What It Means to Pursue the Truth (3)
These days, those performing duties are getting busier and busier. They feel that time is going by too fast, that there isn’t enough of it. Why is that? The fact is that it’s because they now understand the truth and have insight into many matters. A sense of responsibility weighs more and more on them, and they are performing their duties ever more assiduously, doing ever more detailed work. So, they feel there are more and more duties they should perform. That’s why they are getting busier and busier with their duties. And apart from that, every day, most who perform duties must also read God’s words and fellowship about the truth. They must reflect on themselves, and when a problem befalls them, they must seek the truth to resolve it. They must learn some professional skills, as well. They always feel there isn’t enough time, that each day goes by too fast. At night, they think through what they did that day, and it seems to them that what they did didn’t have much value, that nothing great came of it. They feel so small of stature and deficient, and they are eager to grow quickly in stature. Some of them say, “When will the busyness of this work be done? When will I be able to quiet my heart and read God’s words properly, and properly furnish myself with the truth? There’s such a limit to what I gain from one or two gatherings a week. We should be gathering more and listening to more sermons—that’s the only way to understand the truth.” So they wait and yearn, and in the blink of an eye, three, four, five years have gone by, and they feel that time goes too fast. Some people can’t offer much experiential testimony even after ten years of belief. They get restive, afraid they will be abandoned, and wish hurriedly to equip themselves with more of the truth. That is why they feel the press of time. There are many who think in this way. All who carry the burden of performing a duty and who pursue the truth feel that time goes by so quickly. Those who do not love the truth, who covet comfort and enjoyments, don’t feel that time moves quickly; some of them even complain, “When will God’s day come? They’re always saying His work is reaching its end—why hasn’t it ended yet? When will God’s work expand throughout the universe?” People who say such things feel that time moves so slowly. At heart, they are uninterested in the truth; they wish always to go back out into the world and get on with their little lives. This state of theirs is obviously different from that of people who pursue the truth. No matter how busy people who pursue the truth are with their duties, they can still seek the truth to resolve problems that befall them, and seek fellowship about things that are unclear to them in sermons they have heard, and quiet their hearts daily to reflect on how they performed, then consider God’s words and watch videos of experiential testimony. They gain things from this. No matter how busy they are with their duties, it doesn’t hamper their life entry at all, nor does it delay it. It is natural for people who love the truth to practice in this way. People who do not love the truth do not seek the truth and are unwilling to quiet themselves before God to reflect on themselves and know themselves, regardless of whether they are busy with their duty and of what problems befall them. So, no matter whether they are busy or at leisure in their duty, they do not pursue the truth. The fact is that if someone is of a heart to pursue the truth, and longs for the truth, and carries the burden of life entry and dispositional change, then they will grow closer to God at heart and pray to Him, however busy they are with their duty. They are sure to gain some of the enlightenment and brilliance of the Holy Spirit, and their life will grow without cease. If someone does not love the truth and does not carry any of the burden of life entry or dispositional change, or if they are uninterested in these things, then they cannot gain anything. Reflecting on what outpourings one has of corruption is a thing to be done anywhere, at any time. For instance, if one has poured forth corruption while performing their duty, then in their heart, they must pray to God, and reflect on themselves, and know their corrupt disposition, and seek the truth to resolve it. This is a matter of the heart; it has no bearing on the task at hand. Is this easy to do? That depends on whether you are someone who pursues the truth. People who do not love the truth are uninterested in matters of growth in life. They do not consider such things. It is only people who pursue the truth who are willing to apply themselves to growth in life; it is only they who frequently ponder problems that actually exist, and how to seek the truth to resolve those problems. In fact, the process of resolving problems and that of pursuing the truth are the same thing. If one is constantly focused on seeking the truth to resolve problems while performing their duty, and has resolved quite a few problems over several years of such practice, then their performance of their duty is certainly up to standard. Such people have many fewer outpourings of corruption, and they have gained much true experience in performing their duties. They are thus able to testify for God. How do such people undergo the experience that began when they first took up their duty, until they were able to testify for God? They do so by relying on seeking the truth to resolve problems. That’s why no matter how busy people who pursue the truth are with their duties, they will seek the truth to resolve problems and succeed in performing their duties according to the principles, and they will be able to practice the truth and submit to God. This is the process of life entry, and it is also the process of entering the truth reality. Some people are always saying they are so busy with their duties that they have no time to pursue the truth. This doesn’t hold. With someone who pursues the truth, whatever work they may be doing, as soon as they detect a problem, they will seek the truth to resolve it, and come to understand and gain the truth. That is a certainty. There are many who think the truth can only be understood by gathering daily. This could not be more wrong. The truth is not a thing that can be understood merely by gathering and listening to sermons; one also needs to practice and experience God’s words, and they also need that process of discovering and resolving problems. What is crucial is that they must learn to seek the truth. Those who do not love the truth do not seek it, whatever problems befall them; lovers of the truth seek it, no matter how busy they are with their duties. So, we can say with certainty that those people who are always complaining that they’re so busy with their duties that they have no time to gather, so they consequently have to put off their pursuit of the truth, are not lovers of the truth. They are people of absurd comprehension who do not understand spiritual matters. When they read God’s words or listen to sermons, why can they not practice or apply them in their performance of their duties? Why can they not apply God’s words to their real lives? This suffices to show that they do not love the truth, and so whatever difficulty they may encounter in performing their duties, they do not seek or practice the truth. Clearly, these people are service-doers. Some people may wish to pursue the truth, but their caliber is too poor. They cannot even arrange their own lives well; when they have two or three things to do, they do not know which to do first and which last. If two or three problems befall them, they do not know how to resolve them. Their heads spin. Can such people gain access to the truth? Can they succeed in seeking the truth to resolve problems? Not necessarily, because their caliber is too poor. Many people are willing to pursue the truth, yet having believed in God for ten or twenty years, they wind up unable to offer any experiential testimony, and they have gained no truth at all. The main reason for this is that their caliber is too poor. Whether someone pursues the truth is not a matter of how busy they are with their duty or how much time they have; it depends on whether they love the truth at heart. The fact is that everyone has the same abundance of time; what’s different is where each person spends it. It is possible that anyone who says they do not have time to pursue the truth is spending their time on fleshly enjoyments, or that they are busy with some external endeavor. They do not spend that time on seeking the truth to resolve problems. This is how people are who are negligent in their pursuit. This delays the great matter of their life entry.
In our last two gatherings, we fellowshiped on the topic of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth,” as well as some specifics that topic entails. Let’s begin by going over what we fellowshiped about in our last gathering. We established an accurate definition of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth,” then went on to fellowship about some specific problems and specific ways people behave that are involved in what it means to pursue the truth. What was the final item of our fellowship in our last gathering? (God put forth a question: Given that what man holds to be good and right is not the truth, why does he still pursue them as if they were the truth?) Given that those things man holds to be good and right are not the truth, why does he still uphold them as if they were, while thinking himself to be pursuing the truth? We fellowshiped last time on three things that address this question. The first: These things man pursues are not the truth, so why does he still practice them as if they were? Because to man, the things he sees as right and good seem as if they were the truth, so man pursues those things he thinks are good and right as if they were the truth. Is that not a clear way to put it? (It is.) So, what is the accurate answer to this question? People uphold the things they think are right and good as if they were the truth, and in doing so, think they are pursuing the truth. Is that not the full answer? (It is.) The second: Why, in upholding things he thinks are good and right as if they were the truth, does man think he is pursuing the truth? This may be answered thus: Because man has a desire to be blessed. Man goes into pursuing these things he holds to be right and good with desire and ambition, and thus thinks he is practicing and pursuing the truth. In essence, this is trying to strike a bargain with God. The third: If a person is possessed of normal conscience and reason, then in cases where they do not understand the truth, they will instinctively choose to act according to their conscience and reason, following regulations, laws, rules, and so on. We may say that man instinctively upholds the things he considers in his conscience to be positive, constructive, and aligned with humanity, as though they were the truth. This can be achieved within the parameters of man’s conscience and reason. There are many who can give their labor normally in God’s house; they are willing to render service and submit to the arrangements of God’s house because they are possessed of normal conscience and reason. In order to gain blessings, they will even undergo suffering and pay any price. So, man also takes what he is capable of within the parameters of his conscience and reason to be the practice and pursuit of the truth. These are the three main pieces to the answer to that question. Last time, we fellowshiped about these three pieces in a general way; today, we will conduct specific, detailed fellowship about the problems these three points leave in their wake, and analyze the problems that each point entails, as well as how each element is different from, or in conflict with, the pursuit of the truth, so that you may know more clearly what it is to pursue the truth and how, exactly, that pursuit is to be practiced. Doing so will act as a better incentive for people to practice and pursue the truths accurately in their daily lives.
We’ll begin by fellowshiping about the first item. Simply put, our fellowship for the first item will focus on things that man holds in his notions to be right and good. Why should our fellowship focus on that content? What are the problems that content entails? Think about that first, in detail. Would you be capable of accurate knowledge of them if we didn’t properly fellowship about it in gatherings? If we did no specific fellowship about it, and you just went by your contemplation of it, or if you spent time experiencing it and getting to know it? Would you then know what truths this content touches on? Would you be able to figure those out with contemplation? (No.) We’ll begin by considering the literal words of the phrase “things that man holds in his notions to be right and good” and see how far your knowledge of it goes. First, what does the important part of this phrase, which we’re going to fellowship about, address? Can you not tell? Is it an abstract phrase? Is there a mystery to it? (It addresses notions and imaginings in man.) That’s a general way to put it; give an example. (Man believes in his notions that so long as he can renounce, expend of himself, suffer, and pay prices, he will be able to meet with God’s approval. There’s some traditional culture, too—things like filial piety and women attending to their husbands and raising their children. People take these to be good things, too.) You got a few of them. Have you caught the point? What parts are there that touch on our topic? (Renunciation, expenditure, suffering, and price-paying.) (Filial piety, and women attending to their husbands and raising their children.) Yes. Is there more? (A show of devoutness, patience, and tolerance, like the Pharisees.) Humility, patience, tolerance—it has to do with a few specific, behavioral demonstrations and sayings. Since we’re going to fellowship about such content, we’d best fellowship specifically, using specific sayings. People can gain a more accurate and precise understanding if we focus like that on the question. As of now, you can’t offer any leads, so I’ll just go ahead and fellowship, alright? (Yes.) China’s five thousand years of culture is “vast and profound,” replete with all manner of popular sayings and idioms. It also has a host of vaunted “ancient sages,” such as Confucius, Mencius, and the like. They created the Chinese teachings of Confucianism, which comprise the main part of traditional Chinese culture. There’s a lot of language, vocabulary, and sayings in Chinese traditional culture that were drawn up by generations of people. Some of them allude to antiquity, some don’t; some of them come from common folk, and others from famous men. It may be that you don’t like traditional culture much, or you’ve removed yourself from base, traditional culture, or you’re young enough not yet to have engaged in deep study or research of China’s “vast and profound” traditional culture, and that’s why you don’t yet know about it or understand such things. That’s actually a good thing. Though one may not understand it, their thinking and notions are subliminally inculcated and infected by the things of traditional culture. They end up living by those things without their knowing it. That which is passed down from the forebears, meaning the traditional culture passed down from man’s forefathers, makes many claims of all sorts about how man should speak, act, and comport himself. And though people may have different understandings and views of traditional culture’s various statements, they’re by and large sure about such things of traditional culture. From this observation, we can see that the sources of influence on mankind’s life and existence, on its view of people and things, and on its comportment and action are all things of traditional culture. Although the various ethnicities of mankind differ in their statements about the moral standards and moral criteria they uphold, the general ideas behind them are alike. Today, we will fellowship about and analyze a few of them in detail. Though we won’t be able to mention and analyze everything that man holds to be right and good, their general content is nothing else than those two elements touched on in the definition of pursuing the truth: one’s views on people and things, and how one comports oneself and acts. One is views, the other is behaviors. This means that man regards the people and events of the world through things he holds in his notions to be right and good, and he takes those things as the foundation, basis, and criteria by which he comports himself and acts. So, what, exactly, are these good and right things? Put broadly, the things man holds in his notions to be right and good are nothing but requirements that man behave well and that he have good human morals and character. It’s those two things. Think on it: Is it not basically those two things? (It is.) One is good behavior; the other is human character and morals. Mankind has basically established two things as the standards by which to measure the humanity with which someone lives and how they comport themselves: One is the requirement for man to behave well externally, the other is that he conduct himself morally. They use these two factors to measure a person’s goodness. Because they use these two factors to measure a person’s goodness, standards by which to judge people’s behavior and morals arose to that end, and as they did, people naturally began to hear all sorts of statements about man’s moral conduct or his behavior. What specific sayings are there? Do you know? Something simple, for example: What standards and sayings are there for measuring people’s behavior? Being well-educated and sensible, being gentle and refined—these have to do with outward behaviors. Is being courteous one? (Yes.) The rest are similar, more or less, and by analogy, you’ll know which words and statements are standards for measuring man’s behavior, and which statements are standards for measuring his morals. Now, “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral”—is that a standard for external behavior or morals? (It’s about morals and ethics.) How about magnanimity? (That’s about morals, too.) That’s right. These have to do with morals, with man’s moral character. The main statements that have to do with man’s behavior are those such as being courteous, being gentle and refined, and being well-educated and sensible. These are all things that man holds in his notions to be right and good; they are things he believes are positive, based on the claims of traditional culture, or at least in line with conscience and reason, not negative things. What we’re talking about here are things that people generally acknowledge to be right and good. So, what other statements are there about man’s good behavior, apart from the three I just said? (Respecting the old and caring for the young.) Respecting the old and caring for the young, being amiable, being approachable—these are all things people are somewhat familiar with and understand. Being well-educated and sensible, being gentle and refined, being courteous, respecting the old and caring for the young, being amiable, being approachable—in man’s mind, everyone with these behaviors is believed to be a good person, a kind person, a person with humanity. Everyone measures others based on their behavior; they judge someone’s goodness by their external behavior. People judge, determine, and measure whether a person is cultivated and has humanity, whether they are worthy of interaction and of trust, according to the thoughts and ideas of traditional culture and the behaviors of that person they can see. Do people have the ability to penetrate the material world? Not a bit of it. People can only judge and distinguish whether a person is good or bad, or what sort of person they are, by their behavior; only by interacting, talking, and collaborating with someone can people observe and determine those things. Regardless of whether you explicitly use statements such as “Be well-educated and sensible,” “Be amiable,” and “Respect the old and care for the young” in your measurements, the standards of your measurements do not go beyond these statements. When someone cannot see another’s internal world, they measure whether they are good or bad, noble or base, by observing their behavior and actions and applying these criteria for behavior. These are essentially all they use. Is that not so? (It is.) Based on the statements just outlined, what standards for measurement does mankind have? What are the things mankind holds to be good and right in its notions? Rather than beginning with stuff about moral conduct, let us begin our fellowship and analysis with the good, right, and positive things that man pours forth and manifests in his behavior. Let us look at whether these truly are positive things. So, is there anything in the statements we just listed that touches on the truth? Is any of their content in accord with the truth? (No.) If someone’s pursuit is to be such a person, a person with such behaviors and such an exterior, is that person pursuing the truth? Is what they pursue related to the pursuit of the truth? Is someone possessed of these behaviors practicing and pursuing the truth? Is someone possessed of these behaviors and demonstrations a good person, in the term’s true significance? The answer is negative—they are not. This is plain to see.
Let’s look first at the statement that one is to be well-educated and sensible. Talk about what the statement “Being well-educated and sensible” means on its own. (It describes someone who is fairly seemly and well-mannered.) What does it mean to be “seemly”? (It means to be somewhat regulated.) Correct. What regulations does such a person heed? The more specific your answer, the more thorough your understanding of this matter and its essence will be. So, what does it mean to be regulated? Here’s an example. When eating, the younger generation must not sit until their elders are seated, and they must stay quiet when their elders are not speaking. With food left for the elders, none may eat it unless the elders say so. Beyond that, no talking while eating, or baring one’s teeth, or loud laughter, or lip-smacking, or any rummaging around the plate. When the elder generation has finished, the younger must stop eating at once and stand up. They may only continue eating once they have seen their elders off. Is this not the observance of regulations? (It is.) These regulations are there, to greater or lesser extents, in every home and household, in families of every name and lineage. People all observe these regulations, to a greater or lesser extent, and as they do, they are restricted by them. There are different regulations in different families—and who is it who set them? That family’s forebears and venerable elders of different eras past set them. They take on special importance when celebrating important holidays and days of memorial; everyone must then follow them, without exception for anyone. If someone should break the regulations or violate them, they will be severely punished by the family’s strictures. Some may even have to kneel for forgiveness at the family altar. That’s what regulations are. What we were talking about just now were merely some of the regulations that may apply in a given household or family. Are such regulations not a part of what it means to be “seemly”? (They are.) One can tell whether a person is seemly just by watching them eat. If they smack their lips when they eat, or pick at the food, or are always serving morsels to others, and talking while eating, and loudly laughing, and even, in some cases, pointing at whom they’re speaking to with their chopsticks, then in all of this, they are demonstrating their unseemliness. To say a person is unseemly implies that others admonish, question, and despise them in terms of their behavior. As for those who are seemly, they do not speak when eating, or giggle, nor do they pick through the food or serve morsels to others. They are quite regulated. Others see their behavior and performance, and say on that basis that this is a seemly person. And because of this seemliness of theirs, they gain the respect and esteem of others, as well as their fondness. This is a part of what underlies seemliness. So, what is seemliness, really? We just said: “Seemliness” has to do only with people’s behavior. In these last examples, say, there has been an order of generational precedence when eating. Everyone must locate their seats according to the regulations; they must not sit in the wrong spot. The elder and younger generations alike follow the family regulations, which no one may violate, and they seem so regulated, so genteel, so noble, so dignified—yet no matter how much they may seem so, it all comes back to mere outward good behavior. Does this involve corrupt dispositions? No; it is no more than a standard by which to measure people’s outward behaviors. What behaviors? Mainly their speech and actions. For instance, one shouldn’t talk when eating or make noise while chewing. When sitting for a meal, there is an order to who sits first. There are proper ways to stand and sit in general. All these are no more than behaviors, external behaviors, all of them. So, are people really willing to follow these regulations? What do people think to themselves about the issue? How do they feel about it? Is following these pathetic regulations of benefit to people? Can they confer on them advancement in life? What is the problem with following these pathetic regulations? Does it have to do with the issue of whether there is a change in someone’s outlook on things and life disposition? Not at all. It has to do only with people’s behavior. It just makes a few requirements of people’s behavior, requirements concerning which regulations people are to achieve and follow. Whatever someone may think of these regulations, and even if they hate and despise them, they have no choice but to live bound by them because of their family and forebears, and because of their domestic code. Yet no one sets out to investigate what specific thoughts people have about these regulations, or how people view and regard them in their thinking, or their outlook and attitude toward them. It’s enough for you to demonstrate good behavior and follow these rules in this specified ambit. Those who do so are seemly people. “Be well-educated and sensible” places its various demands only on people’s behavior. It is used only to delimit people’s behavior, behavior that encompasses people’s posture when sitting and standing, their bodily movements, the gestures of their sensory organs, how their eyes are to seem, how their mouth is to move, how their head is to turn, and so on. It gives people a standard for external behavior, without a care for how their minds, dispositions, and essence of their humanity are. Such is the standard of being well-educated and sensible. If you meet this standard, then you are a well-educated and sensible person, and if you are possessed of the good behavior that is being well-educated and sensible, then in the eyes of others, you are someone who calls for esteem and respect. Is that not how it is? (It is.) So, is this statement’s focus man’s behavior? (Yes.) What is the use, really, of this behavioral standard? Mainly, its use is to measure whether a person is seemly and well-regulated, whether they might earn others’ respect and esteem in their dealings with them, and whether they are worthy of admiration. Measuring people in this way is entirely out of line with the truth principles. It is insignificant.
