals and their quality of character ever more, to the extent that we can even say that the majority of people now have no integrity, no humanity, and neither do they have any conscience, much less any reason. So what are these trends? They are trends that you cannot see with the naked eye. When a new trend sweeps through the world, perhaps only a small number of people are on the cutting edge, acting as the trendsetters. They start off doing some new thing, then accepting some kind of idea or some kind of perspective. The majority of people, however, will be continually infected, assimilated, and attracted by this kind of trend in a state of unawareness, until they all unknowingly and involuntarily accept it and become submerged in it and controlled by it. One after another, such trends cause people, who are not of sound body and mind, do not know what the truth is, and cannot differentiate between positive and negative things, to happily accept them as well as the life views and values that come from Satan. They accept what Satan tells them about how to approach life and the way to live that Satan “bestows” on them, and they have neither the strength nor the ability, much less the awareness, to resist. So, what exactly are these trends? I have chosen a simple example that you may gradually come to understand. For example, people in the past ran their business so that nobody was cheated; they sold items at the same price regardless of who was buying. Is not some element of good conscience and humanity conveyed here? When people conducted their business like this, in good faith, it can be seen that they still had some conscience and some humanity at that time. But with man’s ever-increasing demand for money, people unknowingly came to love money, gain, and pleasure more and more. In short, people came to view money as more important than before. When people view money as more important, they unknowingly begin to attach less importance to their reputation, their renown, their good name and their integrity, do they not? When you engage in business, you see others using various means to swindle people and get rich. Although the money earned is ill-gotten, they become richer and richer. Though they may engage in the same business as you, their whole family enjoys life more than you do, and you feel bad, saying to yourself, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I earn as much as they do? I must think of a way to get more money, to make my business prosper.” You then do your utmost to ponder how to make lots of money. According to the usual method of making money—selling things at the same price to all customers—any profit you make is made in good conscience. However, this is not the way to get rich quick. Driven by the urge to make a profit, your thinking undergoes a gradual transformation. During this transformation, your principles of conduct also begin to change. When you first cheat someone, you have your reservations, saying, “This will be the only time I cheat someone. I will not do it again. I cannot cheat people. There are serious consequences to cheating. It will bring me lots of trouble!” When you first deceive someone, your heart has some scruples; this is the function of man’s conscience—to make you feel scruples and to reproach you, so that it feels unnatural when you cheat someone. But after you have successfully deceived someone, you see that you now have more money than you did before, and you think this method can be very beneficial for you. Despite the dull ache in your heart, you still feel like congratulating yourself on your success, and you feel somewhat pleased with yourself. For the first time, you approve of your own behavior, your own deceptive ways. Afterward, once man has been contaminated by this cheating, it is the same as someone who gets involved in gambling and then becomes a gambler. In your unawareness, you give approval to your own cheating behavior and accept it. In unawareness, you take cheating to be a legitimate commercial behavior and the most useful means for your survival and livelihood; you think that by doing this you can quickly make a fortune. This is a process: In the beginning, people cannot accept this type of behavior and they look down on this behavior and practice. Then they begin to experiment with this behavior themselves, trying it out in their own way, and their hearts begin to gradually transform. What kind of transformation is this? It is an approval and admission of this trend, of this idea instilled in you by the social trend. Without realizing it, if you do not cheat people when doing business with them, you feel you are worse off; if you do not cheat people, you feel as though you have lost something. Unknowingly, this cheating becomes your very soul, your backbone, and an indispensable type of behavior that is a principle in your life. After man has accepted this behavior and this thinking, has this not brought about a change in his heart? Your heart has changed, so has your integrity changed as well? Has your humanity changed? Has your conscience changed? (Yes.) Yes, every part of this person undergoes a qualitative change, from their heart to their thoughts, to such an extent that they are transformed from the inside out. This change pulls you further and further away from God, and you become more and more closely aligned with Satan; you become more and more alike to Satan.
When looking at these social trends, would you say that they have a big influence on people? Do they have a deeply harmful effect on people? (Yes.) They do have a very deeply harmful effect on people. What is it about man that Satan corrupts using one social trend after another? (Man’s conscience, reason, humanity, morals, and view on life.) They cause a gradual degeneration in people, don’t they? Satan uses these social trends to lure people one step at a time into a nest of devils, so that people caught up in social trends unknowingly advocate money and material desires, wickedness and violence. Once these things have entered the heart of man, what then does man become? Man becomes the devil, Satan! Why? Because, what psychological inclination exists in the heart of man? What does man revere? Man begins to take pleasure in wickedness and violence, showing no love for beauty or goodness, much less peace. People are not willing to live the simple life of normal humanity, but instead wish to enjoy high status and great wealth, to revel in the pleasures of the flesh, sparing no effort to satisfy their own flesh, with no restrictions, no bonds to hold them back; in other words, doing whatever they desire. So when man has become immersed in these kinds of trends, can the knowledge that you have learned help you to free yourself? Can your understanding of traditional culture and superstitions help you escape from this dire predicament? Can the traditional morals and ceremonies known to man help people exercise restraint? Take the Three Character Classic, for example. Can it help people pull their feet out of the quagmire of these trends? (No, it cannot.) Thus, man becomes more and more evil, arrogant, condescending, selfish and malicious. There is no longer any affection between people, no longer any love between family members, no longer any understanding among relatives and friends; human relations have become characterized by violence. Each and every person seeks to use violent methods to live among their fellow man; they seize their daily bread using violence; they win their positions and obtain their profits using violence, and they use violent and evil ways to do anything they want. Is this humanity not horrifying? (Yes.) After hearing all these things that I have just talked about, do you not think it terrifying to live in this environment, in this world, and amongst these kinds of people, within which Satan corrupts mankind? (Yes.) So, have you ever felt yourselves to be pitiful? You must feel it a little bit in this moment, do you not? (I do.) Hearing your tone, it seems as though you are thinking, “Satan has so many different ways of corrupting man. It seizes every opportunity and is everywhere we turn. Can man still be saved?” Can man still be saved? Can man save themselves? (No.) Can the Jade Emperor save man? Can Confucius save man? Can the Guanyin Bodhisattva save man? (No.) So who can save man? (God.) Some people, however, will raise in their hearts such questions as: “Satan harms us so wildly, in such a deranged frenzy, that we have no hope to live life, nor any confidence to live life. We all live in the midst of corruption, and every single person resists God anyway, and now our hearts have sunk as low as they can go. So where is God while Satan is corrupting us? What is God doing? Whatever God is doing for us, we never feel it!” Some people inevitably feel dejected and somewhat disheartened, correct? To you, this feeling is very deep because all that I have been saying has been to allow people to slowly come to understand, to feel more and more that they are without hope, to feel more and more that they have been forsaken by God. But do not worry. Our fellowship topic for today, “the evil of Satan,” is not our true theme. To talk about the essence of the holiness of God, however, we must first discuss how Satan corrupts man and the evil of Satan in order to make it clearer to people what kind of condition man is now in. One aim of talking about this is to allow people to know the evil of Satan, while the other is to allow people to understand more deeply what true holiness is.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI