52. The Principles of Treating Oneself Properly
(1) It is necessary to engage in frequent self-reflection and know oneself in light of God’s words, and to see through to the truth of one’s own corruption and to one’s deficiencies. Only thus can one attain self-knowledge.
(2) Only by understanding the truth can one see clearly and know that they possess nothing at all and are naught but a poor soul, and only thus can one rid themselves of arrogance and self-righteousness;
(3) When faced with setbacks and failures, one should not abandon themselves to despair. Only by coming to know oneself through self-reflection and seeking to understand the truth can one treat themselves in the proper manner;
(4) Only by being judged, chastised, pruned, and dealt with by God’s words, causing one’s corrupt disposition to be purified, can one practice the truth and live out a human likeness.
Relevant Words of God:
When people are unable to view their practical problems correctly, this also affects their knowledge of God. Some people, upon realizing that they are of exceedingly poor caliber or that they have committed serious transgressions, abandon themselves to despair and lose confidence. They are no longer willing to suffer hardships in order to put the truth into practice, nor do they seek to transform their dispositions; they believe that they have never changed. Actually, changes have occurred in these people, but they themselves are not able to discover this fact. Instead, they merely focus on their faults, and are no longer willing to cooperate with God. This not only delays their normal entry, but also adds to their misconceptions about God. Even more so, it has an effect on their destinations. Therefore, this is an issue that you should consider very carefully so as to attain deeper entry and achieve the effects of transformation that you should achieve.
Some people, despite being in the midst of negativity, can still maintain an attitude of “being faithful till the end, no matter what the outcome,” when performing their duties. I say that this is change, yet you yourselves are unable to recognize it. Actually, if you examine yourself carefully, you will see that a part of your corrupt disposition has already changed; however, when you are constantly measuring yourself against the highest of standards, not only will you not be able to meet them, but you will even negate any changes you have already made within yourself. This is where people go astray. If you are truly someone who can tell right from wrong, then there is no harm in making yourself aware of the changes that have occurred within you; not only can you see them, but you can, moreover, find a path to practice going forward. When that happens, you will see that as long as you are hard-working, you still have hope; you will see that you are not irredeemable. Right now I tell you this: Those who can correctly view their problems have hope; they can come out from negativity.
You give up on the truth because you think you are already beyond saving, so you end up abandoning even the most fundamental truths. Perhaps it is not that you cannot put the truth into practice, but that you have discarded opportunities to do so. If you give up on the truth, can you still change? If you give up on the truth, where is the meaning in your belief in God? As has already been said, “Regardless of when it is done, seeking a change in disposition is never wrong.” Have you forgotten these words? Nevertheless, you feel that you are without hope. If you have lost your positive pursuits, will negative things not emerge? How, then, will you be able to refrain from being negative? Thus, I still say to you: You must view yourself correctly, and not give up on the truth.
from “View Yourself Correctly and Do Not Give Up on the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
People reveal corrupt dispositions. This is a fact. No one can avoid or escape it; they must face this fact. Why is this so? Some say: “I’m always revealing my corrupt disposition. I can never change it. What’s there to do? Is this just the way I am? Does God dislike me, or hate me?” Is such an attitude correct? Is such thinking correct? That people have a corrupt disposition, and that they often reveal their corrupt disposition, does not mean that they are done for, incurable. That people frequently reveal a corrupt disposition proves their life is controlled by the corrupt disposition of Satan, and that their essence is the essence of Satan. People should acknowledge and accept this fact. There is a difference between the nature essence of man and the essence of God. What should they do after acknowledging this fact? When people betray a corrupt disposition; when they indulge in pleasures of the flesh and grow distant from God; or when God works in a way that is at odds with their own ideas, and complaints arise within them, they should make themselves aware at once that this is a problem, and a corrupt disposition; it is rebellion against God, opposition to God; it does not accord with the truth, and is anathema to God. When people realize these things, they should not complain, or become negative and idle, and less should they be upset; instead, they should become capable of more profound self-reflection and self-knowledge. In addition, they should become able to come before God proactively, and must not be passive. They should take it upon themselves to come before God to seek and accept God’s reproach and discipline, and should immediately turn their state around, such that they are able to practice according to the truth and the words of God, and can act according to the principles. In this way, your relationship with God will grow increasingly normal, as will the state within you. You will be able to identify corrupt dispositions, the essence of corruption, and the various ugly states of Satan with increasing clarity. No longer will you utter such foolish and childish words as “it was Satan interfering with me,” or “it was an idea Satan gave me.” Instead, you will have accurate knowledge of corrupt dispositions, of the essence of people’s opposition to God, and of the essence of Satan. You will have a more accurate way of treating these things, and these things will not constrain you. When you have revealed a bit of your corrupt disposition, or transgressed, or have done your duty perfunctorily, or when you often find yourself in a passive, negative state, you will not become weak or lose faith in God and in His salvation. You will not live amid such circumstances, but will face your own corrupt disposition correctly, and be capable of a normal spiritual life, and, when your corrupt disposition is revealed, you will immediately be able to reverse its course, live at once before God, and seek His discipline and reproach. You will not be controlled by your corrupt disposition, nor by the essence of Satan, by your various negative and passive states, but grow faith in the pursuit of truth, in salvation, and in accepting God’s judgment, chastisement, discipline, and reproach. In this way, will people not live freely? This is the path of practicing and gaining the truth, and so, too, is it the path of salvation. Corrupt dispositions have taken root deep within people; the essence and nature of Satan control their thoughts, behavior, and mentality; yet, in the presence of the truth, the work of God, and His salvation, none of this is of concern, and it presents no difficulties. Regardless of people’s corrupt dispositions, or the problems they have, or their constraints, there is a path they can take. There is a way of resolving these things, and there are corresponding truths with which to resolve them. Is there not thus hope for their salvation?
Excerpted from “How to Solve the Problem of Being Careless and Perfunctory When Performing Your Duty” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Is it good or bad when people discover just how serious their problems are? It is good. The more capable you are of discovering your own corruption, the more accurate this discovery, and the more you can know your own essence, then the more likely it is you will be saved and the closer you will come to salvation; the more incapable you are of discovering your problems, the more you think you are a good person, a pretty great person, then the further you are away from the path to salvation, and you are still in great danger. Anyone who spends all day parading themselves—flaunting their accomplishments, saying they are silver-tongued, reasonable, that they understand the truth, can practice the truth, and are capable of making sacrifices—is of especially small stature. What kind of person has greater hope of salvation, and is capable of walking the path of salvation? Those who truly know their corrupt disposition. The more profound their knowledge, the closer they come to salvation. Knowing your corrupt disposition, knowing that you are nothing, useless, that you are a living Satan—when you truly know your essence, this is not a serious problem. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Is there anyone who becomes more negative the more they know themselves, thinking to themselves: “It’s all over, the judgment and chastisement of God has befallen me, it is punishment and retribution, God doesn’t want me and I have no hope of salvation”? Will these people have such illusions? In fact, the more people recognize how hopeless they are, the greater the hope for them; they should not be negative and they should not give up. Knowing yourself is a good thing—it is the path that must be taken to salvation. If you are utterly insensible of your own corrupt disposition and of your essence, which is multifarious in its opposition to God, and if you have not yet any plans to change, then you are in trouble; such people have already grown numb, they are dead. Can the dead be brought back to life? They are already dead—they cannot.
Excerpted from “Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
How God treats people does not hinge on how old they are, what kind of environment they were born in, or how talented they are. Rather, He treats people based on their attitude toward the truth, and this attitude is related to their dispositions. If you have a correct attitude regarding the truth, one of acceptance and humility, then even if you are of poor caliber, God will still enlighten you and allow you to gain something. If you are of good caliber but are always arrogant, constantly thinking that you are right, and are unwilling to accept anything anyone else says and are always resisting it, then God will not work in you. He will say that this person has a bad disposition and is not worthy of receiving anything, and He will even take away what you once had. This is what is known as being exposed. You are clearly nothing, and inept at everything, yet you still think you are pretty good, can accomplish anything, and are better than everyone else in all respects. You never discuss your flaws or shortcomings in front of others, nor do you let them see your weaknesses and negativity. You are always feigning competence and giving others a false impression, making them think you are adept at everything, devoid of weaknesses, do not need any help, have no need to listen to others’ opinions, and do not need to learn from the strengths of others to make up for your own shortcomings, and trying to make them think you will always be better than everyone else. What kind of disposition is this? (Arrogance.) Such a person lives a pathetic life. Is he really rich? He is not rich; he neither learns nor accepts new things. Inside, he is very withered, limited, and impoverished. Such a person does not understand the principles behind anything, cannot grasp the principles, has no understanding of God’s will, and only knows to stick to the rules and expend a lot of effort on the literal meaning of His words. As a result, he achieves limited results. This sort of person has a bad disposition.
When you are coordinating with others to fulfill your duties, are you able to be open to differing opinions? Can you accept what others say? (I always used to cling to my own ideas, but after being exposed in situations arranged by God, I saw that when everyone got together and discussed things, we usually got things right, and many times it was my own personal perspective that had been wrong or shortsighted. I came to appreciate how important working in harmony with others is.) And what have you learned from this? Do you think anyone is perfect? No matter how strong people are, or how capable and talented, they still are not perfect. People must recognize this; it is a fact. This is also the most appropriate attitude of any who are correctly looking at their strengths and advantages or faults; this is the rationality that people should possess. With such rationality, you can properly deal with your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others, and this will enable you to work alongside them harmoniously.
Excerpted from “Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Possess Normal Humanity” in Records of Christ’s Talks
There are those who say, “I’m a pretty good person; I haven’t done anything to resist God, and I’ve suffered a lot for Him. Why does He still prune me and deal with me so? Why doesn’t God ever acknowledge me or raise me up?” Still others say, “I’m a plain dealer; I’ve believed in God since I was in the womb, and I still believe in Him now. I’m so pure! I left my family and quit my job to expend myself for God, and I still think of how much God loves me. Now, God seems not to love people so much, and I feel left out in the cold, disappointed and dismayed with Him.” What are these people doing wrong? They have not remained in their proper place; they do not know who they are, and they feel always that they are estimable figures whom God should respect and raise up, or treasure and cherish. If people always have such misconceptions, such absurd and unreasonable demands, then it will lead to trouble. What, then, should people do, and how should they know and treat themselves, to be able to conform to the way God treats man, in order to resolve these difficulties and let go of these demands they make of God? … You must know who you are. No matter what sort of gifts or strengths you have, nor how much skill or ability you have, nor even how much merit you have earned in God’s house, nor how much you have rushed about, nor how much capital you have accrued, these things are as nothing to God, and if they seem important from where you stand, then have there not again arisen misunderstandings and contradictions between you and God? How should this problem be resolved? You must shrink the distance between you and God, resolve these contradictions, and deny those things you think are right and to which you cling. In doing so, there will no longer be a distance between you and God, and you will stand properly in your station, and you will be able to submit, able to recognize that all God does is right, able to deny yourself and let go of yourself. You will no longer treat the merit you have earned as a sort of capital, nor will you try any longer to set conditions with God, or make demands of Him, or ask Him for reward. At this time, you will no longer have difficulties. Why do all man’s misconceptions of God arise? They arise because people do not know themselves in the slightest; to be precise, they do not know what sort of things they are in God’s eyes. They rate themselves too highly and estimate their position in God’s eyes too highly, and they see what they consider to be a person’s worth and capital as the standards by which God measures whether they will be saved. This is wrong. You must know what kind of place you have in God’s heart, and how it is appropriate for God to treat you. To know this is to conform to the truth and to be in accord with God’s views. When your practice and treatment of yourself accord with this knowledge, there will no longer be any contradiction between you and God. And when God again treats you in His manner, will you not be able to submit? You may feel some discomfort in your heart, or not understand these things and feel as if they are not as you wish, yet, because you will be equipped with these truths and understand these truths, and because you will be able to stand fast in your position, you will no longer fight against God, which means that those behaviors and practices of yours that would cause you to perish will cease to be. And will you not then be safe? Once you are safe, you will feel grounded, which is what it means to walk the path of Peter.
Excerpted from “The Attitude Man Should Have Toward God” in Records of Christ’s Talks