Our fellowship just now mainly had to do with a person’s cultivation, which is one of the requirements imposed by the statement, “Be well-educated and sensible.” What does “being sensible” refer to? (Showing an understanding of manners and etiquette.) That’s a bit superficial, but it’s part of it. Does “being sensible” not mean having the politesse to see reason, to be amenable to reason? May we go so far with it? (Yes.) To show an understanding of manners and etiquette, and to have the politesse to see reason. So, to put it all together, if someone is possessed of the behaviors entailed in “being well-educated and sensible,” how, exactly, do they show it, on the whole? Have you seen a person who is well-educated and sensible? Is there a well-educated and sensible person among your elders and relations, or among your friends? What is their distinguishing feature? They follow an exceptional number of regulations. They are quite particular about their speech, which is neither coarse, nor crude, nor hurtful to others. When they sit, they seat themselves properly; when they stand, they stand with posture. In every regard, their behavior seems refined and poised to others, who feel fondness and envy to see them. When they meet people, they lower their head and incline their body, and they bow and genuflect. They speak politely, adhering strictly to the rules of public decency and order, without the habituality or hooliganism of the lower strata of society. On the whole, their external behavior elicits comfort and praise in those who see it. There’s one troubling thing about this, though: There are regulations for everything to them. Eating has its regulations; sleeping has its regulations; walking has its regulations; even leaving home and coming back have regulations. One feels quite constrained and ill at ease when they’re with such a person. You don’t know when they’re going to pop up with a regulation, and if you carelessly violate it, you look quite reckless and ignorant, while they appear so refined. They are just so refined even in their smile, which bares no teeth, and in their crying, which they never do in front of others, but in the folds of their blanket late at night, while others are asleep. Whatever they do, it’s regulated. That’s what’s called “upbringing.” Such people live in a land of etiquette, in a great big family; they have a great many regulations and a great deal of upbringing. However you put it, the good behaviors entailed in being well-educated and sensible are behaviors—outwardly good behaviors that are inculcated in a person by the environment in which they were raised, and gradually tempered into in a person by the high standards and strict requirements they place on their own behavior. Whatever influence such behaviors might exert on people, they touch on nothing more than man’s outward behavior, and though such outward behaviors are held by man to be good behaviors, behaviors that people strive toward and approve of, they are a different thing from man’s disposition. However good one’s outward behavior is, it cannot cover up their corrupt disposition; however good one’s outward behavior is, it cannot stand in for a change in their corrupt disposition. Though the behavior of a well-educated and sensible person is quite regimented, eliciting quite a bit of others’ respect and esteem, that good behavior of theirs is of no use at all when their corrupt disposition pours forth. However noble and mature their behavior may be, when something that touches on the truth principles befalls them, that good behavior of theirs is of no use at all, nor does it prompt them to understand the truth—instead, because they believe in their notions that being well-educated and sensible is a positive thing, they go on to take that thing as the truth, with which they measure and question the words God says. They measure their own speech and acts according to that statement, and it is their standard for measuring others, too. Look now at the definition of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth”—to view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. Now, does the standard for external behavior that calls for being well-educated and sensible have anything at all to do with God’s words and the truth? (No.) They’re not just unrelated—they’re in conflict. Where’s the conflict there? (Such sayings would only have people focus on external good behavior while ignoring the intents and corrupt dispositions inside them. They make it so that people are beguiled by these good behaviors and don’t reflect on what is in their own thoughts and ideas, and so that they’re unable to see into their corrupt disposition, and even blindly envy and worship others according to their behavior.) Such are the consequences of accepting the statements of traditional culture. So, when man sees a performance of these good behaviors, he will treasure those behaviors. He begins by believing that these behaviors are good and positive things, and on the basis of their being positive things, he treats them as if they were the truth. Then, he uses this as the criterion by which he inhibits himself and measures others; he takes it as the basis for his views on people and things, and as he does, he also takes it as the basis for his comportment and actions. Is this not then in conflict with the truth? (It is.) We will put aside for now whether the statement that one is to be well-educated and sensible beguiles people and speak on the statement itself. “Be well-educated and sensible”—it’s a civilized, noble phrase. Everyone likes this statement, and man uses this statement to measure others and to view people and things, founded on the assumption that it is right, good, and a criterion. And as he does, he also takes it as the basis for his comportment and actions. For instance, man does not base his measurement of someone’s goodness in God’s words. What does he base it on? “Is this person well-educated and sensible? Is their outward behavior cultivated? Are they well-regulated? Are they respectful of others? Do they have manners? Do they adopt a humble attitude when talking with others? Do they have the good behaviors as Kong Rong once did in giving up larger pears?[a] Is that the sort of person they are?” On what basis do they raise these questions and views? It is firstly based on the criterion of being well-educated and sensible. Is it right of them to use that as their criterion? (No.) Why isn’t it right? Such a simple answer, yet you cannot come up with it. Because that is not how God measures, and He would not have man do so. If man does so, he is mistaken. If someone should measure a person or an event in this way, if they use it as a standard with which to view people and things, they are violating the truth and God’s words. That is the conflict between traditional notions and the truth. Is that not so? (It is.) In what does God have man base his measurements of others? According to what does He have man view people and things? (His words.) He has man view people according to His words. Specifically, this means measuring whether a person has humanity according to His words. That’s part of it. Beyond that, it’s based in whether that person loves the truth, whether they have a God-fearing heart, and whether they can submit to the truth. Are these not the specifics of it? (They are.) So, in what does man base his measurements of another’s goodness? In whether they are cultivated and well regulated, in whether they smack their lips or tend to rummage around for morsels when they eat, in whether they wait for their elders to sit before seating themselves at meals. They use such things to measure others. Is using these things not using the standard for behavior as being well-educated and sensible? (It is.) Are such measurements accurate? Do they align with the truth? (They don’t.) It’s quite clear that they don’t align with the truth. What, then, ultimately comes of such measuring? The measurer believes that anyone who is well-educated and sensible is a good person, and if you have them fellowship about the truth, they’ll always be inculcating people with those domestic rules and teachings, and good behaviors. And what ultimately comes of their inculcating these things in people is that they will lead people into good behaviors, but those people’s corrupt essence will not change at all. This way of doing things is a far departure from the truth and God’s words. Such people are merely possessed of a few good behaviors. So, can the corrupt dispositions inside them be changed because of good behavior? Can they achieve submission and loyalty to God? Not by a long shot. Whom have these people turned into? Pharisees, who have only outward good behavior but fundamentally do not understand the truth, and who cannot submit to God. Is that not so? (It is.) Look at the Pharisees—by appearances, were they not impeccable? They kept the Sabbath; on the Sabbath, they did nothing. They were courteous in speech, quite well regulated and rule-abiding, quite cultivated, quite civilized and learned. Because they were good at disguise and did not fear God at all, but passed judgment on Him and condemned Him, they were cursed by Him in the end. God proclaimed them as hypocritical Pharisees, who are all evildoers. Likewise, the sort of people who use the good behavior of being well-educated and sensible as the criterion for their comportment and action are evidently not people who pursue the truth. When they use this rule to measure others, and to comport themselves and act, they are, of course, not pursuing the truth; and when they make a judgment about someone or something, the standard and basis for that judgment do not align with the truth, but are in violation of it. The only thing they focus on is a person’s behavior, their ways, not their disposition and essence. Their basis is not God’s words, not the truth; instead, their measurements are based on this standard for behavior in traditional culture as being well-educated and sensible. The upshot of such measurement is that a person is good and in line with God’s will to them, so long as that person has such external good behaviors as being well-educated and sensible. When people adopt such classifications, they have obviously taken an opposing stance to the truth and God’s words. And the more use they make of this behavioral criterion to view people and things, and to comport themselves and act, what comes of it brings them all the further away from God’s words and the truth. Even then, they enjoy what they are doing and believe that they are pursuing the truth. In upholding a few of the good statements of traditional culture, they believe that they are upholding the truth and the true way. Yet however they adhere to those things, however they insist on them, they will ultimately not have any experience or exposure to God’s words, the truth, nor will they submit to God in the least. Less still can this give rise to true fear of God. That is what happens when people uphold any and all such good behaviors as being well-educated and sensible. The more man focuses on good behavior, on living it out, on pursuing it, the further his remove from God’s words—and the further removed man is from the words of God, the less able he is to understand the truth. This is only to be expected. If someone’s behavior improves, does that mean their disposition is changed? Do you have experience of this? Have you ever unconsciously sought to be well-educated, sensible people? (Yes.) That’s because everyone understands that by being a well-educated, sensible person, one seems to others to be quite respectable and noble. Others regard them highly. That’s how it is, yes? (Yes.) So, it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be possessed of these good behaviors. But can gaining these good behaviors, these good displays, resolve man’s corrupt disposition? Can it keep people from doing bad things? If not, what use is there in such good behaviors? It’s just a good look; it’s of no use. Can people with such good behavior submit to God? Can they accept and practice the truth? Clearly not. Good behavior cannot replace man’s practice of the truth. It is just as it was with the Pharisees. Their behavior was great, and they were quite pious, but how did they treat the Lord Jesus? No one would have imagined that they could go on to crucify the Savior of mankind. So, those who only have outward good behaviors but have not gained the truth are in danger. They may go on as they have, resisting and betraying God. If you cannot see through this, you may yet be beguiled by people’s good behavior, as ever.
Being well-educated and sensible is a traditional notion of man’s. It is totally out of line with the truth. Given that it is in conflict with the truth, what exactly should man possess if he would put the truth into practice? What reality is it, which, when lived out, aligns with the truth and God’s requirements? Do you know? With such fellowship, some may say, “You say being well-educated and sensible is out of line with the truth, that it’s just an external good behavior. So, we just won’t be well-educated, sensible people anymore. Life will be more carefree, without any restraints, unconstrained by any rules. We’ll be able to do what we want, live how we want. How carefree we’ll be then! We’re freer now, given that man’s good behavior is unrelated to his outcome. We don’t need to concern ourselves with cultivation, rules, or anything like that.” Is that the right thing to take from this? (No.) It is an absurd apprehension; they make the mistake of going to extremes. So, is there anyone who would make such a mistake? There may be some who say, “Since cultivated people may still resist and betray God, I just won’t be a cultivated person. I’m starting to feel contempt for cultivated people. I despise those who are well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, courteous, who respect the old and care for the young, who are amiable. I look down my nose at anyone I see who displays these things, and publicly rebuke them: ‘Your behavior is that of the Pharisees. It’s meant to beguile others. It’s not pursuing the truth, much less practicing it. Stop trying to trick us—we won’t be deceived by you or fall for your tricks!’” Would you act like that? (No.) It’s right of you that you wouldn’t. It would be so absurd of you, if you would do something so senseless. Some people of absurd understanding lack a pure comprehension of the truth—they don’t have the comprehension ability. All they can do is follow rules, so that’s how they act. So, why do we fellowship about and analyze this problem? Mainly, to get people to understand that to pursue the truth is not to pursue external good behavior, nor is it meant to make you a well-behaved, well-regulated, cultivated person. Rather, it is meant to have you understand the truth, practice it, and be able to act based on the truth, meaning that all you do has its basis in God’s words, that it all aligns with the truth. The behaviors that align with the truth and have God’s words as their basis are not the same as being well-educated and sensible, nor are they the same as the standards required of man by traditional culture and traditional morality. They are two different things. God’s words are the truth, and they alone are the sole criterion by which man’s good and evil, his right and wrong, are measured. Traditional culture’s standard of being well-educated and sensible, on the other hand, falls far short of the standard of the truth principles. When was it, during which stage of work, did God tell you that you must be a well-educated, sensible person, a cultivated, noble person without any base interests about you? Has God said such a thing? (No.) He has not. So, what statement and requirement does God make regarding man’s behavior? Comport yourselves and act wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. What, then, is that basis of God’s words? That is, which truths should you use as your criteria, and what sort of life must you live so that you are pursuing and practicing the truth? Is this not something that ought to be understood? (It is.) So, what are the standards of God’s words’ behavioral requirements of man? Can you find words of His that are clear about this? (God’s words say, “I have a lot of hopes. I hope you can conduct yourselves in a proper and well-behaved manner, faithfully fulfill your duty, possess truth and humanity, be people who can give up everything they have and even their lives for God, and so on. All of these hopes stem from your insufficiencies and your corruption and disobedience” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Transgressions Will Lead Man to Hell).) All those words are principles and requirements for man’s comportment. So, what other words of God are there that relate to specific practice? (There’s another passage that says, “Your heart must be in a constant state of quietude, and when things befall you, you must not be rash, prejudiced, stubborn, radical, artificial, or fake, so that you are able to act with reason. This is the proper manifestation of normal humanity” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Path of Resolving a Corrupt Disposition).) That’s a bit of specific practice. Those are specific prescriptions and requirements for man’s external behavior and ways. Can those be regarded as the basis of God’s words? Are they specific enough? (Yes.) Read them again. (“Your heart must be in a constant state of quietude, and when things befall you, you must not be rash, prejudiced, stubborn, radical, artificial, or fake, so that you are able to act with reason. This is the proper manifestation of normal humanity.”) Take note of those items; they are the principles you should uphold when you take action in the future. They tell people that they should learn to face things rationally in their comportment and acts, and that they must furthermore be able to seek the truth principles from a foundation of acting with conscience and reason. Comport yourself and act like this, and there will be principles, as well as a path of practice.
Those few things we just spoke of: “When things befall you, you must not be rash, prejudiced, stubborn, radical, artificial, or fake, so that you are able to act with reason”—are they easy things to do? Really, they’re all achievable, with a period of training. If there’s someone who truly can’t do them, what’s to be done then? It will be fine, so long as you do just one thing, meaning that when you encounter an issue or interact with others, there’s one thing, at least, to be upheld: You must comport yourself and act in a way that edifies others. This is the most fundamental point. If you practice and abide by this, according to it and with it as your criterion, you won’t, in the main, cause any great harm to others, nor will you incur any great losses yourself. Comport yourself and act in a way that edifies others—are there details in that? (Yes.) Do not base your self-satisfaction on damage to others’ interests; do not build your happiness and joy atop others’ suffering. That is what it means to edify. What is the most basic way to understand such edification? It means that your behavior must be tolerable to others, as measured by the conscience and reason of humanity; it must be in alignment with the conscience and reason of humanity. Is it not so that anyone of normal humanity can live up to this? (It is.) Say someone is resting in the room, and you go in, heedless of your surroundings, and start singing and playing music. Would that be appropriate? (No.) Would that not be building your fun and happiness atop another’s suffering? (It would.) If someone is in the middle of reading God’s words or fellowshiping about the truth, and you just have to talk about your own issues with them, is that respectful of them? Is that not unedifying to them? (It is.) What does it mean to be unedifying? At its least, it means that you aren’t respectful of others. You must not interrupt others’ speech or actions. Is that not something normal humanity can achieve? If you can’t even achieve that, you really have no conscience or reason. Can those without conscience or reason gain access to the truth? They cannot. Practicing the truth is something that only those with conscience and reason, at least, can achieve, and if you would pursue the truth, you must at least accord with the standards of conscience and reason in your speech and acts; you must have those around you find you tolerable, and pass muster with all. It’s what we just said: Let your actions at least seem decent to others and be edifying to them. Is being edifying the same as being of benefit to others? No, in fact—to be edifying is to be mutually respectful of others’ space, and not to disrupt, interrupt, or intrude upon them; it is not to let them come to harm or feel suffering because of your behavior. That’s what it means to be edifying. How do you understand it? Being edifying is not about how much you benefit others; it’s about their being able to avail themselves of the interests and rights that are properly theirs, without being interrupted in using them and deprived of them by your willfulness and your improper behavior. Is that not so? (It is.) You now know a few of God’s words that have to do with His requirements for man’s comportment and actions, but still, I tell you, the most fundamental thing is that you must be edifying to others in your comportment and actions. That is the principle for action. Have you understood what it is to be edifying? (Yes.) There are a few who give no thought to whether others are edified by their speech and action, yet claim to be well-educated, sensible people. Is that not fraud? Being edifying to others in comportment and action—is there not a lesson to be learned from that? It may be a behavioral demonstration, yet is it easy to accomplish? If someone understands a bit of the truth, they’ll know how to act in line with the principles, how to act in a way that edifies others, and how to act in a way that benefits others. If someone does not understand the truth, they will not know what to do; they can only act in reliance on their notions and imaginings. Some people never seek the truth in their daily lives, no matter what befalls them. They just act according to their preferences, without a care for how it makes others feel. Are there principles to such action? You should be able to see whether there are, shouldn’t you? All of you gather and read God’s words often; if you’re really able to understand a bit of the truth, you’ll be able to practice and engage with some affairs according to the truth principles. How does such practice make you feel? How does it make others feel? If you try hard to feel that out, you’ll know what sort of practice is edifying to others. Usually, when something befalls you, whatever it is, you give no thought to the real issues of how to act in a way that touches on normal humanity or the practice of the truth. So, when something befalls you, if one were to ask you what sort of practice or action would be edifying to others, you’d find it hard to answer, as if there were no clear path. All that I fellowship about in gatherings are these real-life problems, yet when you encounter them, you are never able to keep up and your minds always go blank. Is there not a discrepancy there? (There is.) What have you gained from your belief in God, then? A few doctrines, a few slogans. How poor and pathetic you are!
In one of the things we’ve discussed as something man holds in his notions to be right and good—being well-educated and sensible—there are some of man’s specific notions and imaginings, as well as some traditional ways man has of understanding this behavior. In brief, to look now at this behavioral display, we see that it shares no relationship with the truth or with true humanity. This is because it falls far short of the truth and cannot be mentioned in the same breath as it, and beyond that, such behavior is fundamentally unaligned with the standards of God’s requirements for man’s views on people and things, as well as his comportment and action, with which it is entirely incompatible and has no relationship. It is just man’s behavior. However well man displays such behavior, and however adequately he practices it, it is merely a form of behavior. It does not even qualify as true normal humanity. The statement that one must be well-educated and sensible is a mere way to put a bow on man’s external behavior. Man, in order to wrap himself up nicely and prettify himself, strives hard to be a well-educated and sensible person, whereby he wins others’ esteem and respect, and raises his station and value in his group. But the fact is that such behavior does not even rise to the level of the morality, integrity, and dignity of which a true person should be possessed. Being well-educated and sensible is a statement that comes from traditional culture, and it is a set of behavioral displays that corrupt mankind has set out for itself as something it believes should be upheld. These behavioral displays are meant to augment a person’s standing in their group and to increase their worth, so that they may win the respect of others and be the strongest of all, one not liable to be despised or bullied in their group. This outward behavior has absolutely nothing to do with the morality or quality of humanity, yet man places it so high and gives it so much weight. See for yourselves how much fraudulence there must be in that! Therefore, if your current pursuit is to be a well-educated, sensible person, and you are regulating your behavior, striving hard in your pursuit and practice toward the goal of being well-educated and sensible, I urge you to put a stop to it right away. Such behaviors and methods can only make you disguise yourself more and more and make you more and more of a hypocrite, and as that happens, you will grow further from being an honest person, a simple, open person. The more you strive to be a well-educated, sensible person, the more you will disguise yourself, and the more you disguise yourself—the deeper your disguise, the harder it will be for others to take your measure or understand you, and the deeper your corrupt disposition will be concealed. Do that, and it will be very hard to achieve acceptance of the truth and salvation. So, in light of these points, is the road of pursuing being a well-educated, sensible person the same as the road of pursuing the truth? Is it the proper pursuit? (No.) Is there not more fraudulence against others and oneself behind the behavior of being well-educated and sensible, quite apart from its negative substance and its negative results? (There is.) A well-educated, sensible person conceals behind themselves many unspeakable secrets, and more than those, they conceal all manner of mistaken thoughts, notions, views, attitudes, and ideas that are unknown to others, vile, nasty, evil, and odious to others. Behind the good behavior of a well-educated, sensible person lurks a more corrupt disposition of theirs. Such a person, under the cover of that behavioral display, does not have courage to face their corrupt disposition, nor do they have the confidence to admit to their corrupt disposition. Less still do they have the courage and confidence to open up about their corrupt disposition, about their absurd knowledge, about their evil thoughts, intents, and goals—or as it may be, even malicious, venomous thoughts of theirs. They have so many things hidden behind them, and none can see them; all people see is the so-called “good person” before them, who has the good behavior of being well-educated and sensible. Is this not a case of fraud? (It is.) The whole of that person’s behavior, performance, pursuit, and essence is a case of fraud. They are defrauding others, and they are defrauding themselves. What will the ultimate outcome be for such a person? To be a well-educated, sensible person, they forsake God, turn their backs on the true way, and are detested and rejected by God. In every hidden corner behind the good behavior of being well-educated and sensible, man conceals his techniques and behaviors of disguise and of fraud, and as he does, he conceals his dispositions that are arrogant, evil, sick of the truth, vicious, and intransigent. So, the more well-educated and sensible one is, the more fraudulent they are, and the more one strives to be a well-educated, sensible person, the less they are a lover of the truth, and the more they are someone who is sick of the truth and God’s words. Tell Me, is that not how it is? (It is.) We will conclude our fellowship about the good behavior of being well-educated and sensible here, for the time being.
Just now, we fellowshiped about one statement about good behavior in traditional culture: being well-educated and sensible. We won’t fellowship individually about the other few. As a group, all statements about good behavior are merely a way to put a bow on man’s external behavior and image. “Put a bow on” is phrasing it nicely; to put it more precisely, it is, in fact, a form of disguise, a way to use a false front to trick others into good feelings about oneself, to trick them into positive evaluations of oneself, to trick them into respect for oneself, whereas the dark side of one’s heart, one’s corrupt dispositions, and one’s true face are all hidden and wrapped up nicely. We may also put it like this: What is hidden beneath the halo of these good behaviors are the corrupt true faces of each and every member of corrupt humanity. What is hidden is each and every member of evil humanity with an arrogant disposition, a deceitful disposition, a vicious disposition, and a disposition of being sick of the truth. It does not matter if a person’s outward behavior is well-educated and sensible, or gentle and refined, nor whether they are amiable, approachable, respectful of the old and caring for the young, or any such thing—whichever of these they evince, it is no more than an external behavior that others can see. It cannot lead them through good behavior to knowledge of their nature essence. Though man looks well on the outward behaviors of being well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, approachable, and amiable, such that the whole human world is well disposed toward them, what cannot be denied is that man’s corrupt dispositions really exist beneath the cover of these good behaviors. Man’s being sick of the truth, his resistance and rebelliousness against God, his nature essence of being sick of the words spoken by the Creator, and of resisting the Creator—these truly do exist there. There’s nothing false about that. No matter how well someone fakes it, no matter how presentable or becoming their behaviors, how nicely or beautifully they package themselves, or how deceptive they are, what cannot be denied is that each and every corrupt person is filled with satanic disposition. Under the mask of these outward behaviors, they still resist and rebel against God, resist and rebel against the Creator. Of course, with these good behaviors as its cloak and its cover, mankind pours forth corrupt dispositions every day, every hour and moment, every minute and second, in every affair, during which they live amid corrupt dispositions and sin. This is an uncontested fact. Despite man’s presentable behaviors, pleasing words, and false exteriors, his corrupt disposition has not abated in the least, nor has it been changed at all due to those outward behaviors of his. On the contrary, it is because he has the cover of these outward good behaviors that his corrupt disposition pours constantly forth, and he never stops his steps toward doing evil and resisting God—and of course, governed by his vicious and evil dispositions, his ambitions, desires, and extravagant requirements are constantly expanding and developing. Tell Me, where is the courteous, amiable, approachable person whose lived image and whose basis for their comportment and actions are positive and aligned with God’s words, the truth? Where is the well-educated, sensible, gentle, and refined person who loves the truth, who is willing to find in God’s words the direction and goal of their life, who has made a contribution to mankind’s salvation? Can you find such a single person? (No.) The fact is that among mankind, the more knowledgeable a person is; the more educated they are; and the more they have ideas, status, and reputation—though they may be called a well-educated and sensible, amiable, approachable person—the more the claims they lay out in writing may deceive people, and the more evil they do, and the more severe their resistance to God. Those of greater reputation and status deceive others all the more, and are all the wilder in their resistance against God. Look throughout humanity at its famous people, its great people, its thinkers, educators, writers, revolutionaries, statesmen, or any such luminary in a field—who among them has not been well-educated and sensible, approachable, and amiable? Which of them did not behave outwardly in a way that garnered others’ praise and was worthy of others’ respect? Yet what, factually, have they contributed to mankind? Have they led mankind onto the right path, or have they led it astray? (Astray.) Have they led mankind under the dominion of the Creator, or have they led it beneath Satan’s feet? (Beneath Satan’s feet.) Have they let mankind partake of the sovereignty, provision, and guidance of the Creator, or have they let it face the trampling, cruelty, and abuse of Satan? Of all the heroic personages, the famous, great, elevated, extraordinary, empowered people of history, which of their authority and status was not gained from the murder of millions upon millions? Which of their reputation was not gained from their fraud, beguilement, and inducement of mankind? From the outside, they seem approachable in their daily encounters with others, and quite easy-going, putting themselves on an equal footing with others and amiable in their speech—yet what they do behind the scenes is altogether different. Some of them plot to ensnare others; some engage in trickery in order to harry and harm others; others look for chances to take revenge. Most statesmen are cruel and harmful to people beyond counting. They won their status and influence with their feet planted firmly on countless people’s heads and in their blood, yet in public settings, what people see is their approachable mien and amiable behavior. What people see is the gentle and refined, well-educated and sensible, self-effacing figures they cut. On the outside, they are courteous and gentle and refined, but behind that, they murder countless people, grab countless people’s assets, dominate and toy with countless people. They say every fine word and do every evil thing, and shamelessly, brazenly, they sermonize from their stage, teaching others how to be approachable, well-educated and sensible people, how to be people who contribute to the country and mankind, how to serve the people and be servants of the public, how to dedicate themselves to the nation. Is that not shamelessness? Audacious, insatiable scum, the lot of them! In short, to be a person of good behavior who conforms to the traditional notions of morality is not to pursue the truth; it is not the pursuit of being a true created being. On the contrary, many dark and unmentionable secrets are hidden behind the pursuit of these good behaviors. No matter what sort of good behavior man pursues, the goal behind it is none other than to win more people’s affection and respect, to increase their own standing, and to make people think they are respectable and worthy of trust and commission. If you pursue being such a well-behaved person, is this not in quality the same as those who are famous and great? If you are a person who is merely well-behaved, but does not love God’s word and does not accept the truth, then in quality, you are the same as they. And what is the result? What you have forgone is truth; what you have lost is your chance at salvation. This is the most foolish of behavior—it is an idiot’s choice and pursuit. Have you ever wished to be that great, famous, larger-than-life person on stage, whom you have admired for so long? That amiable and approachable person? That courteous, gentle and refined, well-educated and sensible person? That person who, from the outside, looks to be friendly and lovely? Have you not followed and worshiped people like this before? (Yes.) If you are still following people like this now, still idolizing people like this, let Me tell you: You are not far from death, because the people you idolize are evil people who pretend to be good. God will not save evil people. If you idolize evil people and do not accept the truth, in the end you will be destroyed, too.
The essence behind good behavior such as being approachable and amiable can be described in one word: pretense. Such good behavior is not born of the words of God, nor as a result of practicing the truth or acting according to principle. What is it produced by? It comes from people’s motives, schemes, from them pretending, putting on an act, being deceitful. When people cling to these good behaviors, the aim is to get the things they want; if not, they would never aggrieve themselves in this way, and live contrary to their own desires. What does it mean, to live contrary to their own desires? It is that their true nature is not as well-behaved, guileless, gentle, kind, and virtuous as people imagine. They do not live by conscience and sense; instead, they live in order to achieve a certain aim or demand. What is man’s true nature? It is muddle-headed and ignorant. Without the laws and commandments bestowed by God, people would have no idea what sin is. Is this not what mankind used to be like? Only when God issued the laws and commandments did people have some concept of sin. But still they had no concept of right and wrong, or of positive and negative things. And how, with this being the case, could they be aware of the correct principles for speaking and acting? Could they know which ways of acting, which good behaviors, ought to be found in normal humanity? Could they know what produces truly good behavior, what kind of way they should follow to live out a human likeness? They could not. Because of people’s satanic nature, because of their instincts, they could only pretend and put on an act to live decently, and with dignity—which is what gave rise to deceits such as being well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, courteous, respecting the old and caring for the young, and being amiable and approachable; thus emerged these tricks and techniques of deception. And once they emerged, people selectively clung to one or several of these deceits. Some chose to be amiable and approachable, some chose to be well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, some chose to be courteous, to respect the old and care for the young, some chose to be all of these things. And yet I define people with such good behaviors with one term. What is that term? “Smooth stones.” What are smooth stones? It is those smooth stones in rivers that have been scoured and polished of any sharp edges by long years of passing water. And though they may not hurt to step on, without care people can slip on them. In appearance and shape, these stones are very beautiful, but once you have taken them home, they are quite useless. You can’t bear to throw them away, but there is no point in keeping them, either—which is what a “smooth stone” is. To Me, people with these apparently good behaviors are tepid. They pretend to be good on the outside, but do not accept the truth at all, they say nice-sounding things, but don’t do anything real. They are nothing but smooth stones. If you fellowship with them on the truth and the principles, they’ll talk to you about being gentle and refined, and courteous. If you speak to them about discerning antichrists, they’ll talk to you about respecting the old and caring for the young, and being well-educated and sensible. If you tell them that there must be principles to one’s comportment, that one must seek the principles in their duty and not act willfully, what will their attitude be? They’ll say, “Acting in accordance with the truth principles is another matter. I just want to be well-educated and sensible, and for others to approve of my actions. As long as I respect the old and care for the young, and have other people’s approval, that’s enough.” They only care about good behaviors, they do not focus on the truth. They are generally able to respect the elderly, their seniors, those with qualifications, those of good moral standing and reputation within their group, while also taking great, loving care of the communities of the young and vulnerable. They strictly uphold the social rule of respecting the old and caring for the young in order to demonstrate themselves to be noble. What cannot be denied, though, is that when their interests and that rule come into conflict, they’ll put the rule off to the side and go, headlong and without “suffering” anyone’s restraints, to protect their interests. Though their good behavior garners the approval of everyone they encounter, are acquainted with, or are familiar with, what cannot be denied is that even as they perform these good behaviors that are praised by others, they incur not the slightest loss to their own interests, and they fight for their interests by any means necessary, without “suffering” anyone’s restraints. Their respect for the old and care for the young is just a transient behavior, built on the foundation of not interfering with their own interests. It is limited in scope to a mode of deportment. They can do it, in cases where it does not touch or infringe on their interests at all, but when their interests are at the fore, those are what they’ll fight for, in the end. So, their respect for the old and care for the young does not, in fact, interfere with their pursuit of their interests, nor can it restrict that pursuit. The behavior of respecting the old and caring for the young is a good behavior that people can only do in certain circumstances, on the condition that it does not interfere with their interests. It is not something that arises from inside a person’s life, their bones. However much someone can practice such behavior, however long they can persist, it cannot alter the corrupt dispositions on which man depends to live. This means that though someone may not have this good behavior, they pour forth corrupt dispositions all the same—yet once they have gained this good behavior, their corrupt dispositions are not ameliorated or altered in the least. On the contrary, they hide them deeper and deeper. These are essential things that are hidden behind such good behaviors.
That’s about it for our fellowship about and analysis of traditional culture’s good behaviors of being gentle and refined, courteous, respectful of the old and caring for the young, amiable, and approachable. They are like being well-educated and sensible, and more or less the same in essence. They are insubstantial. People should let go of these good behaviors. What people should strive to achieve most is to make the words of God their basis, and the truth their criterion; only then can they live in the light and live like a normal human being. If you wish to live in the light, you should act according to the truth; you should be an honest person who says honest words and does honest things. What is fundamental is to have the truth principles in one’s comportment; once people lose the truth principles, and focus only on good behavior, this inevitably gives rise to fakery and pretense. If there is no principle to people’s comportment, then no matter how good their behavior is, they are hypocrites; they may be able to dupe others for a time, but they will never be trustworthy. Only when people act and comport themselves according to God’s words do they have a true foundation. If they do not comport themselves according to God’s words, and only focus on pretending to behave well, can they become good people as a result? Absolutely not. Good doctrines and behavior cannot change man’s corrupt dispositions, and they cannot change his essence. Only the truth and the words of God can change people’s corrupt dispositions, thoughts, and opinions, and become their life. The various good behaviors that man, in his traditional culture and his notions, holds to be so, such as being well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, courteous, respectful of the old and caring for the young, being amiable, and being approachable, are mere behaviors. They’re not life, much less the truth. Traditional culture is not the truth, nor are any of the good behaviors it promotes. However much of traditional culture man grasps and however many good behaviors he lives out in his life, it cannot alter his corrupt dispositions. So, for thousands of years, mankind has been inculcated with traditional culture, and its corrupt disposition hasn’t changed at all; instead, its corruption has gotten ever deeper, and the world ever darker and more evil. This is directly related to the education of traditional culture. Humans can only live their lives as true people by taking God’s words as their life. This is beyond dispute. So, what sort of parameters and requirements do God’s words set for man’s behavior? Apart from what’s established in the laws and the commandments, there are also the Lord Jesus’ requirements for man’s behavior, especially the requirements and rules for man in God’s judgment of the last days. These are the most precious words of all, as far as mankind is concerned, and they are the most basic principles for its comportment. You must locate the most basic behavioral criteria for your comportment and action in God’s words. When you do, you will be able to rid yourselves of the misguidance and trickery of Chinese traditional culture’s good behaviors. You will then have found the path and principles for comportment and action, which also means that you will have found the path and principles of salvation. If you take God’s current words as your basis and the truth now fellowshiped about as your criterion, and use them to supplant those standards for good behavior, as mankind, in its notions, would have it, then you are someone who is pursuing the truth. God’s requirements of man are in all cases about what sort of person he should be and what road he should walk. He never requires that man should be possessed of some behavior in isolation. He requires that people be honest people, not deceptive ones; He requires man to accept and pursue the truth, and to be faithful to Him, and submissive, and bearing of witness to Him. He has never required that man merely have a few good behaviors, that that would be fine on its own. Yet China’s traditional culture has man focus only on good behavior, on having good outward displays. It does nothing at all to shed light on what man’s corrupt dispositions are or where his corruption originates, much less is it able to point out the path along which his corrupt dispositions are cast off. Therefore, however traditional culture may advocate for whichever good behaviors man should be possessed of, when it comes to mankind’s casting off its corrupt dispositions and living their lives as true people, it is of no avail. However noble or appealing its statements about morality, it can do nothing to change mankind’s corrupt essence. Under the inculcation and sway of traditional culture, many subconscious things have come about in corrupt mankind. What does “subconscious” mean here? It means that once man has been imperceptibly inculcated and infected by traditional culture, in the absence of any clear words, statements, rules, or cognizance of how to act appropriately, he instinctively practices and abides by people’s conventional ideas and methods. Living in such circumstances, in such a condition, as all people do, they come obliviously to think, in their subconscious, “Being well-educated and sensible is great—it’s positive, and it aligns with the truth; being gentle and refined is great—it’s how people ought to be, God likes it, and it aligns with the truth; being courteous, respectful of the old and caring for the young, amiable, and approachable are all demonstrations from within normal humanity—they align with God’s words and the truth.” Despite not having found a clear basis in God’s words, they feel in their hearts that God’s words and requirements of man and the required standards of traditional culture are about the same, with no major difference between them. Is this not a distortion and false interpretation of God’s words? Have God’s words said such things? They have not, nor are they what He wills; those things are man’s distortions and false interpretations of God’s words. God’s words never said these things, so what’s yours to do is not, under any circumstances, to think on those terms. You should read God’s words in detail and locate exactly the behavioral requirements His words make of man, then find a few more passages of His words, assemble them, and pray-read and fellowship about them in synthesis. Once you have knowledge of them, that’s when you’re to practice and experience them. This brings God’s words into your real life, where they become the basis for your views on people and things, as well as your comportment and actions. What should the basis of people’s speech and actions be? God’s words. So, what are the requirements and standards God has for people’s speech and actions? (That they be constructive to people.) That is right. Most fundamentally, you must tell the truth, speak honestly, and benefit others. At the very least, your speech must edify people, and not trick, mislead, make fun of, satirize, deride, mock, constrict them, expose their weaknesses, or hurt them. This is the expression of normal humanity. It is humanity’s virtue. Has God told you how loudly to speak? Has He required that you use standard language? Has He required that you make use of flowery rhetoric or a lofty, refined linguistic style? (No.) There’s not a bit of any of those superficial, hypocritical, false, nugatory things. All God’s requirements are things of which normal humanity should be possessed, standards and principles for man’s language and behavior. It doesn’t matter where someone was born or what language they speak. In any case, the words you say—their verbiage and content—must be edifying to others. What does it mean, for them to be edifying? It means that others, having heard them, feel them to be true, and derive enrichment and help from them, and can understand the truth, and are no longer confused, nor susceptible to the beguilement of others. So, God demands that people tell the truth, say what they think, and not trick, mislead, make fun of, satirize, deride, mock, or constrict others, or expose their weaknesses, or hurt them. Are these not the principles of speech? What does it mean to say one should not expose people’s weaknesses? It means not to get dirt on other people. Do not hold on to their past mistakes or shortcomings in order to judge or condemn them. This is the least you should do. On the proactive side, how is constructive speech expressed? It is mainly encouraging, orienting, guiding, exhorting, understanding, and comforting. Also, in some special instances, it becomes necessary to directly expose other people’s errors and deal with and prune them, so that they gain knowledge of the truth and desire to repent. Only then is the due effect achieved. This way of practicing is of great benefit to people. It is a real help to them, and it is constructive for them, is it not? Say, for example, you are especially willful and arrogant. You’ve never been aware of this, but someone who knows you well comes right out and tells you the problem. You think to yourself, “Am I willful? Am I arrogant? No one else dared to tell me, but he understands me. That he could say such a thing suggests that it really is true. I must spend some time reflecting on this.” After that you say to the person, “Other people only say nice things to me, they sing my praises, no one ever gets personal with me, no one has ever pointed out these shortcomings and issues in me. Only you were able to tell me, to get personal with me. It was so great, such a big help to me.” This is having a heart-to-heart, is it not? Little by little, the other person communicates to you what is on his mind, his thoughts about you, and his experiences of how he had notions, imaginings, negativity and weakness in this matter, and was able to escape it by seeking the truth. This is having a heart-to-heart; it is a communion of souls. And what, in sum, is the principle behind speaking? It is this: Say what’s in your heart, and speak of your true experiences and what you really think. These words are the most beneficial to people, they provide for people, they help them, they are positive. Refuse to say those fake words, those words that do not benefit or edify people; this will avoid harming them or tripping them up, plunging them into negativity, and having a negative effect. You must say positive things. You must strive to help people as much as you can, to benefit them, to provide to them, to produce in them true faith in God; and you must allow people to be helped, and to gain much, from your experiences of God’s words and the way you solve problems, and to be able to understand the path of experiencing the work of God and entering the truth reality, allowing them to have life entry and making their life grow—which is all the effect of your words having principles, and being edifying to people. This aside, when people come together to gossip and giggle idly, that is unprincipled. All they pour forth is their corrupt dispositions. It is not based in God’s words, and they are not upholding the truth principles. All of it is man’s philosophies for living—they are living as their corrupt dispositions manipulate them to.
God requires that man be principled and edifying to others in his speech. Does this have anything to do with those external good behaviors of man’s? (No.) It has nothing at all to do with those. Say you’re not domineering of others or false and tricky in your speech, yet you’re also able to encourage, guide, and comfort others. If you’re able to do both of these things, is there any need for you to do them with an approachable attitude? Must you achieve approachability? Can you only do those things within a behavioral framework of such externalities as being courteous, gentle, and refined? There’s no need. The precondition for your speech being edifying to others is that it is based in God’s words and His requirements—that it’s based in the truth, rather than good behaviors established amid traditional culture. Once your speech is principled and edifying to others, you may speak sitting, or you may speak standing; you may speak in a loud voice, or in a quiet one; you may speak with gentle words, or with severe ones. So long as the end result is positive, with you having fulfilled your responsibility and the other party having benefited, then it’s in alignment with the truth principles. If what you pursue is the truth, and what you practice is the truth, and the basis of your speech and actions is God’s words, the truth principles, and if others can profit and gain from you, would that not be of benefit to both of you? If living constrained by the thinking of traditional culture, you put on an act while others do the same, and you offer mannered niceties while they bow and scrape, each putting on an act for the other, then neither of you is any good. You and they bow and scrape and engage in niceties all day long, without a word of truth, embodying in life only good behavior as promoted by traditional culture. Though such behavior is conventional as seen from the outside, it is all hypocrisy, behavior that tricks and dupes others, behavior that takes people in and tricks them, without a sincere word to be heard. If you make friends with such a person, you are bound to be taken in and tricked in the end. There is nothing that would edify you to be gained from their good behavior. All it has to teach you is falsehood and trickery: You trick them, they trick you. What you will feel, ultimately, is an extreme degradation of your integrity and dignity, which you will just have to endure. You will still have to present yourself with courtesy, in a well-educated and sensible way, without quibbling with others or demanding too much of them. You will still have to be patient and tolerant, affecting nonchalance and broad-minded magnanimity with a beaming smile. How many years of effort it must take to achieve such a condition! If you demand of yourself that you live like this before others, will your life not exhaust you? To pretend to have so much love, knowing full well that you do not—such hypocrisy is no easy thing! You would feel ever more strongly the exhaustion of comporting yourself in this way as a person; you would rather be born as a cow or horse, a pig or dog in your next life than as a human being. You would find them just too false and evil. Why does man live in a way that exhausts him so? Because he lives amid traditional notions, which constrain and fetter him. In reliance on his corrupt disposition, he lives in sin, from which he cannot extricate himself. He has no way out. What he lives out is not the likeness of a true person. Between people, one cannot hear or obtain a single word of basic sincerity, even between man and wife, mother and daughter, father and son, the people who are closest to each other—there’s not an intimate word to be heard, not a warm word or one from which others might derive comfort. So, what function do these outward good behaviors serve, then? They serve temporarily to maintain a normal distance and normal relationships between people. Yet behind these good behaviors, no one dares engage deeply with anyone else, which mankind has ended up summarizing in the phrase: “Distance begets beauty.” This reveals the true nature of mankind, does it not? How could distance beget beauty? In the false and evil reality of such a life, man lives in ever-increasing loneliness, withdrawal, depression, indignance, and discontent, without a path forward. This is the true condition of unbelievers. However, you believe in God today. You have come into God’s house and accepted the provision of His words, and you often listen to sermons. In your heart, though, you still like the good behaviors traditional culture promotes. This proves something: You do not understand the truth and have no reality. Why, in your life now, are you still so depressed, so lonely, so pathetic, so self-abasing? The only reason for this is that you do not accept the truth and have not changed at all. In other words, you do not view people and things, and comport yourself and act, according to God’s words, nor with the truth as your criterion. You are still living in reliance on corrupt dispositions and traditional notions. That’s why your life is still so lonely. You have no friends, no one to confide in. You cannot obtain from others the encouragement, guidance, help, or edification you should have, nor can you bestow encouragement, guidance, or help on others. Even in these, the most minimal of behaviors, you don’t take God’s words as your basis and the truth as your criterion, so there’s even less need to mention your views on people and things or your comportment and action—those are a hundred thousand miles away from the truth, God’s words!
We have just fellowshiped about what requirements God has of man’s behavior: He requires that man’s speech and actions be principled and edifying to others. So, based on that, does everyone now know whether there’s any value to those good behaviors man comes up with—whether they’re worth treasuring? (They’re not.) So, what should you do, given that you don’t believe they’re worth treasuring? (Renounce them.) How does one renounce them? To renounce them, one must have a specific path and steps for their practice. First, one must examine themselves for whether they have the behavioral displays of being well-educated and sensible and being gentle and refined, as promoted by traditional culture. What form does such examination take, and what are its contents? Those would be to look at yourself to see what the basis is for your views on people and things, as well as your comportment and action, and to see which things of Satan have taken deep root in your heart and soaked into your blood and bones. For instance, say there’s someone who’s been coddled since childhood, who doesn’t know much about self-regulation, yet whose humanity isn’t bad. They’re a true believer, and they believe in God and perform their duty with sincerity, and they can suffer and pay prices. There’s just one thing wrong with them: When they eat, they tend to pick around for morsels and smack their lips. It bothers you so much to hear it that you can’t swallow your food. It used to be that you’d feel a special antipathy for such people. You’d think that they had no breeding and didn’t know how to self-regulate, that they weren’t well-educated or sensible. In your heart, you despised them, believing that such people are base and undignified, that there’s no way they’d be people whom God chooses, much less those whom He loves. What was your basis for believing so? Had you seen through to their essence? Were you measuring them based on their essence? What was the basis of your measurement? Obviously, you were measuring people based on the various statements of Chinese traditional culture. So, when you come to learn of this problem, what should you think, based on the truths we’ve fellowshiped about today? “Gosh, I used to look down on them. I never listened willingly to their fellowship. Whenever they said or did anything, no matter how right they were to do it or how practical the words of their fellowship were, as soon as I thought of them smacking their lips and rummaging around for morsels at meals, I wouldn’t want to hear them talk. I always took them for an ill-bred person of no caliber. Now, through such fellowship from God, I’m seeing that my views on people aren’t based on God’s words; instead, I treat the bad habits and behaviors that people have in their lives—those places where they lack breeding or are indecent, specifically—as if they were outpourings of their humanity essence. Now, measured based on God’s words, all those things are little faults that don’t implicate their humanity essence. They’re nowhere near being problems of principle.” Is this not self-examination? (It is.) Those who can accept God’s words and understand the truth can see these things clearly. So, what’s to be done from there? Is there a path? Would it work if you demanded that they drop these bad habits immediately? (No.) Such little defects are ingrained and hard to change. They’re not something one can change in a day or two. Behavioral problems aren’t so hard to solve, but with defects in one’s life-habits, one needs some time in order to get rid of them. They don’t implicate the quality of someone’s humanity, though, or their humanity essence, so don’t give them too much weight or refuse to let go of them. Everyone has their own habits and ways in life. No one comes from a vacuum. Everyone has a few defects, and whatever they are, if they affect others, they must be corrected. That’s how to achieve amicable interactions. However, it’s not possible to be ideal in every regard. People come from very different places, and their habits in life are all different, so they must be tolerant of each other. This is something normal humanity ought to possess. Don’t take trifling problems to heart. Exercise tolerance. That’s the most appropriate way to treat others. This is the principle of tolerance, the principle and method by which such matters are handled. Don’t try to determine people’s essence and humanity based on their little defects. That basis is totally out of line with the principles, because whatever defects or flaws someone might have, they don’t speak to that person’s essence, nor do they mean that that person isn’t a sincere believer in God, much less not someone who pursues the truth. We must look at people’s strengths and base our views on people on God’s words and His requirements of man. That’s the way to treat people fairly. How should someone who pursues the truth view people? Their views on people and things, and their comportment and actions, must all be according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. So, how do you regard each and every person according to God’s words? Look at whether they are possessed of a conscience and reason, at whether they’re a good person or an evil one. In your contact with them, you may see that though they have their share of little defects and deficiencies, they are quite good in their humanity. They are tolerant and patient in their interactions with people, and when someone is negative and weak, they are loving to them and can provide for them and help them. That is their attitude toward others. What, then, is their attitude toward God? In their attitude toward God, it is even more measurable whether they have humanity. It may be that with all God does, they are submissive, and seeking, and longing, and in the course of performing their duty and interacting with others—when they take action—they have a God-fearing heart. It’s not that they’re daredevils, acting outrageously, and it’s not that they’d do anything and say anything. When something happens that involves God or His work, they’re very cautious. Once you’ve ascertained that they have these displays, how, based on the things that pour forth from their humanity, are you to measure whether that person is good or bad? Measure that based on God’s words, and measure it based on whether they have a conscience and reason, and on their attitude toward the truth and toward God. By measuring them in these two regards, you will see that though there are a few problems and defects in their behavior, they may yet be someone with a conscience and reason, who has a heart of submission and fear toward God and an attitude of love and acceptance toward the truth. If so, then in God’s eye, they’re someone who may be saved, someone whom He loves. And given that in God’s eye, they’re someone who may be saved and whom He loves, how should you treat them? You must view people and things according to God’s words and take measurements according to His words. They’re a true brother or sister, and you should treat them correctly and without prejudice. Don’t regard them through a colored lens or measure them according to traditional culture’s statements—measure them instead with God’s words. And as for their behavioral defects, if you’re kind at heart, you should help them. Let them know how to act appropriately. What do you do if they can accept that but can’t drop their behavioral defects right away? You should fall back on tolerance. If you aren’t tolerant, that means you aren’t kind at heart, and you should seek the truth in your attitude toward them, and reflect on and know your own deficiencies. That’s how you can come to treat people correctly. If, conversely, you say, “That person has so many defects. They’re ill-bred, they don’t know how to self-regulate, they don’t know about respecting others, and they don’t know their manners. They’re an unbeliever, then. I don’t want to associate with them, I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want to hear whatever they have to say, however right it is. Who’d believe that they fear God and submit to Him? Are they up to that? Do they have the caliber?” then what attitude is that? Is it kind helpfulness, to treat others like that? Does it align with the truth principles? Is such treatment of others on your part an understanding and practice of the truth? Is it loving? Do you fear God at heart? If someone’s belief in God lacks even basic kindness, does such a person have the truth reality? If you go on clinging to your notions, and your views on people and things remain based in your own feelings, impressions, preferences, and notions, that’s sufficient proof that you don’t understand a shred of the truth and are still living in reliance on satanic philosophies. It’s sufficient proof that you are not a lover of the truth or someone who pursues it. Some people are so self-righteous. However you fellowship with them, they still cling to their own views: “I’m a courteous person who respects the old and cares for the young—what of it? I’m a good person, at least. What’s not good in how I comport myself? At least everyone respects me.” I don’t object to your being a good person, but if you keep on pretending as you are, will you be able to gain the truth and life? Being a good person in the way that you are may not violate your integrity or go against the goal and direction of your comportment, but there’s one thing you must understand: Go on like that, and you won’t be able to understand the truth or enter the truth reality, and in the end, you won’t be able to gain the truth or the life, or God’s salvation. That’s the only possible outcome.
I have just fellowshiped about how to regard the good behaviors of people’s notions, and how to identify those good behaviors such that one pursues the truth. Do you have a path now? (Yes.) What should you do? (First, reflect on whether one has the behaviors oneself. Then, reflect on what one’s usual bases and criteria are for one’s views on people and things.) That’s right. You should begin by clearly seeing whether there’s anything in your prior views on people and things, or in your comportment and actions, that has been in conflict with what I have fellowshiped about today, or that goes against it. Reflect on what the basis is for the perspective and view you adopt when you view people and things, on whether your basis is the standards of traditional culture or the sayings of some great and renowned person, or whether it is God’s words, the truth. From there, go on to reflect on whether the thoughts and views of traditional culture and those of great, renowned people are aligned with the truth, on where they come into conflict with the truth, on where, exactly, they go wrong. These are the specifics of the second step of self-reflection. Now, for the third step. When you discover that the views, ways, basis, and criterion for your views on people and things, as well as your comportment and action, are born of man’s will, of the evil trends of society and of traditional culture, and that they are contrary to the truth, what should you do then? Shouldn’t you seek out relevant words of God and take those as your basis? (Yes.) Seek out the truth principles in God’s words that touch on viewing people and things, as well as comportment and action. You should mainly base it on what God’s words say, or, to put it accurately, on the truth principles of God’s words. Those truth principles should become the basis and criterion for your views on people and things, and your comportment and actions. This is the most difficult thing to accomplish. One must first deny their own views, notions, opinions, and attitudes. This involves some incorrect, warped views of man’s. One must unearth those views, come to know them, and subject them to thorough dissection. The other part of it is that when people have found the proper statement in the relevant words of God, they should mull it over and fellowship about it, and when they have clarified what the truth principles are, it immediately becomes a question of how they are to accept and practice the truth. Tell Me, once one has understood the truth principles, are they soon able to accept and submit to them? (No.) Man’s rebelliousness and corrupt dispositions cannot be resolved in an instant. Man has corrupt dispositions, and though he may know what God’s words mean, he cannot put them into practice right away. Putting the truth into practice is in each case a battle for him. Man has a rebellious disposition. He cannot let go of his prejudice, capriciousness, intransigence, haughtiness, self-righteousness, or self-importance, nor his host of justifications and excuses, nor his self-worth, status, reputation, or vanity. So, when you let go of something you hold in your notions to be good, what you must renounce are these interests of yours and the things you treasure. When you can renounce and let go of all these things, that is when you will have hope or a chance of practicing based on God’s words, according to the truth principles. To let go of yourself and deny yourself—this is the most difficult juncture to break through. As soon as you’ve gotten past it, though, there will be no great difficulties left in your heart. When you have understood the truth and are able to penetrate the essence of good behaviors, your views on people and on things will change, and you will then be able, gradually, to let go of such things from traditional culture. So, to change man’s mistaken views on people and things, and the ways and manners of his actions, and the origin and motives behind his actions—this is no simple thing to do. What is hardest to change is that man has corrupt dispositions. Man’s views on things and his lifestyle are engendered by his corrupt dispositions. Corrupt dispositions make you arrogant, self-righteous, and willful; they make you disdain others, focusing always on upholding your name and status, on whether you can garner esteem and come to the fore among others, always taking your future prospects and fate into account, and so on. All these things are those that are born out of your corrupt disposition and touch on your interests. When you have taken each of these things and broken it down, seen through it, and denied it, you will be able to renounce them. And it’s not until you can let go of them, bit by bit, that you will be able, uncompromisingly and absolutely, to take God’s words as your basis and the truth as your criterion in your views on people and things, and in your comportment and actions.
Take God’s words as your basis in your views on people and things, and in your comportment and actions—everyone understands these words. They’re easy to comprehend. In his rationality and in his thoughts, in his will and ideals, man is able to apprehend these words and is willing to follow them. There should be no difficulties there. But in reality, they’re hard for man to live up to when he practices the truth, and the obstacles and troubles in doing so aren’t mere difficulties presented by his external environment. The main reason has to do with his corrupt disposition. Man’s corrupt disposition is the origin of his various troubles. Once it is resolved, all man’s troubles and difficulties no longer amount to any major problem. It follows, then, that all man’s difficulties in practicing the truth are caused by his corrupt disposition. Therefore, as you practice these words of God’s, and enter this reality of practicing the truth, you will grow ever more aware of this: “I have a corrupt disposition. I’m the ‘corrupt mankind’ God speaks of, corrupted to my core by Satan, someone who lives by satanic dispositions.” Is that not how it happens? (It is.) Therefore, if man would pursue the truth and enter the truth reality, knowing and seeing through negative things is merely the first step of life entry, the step at its very beginning. So, why is it that many people understand a few truths yet cannot put them into practice? Why can they all preach a great many words and doctrines, but have gone on unable to enter the truth reality? Is it that they understand nothing of the truth? No—it is exactly the opposite. Their theoretical, word-and-phrase level understanding of the truth is very much where it should be. It even trips off their tongue when they recite it. They have a will, of course, and they have a good mindset and aspirations; they are all willing to strive toward the truth. Yet why is it that they cannot put the truth into practice, but go on unable to enter the truth reality? It is because the words and letters and theories that they grasp remain unable to be made manifest in their real life. Where does this problem come from, then? Its origin is in the presence of their corrupt disposition there in the middle, hindering things. That is why there are some people who lack spiritual understanding and don’t understand what it is to pursue the truth, who make a pledge and declare their will each time they fail or fall or cannot put the truth into practice. They make an untold number of such pledges and declarations, and still, it does not resolve the problem. They keep stopping at that stage of resolving their will and making pledges. They remain stuck there. Many people, when they practice the truth, are always setting their will and making oaths, saying they’re going to struggle. Every day, they cheer themselves on. Three, four, five years of struggle—and how does it turn out in the end? Nothing has been accomplished, and all ends in failure. The bit of doctrine they understand is inapplicable anywhere. When something befalls them, they do not know how to view it and cannot see through it. They cannot find words of God to serve as their basis; they don’t know how to view things according to God’s words, nor do they know which element of the truth in God’s words applies to the matter that has befallen them. They are then stricken with great anxiety, and they hate themselves, and they pray, asking God to give them more strength and faith, still cheering themselves on in the end. Is that not a foolhardy person? (It is.) They’re just like children. Is man’s quotidian treatment of the pursuit of the truth not, in fact, as infantile as this? Man wishes always to encourage himself to pursue the truth by resolving his will and making pledges, by restraining himself and cheering himself on, but the practice of the truth and entry into it does not come from man’s self-encouragement. Instead, you truly must enter and practice according to the way and the steps that I tell you, with a firm and steady tread, one foot after the last. Only thus will you see results; only thus will you be practicing the truth and able to enter the truth reality. There is no shortcut that circumvents this. This doesn’t mean that with a bit of heart, a bit of a desire to expend of yourself, a great will, and a grand goal, the truth will become your reality, but that man must learn the fundamental lessons of seeking, entering, practice, and submission in his real life, amid people, events, and things. Only after learning these lessons can man come into contact with the truth and God’s words, or experience them, or know them. Without having done so, what man will gain is no more than a bit of doctrine with which to fill the void in his heart, no matter how many years he spends motivating himself, encouraging himself, and cheering himself along. He will only feel a fleeting bit of spiritual satisfaction, but he will not have gained anything of true substance. What does it mean not to have gained anything of true substance? It means that the basis of your views on people and things, and of your comportment and actions, is not God’s words. There are no words of God to be found that serve as a basis in your views on people and things or in your outlook on comportment and actions. You live a confused life, a life without aid, and the more it happens that you are faced with an issue, one that requires you to lay out your views, your principles and stance, the more evident your ignorance, foolishness, hollowness, and helplessness will be. Under normal circumstances, you are able to rattle off some number of correct doctrines and catchphrases, as if you understood everything. But when a problem has arisen, and someone comes to you in seriousness to have you declare your position and establish where you stand, no words will come to you. Some will say, “No words? It’s not that—it’s that I wouldn’t dare say them.” Well, why wouldn’t you? That goes to show that you’re unsure of whether what you’re doing is right. Why would you be unsure of that? Because when you were doing the thing, you never confirmed what the basis was for what you were doing, nor what your principles were in doing it, nor less, of course, whether you have been viewing and doing the matter according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. So, when a problem occurs, you are left looking awkward and impotent. Some people are unconvinced. They say, “I’m not like that. I went to college. I got my master’s,” or “I’m a philosopher, a professor, an intellectual of a high order,” or “I’m a cultured person. You can take what I say to print,” or “I’m a scholar of note,” or “I’m a talent.” Is trotting these things out of any use to you? They aren’t merits of yours. At the very most, these things mean you have a bit of knowledge. Whether that will be of use in God’s house is hard to say, but it is at least sure that that knowledge of yours is not the same thing as the truth, and it doesn’t reflect your stature. What is it meant to say that your knowledge doesn’t reflect your stature? Such things are not your life; they are external to your body. What is your life, then? It is a life whose basis and criteria are the logic and philosophy of Satan, and even with your knowledge, your culture, that brain of yours, you cannot suppress these things or control them. So, when a problem occurs, your fount of talent and intellect and your plentiful knowledge will be of no avail at all—or it may be that when one aspect of your corrupt disposition pours forth, your patience, breeding, knowledge, and such-all will not avail you in the least. You’ll feel helpless then. All these things are the awkward ways in which not pursuing the truth and lacking entry into the truth reality manifest in man. Is it easy to enter the truth? Is there a challenge in it? Where? There’s no challenge, if you ask Me. Don’t focus on resolving your will or making pledges. Those are useless. When you have time to resolve your will and make pledges, put that time instead into making an effort into God’s words. Consider what they say, which portion of them touches on your present state. It’s useless to set your will. You could crack your head open and let the blood flow, setting your will, and still, it’d be useless. It can’t resolve any problems. You can trick man and demons like that, but you cannot trick God. God doesn’t delight in that will of yours. How many times have you set your will? You make your pledges, then you drop them, and having dropped them, you make them again, and drop them again. What kind of person does that make you? When will you keep your word? It doesn’t matter whether you keep your word, or whether you set your will. Whether you make a pledge has no bearing, either. What is it that’s important? It’s that you put the truth you understand into practice right now, immediately, at once. Even if it’s the most obvious truth, the one that catches others’ eyes the least and you yourself put the least emphasis on, practice it right away—enter it right away. If you do, you will enter the truth reality right away, and right away, you will embark on the path of pursuing the truth. You will be on the verge of becoming someone who pursues the truth. On that foundation, you will soon be able to become a person who views people and things, and who comports themselves and acts, according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. What a bounty that will be—what tangible value!
After fellowshiping on sayings about good behavior in traditional culture, have you gained any understanding with them? How should you approach this sort of good behavior? Some people might say, “Beginning from today, I will not be a well-educated and sensible, gentle and refined, or courteous person. I will not be a so-called ‘good’ person; I won’t be one who respects the old or cares for the young; I won’t be an amiable, approachable person. None of that is a natural outpouring of normal humanity; it is deceptive behavior that is fake and false, and it does not rise to the level of practicing the truth. What sort of person will I be? I will be an honest person; I will begin by being an honest person. In my speech, I can be uneducated, not understand the rules, be lacking in knowledge, and looked down on by others, but I will speak frankly, with sincerity, and without falseness. As a person and in my actions, I will not be fake and will not put on an act. Every time I speak, it will be from the heart—I will say what I think inside. If I have hatred toward someone, I will examine myself and not do anything hurtful toward them; I will only do things that are constructive. When I speak, I will not give consideration to my own personal gain, nor will I be constricted by my reputation or face. Moreover, I will not have the intent of making people think highly of me. I will only place importance on whether God is happy. Not hurting people will be my baseline. What I do will be done in accordance with God’s demands; I will not do things to harm others, nor will I do things detrimental to the interests of the house of God. I will only do things that are beneficial to others, only be an honest person, and a person that makes God happy.” Is this not change in a person? If they truly practice these words, then they will have truly changed. Their future and fate will have changed for the better. They will soon embark on the path of pursuing the truth, soon enter into the reality of the truth, and soon become a person with hope of salvation. This is a good thing, a positive thing. Does it require you to set your will or make a pledge? It requires nothing: Neither that you set your will to God; nor that you take inventory of your prior transgressions, mistakes, and rebelliousness, hurry to confess to God and ask His forgiveness. There’s no need for such formalities. Just say something true and from the heart, right now, immediately, at once, and do something solid, without lies or trickery. You’ll then have achieved something, and there will be hope for you to become an honest person. When someone becomes an honest person, they gain the truth reality and begin living as a human being. Such are they of whom God approves. Of this, there is no doubt.
February 5, 2022
a. Kong Rong features in a well-known Chinese story, traditionally used to educate children about the values of courtesy and fraternal love. The story tells of how, when his family received a basket of pears, the four-year-old Kong Rong gave up the larger pears to his elder brothers and took the smallest for himself.