What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)
Recently, I have provided fellowship on all kinds of sayings from traditional culture about moral conduct. Regarding certain specific sayings, I have fellowshiped a great deal. Now, does this subject and content have anything to do with the truth? (Yes.) Does anyone think that this subject and content seem unrelated to the truth? If they think that, then they are of truly poor caliber and lack even the slightest discernment. Has My fellowship on this subject been easy to understand? (Yes.) If I had not fellowshiped and dissected in this way, would you have mistaken these sayings about moral conduct that people regard as relatively positive for the truth and continued to uphold them? Firstly, I can say for certain that most people regard these sayings as positive things, as things that accord with humanity and ought to be abided by, and as being in keeping with conscience, reason, demands, notions and other such things relating to humanity. It can be said that prior to My fellowshiping on this topic, almost everyone regarded these various sayings about moral conduct as being positive and in keeping with the truth. After hearing My fellowship and dissection, are you now able to distinguish between these sayings on moral conduct and the truth? Do you possess this kind of discernment? Some will say: “I’m unable to distinguish between them, but in any case, hearing God’s fellowship, I now see that there is a difference between these things and the truth. They cannot take the place of the truth, much less can they be said to be positive or be the truth. Of course, it would be out of the question to consider them as being in keeping with God’s words and demands or criteria of the truth. They do not have any relation to God’s words, God’s demands or criteria of the truth. All told, regardless of whether they conform to the conscience and reason of humanity, I no longer worship these things in my heart and no longer consider them to be the truth.” This shows that these aspects of traditional culture no longer serve a guiding role in people’s hearts. When people hear these sayings about moral conduct, they will subconsciously distinguish them from the truth and will, at most, take them to be something that people approve of in their conscience. However, they know that these sayings are still different from the truth and absolutely cannot replace the truth. Once people grasp the essence of these sayings on moral conduct, they will stop regarding them as truth and abiding by, worshiping, or seeking them as such—this is the baseline effect achieved. Now what positive effects does understanding all of this have on people’s pursuit of the truth? It will certainly have a positive effect, but the magnitude of that effect will depend upon the degree to which you understand the truth or how much truth you know. Considering these points, it is clearly quite necessary to dissect these aspects of traditional culture that people uphold and which conform with their notions. At the very least, this dissection will have the effect of helping people attain a pure understanding of the truth and preventing them from being fruitless in their efforts or walking the wrong path in their pursuit of the truth. These are effects that can be achieved.
Last time we fellowshiped on and dissected four sayings about moral conduct, namely, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up,” “Derive pleasure from helping others,” “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” and “Requite evil with good.” Today, we will continue by fellowshiping on other sayings. Chinese traditional culture has put forward many explicit claims about moral conduct—no matter during which era or period of history these claims were originally advanced, they have all been passed down to the present and have firmly taken root in people’s hearts. As time has passed and new things have gradually arisen, man has proposed many new and different claims about moral conduct. These claims are basically demands made on people’s moral character and behavior. Are you all more or less clear on the four sayings about moral conduct we fellowshiped on last time? (Yes.) Now let us continue by fellowshiping on the next saying: “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid.” The idea that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid is one of the classic criteria in Chinese traditional culture for judging whether a person’s conduct is moral or immoral. When evaluating whether someone’s humanity is good or bad, and how moral their conduct is, one of the benchmarks is whether they return the favors or help that they receive—whether or not they are someone who gratefully repays the kindness they receive. Within Chinese traditional culture, and within the traditional culture of mankind, people treat this as an important measure of moral conduct. If someone does not understand that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid, and they are ungrateful, then they are considered to be devoid of conscience and unworthy of associating with, and should be despised, spurned or rejected by all. On the other hand, if someone does understand that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid—if they are grateful and return the favors and help they receive with every means at their disposal—they are deemed a person of conscience and humanity. If somebody receives benefits or help from another person, but does not repay them, or just expresses a little gratitude to them with a simple “thank you” and nothing more, what will the other person think? Might they feel uneasy about it? Might they think, “That guy doesn’t deserve to be helped, he’s not a good person. If that’s how he responds when I’ve helped him so much, then he has no conscience or humanity, and isn’t worth associating with”? If they ran into this kind of person again, would they still help them? They wouldn’t wish to, at least. Wouldn’t you, in similar circumstances, wonder whether you really ought to help or not? The lesson you would have learned from your previous experience would be, “I can’t help just anybody out—they have to understand that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid. If they’re the ungrateful type who won’t repay me for the help I’ve given them, then I’m better off not helping.” Wouldn’t that be your view on the matter? (Yes.) Generally, when people help others, what exactly do they think about their act of assistance? Do they have certain expectations or demands of the person they help? Does anyone say, “I’m helping you with no expectation of being compensated. I don’t wish to gain anything from you. Helping you when you encounter difficulties is just what I ought to do, and it’s my duty. No matter whether we have some relation to each other and whether you will be able to pay me back in the future or not, I’m just doing my basic duty as an ordinary person and I won’t demand any repayment. It doesn’t matter to me whether you repay me or not”? Do people who say such things exist? Even if there are such people, they are just fabrications and do not match up with the facts. There are so many made-up heroic characters in Chinese historical novels and the heroes fabricated by the country of the great red dragon in modern society are even more fictitious. Although the people existed, the stories about them were invented. Looking at it based on these facts, are you now clear about the origin of the saying “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” this criterion for judging people’s moral conduct, and from whom it derives? Perhaps some people still are not quite clear on this. Within this corrupt human race, people all have a kind of ideal and a certain expectation of human society. What expectation do they have? “If everyone gives a little bit of love, the world will become a wonderful place.” In addition to this expectation, people also hope that they are repaid and compensated for their loving hearts and the price they pay. On the one hand, this may be compensation in the material sense, such as a gift of money or a material reward. On the other hand, it might mean compensation in the spiritual sense—that is, bringing people spiritual fulfillment by giving them a reward to bolster their reputation that bestows a title like “model laborer,” “moral role model,” or “moral exemplar.” In human society, nearly everyone has this kind of expectation of society and the world—they all hope to be good people, walk the right path, and extend a helping hand to those in need, allowing people to gain their assistance and derive certain benefits. They hope that those who receive their assistance will remember who gave it, and the ways they benefited from it. Of course, they also hope that when they themselves are in need, there will be someone there to reach out a helping hand. On the one hand, when someone needs assistance, they hope that some people will show loving hearts to them; on the other hand, they hope that when those who show loving hearts fall upon hard times, they will also get the help they need. People have this kind of expectation of society and the world—actually, their ultimate aim is for mankind to abide in a harmonious, peaceful, and stable society. How has this expectation arisen? This expectation and associated claim have[a] naturally arisen because people do not feel safe and happy in this kind of social milieu. As such, people began to evaluate an individual’s moral conduct and the nobility of their character based upon whether or not they repaid others for their kindness, and the saying “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” which is a criterion for evaluating people’s moral conduct, arose out of this situation. Is it not quite odd how this saying came into being? (Yes.) In the current era, man does not seek and accept the truth, and he has become fed up with the truth. People are in a chaotic state and, despite living among each other, they are all unclear about what responsibilities they should carry out, what duties they ought to fulfill, and what place they should assume and what vantage point they should adopt when viewing people and things. Additionally, people are unclear about what responsibilities and duties they have to society and are unsure from what stance or perspective they should view and approach society. They lack an accurate explanation and verdict for everything that occurs in the world and they fail to find the right path of practice to dictate how they comport themselves and act. Faced with an increasingly dark, frightening world beset with fighting, revenge killing, war and all manner of unfair treatment, people pine for and expectantly await the coming of the Savior. Yet, they have no interest in the truth and no one actively searches for God or His work. Even if they do hear God’s utterances, they do not seek, much less accept them. People all live in this helpless state and all feel that society is incredibly unjust and even unsafe. Everyone is thoroughly sick of this society and this world and full of enmity toward them, but despite being full of enmity, they still hope that one day society will improve. What does an improved society look like to them? They envision a society in which fighting and revenge killing no longer exist, in which everyone interacts harmoniously, no one is subject to repression, suffering or the fetters of life, all can live a relaxed, unrestrained, comfortable and happy life, interact normally with others, treat them fairly and, of course, be treated fairly by others. Because in this world and among humankind, there has never been fairness. There are only ever fights and revenge killings, but never harmony among people. This has always been the case, no matter in which period of history. Faced with this brutal societal context and conditions, not a single person knows how to resolve these issues, how to resolve the fights and revenge killings among people, or any of the unfair and unjust situations that arise in society. It is precisely due to the fact that these issues exist and people do not know how to resolve them, what vantage or viewpoint they should approach these issues from, or what method they should use to resolve them, that they develop this sort of utopian vision in their minds. In this utopian vision, people are able to live together in harmony, and everyone is treated fairly by society and people around them. Everyone hopes that “people’s respect toward others will be returned tenfold; if you help me, I will repay you; and when you need help, there will be many people in society who can lend a helping hand and fulfill their social responsibilities; and when I need help, those that previously benefited from my assistance will come to my aid. This should be a society in which people help each other.” People believe that only in this way can man live happily, harmoniously and in a stable and peaceful society. Only in this way, they believe, can people’s struggles against each other be thoroughly eradicated and resolved. They think that once these issues are resolved, the expectations and ideals they harbor for human society in the depths of their hearts will be realized.
In the society of unbelievers there is a popular song called “Tomorrow Will Be Better.” People always hope that things will get better in the future—there is nothing wrong with that—but, in reality, will things really be better tomorrow? No, this is impossible; things can only get worse, because humanity is becoming increasingly evil and the world is increasingly dark. Among humankind, not only do fewer and fewer people gratefully repay the kindness they receive, but also, more and more people are ungrateful and bite the hand that feeds them. This, instead, is the reality of the situation now. Is this not a fact? (Yes.) How did things get this way? Why hasn’t the criterion of moral conduct “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” which is promoted by moralists, educators, and sociologists, had a constrictive effect upon men? (Because men have corrupt dispositions.) Because men have corrupt dispositions. But do those moralists, educators, and sociologists know that? (No.) They do not know that the root cause of the revenge killings and struggles between men is not due to a problem with their moral conduct, but rather, it is due to their corrupt dispositions. Men have no sense of the criteria by which they ought to comport themselves. That is to say, they do not know how to comport themselves correctly, and do not know what exactly are the principles and paths of comportment. In addition, men all have corrupt dispositions and satanic natures, live for the sake of profit, and put their own interests before everything. As a result, the problem of revenge killings and struggles between men is becoming increasingly serious. Can such corrupt men abide by criteria of moral conduct such as “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid”? Given that men have lost even the most basic reason and conscience, how can they gratefully repay the kindness they receive? God has always been guiding people, preparing everything they need to survive, supplying them with sunlight, air, food, water, and so on, yet how many among them are thankful to Him? How many among them are able to perceive God’s true love for mankind? There are many believers who, despite enjoying so much of God’s grace, fly into a rage, berate God, and complain about the injustice of Heaven as soon as God does not fulfill their desires one or two times. Is this not the way people are? Even if there are certain individuals who are able to gratefully repay the kindness they receive from some people, what problems will that resolve? Of course, the people who proposed this saying about moral conduct had good intentions—they were motivated only by the hope that men could resolve their enmity, avoid conflict, help each other, live in harmony, have a corrective influence on each other, show warmth to each other, and band together to help each other in times of need. What a wonderful society it would be if mankind could enter into such a state, but alas, such a society will never exist, because society is just the sum total of all the corrupt individuals within it. Due to man’s corruption, society is becoming increasingly dark and evil, and man’s ideal of a harmonious society will never be achieved. Why can this ideal society never be achieved? From a fundamental and theoretical perspective, such a society cannot be achieved due to man’s corrupt dispositions. In reality, momentary good behaviors, one-off acts of good moral conduct, and temporary displays of love, help, support toward others, and so on just cannot resolve man’s corrupt dispositions. Of course, even more importantly, these things cannot resolve the questions of how people ought to comport themselves and how they should walk the correct path in life. Given that these issues cannot be resolved, will it be possible for this society to achieve the harmonious state that people idealize and hope for? It is essentially just an idle dream, and the chances of it happening are remote. By advocating moral scriptures and educating people, these moralists try to encourage them to use good moral conduct to help others and exert a corrective influence over others, with the goal of influencing and improving society. Yet, is this idea, this aspiration of theirs right or wrong? It is certainly wrong and cannot be realized. Why do I say that? Because they only understand people’s behaviors, thoughts and viewpoints, and moral conduct, but are completely oblivious when it comes to more profound issues like man’s essence, man’s corrupt dispositions, the source of man’s corruption and how to resolve man’s corrupt dispositions. As a result, they propose foolish criteria of moral conduct like “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid.” Then, they hope to use this kind of saying, this kind of criterion for moral conduct, to influence mankind, influence generation after generation, transform man’s behavioral criteria, and transform the direction and goals for man’s behaviors, while at the same time gradually transforming the social climate, and transforming relations between men and relations between the rulers and the ruled. They believe that once these relations are transformed, society will stop being so unjust and so rife with fighting, enmity, and slaughter. This will be of some benefit to the common people, who will obtain an equitable social living environment, and lead more contented lives, relatively speaking. But the greatest beneficiary will not be the common people, but rather the rulers, the ruling class, and the aristocrats of every age. These so-called eminent personages and sages who promote moral doctrines continually use these moral doctrines, which are perceived by mankind to be relatively noble and in keeping with humanity and the sense of their conscience, to educate and influence people, and to transform their moral outlooks, so that they will voluntarily live in a social environment that is civilized or has certain moral standards. This benefits the everyday lives of common people in one respect, as it makes the social environment in which they live more harmonious, peaceable, and civilized. In another respect, this also creates more favorable conditions for the rulers to govern over the people. These sayings that convey criteria for moral conduct are in keeping with most people’s ideas and notions, and they also conform to people’s utopian visions of a glorious future. Of course, their main intent in promoting these sayings is to create more favorable conditions for the rulers to govern. Under such conditions, the common people will not cause trouble, will live in harmony and without conflict, and will all be able to willingly abide by the moral criteria that govern social behavior. To put it plainly, the intent of promoting these sayings is to make it so that the ruled subjects of the state, the common masses, act obediently and properly under the constraints of society’s moral criteria, learn to obey rules, and become docile citizens. Would the rulers not then be relatively at ease and reassured? If the rulers didn’t have to worry about the masses rising up against them and usurping their authority, would this not give rise to a so-called harmonious society? Would this not cement the political power of the rulers? This is basically the origin of these moral scriptures and the context in which they have arisen. To put it charitably, it was in order to regulate the behaviors and moral conduct of the masses that some basic criteria for social morality were formulated for them. That is to say, these sayings are for the sake of individuals; in essence they are actually promoted for the sake of the stability of society and the country, and to enable the rulers to govern for a long time, in perpetuity. This is the true aim of so-called moralists in promoting traditional culture. The rulers do not actually care about the well-being of the masses, and even when they do seem to care, they just do so in order to maintain the stability of their political power. They only care about their own happiness, the stability of their power and status, their ability to rule over the masses in perpetuity and the possibility of ruling over even more countries, with the eventual goal of taking over the entire world. These are the motives and intentions of devil kings. For instance, some people say: “We come from a long line of peasants, who toiled as long-term hired farm hands working for landowners and never had any land to call their own. After the establishment of the PRC, the Communist Party brought down the landowners and the capitalists, gave us our own plot of land, and we went from being peasants to owners. We owe everything to the Communist Party, they are the saviors of the Chinese people, and we must gratefully repay their kindness and not be unappreciative. Some people want to rise up against the Communist Party—how ungrateful they are! Are they not biting the hand that feeds them? People should not be so lacking in conscience and forgetful of their roots!” What is implied in this statement is that no matter what kind of living environment you currently reside in, no matter what kind of treatment you have been subjected to, and whether or not your human rights are guaranteed, or your right to exist is under threat or has been stripped away, you must always remember to gratefully repay the kindness you have received and not forget your roots. You should not act like a nasty, ungrateful person and should continually and perpetually repay their kindness with no expectation of remuneration. Aren’t such people still living as slaves? They think that they used to be slaves to landowners and capitalists, but did the capitalists and landowners really exploit the common people? Were peasants actually worse off then compared with people now? No, this is a lie fabricated by the Communist Party. The facts and reality of the situation are now coming to light, little by little. Their claim that the capitalists exploited the sweat and toil of so many common people and the story of the “White-haired Girl” are all fabrications and falsehoods—none of it is true. What is the goal of these fabrications and falsehoods? To make people hate those landowners and capitalists and perpetually sing the praises of the Communist Party and submit to them forever. In the past, many people would sing the song “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China.” This song was sung in every corner of China for several decades, but now no one sings it. There are just too many examples of the Communist Party’s fabrications and falsehoods, all of which run counter to the objective facts. Now some people are exposing the truth publicly to show everyone the reality of the situation. In human society, whatever the era, the criterion of moral conduct “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” has always had a degree of effectiveness in constraining people’s behaviors and serving as a benchmark for people’s humanity. Of course, a more important effect of such a saying is that it has been used to help rulers bolster their reign over the masses. In a certain sense, this saying can be claimed to serve as a way of constraining people’s behaviors and moral conduct, making people think about and view problems within the framework of this criterion of moral conduct and then make judgments and choices based on this criterion. It does not exhort people to fulfill all the responsibilities that people should fulfill, both to their family and to society at large, but rather, in severe violation of the norms and desires of normal humanity, it forcibly tells people what to think and how to think, what to do and how to do it. This saying acts as a sort of imperceptible method and invisible framework to guide, restrict, and fetter people and inform them what they should and should not do. The goal of this is to use this kind of public opinion and criterion for social morality to influence people’s thoughts, viewpoints, and the ways they comport themselves and act.
Statements on moral conduct like “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” do not tell people exactly what their responsibilities are within society and among mankind. Instead, they are a way of binding or forcing people to act and think in a certain way, regardless of whether they want to or not, and no matter the circumstances or context in which these acts of kindness befall them. There are plenty of examples from ancient China of kindness being repaid. For example, a starving beggar boy got taken in by a family who fed him, clothed him, trained him in martial arts, and taught him all kinds of knowledge. They waited until he had grown up, and then started using him as a source of income, sending him out to do evil, to kill people, to do things that he didn’t want to do. If you look at his story in light of all the favors he received, then him being saved was a good thing. But if you consider what he was forced to do later, was it really good or bad? (It was bad.) But under the conditioning of traditional culture like “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” people cannot make this distinction. On the surface, it appears that the boy had no choice but to do evil things and hurt people, to become a killer—things that most people would not wish to do. But didn’t the fact that he did these bad things and killed at the behest of his master come, deep down, from a desire to repay him for his kindness? Particularly due to the conditioning of Chinese traditional culture such as “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” people can’t help but be influenced and controlled by these ideas. The way that they act, and the intentions and motivations behind these actions are certainly constrained by them. When the boy was put in that situation, what would his first thought have been? “I was saved by this family, and they have been good to me. I can’t be ungrateful, I must repay their kindness. I owe my life to them, so I must devote it to them. I should do whatever they ask of me, even if that means doing evil and killing people. I cannot consider whether it is right or wrong, I must simply repay their kindness. Would I still be worthy of being called human if I didn’t?” As a result, whenever the family wanted him to murder someone or do something bad, he did it without any hesitation or reservations. So weren’t his conduct, actions, and unquestioning obedience all dictated by the idea and view that “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid”? Wasn’t he fulfilling that criterion of moral conduct? (Yes.) What do you see from this example? Is the saying “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” a good thing, or not? (It’s not, there is no principle to it.) Actually, a person who repays a kindness does have a principle. Namely, that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid. If someone does you a kindness, you must do one in return. If you fail to do so, then you are not human and there is nothing that you can say if you are condemned for it. The saying goes: “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” but in this case, the boy received not a small act of kindness but a life-saving kindness, so he had all the more reason to repay it with a life in return. He did not know what the limits or principles of repaying kindness were. He believed that his life had been given to him by that family, so he had to devote it to them in return, and do whatever they demanded of him, including murder or other acts of evil. This way of repaying kindness has no principles or limits. He served as an accomplice to evildoers and ruined himself in the process. Was it right for him to repay kindness in this way? Of course not. It was a foolish way of doing things. It is true that this family saved him and allowed him to continue living, but there must be principles, limits, and moderation to one’s repayment of kindness. They saved his life, but the purpose of his life is not to do evil. The meaning and value of life, as well as man’s mission, are not to do evil and commit murder, and he should not live for the sole purpose of repaying kindness. The boy mistakenly believed that the meaning and value of life were to gratefully repay kindness received. This was a grave misunderstanding. Was this not the result of being influenced by this criterion of moral conduct, “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid”? (Yes.) Had he been led astray by the influence of this saying about repaying kindness, or found the correct path and principles of practice? He had quite obviously been led astray—this is as clear as day. If this criterion of moral conduct did not exist, would people be able to make judgments in simple cases of right and wrong? (Yes.) The boy would have thought: “This family might have rescued me, but it seems that they only did so for the sake of their business and their future. I am just a tool they can use to harm or kill anyone that disrupts or impedes their business ventures. This is the real reason they saved me. They pulled me back from the brink of death only to make me do evil and commit murder—are they not just sending me on my way to hell? Won’t this make me suffer even more? In that case, I would have been better off if they’d have just let me die. They didn’t really rescue me!” This family did not rescue the beggar boy out of a philanthropic urge and to allow him to live better, they did so just to gain control over him and to make him hurt, harm, and kill others. So were they actually doing good or evil? They were quite clearly doing evil, not good—these benefactors had become evil people. Are evil people worthy of being repaid? Should they be repaid? They should not. So, as soon as you find out that they are evil, what should you do? You should keep your distance from them, avoid them, and find a way to flee from them. This is wisdom. Some might say: “These evil people already have control over me, so it’s not so easy to flee from them. Escape is impossible!” More often than not, these are the consequences of gratefully repaying kindness received. Because there are just too few good people and so many evil people, if you happen upon a good person it is fine to repay their kindness, but if you fall into the hands of an evil person, that is tantamount to falling into the hands of a demon, of Satan. They will scheme against you and toy with you, and no good can come from falling into their hands. There are just too many examples of this throughout history. Now that you know that gratefully repaying kindness received is not a legitimate criterion for how to comport yourself and act, how should you act when someone bestows kindness on you? What are your views on this? (No matter who helps us, we should decide whether or not to accept their help based on the situation. In some cases, it is alright to accept help, but in others we mustn’t blindly accept their help. If we do accept help, we still need to be principled and set limits on how we repay their kindness, to avoid being deceived or taken advantage of by evil people.) This is a principled way of approaching the situation. Additionally, if you cannot see the situation clearly or are at a dead end, you must pray to God and ask Him to open up a path for you. This will allow you to avoid temptation and escape from Satan’s claws. At times, God will use Satan’s services to help people, but we must be sure to thank God in such cases and not repay kindness to Satan—this is a question of principle. When temptation comes in the form of an evil person bestowing kindness, you must first be clear about exactly who is helping you out and providing assistance, what your own situation is, and whether there are other paths you can take. In such cases, you must think on your feet. If God wants to save you, no matter whose services He uses to accomplish it, you should first thank God and accept it from God. You should not direct your gratitude solely toward people, to say nothing of offering up your life to someone in gratitude. This is a grave mistake. The crucial thing is that your heart is grateful to God, and you accept it from Him. If the person who bestows kindness on you, helps you, or rescues you is a good person, then you should repay their kindness, but you should only do what you are capable of given your means. If the person who helped you has the wrong intentions and is looking to scheme against you and use you to achieve their own goals, then there is no need to repay them at any cost. In short, God scrutinizes man’s heart, so as long as you don’t have a guilty conscience and you have the right motivations, it is not an issue. That is, before you come to understand the truth, your actions at least need to be in keeping with human conscience and reason. You should be able to approach this situation reasonably so that you will never be regretful of your actions, at any point in the future. You are all adults and have all been through quite a lot in the country of the great red dragon—has there been any lack of suppression, persecution, abuse, or humiliation in your life? You all clearly see how deeply corrupted humanity has become, so no matter what temptation you encounter, you must approach it with wisdom and not fall for Satan’s treacherous plots. Whatever situation you may face, you must seek the truth and only make decisions after coming to an understanding of the principles through prayer and fellowship. In these past few years, the church has been carrying out the work of cleansing and many evil people, nonbelievers, and antichrists have been exposed and cleared out or expelled. Most people never predicted that this would happen. Given that even within the church there are still so many muddle-headed people, evil people, and nonbelievers, I assume that you are clear on how corrupted and evil unbelievers must be? Without the truth and wisdom, people cannot see anything clearly and will just be deceived and hoodwinked, and toyed with by evil people and Satan. As such, they become Satan’s lackeys. Those who do not understand the truth and lack principles do only foolish things.
When some people are in difficulty or danger and happen to receive help from an evil person that allows them to extricate themselves from their plight, they come to believe that the evil person is a good person and they are willing to do something for them to show their gratitude. However, in such cases, the evil person will try to involve them in their nefarious doings and use them to carry out bad deeds. If they are unable to refuse, then it can become dangerous. Some such people will feel conflicted in these situations, because they think that if they do not help their evil friend in doing a few bad deeds, it will seem as though they are not sufficiently reciprocating this friendship, and yet it would violate their conscience and reason to do something wrong. As such, they get caught up in this dilemma. This is a result of being influenced by this idea in traditional culture of repaying kindness—they become fettered, bound, and controlled by this idea. In many instances, these sayings from traditional culture take the place of the sense of man’s conscience and his normal judgment; naturally, they also influence man’s normal way of thinking and correct decision-making. The ideas of traditional culture are incorrect and directly affect man’s views on things, causing him to make bad decisions. From ancient times up until the present day, countless people have been influenced by this idea, view, and criterion of moral conduct regarding the repayment of kindness. Even when the person who bestows kindness on them is an evil or bad person and compels them to do nefarious acts and bad deeds, they still go against their own conscience and reason, blindly complying in order to repay their kindness, with many disastrous consequences. It could be said that many people, having been influenced, fettered, constrained, and bound by this criterion of moral conduct, blindly and mistakenly uphold this view of repaying kindness, and are even likely to aid and abet evil people. Now that you have heard My fellowship, you have a clear picture of this situation and can determine that this is foolish loyalty, and that this behavior counts as comporting oneself without setting any limits, and recklessly repaying kindness without any discernment, and that it lacks meaning and value. Because people fear being castigated by public opinion or condemned by others, they reluctantly devote their lives to repaying the kindness of others, even sacrificing their lives in the process, which is an absurd and foolish way to go about things. This saying from traditional culture has not only fettered people’s thinking, but it has also placed an unnecessary weight and inconvenience upon their life and saddled their families with additional suffering and burdens. Many people have paid great prices in order to repay kindness received—they view repaying kindness as a social responsibility or their own duty and may even spend their whole lives repaying the kindness of others. They believe this to be a perfectly natural and justified thing to do, an unshirkable duty. Is this viewpoint and way of doing things not foolish and absurd? It completely reveals how ignorant and unenlightened people are. In any event, this saying about moral conduct—a kindness received should be gratefully repaid—may be in keeping with people’s notions, but it does not accord with the truth principles. It is incompatible with God’s words and is an incorrect view and way of doing things.
Given that repaying kindness is unrelated to the truth and God’s demands of men, and has been the subject of our criticism, how exactly does God view this saying? What kinds of views and actions should normal people have in response to this saying? Are you clear on this? If someone previously bestowed you with kindness that benefited you greatly or did you a big favor, should you repay them? How should you approach this kind of situation? Is this not a matter of people’s views? It is a matter of people’s views as well as their paths of practice. Tell Me your view on this matter—if someone is kind to you, should you repay them? It will be problematic if you still cannot fathom this issue. Before, you did not understand the truth and practiced repaying kindness as if it were the truth. Now, after listening to My dissection and criticism, you have seen where the problem lies, but you still do not know how to practice or deal with this issue—can you still not fathom this issue? Before you had comprehended the truth, you lived by your conscience and no matter who bestowed kindness on you or helped you, even if they were evil people or gangsters, you would definitely repay them, and felt compelled to take a bullet for your friends and even put your life on the line for them. Men should enslave themselves to their benefactors as repayment, while women should pledge themselves in marriage and bear children for them—this is the idea that traditional culture impresses upon people, commanding them to gratefully repay kindness received. As a result, people think, “Only people who repay kindness have a conscience, and if they do not repay kindness, then they must lack conscience and be inhuman.” This idea is firmly rooted in people’s hearts. Tell Me, do animals know to repay kindness? (Yes.) That being the case, can humans really be considered advanced just because they know to repay kindness? Can man’s practice of repaying kindness be considered a sign of humanity? (No.) So, what view should people have of this matter? How should this kind of thing be understood? After understanding it, what approach should one take toward it? These are the questions you should all aim to resolve at this moment. Please share your views on this matter. (If someone did really help me resolve an issue or problem, I would first thank them sincerely, but I wouldn’t be constrained or controlled by this situation. If they were to encounter difficulties, I would do what I could for them within my power. I would help them where I could, but would not force myself to go beyond my means.) This is the right view and this way of acting is acceptable. Does anyone else want to share their view on this? (In the past, my view was that if someone helped me, I should help them in return when they encountered trouble. Through God’s fellowship and dissection of the views “Derive pleasure from helping others” and “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” I have come to realize that one must follow principles when helping others. If someone has been kind to me or helped me, my conscience dictates that I should help them as well, but the help that I offer must be based on my circumstances and what I am capable of providing. Also, I should only help them resolve their difficulties and attend to life’s necessities; I should not help them commit evil or carry out bad deeds. If I see that a brother or sister is experiencing difficulty, I will help them not because they once helped me, but because it is my duty, my responsibility.) Anything else? (I remember the words of God who said, “Should anyone do us a good turn, we should accept it from God.” That is to say, whenever someone acts nicely toward us, we should accept it from God and be able to handle it correctly. That way, we can correctly understand this view about repaying kindness. Also, God says that we must love what God loves and hate what God hates. When helping other people, we must discern whether the person is someone that God loves or hates. This is the principle we must act by.) This relates to the truth—it is a correct principle and has a basis to it. Let us not speak now about that which relates to the truth, but rather let us address how people should approach this matter from the perspective of humanity. In reality, the situations that you may encounter are not always so simple—they do not always occur within the church and among brothers and sisters. Oftentimes, they occur outside the scope of the church. For instance, an unbelieving relative, friend, acquaintance, or colleague may show kindness to you or help you. If you are able to approach this matter and treat the person who helped you in the right way, namely, in a way that both accords with the truth principles and seems appropriate to others, then your attitude toward this matter and your ideas about it will be relatively accurate. The traditional cultural concept that “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” needs to be discerned. The most important part is the word “kindness”—how should you view this kindness? What aspect and nature of kindness is it referring to? What is the significance of “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid”? People must figure out the answers to these questions and under no circumstances be constrained by this idea of repaying kindness—for anyone who pursues the truth, this is absolutely essential. What is “kindness” according to human notions? On a smaller level, kindness is someone helping you out when you are in trouble. For example, somebody giving you a bowl of rice when you are starving, or a bottle of water when you’re dying of thirst, or helping you up when you fall down and can’t get up. These are all acts of kindness. A great act of kindness is someone rescuing you when you’re in desperate straits—that is a life-saving kindness. When you are in mortal danger and someone helps you to avoid death, they are essentially saving your life. These are some of the things that people perceive as “kindness.” This sort of kindness far surpasses any petty, material favor—it is a great kindness that cannot be measured in terms of money or material things. Those who receive it feel a kind of gratitude that is impossible to express with just a few words of thanks. Is it accurate, though, for people to measure kindness in this way? (It is not.) Why do you say that it is not accurate? (Because this measurement is based on the standards of traditional culture.) This is an answer based in theory and doctrine, and while it may seem right, it does not get to the essence of the matter. So, how can one explain this in practical terms? Think about it carefully. A while ago, I heard about a video online in which a man drops his wallet without realizing it. The wallet gets picked up by a small dog who chases after him, and when the man sees this, he beats the dog for stealing his wallet. Absurd, isn’t it? The man has less morals than the dog! The dog’s actions were in complete accordance with human standards of morality. A human would have called out “You dropped your wallet!” But because the dog couldn’t speak, it just silently picked up the wallet and trotted after the man. So, if a dog can carry out some of the good behaviors encouraged by traditional culture, what does that say about humans? Humans are born with conscience and reason, so they’re all the more capable of doing these things. As long as someone has the sense of their conscience, they can fulfill these kinds of responsibilities and obligations. It is not necessary to put in hard work or pay a price, it requires little effort and is simply a matter of doing something helpful, something of benefit to others. But does the nature of this act really qualify as “kindness”? Does it rise to the level of an act of kindness? (It doesn’t.) Since it does not, do people need to talk of repaying it? That would be unnecessary.
Let us now turn our attention to the matter of man’s so-called kindness. For instance, take the case of a kind person who rescues a beggar that collapsed from hunger in the snow outside. They take the beggar into their home, feed and clothe him, and allow him to live among their family and do work for them. Regardless of whether the beggar volunteered to work of his own free will, or whether he did so to repay a debt of kindness, was his rescue an act of kindness? (No.) Even small animals are able to help and rescue each other. It requires just a slight effort for men to perform such deeds, and anyone with humanity is able to do such things and rise to them. One could say that such deeds are a societal responsibility and obligation that anyone with humanity ought to fulfill. Isn’t man’s characterization of them as kindness going a little overboard? Is it an apt characterization? For instance, during a time of famine when many people may go hungry, if a rich person dispenses bags of rice to poor households to help them get through this difficult time, is this not just an example of the kind of basic moral help and support that should occur among men? He just gave them a little bit of rice—it is not as if he gave away all his food to others and went hungry himself. Does this really count as kindness? (No.) The societal responsibilities and obligations that man is capable of fulfilling, those deeds that man should be instinctively capable of doing and ought to do, and simple acts of service that are helpful and beneficial to others—these things can in no way be considered kindness, as they are all cases where man is simply lending a helping hand. Giving help to someone who happens to need it, at an appropriate time and place, is a very normal phenomenon. It is also the responsibility of every member of the human race. This is simply a sort of responsibility and obligation. God gave people these instincts when He created them. What instincts am I referring to here? I am referring to man’s conscience and reason. When you see someone fall to the ground, your instinctive reaction is “I should go help them up.” If you saw them fall but pretended you did not see, and you didn’t go to help them up, it would weigh on your conscience and you would feel bad for having acted this way. Someone who truly has humanity will immediately think to help someone up that they see has fallen. They will not care whether that person is thankful to them, because they believe this is what they ought to do, and see no need to consider the matter any further. Why is that? These are the instincts given to men by God, and anyone with conscience and reason would think to do this and be able to act in this way. God gave man conscience and a human heart—because man has a human heart, he therefore possesses human thoughts, as well as the perspectives and approaches he should have with respect to some matter, so he is able to do these things naturally and easily. He doesn’t need any help or ideological guidance from any outside forces, and he doesn’t even need education or positive leadership—he does not need any of that. It is just like how people will look for food when they are hungry or seek water when they are thirsty—it is an instinct and does not need to be taught by parents or teachers—it comes naturally, because man has the thinking of normal humanity. In the same way, people are capable of fulfilling their duties and responsibilities in God’s house and this is what anyone with conscience and reason ought to do. Thus, helping people and being kind to them is near effortless for humans, it is within the scope of human instinct, and something which people are completely capable of accomplishing. There is no need to rank it as highly as kindness. However, many people equate the help of others with kindness, and are always talking about it and constantly repaying it, thinking that if they don’t, they have no conscience. They look down on themselves and despise themselves, even worrying they will be reprimanded by public opinion. Is it necessary to worry about these things? (No.) There are many people who cannot see past this, and are constantly constrained by this issue. This is what it is to not understand the truth principles. For instance, if you went with a friend into the desert and they ran out of water, you would certainly give some of your water to them, you would not just let them die of thirst. Even though you would know that your one bottle of water will last half as long with two people drinking from it, you would still share the water with your friend. Now, why would you do that? Because you could not bear to drink your water while your friend stood by suffering from thirst—you just could not bear the sight. What would cause you to be unable to bear the sight of your friend suffering from thirst? It is the sense of your conscience that gives rise to this feeling. Even if you did not want to fulfill this kind of responsibility and obligation, your conscience would make it such that you could not bear to do otherwise, it would make you feel upset. Is this not all the result of human instincts? Is this not all decided by man’s conscience and reason? If the friend said, “I owe a debt of gratitude to you for giving me some of your water in that situation!” would it not also be wrong to say this? This has nothing to do with kindness. If the tables were turned, and that friend had humanity, conscience and reason, they would also share their water with you. This is just a basic societal responsibility or relationship between people. These most basic of societal relationships or responsibilities or obligations all arise due to the sense of man’s conscience, his humanity and the instincts that God bestowed man with at the time of man’s creation. Under normal circumstances, these things do not need to be taught by parents or inculcated by society, and much less do they require repeated admonishment from others telling you to do them. Education would only be necessary for those who lack conscience and reason, for those who lack normal cognitive faculties—for example, mentally challenged people or simpletons—or for those who have poor caliber, and are ignorant and stubborn. Those with normal humanity do not need to be taught these things—people with conscience and reason all possess them. So, it is inappropriate to vastly overstate some behavior or act as being a form of kindness when it was just instinctive and accorded with conscience and reason. Why is it inappropriate? By elevating such behaviors to this realm, you saddle every person with a heavy weight and burden, and of course this ties people down. For instance, if in the past, someone gave you money, helped you through a difficult situation, helped you find work, or rescued you, you will think: “I cannot be ungrateful, I must be conscientious and repay their kindness. If I don’t repay kindness, am I still human?” In all actuality, regardless of whether or not you repay them, you are still human and still live within the framework of normal humanity—such repayment will not change a thing. Your humanity will not undergo change and your corrupt disposition will not be subdued just because you repaid them well. Likewise, your corrupt disposition will not worsen just because you repaid them poorly. The fact of whether you repay and bestow kindness or otherwise has absolutely no connection to your corrupt disposition. Of course, regardless of whether or not a connection exists, for Me, this kind of “kindness” simply does not exist, and I hope the same is true for you. How should you regard it, then? Simply regard it as an obligation and a responsibility, and something that a person with human instincts should do. You should treat it as your responsibility and obligation as a human being, and do it to the best of your ability. That is all. Some people may say: “I know that this is my responsibility, but I don’t want to carry it out.” That is fine as well. You can choose for yourself based upon your situation and circumstances. You can also decide more flexibly based upon your mood at the time. If you are worried that after carrying out your responsibility, the beneficiary will continually try to repay you, and ask after you, and thank you so frequently that it becomes an inconvenience and a disturbance, and as a result you do not want to carry out that responsibility, that is also okay—it is up to you. Some will ask: “Do people who don’t want to fulfill this kind of societal responsibility have poor humanity?” Is this the correct way to judge a person’s humanity? (No.) Why is it incorrect? In this evil society, man must be measured in his behavior and have a sense of propriety in everything he does. Of course, it is even more necessary that he recognizes the environment and context at that moment in time. As the unbelievers say, in this chaotic world, people must be clever, intelligent, and wise in whatever they do—they must not be ignorant, and they certainly mustn’t carry out foolish acts. For example, in public places in some countries, people set up certain scams in which they stage a fake accident to then fraudulently claim compensation. If you do not see through their scam, and blindly act according to your conscience, you are liable to be fooled and get yourself into trouble. For instance, if you see an elderly woman who has fallen in the street, you might think: “I must carry out my responsibilities to society, I don’t need her to repay me. Because I have humanity and the sense of my conscience, I ought to lend her a hand, so I’ll go help her up.” Yet, when you go to pick her up, she extorts you and you end up having to take her to the hospital and pay her medical bills, compensation for emotional damages, and retirement expenses. If you do not pay up, you will be summoned to the police station. Looks like you got yourself in trouble, right? How did this situation come about? (By following one’s good intention and lacking in wisdom.) You were blind, lacked discernment, failed to recognize current trends, and did not discern the setting of the situation. In an evil society such as this, one has to pay a price just for casually helping up an elderly person who has fallen. If she really had fallen and needed your help, you should not be condemned for carrying out societal responsibilities, you should be praised, as your behavior was in keeping with humanity and the sense of man’s conscience. Yet this elderly lady had an ulterior motive—she did not really need your help, she was just scamming you, and you did not see through her cunning scheme. By carrying out your responsibility to her as a fellow human, you fell for her plot, and now she will not let go, extorting even more money from you. Carrying out societal responsibilities should be about helping people in need and fulfilling one’s own responsibilities. It should not result in getting tricked or caught in a trap. Many people have fallen prey to these scams and have clearly come to see how evil people are now, and how adept they are at cheating others. They will cheat anyone, regardless of whether they are strangers or friends and relatives. What a horrible state of affairs! Who brought about this corruption? It was the great red dragon. The great red dragon has profoundly and brutally corrupted mankind! The great red dragon will do all manner of immoral things to advance its own interests, and people have been led astray by its bad example. As a result, scammers and thieves now abound. Based on these facts, one can see that many people are no better than dogs. Perhaps some will be unwilling to listen to this kind of talk, they will feel uncomfortable about it and think: “Are we really no better than dogs? You are showing disrespect for us and looking down on us by always comparing us to dogs. You have no regard for us as humans!” I would love to view you as humans, but what kind of behavior have men displayed? In all actuality, some people really are no better than dogs. That is all I have to say on this matter for now.
I just fellowshiped about how people helping others out a bit cannot be considered kindness and is just a societal responsibility. Of course, people can choose which societal responsibilities they can fulfill to the best of their abilities. They can fulfill the responsibilities they are suited to fulfill and choose not to fulfill those they find unsuitable. This is a freedom and choice that man has. You can choose which societal responsibilities and obligations you ought to fulfill based upon your circumstances, capabilities, and, of course, the context and circumstances at that moment in time. This is your right. In what context did this right come about? The world is too dark a place, mankind is too evil, and society lacks justice. Under these circumstances, you have to first protect yourself, refrain from acting foolishly and ignorantly, and exercise wisdom. Of course, by protecting yourself, I do not mean protecting your wallet and property from being stolen, but rather protecting yourself from harm—this is of chief importance. You should fulfill your responsibilities and obligations to the best of your ability while also ensuring your own safety. Do not pay attention to gaining the respect of others, and do not be swayed or constrained by public opinion. All you need to do is fulfill your responsibilities and obligations. You should decide how to fulfill your duty based on your own situation; do not take on more than you can handle given your circumstances and capacities. You should not try to impress people by feigning abilities that you do not possess and you should not fear the disrespect, judgment, or condemnation of others. It is wrong to do things for the sake of satisfying your own vanity. Just do as much as you are able to, take on as much as your sense of responsibility dictates, and fulfill as many obligations as you are capable of fulfilling. This is your right. You do not need to force yourself to do things that God has not demanded of you. There is no meaning in following your conscience to do things that have nothing to do with the truth. No matter how much you do, God will not commend you for it, and it will not signify that you have borne a true testimony, let alone that you have furnished yourself with good deeds. For things not pertaining to God’s demands, but which people demand that you do, you should have your own choice and principles. Do not be constrained by people. It is enough if you do not do anything that violates your conscience, reason, and the truth. If you help someone by resolving a momentary issue for them, then they will come to depend on you, and believe you should and must solve their problems. They will become fully dependent on you and turn on you if you fail to resolve their issues even just once. This has brought you trouble and is not the kind of outcome you want to see. If you predict this kind of outcome, you can opt not to help them. In other words, it would not be wrong in this case to refrain from carrying out that responsibility or obligation. This is the kind of view and attitude you should have toward society, mankind, and, more specifically, the community in which you live. That is, just extend to someone however much love you have to give, and do as much as you are able to. Do not go against your convictions in an effort to show off, do not try to do things you are incapable of doing. There is also no need to force yourself to pay a price that the average person is incapable of paying. In short, do not ask too much of yourself. Just do what you are capable of doing. How does this principle sound? (It sounds good.) For instance, your friend asks to borrow your car and you think it over: “He has lent me things in the past, so by rights, I should let him borrow my car. But he doesn’t take good care of things or use them sparingly. He might even end up ruining my car. I’d better not let him borrow it.” So you decide not to let him borrow your car. Is this the right thing to do? It’s not a big issue whether or not you lend the car—as long as you have an accurate and insightful understanding of the matter, you should just take whatever you believe to be the most suitable course of action, and you will be in the right. However, what if you think to yourself, “Fine, I’ll let him borrow it. He never refused me when I asked to borrow things from him before. He is not so economical or careful when using things, but it’s fine. If my car is damaged, I’ll just spend a little money to fix it,” and then you agree to lend him your car and don’t reject him—is this the right thing to do? There is nothing wrong with this either. For example, if someone who had previously helped you comes to you when their family has encountered some difficulties, should you help or not? This depends on your own situation, and your decision to help or not will not be a matter of principle. All you need to do is come from a place of sincerity and instinct and fulfill your responsibilities to the best of your ability. By doing this, you will be acting within the scope of your humanity and the sense of your conscience. Whether or not you completely fulfill this responsibility or do it well is not important. You have the right to agree or to refuse—you cannot be said as lacking a conscience if you refuse, and your friend cannot be said as having shown an act of kindness for helping you out. These acts do not rise to that level. Do you understand? (Yes.) This has been a discussion about kindness, namely, how you should view kindness, how to approach the matter of helping others, and how you should fulfill your societal responsibilities. In these matters, people must seek the truth principles—you cannot resolve these issues just by relying on your conscience and reason. Some special circumstances can be quite complicated, and if you do not handle them in accordance with the truth principles, you are liable to bring about trouble and negative consequences. Thus, in these matters, God’s chosen people must understand His will and act with humanity, reason, wisdom, and the truth principles. This would be the most appropriate approach.
With regard to the saying “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” another situation that may arise is that the help you receive is not some small matter like a bottle of water, a handful of vegetables, or a sack of rice, but a form of assistance that affects you and your family’s livelihood, and which even has implications for your destiny and future prospects. For instance, someone may give you some tutoring or financial aid that enables you to attend a good university, find a good job, marry well, and have a whole series of good things happen in your life. This is not just a small favor or a trifling bit of help—many people view this kind of thing as an act of great kindness. How should you approach this kind of situation? Such forms of assistance are related to societal responsibility and the obligations man carries out that we just discussed, but because they have implications for man’s survival, fate, and future prospects, they are far more valuable than a mere bottle of water or a sack of rice—they have a much greater effect on people’s lives, their livelihoods and their time on this earth. As such, their value is much greater. Now, should these forms of assistance be elevated to the level of kindness? Just the same, I do not recommend viewing these kinds of help as kindness. Given that these forms of help should not be taken as kindness, then what is a suitable and proper way to deal with this kind of situation? Is this not a problem that men face? For instance, perhaps someone diverted you from a life of crime, set you straight, and got you a job in a legitimate line of work, allowing you to lead a good life, get married and settle down, and change your fate for the better. Or, perhaps, when you were in a difficult situation and feeling down and out, a good person gave you some help and guidance, which changed your future prospects in a positive way, allowing you to rise above the rest and lead a good life. How should you approach such situations? Should you remember their kindness and repay them? Should you find ways to compensate and requite them? In this case, you should allow principles to guide your decisions, should you not? You should determine what kind of person your helper is. If they are a good, positive person, then in addition to saying “thank you” to them, you can continue interacting normally with them, become friends and then, when they need help, you can fulfill your responsibility and obligation to the best of your ability. However, this fulfillment of responsibility and obligation should not be an unconditional form of giving, but should rather be limited by what you are able to do given your circumstances. This is the appropriate way to treat such people in these situations. There is no difference in level between the two of you—although they helped you and bestowed kindness on you, they still cannot be called your savior, because only God can save mankind. All they did was to act through God’s sovereignty and arrangements to lend you a hand—this certainly does not mean they are superior to you, much less does it mean they own you and can manipulate you and control you. They have no right to hold sway over your fate and should not criticize or remark upon your life; you are still equals. Given that you are equals, you can interact with each other as friends and, when appropriate, you can help them to the best of your ability. This is still fulfilling your societal responsibility and obligation within the scope of humanity and doing what you ought to do on the basis and within the scope of humanity—you are carrying out your responsibilities and obligations in a targeted way. Why should you do this? They helped you in the past and allowed you to reap benefits and make substantial gains, so the sense of conscience that comes from your humanity dictates that you should treat them as a friend. Some people will ask: “Can I treat them as a close confidant?” This depends on how the two of you get along, and whether your humanity and preferences, as well as what you seek and how you view the world, are similar. The answer will depend on yourself. Now in this unique kind of relationship, should you repay your benefactor with your life? Given that they helped you so much and had such a tremendous influence on you, should you repay them with your life? This is not necessary. You are the eternal owner of your own life—God gave you your life, and it is yours and no one else’s to manage. There is no need to carelessly allow someone else to manage your life due to this context and situation. This is an extremely foolish way of doing things and is, of course, also irrational. No matter how close you are as friends or how strong a bond you have, you can only carry out your responsibility as a person, interact normally and provide aid to each other within the scope of humanity and reason. This level of relationship is more rational and equal. The ultimate reason you became friends is basically because the person once helped you, and so you felt that they were worth having as a friend and that they met the standard you demand of your friends. It was only for this reason that you were willing to be friends with them. Consider, also, this situation: Someone helped you in the past, was kind to you in certain ways and had an impact on your life or some major event, but their humanity and the path they walk are not in line with your own path and what you seek. You do not speak a common language, you do not like this person and, perhaps, on some level you could say that your interests and what you seek are completely different. Your paths in life, your worldviews, and your outlooks on life are all different—you are two completely different kinds of people. So, how should you approach and respond to the help that they previously gave you? Is this a realistic situation that may arise? (Yes.) So, what should you do? This is also an easy situation to deal with. Given that the two of you are walking different paths, after providing them with whatever material reimbursement you can afford given your means, you find that your beliefs are just too divergent, you cannot walk on the same path, cannot even be friends and can no longer interact. How should you proceed, given that you can no longer interact? Keep your distance from them. They might have been kind to you in the past, but they swindle and cheat their way through society, perpetrating all kinds of nefarious deeds and you do not like this person, so it is entirely reasonable to keep your distance from them. Some may say, “Isn’t that lacking in conscience to act in that way?” This is not lacking in conscience—if they were really to encounter some difficulty in their life, you could still help them out, but you cannot be constrained by them or go along with them in doing evil and unconscionable deeds. There is also no need to slave away for them just because they helped you or did a big favor for you in the past—that is not your obligation and they are not worthy of that kind of treatment. You are entitled to choose to interact with, spend time with, and even become friends with people whom you like and get along with, people who are correct. You can fulfill your responsibility and obligation to this person, this is your right. Of course, you can also refuse to become friends with and have dealings with people that you do not like, and you need not fulfill any obligation or responsibility to them—this is also your right. Even if you decide to abandon this person and refuse to interact with them or fulfill any responsibility or obligation to them, this would not be wrong. You must set certain limits on the way you comport yourself, and treat different people in different ways. You should not associate with evil people or follow their bad example, this is the wise choice. Do not be influenced by various factors such as gratitude, emotions, and public opinion—this is taking a stance and having principles, and is what you ought to do. Can you accept these methods and claims? (Yes.) Even though the views, paths of practice, and principles I have been discussing are criticized in traditional notions and culture, these views and principles will vigorously protect the rights and dignity of every person who has humanity and the sense of their conscience. They will enable people to not be constrained and fettered by traditional culture’s so-called standards of moral conduct, and to break free from the deception and delusion of these falsely pious and specious things. These views and principles will also allow them to understand the truth through God’s words, live by God’s words and the truth, not be influenced by these public opinions on morality, and free themselves from the constraints and fetters of so-called worldly ways, so that they can treat people and all things according to God’s words and using correct views, and thoroughly cast off the fetters and misguidance of worldly things, tradition, and social morality. As such, they will be able to live in the light, live out normal humanity, exist with dignity, and attain God’s commendation.
What kind of change can sayings on social morality like “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” and “Derive pleasure from helping others” actually affect in men? Can they transform man’s status- and profit-grabbing satanic disposition? Can they transform man’s ambition and desire? Can they resolve the conflict and slaughter among men? Can they allow men to set foot on the right path in life and lead happy lives? (No.) Then what effect do these criteria of social morality really have? At most, do they just encourage a few good people to do good deeds and contribute to the safety and security of society? (Yes.) That is all they do, and they do not resolve even a single issue. Even if, under the conditioning of these so-called criteria of moral conduct, people were ultimately able to abide by them and live them out, this does not mean that they would be able to break free from their corrupt dispositions and live out a human semblance. For instance, say a person has done a favor for you, so you do everything you can to repay them—when they give you a sack of rice, you repay them with a big bag of noodles, and when they give you five pounds of pork meat, you repay them with five pounds of beef. What will be the result of your continuously repaying each other? Privately, you will both calculate who got the better end of the deal and who got the worse end, and this will lead to misunderstandings, fighting and scheming between the two of you. What do I mean by this? I mean that the requirement for moral conduct “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” not only constrains and misguides people’s way of thinking, but it also saddles people’s lives with many inconveniences, burdens and even distress. And if it turns you into someone’s enemy, then you are in for even more trouble, and unspeakable suffering! Engaging in these relationships built on give-and-take is not the path that people should walk. People always live by such emotions and worldly ways, which will ultimately only bring about a lot of unnecessary trouble. This is just self-torture and pointless torment. This is how traditional culture and claims about moral conduct implant themselves in people’s minds and lead them astray. Due to their complete lack of discernment, people mistakenly believe that these aspects of traditional culture are correct and they take them as their criteria and compass, strictly abiding by these sayings and living under the supervision of public opinion. Gradually and unwittingly, they become conditioned, influenced, and controlled by these things and come to feel helpless and anguished, and yet are powerless to break free. When God speaks out to expose and judge these aspects of traditional culture that are inside people, it even upsets many people. When these things are thoroughly cleansed from people’s minds, thoughts, and notions, they suddenly feel quite empty as if they have nothing to hold onto, and will ask, “What should I do in the future? How should I live? Without these things, I have no path or direction in my life. Why do I feel so hollow and aimless now that these things have been cleansed from my mind? If people do not live by these sayings, can they still be considered human? Will they still have humanity?” This is an incorrect way of thinking. In reality, once you are cleansed of these aspects of traditional culture, your heart is purified, you are no longer constrained and fettered by these things, you gain freedom and liberation and no longer have these vexations—how could you not want to be cleansed of them? At the very least, when you abandon these aspects of traditional culture that are not of the truth, you will be subject to less suffering and anguish and can do away with many of the meaningless constraints and worries. If you can accept the truth and live by God’s words, you will set foot on the right path in life and be able to live in the light. It might seem perfectly justifiable to uphold traditional culture’s standards of moral conduct, but are you living out a human semblance? Have you set foot on the right path in life? These aspects of traditional culture just cannot change anything. They cannot transform people’s corrupt thinking, nor their corrupt dispositions, and much less can they change people’s corrupt essence. They do not have any positive effects and, instead, cause man’s humanity to become twisted and perverse through their teachings, conditioning and influence. People clearly recognize that the person who bestowed kindness on them is not a good person, but they still go against their own convictions and repay him, just because he did a favor for them in the past. What causes people to repay others despite their own convictions? They do this because this idea of gratefully repaying kindness received from traditional culture has taken root in their hearts. They fear that if they do not go against their convictions and repay those who have helped them, they will be castigated by public opinion, and will be seen as ingrates who have failed to repay kindness received, and as mean, vile characters, and as people with no conscience or humanity. It is precisely because they fear all this and worry that no one will help them in the future, that they have no choice but to live under the conditioning and fetters of this idea in traditional culture of gratefully repaying kindness received. As a result, all people live perverse, anguished lives in which they act against their own convictions and cannot speak out about their own hardships. Is this worth all the trouble? Hasn’t this idea of gratefully repaying kindness caused people to suffer?
Regarding the saying, “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” I have just fellowshiped about what exactly “kindness” is, how God views man’s definition of kindness, how man should treat this kindness, how to treat those who have shown kindness to you or saved your life, what the correct perspective and path really are and how they should be positioned in your life, how people should perform their obligations, and how man should handle certain special circumstances and from what perspective they should be viewed. These are relatively complicated matters that cannot be made clear with just a few brief remarks, but I have shared with you the key issues, the essence of the issues on this topic, and so on. Should you encounter this kind of issue again, do you not now feel that you are more or less clear on what viewpoint you should adopt and what path of practice you should take? Some people say, “In theory, I am clear, but men are of flesh and blood. Living in this world, we are bound to be influenced by these moral criteria and swayed by public opinion. Many people live in this way, valuing acts of kindness and gratefully repaying any kindness received. If I do not live in this way, I will definitely be castigated and spurned by others. I fear that people will denounce me as inhuman, living like a pariah, and I can’t bear that.” What is the problem here? Why are people constrained by this? Is this an easy problem to resolve? It is, and I will tell you how. If you feel you would live like a social pariah when you did not live according to the traditional culture’s view that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid; if you feel that you no longer resemble a traditional Chinese person, that by straying from traditional culture you are not living like a human and lack the traits that make you human; if you worry that you won’t fit into Chinese society, that you will be despised by fellow Chinese people and seen by them as a rotten apple; then choose to follow societal trends—no one is forcing you and no one will condemn you. However, if you feel that living according to how traditional culture dictates and always valuing acts of kindness hasn’t brought you much benefit over the years, has been a tiring way to live, and if you are determined to let go of this lifestyle and to try to view people and things and comport yourself and act all according to My words, then that would, of course, be even better. Even though you now understand these things in principle and have a good grasp of the situation, how exactly you view people and things and how you live and comport yourself going forward are your own affairs. To what degree you can accept what I have said, to what extent you can put it all into practice, and how far you will take it are your choice and are all up to you. I am not forcing you. I am merely showing you the way. However, one thing is for sure: I’ll tell you the truth in saying if you live according to traditional culture, you will live an increasingly inhuman and undignified life, and you will find that the sense of your conscience will become more and more desensitized. Gradually, you’ll live a miserable life where you’ll resemble neither human nor ghost. However, if you practice according to My words and the principles of which I have spoken, I guarantee you will live with ever more human likeness, conscience, reason and dignity—this is certain. When you later encounter such situations, you will be able to live free and liberated and will feel peaceful and joyous. The shadows and burdens in your heart will diminish, and you will feel confident and be able to stand tall. You will no longer be plagued, deluded, or influenced by the ways of the secular world, and you will live with dignity. Every day you will feel grounded and will treat and handle each and every affair in the most precise manner, avoiding numerous detours and a great deal of suffering that you should not have to undergo. You will not do anything that you ought not to do, nor will you pay any price that you should not pay. No longer will you live for other people. You will no longer be influenced by people’s perspectives and opinions. You will no longer be constrained by the opinions and condemnations of society. Is this not a life of dignity? Is this not a free and liberated life? It is at this time that you will feel that living by God’s words is the only right path in life, and only by living in this way does one bear the likeness of a human and have happiness. Living in the fog of traditional culture, you cannot see the path clearly and mistakenly believe you are on your way to some idealistic utopia situated in the world of man. Ultimately, however, you end up being led astray, and made a fool of and tormented by Satan. Today, now that you have heard God’s voice, discovered the truth, and seen the light come to the world of man, you have dispersed the fog and seen clearly the path and direction your life must take. You head forward with haste and come back before God. Is this not the grace and blessing of God? So, have you dispersed that fog now and seen the clear skies above? Perhaps you have already seen a glimmer and are moving toward the light—this is the greatest blessing. If you can hear the voice of God, accept and understand the truth, disperse the fog, abandon all these incorrect things in traditional culture, and remove all obstacles, you can set foot on the path to salvation. That is all I have to fellowship regarding the saying of moral conduct “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid.” Going forward, you can fellowship further about these words together, and you will come to a complete understanding. One cannot gain immediate entry to these matters after just one gathering for fellowship. Even though I have now concluded My fellowship on this saying about moral conduct, and you understand it in theory and principle, shedding these old, traditional notions is not easy in real life. You may still cling to these old ideas and struggle with them for some time. At the very least, it will take some time before you can completely abandon these aspects of traditional culture and fully accept the truth of God’s words. You must gradually experience, live through, and find confirmation in real life and when facing society and mankind. Through these experiences, you will gradually come to know God’s words and will comprehend the truth. In doing so, you will begin to benefit, derive advantages, and reap rewards, and you will correct your mistaken views and ideas about all kinds of people, events, and things. This is the process and the path of pursuing the truth.
Next, I will fellowship on the saying, “Sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others.” This saying refers to a virtue in Chinese traditional culture that is seen by people as noble and great. Of course, these opinions are a bit exaggerated and unrealistic, but regardless, it is universally recognized as a virtue. Whenever anyone hears about this virtue, their minds conjure up certain scenes such as: people putting food onto each other’s plates when eating together and leaving the best food for others; people allowing others to go in front of them when in line at the grocery store; people letting others buy tickets first at the train station or the airport; people yielding to others when walking or driving and letting them go first…. These are all such “beautiful” examples of “all for one, and one for all.” Each one of these scenes shows how warm, harmonious, happy, and peaceful, society and the world are. The level of happiness is so high that it is off the charts. If someone asks them, “Why are you so happy?” they reply, “Chinese traditional culture advocates for sacrificing one’s own interest for the sake of others. We all put this idea into practice, and it is not at all difficult for us to do so. We just feel so blessed.” Have such scenes crossed your minds? (Yes.) Where can these scenes be found? They can be found in the spring festival paintings that used to be posted on walls during Chinese New Year before the 1990s. They can be found in people’s minds and even in so-called mirages, or castles in the sky. In short, such scenes do not exist in real life. “Sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others” is, of course, also a demand made by moralists with regard to moral criteria. It is a saying regarding man’s moral conduct which demands that people should first consider others over themselves before acting. They should first consider other people’s interests and not their own. They should think about others and learn to sacrifice themselves—that is, they must abandon their own interests, demands, desires, and ambitions, and even go so far as to abandon all that is theirs and think of others first. Regardless of whether this demand is achievable by man, it must first be asked: What kind of people are the ones proposing this view? Do they understand humanity? Do they understand the instincts and humanity essence of this creature that is man? They do not have the slightest understanding. The people who put forward this saying must have been extremely foolish to place the unrealistic demand to sacrifice one’s interest for the sake of others on the likes of man, a selfish creature that not only has thoughts and free will, but is also full of ambitions and desires. Regardless of whether people are capable of achieving this demand, given people’s essence and instincts as creatures, the moralists who advanced this demand were truly inhumane. Why do I say they were inhumane? For instance, when someone is hungry, they will instinctually feel their own hunger and will not consider whether someone else is hungry. They will say, “I’m hungry, I want to eat something.” They first think of “I.” This is normal, natural, and appropriate. No one who is hungry themselves will go against their true feelings and ask, “What do you want to eat?” Is it normal for someone to ask another what they want to eat when they themselves are hungry? (No.) At night, when someone is tired and exhausted, they will say, “I’m tired. I want to go to sleep.” No one will say, “I’m tired, so can you go to bed and sleep for me? When you sleep, I feel less tired.” Would that not be abnormal if they expressed themselves in this manner? (Yes.) Everything that people are capable of thinking and doing instinctually is all for their own sakes. They are already doing quite well if they are able to take care of themselves—this is human instinct. If you are able to live independently, having reached the point where you can live and handle matters on your own, can take care of yourself, know to go to a doctor when you get sick, understand how to recover from illness, and know how to resolve all the issues and difficulties that arise in life, then you are already doing quite well. However, sacrificing your own interests for the sake of others requires you to abandon these necessities that you have in favor of the interests of others; to do nothing for yourself, instead being required to consider first the interests of others and do everything for the sake of others—is this not inhumane? As I see it, this downright deprives people of their right to live. The basic necessities of life are something you should handle on your own, so why should others sacrifice their own interests to do these things and handle them for you? What kind of person would that make you? Are you somehow mentally challenged, disabled, or a pet? These are all things that people should do instinctually—why should others abandon the things they ought to be doing and sacrifice their energy to do these things for you? Is that appropriate? Is not this requirement to sacrifice one’s interest for the sake of others just some big talk? (Yes.) How does this talk sound, and where does it come from? Is it not borne out of these so-called moralists lacking the slightest understanding of man’s instincts, needs, and essence, and their eagerness to boast about their moral superiority? (Yes.) Is this not inhumane? (Yes.) If everyone sacrificed their own interests for the sake of others, then how would they handle their own affairs? Do you really see everyone else as disabled, incapable of managing their own lives, as idiots, mentally challenged, or imbeciles? If you do not, then why must you sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others, and demand that others abandon their own interests for you? Even some disabled people do not want others to lend them a helping hand, but instead want to earn their own living and manage their own lives—they do not need others to pay an extra price for them or give them any additional help. They want others to treat them properly; it is a way for them to preserve their dignity. What they need from others is respect, not sympathy and pity. This is even more so the case for those who can take care of themselves, right? Thus, this requirement to sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others does not hold up in My view. It violates man’s instincts and the sense of his conscience, and is, at the very least, inhumane. Even if the aim is to maintain social norms, public order, and normal interpersonal relationships, there’s no need to demand in this unreasonable and inhumane manner that everyone go against their will and live for others. Wouldn’t it be a bit twisted and abnormal if people lived for others and not themselves?
In which circumstances is the requirement to sacrifice one’s own interests for the sake of others applicable? One such circumstance is when parents act for the sake of their children. This is likely to be done for only a limited time. Before the children become adults, parents should do their best to look after them. To raise their children into adulthood and ensure they live healthy, happy, and joyous lives, parents sacrifice their youth, expend their energy, put aside pleasures of the flesh, and even sacrifice their careers and hobbies. They do all of this for their children. This is a responsibility. Why must parents fulfill this responsibility? Because every parent has an obligation to raise their children. It is their unshirkable responsibility. However, people do not have this obligation to society and humankind. If you take care of yourself, do not cause trouble, and do not make trouble for other people, then you are already doing quite well. There is another circumstance where people with physical impairments are unable to look after themselves and require their parents, siblings, and even social welfare organizations to assist them in their lives and help them survive. Another special circumstance is when people or regions are struck by a natural disaster, and they cannot survive without emergency relief. This is a case where they need the help of others. Are there any other circumstances besides these, in which people should sacrifice their own interests for the sake of helping others? Perhaps not. In real life, society is fiercely competitive, and if one does not put every last bit of mental energy into doing one’s work well, it is difficult to get by, to survive. Humankind is incapable of sacrificing their own interests for the sake of others; it is already quite good if they can ensure their own survival and not infringe upon the interests of others. In fact, the true countenance of mankind is even more accurately reflected by the conflicts and vengeful killings in which they engage amidst the social context and circumstances of real life. In sporting events, you see that when athletes exert every last ounce of energy to show who they are and ultimately emerge victorious, not one of them will say, “I don’t want the title of champion. I think you should have it.” No one would ever do that. It is people’s instinct to compete to be first, to be the best, and to be on top. In reality, people are simply incapable of sacrificing their own interests for the sake of others. It is not within man’s instincts to have this need or will to sacrifice his interests for the sake of others. Given man’s essence and nature, he can and will only act for himself. If a person acts for their own interests and, in so doing, is able to take the right path, this is a good thing, and this person can be considered a good creation among men. If, in acting in your own self-interest, you are able to take the right path, pursue the truth and positive things, and have a positive influence on the people around you, you are already doing quite well. Promoting and advancing the idea of sacrificing one’s own interests for the sake of others is nothing more than big talk. It does not align with the needs of man, much less the current state of humankind. Despite the fact that the requirement to sacrifice one’s interests for the sake of others does not align with reality and is inhumane, it still holds a certain place deep within people’s hearts, and, to varying degrees, their thoughts are still influenced and fettered by it. When people only act for themselves, do not act for others, do not help others, or do not think of others or show consideration for them, they often feel condemned at heart. They feel an invisible pressure and sometimes even the critical eyes of others staring at them. Such feelings all arise due to the influence of traditional moral ideology rooted deep within their hearts. Have you also been influenced to varying degrees by traditional culture mandating you must sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others? (Yes.) Many people still approve of the requirements that traditional culture has, and if someone is able to abide by these requirements, people will think well of them and no one will reproach or oppose them, no matter how many of these requirements they fulfill. If someone were to see a person watch someone fall down in the street and not go help them up, everyone would be unhappy with that person, saying that person is so inhumane. This shows that the standards required by traditional culture that are applied to men hold a certain place in people’s hearts. So, if a person is measured based on these things from traditional culture, is it accurate? Those who do not understand the truth will never be able to fully understand this issue. It could be said that traditional culture has been a part of human life for millennia, but what effect has it actually achieved? Has it changed the spiritual outlook of mankind? Has it brought civilization and progress to society? Has it solved issues of public safety in society? Has it been successful in educating mankind? It has solved none of these. Traditional culture has not been effective at all, so we can safely say that its required standards that are applied to man cannot be considered criteria—they are merely constraints meant to bind people’s hands and feet, restrict their thoughts, and regulate their behavior. They make it so that no matter where man goes, he is well-behaved, follows the rules, has a semblance of humanity, respects the old and cares for the young, and knows how to respect seniority. They make it so a person does not upset others by appearing naive and impolite. At most, all these standards do is get people to appear a bit more presentable and refined—in reality, this has nothing to do with people’s essence and is only good for gaining a momentary approval from others and satisfying one’s vanity. You feel so delighted when people tell you what a good person you are for running errands for them. When you show that you can care for the young and elderly by giving up your seat for them on the bus, and others say what a good kid you are, and that you are the nation’s future, you also feel delighted. You also delight when you are lining up to buy tickets and you let someone behind you buy theirs first, and others praise you for being thoughtful. After following a few rules and displaying a few acts of good behavior, you feel that you are of noble character. If you believe that you are of a higher status than others after a few one-off good deeds—is this not foolish? This foolishness can cause you to lose your way and your reason. It is not worthwhile to spend too much time fellowshiping about this saying of moral conduct to sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others. The problems associated with it are fairly easy to discern, because it warps and distorts people’s humanity, character, and dignity to such a large degree. It makes them become more insincere, impractical, self-satisfied, and less capable of knowing how they should live, how to discern people, events, and things in real life, and how to deal with the various problems that befall them in real life. People are only capable of lending some help and relieving others of their worries and problems, but lose their bearings on the path they should take in life, are manipulated by Satan and become the subject of its mockery—is this not a mark of humiliation? In any case, this so-called moral standard of sacrificing one’s own interests for the sake of others is an insincere and perverse saying. Of course, in this regard, God just demands of men that they fulfill the obligations, responsibilities, and duties with which they have been charged, that they do not cause hurt, harm, or detriment to people, and that they act in a way where others can profit and benefit—that is good enough. God does not demand that people take on any extra responsibilities or obligations. If you can fulfill all your work, duties, obligations, and responsibilities, you are already doing well—is that not simple? (Yes.) This is easily accomplished. Given that it is so simple and everyone understands it, there is no need to fellowship about it in more detail.
Next, I will discuss the statement on moral conduct, “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral.” The difference between this statement and the other required standards for moral conduct is that this standard is directed specifically at women. “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral” is an inhumane and impractical demand of women proposed by so-called moralists. Why do I say that? This standard demands that all women, be they daughters or wives, must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral. In order to be considered a good and respectable woman, they must practice this kind of moral conduct and possess this moral character. What this implies to men is that women must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, whereas men do not—men need not be virtuous or kind, and much less do they need to be gentle or moral. What must men do? If their wives fail to be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, they can divorce them or abandon them. If a man cannot bear to abandon his wife, what should he do? He should turn her into a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral woman—this is his responsibility and obligation. Men’s societal responsibility is to strictly oversee, guide and supervise women. They must thoroughly embody their roles as superiors, they must suppress virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral women, serve as their lords and heads of house, and make sure that women do what they ought to and fulfill their rightful obligations. Men, by contrast, do not need to practice this kind of moral conduct—they are an exception to this rule. Given that men are an exception to this rule, this claim on moral conduct is just a standard by which men can judge women. That is, when a man wants to marry a woman with good moral conduct, how should he judge the woman? He can just determine whether the woman is virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral. If she is virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, he can marry her—if she is not, then he should not marry her. If he were to marry such a woman, others would look down on her and even say that she was not a good person. So, what specific requirements do moralists say that women must fulfill in order to be considered virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral? Do these adjectives have specific meanings? There is a great deal of meaning behind each of the four words “virtuous,” “kind,” “gentle,” and “moral,” and not one of these traits is easy for anyone to live up to. No man or intellectual can live up to these traits, and yet they demand that ordinary women do so—this is incredibly unfair to women. So, what are the basic behaviors and specific forms of moral conduct that women must display in order to be considered virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral? Firstly, women must never set foot outside the inner chambers of their residence, and they must bind their feet to a length of around four inches, which is less than the length of a small child’s palm. This restricts women and ensures that they cannot go wherever they please. Before marriage, women are not allowed out of the inner chambers of their residence, must confine themselves to their cloistered boudoirs, and must not show their faces in public. If they can abide by these rules, then they possess the moral character of a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral unmarried woman. After marrying, a woman must show filial obedience to her parents-in-law and treat her husband’s other relatives graciously. No matter how her husband’s family treats her or abuses her, she must put up with the hardship and criticism, like a faithful workhorse. Not only must she serve all members of the family, both young and old, she must also bear children to carry on the ancestral line, and all without the slightest complaint. No matter how much she is beaten or suffers wrongs at the hands of their parents-in-law and no matter how fatigued she gets and how hard she must work, she can never complain to her husband about any of this. No matter how much she is bullied by her parents-in-law, she cannot let anyone outside the family know and spread any gossip about her family. No matter how she has been wronged, she cannot speak out and must swallow the insults and humiliation silently. Not only must she put up with hardship and criticism, but she must also learn to meekly submit to oppression, stifle her indignation, and endure humiliation and the burden of responsibility—she must learn the arts of endurance and forbearance. Whatever fine foods there might be at a meal, she must first let other members of the family eat them; to show her filial obedience, she must first allow her parents-in-law to eat, then her husband and children. After everyone else has eaten and all the fine food is gone, she is left to fill her stomach with whatever leftovers remain. In addition to the requirements I have just discussed, in modern times, women are also expected to “shine at social gatherings as well as in the kitchen.” When I heard this phrase, I wondered, what are all the men doing if women are expected to shine at social gatherings as well as in the kitchen? Women must cook for the whole family, do chores and take care of the children at home, and go out into the fields and do laboring—they have to excel both at home and outside it, by getting all these jobs done. By contrast, men only have to go to work, then come home and idle away their time in pleasure and do not do any domestic chores. If something angers them at work, they take it out on their wife and children—is this fair? What have you observed from these matters I have discussed? No one places any demands on the moral conduct of men, yet women are expected to shine at social gatherings as well as in the kitchen on top of maintaining a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral character. How many women are able to fulfill such requirements? Is it not unfair to make such demands of women? If a woman makes the slightest mistake, she is beaten, insulted, and might even be abandoned by her husband. Women just have to endure all of this, and if they really cannot take it any longer, they can only choose to commit suicide. Is it not kind of oppressive to specifically make such inhumane demands of women, when they are physically weaker, and less powerful and physically capable than men? Of the women here today, would you not find it excessive if people made such demands of you in real life? Are men really meant to have control over women? Are they meant to be their slavemasters and drive them to endure hardship? Given this perverse state of affairs, can we not conclude that the saying “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral” is effectively causing rifts in society? Is it not clearly elevating men’s status in society, while intentionally diminishing the status of women? This requirement causes men and women to firmly believe that the latter’s social status and value to society is lesser than, rather than equal to, that of men. Therefore, women ought to be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, suffer mistreatment, and be discriminated against, humiliated, and deprived of human rights in society. By contrast, it is taken for granted that men should be the head of the household and reasonably demand that women be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral. Is this not intentionally causing conflict within society? Is this not intentionally creating rifts within society? Will not some women rise up in revolt after suffering mistreatment over a long period of time? (Yes.) Wherever injustice occurs, there will be revolt. Is this saying about moral conduct fair and just to women? At the very least, it is not fair and just to women—it just gives license to men to act even more brazenly, deepens the divides in society, increases men’s status in society and diminishes the status of women, while also depriving women even more of their right to exist, and subtly exacerbating the inequality in status of men and women in society. I can summarize the role women play at home and in society at large, as well as the kind of moral conduct they display, in just two words: punching bag. The saying regarding moral conduct that “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral” demands that women respect the family elders, love and care for junior members of the family, be particularly deferential to their husbands, and wait on them hand and foot. They must handle all the family’s affairs inside and outside the home, and no matter how many hardships they endure, they can never complain—is this not depriving women of their rights? (Yes.) This is depriving women of their freedom, their right to free speech, and their right to live. Is it humane to deprive women of all their rights and still demand that they fulfill their responsibilities? This is tantamount to trampling on women and casting a scourge on them!
It is quite obvious that the moralists who imposed this requirement on women, and cast a scourge on them in the process, were men and not women. Women would not choose to trample down their own kind, so it was certainly the work of men. They worried that if women became too capable, gained too much authority and had too much freedom, they would become men’s equals unless they were put under strict supervision and control. Gradually, capable women would gain higher status than men, stop doing their duties in the household, and this—they believed—would impact on domestic harmony. If individual households lacked harmony, then society as a whole would become disharmonious and this was worrying for the country’s rulers. You see, no matter what we discuss, the conversation always seems to return to the ruling class. They harbor evil intentions and wish to deal with women and take action against them—this is inhumane. They demand that, whether at home or in society at large, women must be utterly obedient, meekly submit to oppression, humble and degrade themselves, swallow all insults, be well-educated and sensible, meek and considerate, and put up with all hardship and criticism, and so on. Clearly, they just expect women to be like punching bags and doormats—if they were to do all this, would they still be human? If they really were able to abide by all these demands, they would not be human; they would be like the idols worshiped by unbelievers that do not eat or drink, are detached from worldly material concerns, never get angry, and have no personality. Or they might be like puppets or machines that do not think or react autonomously. Any actual person will have opinions and viewpoints on the sayings and restrictions of the outside world—they could not possibly meekly submit to all oppression. This is why women’s rights movements have emerged in the modern era. Women’s status in society has gradually risen in the last hundred or so years, and they have finally broken free of the fetters that once bound them. For how many years were women subjected to this bondage? In East Asia, they were subjugated for at least many thousands of years. This bondage was incredibly cruel and brutal—their feet were bound to the point that they could not even walk and no one ever defended these women against injustice. I have heard that in the 17th and 18th centuries, some Western countries and regions also put certain restrictions on women’s freedom. How did they restrict women in those days? They made them wear hoop skirts that were fixed to their waists with metal clasps and propped up with heavy, pendulous metal rings. This made it very inconvenient for women to leave the house or walk around and dramatically reduced their mobility. Women therefore found it very difficult to walk longer distances or to leave their homes. What did women do in these difficult circumstances? All they could do was acquiesce in silence and stay at home, and they could not walk longer distances. Going outside to walk around, see the sights, broaden their horizons, or visit friends was out of the question. This was the method used in Western society to restrict women—it didn’t want women leaving the house and coming into contact with whomever they wanted. In those days, men could ride their horse-drawn carriages wherever they wanted without any limitations, yet women were subject to all kinds of restrictions when leaving the house. In the modern age, fewer and fewer restrictions are now placed on women: Foot-binding has been outlawed and oriental women are free to choose who they want to be in a relationship with. Women are relatively liberated now and are gradually emerging from the shadow of bondage. As they have emerged from this shadow, they have entered society and have slowly begun to take on their fair share of responsibility. Women have achieved relatively high status in society, and enjoy more rights and privileges than before. Gradually, female prime ministers and presidents have started getting elected in certain countries. Is it a good or bad thing for humanity that women’s status is gradually increasing? At the very least, this increase in status has allowed women a measure of freedom and liberation—this is certainly good as far as women are concerned. Is it beneficial to society for women to be free and have the right to express themselves? Actually, it is beneficial; women happen to be capable of doing many things that men either do not do well or do not want to do. Women excel in many lines of work. These days, women can not only drive cars, they also can fly airplanes. Some women are also serving as officials or presidents presiding over the affairs of nations, and they are doing their jobs just as well as men—this is a clear reflection that women are equal to men. Now the rights that women should enjoy are being fully promoted and protected, which is a normal phenomenon. Of course, it is proper that women should enjoy their own rights, but it is only now, after the situation had been distorted for thousands of years, that it has once again become the norm, and that equality between men and women has basically been achieved. Looking at it from the perspective of real life, women are gradually increasing their presence in all social classes and in all industries. What does this tell us? It tells us that women with all kinds of different specializations are gradually putting their talents to play and contributing value to humankind and society. No matter how one looks at this situation, it is certainly of benefit to mankind. If women’s rights and status in society had not been restored, what kind of work would they be doing? They would be at home attending to their husbands and raising their children, attending to the affairs of the household, and exercising their virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral conduct—they would not be able to fulfill their societal responsibilities at all. Now that their rights are being promoted and protected, women can contribute to society normally, and mankind has enjoyed the benefit of the value and contributions that women have brought to society. From this fact, it is entirely certain that men and women are equals, and that men should not belittle or mistreat women, and that women’s social status should be increased, which all signifies that society is improving. Mankind has a more insightful, correct, and regulated understanding of gender now, and as a result, women have begun to crop up in jobs that people used to think they were incapable of doing. Not only are female workers now often employed in private enterprises, but it has become common for women to fill positions in scientific research departments, and the proportion of women serving in national leadership roles is also increasing. We have also all heard of female writers, singers, entrepreneurs, and scientists, many women have become champions and runners-up in sporting events, and there have even been female heroines in times of war, all of which proves that women are just as able as their male counterparts. The proportion of women employed in every industry is increasing and this is relatively normal. Across all trades and professions in contemporary society, there is less and less bias against women, society is fairer and there is true equality between men and women. Women are no longer constrained and judged by phrases and criteria of moral conduct like “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral” or “A woman must confine herself to her cloistered boudoir.” Women’s rights are relatively more protected now, truly reflecting the social climate of gender equality.
We only seem to see men demanding that women be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, but we never see women demanding the same of men. This is a terribly unfair way to treat women, and even somewhat selfish, despicable, and shameless. One could also say that it is illegal and abusive to treat women like this. In contemporary society, many countries have established laws prohibiting the abuse of women and children. In fact, God does not have anything specific to say regarding mankind’s genders, because both men and women are God’s creations and derive from God. To use a phrase spoken by humankind, “Both the palm and the back of the hand are made of flesh”—God has no particular bias toward men or women, nor does He make distinct demands of one or the other gender, they are both the same. Therefore, God uses the same few standards to judge you regardless of whether you are male or female—He will look at what kind of humanity essence you have, what path you walk, what your attitude is toward the truth, whether you love the truth, whether you have a God-fearing heart, and whether you can submit to Him. When choosing someone and cultivating them to do a certain duty or carry out a certain responsibility, God does not look at whether they are a man or a woman. God promotes and uses people, regardless of whether they are male or female, by looking at whether they have conscience and reason, whether they have acceptable caliber, whether they accept the truth and what path they walk on. Of course, when saving and perfecting mankind, God does not pause to consider their gender. If you are a woman, God does not consider whether you are virtuous, kind, gentle, or moral, or whether you are well-behaved, and He does not evaluate men based upon their virility and masculinity—these are not the standards by which God evaluates men and women. Yet, among the ranks of corrupted mankind, there are always those who discriminate against women, who place certain immoral and inhumane demands on women to deprive them of their rights, of their rightful social status, of the value they should have to society, and who endeavor to restrict and constrain women’s positive development and existence within society, warping their psychological mindsets. This leads women to live their entire lives in a depressed and anguished state, with no choice but to endure a humiliating lifestyle in these twisted and unhealthy social and moral environments. The only reason why this has occurred is because society and the whole world are controlled by Satan, and all manner of demons are wantonly deceiving and corrupting mankind. As a result, people fail to see the true light, do not seek God, and instead unwillingly or unknowingly live under Satan’s trickery and manipulation, unable to extricate themselves. Their only way out is to seek God’s words, His appearance and His work in order to achieve understanding of the truth and be capable of clearly seeing and discerning various fallacies, heresies, lies, and preposterous claims that all derive from Satan and evil mankind. Only then will they be able to break free from these constraints, pressures, and influences. And only by viewing people and things and comporting oneself and acting according to God’s words and the truth is one able to live out a human semblance, live with dignity, live in the light, do what one ought to do, fulfill the obligations one should fulfill and, of course, contribute one’s value, and complete one’s mission in life with God’s leadership and guided by correct thoughts and views—is it not very meaningful to live this way? (Yes, it is.) As you reflect back on how Satan has used the saying “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral” to place demands on women and restrict, control, and even enslave them for many millennia, what kind of feelings do you have? When all of you women hear people bring up the phrase “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral,” do you immediately feel opposed to it and say, “Don’t bring that up! It has nothing to do with me. Although I am a woman, God’s words say that this phrase has nothing to do with women”? Some men will say: “If it has nothing to do with you, then who is this phrase directed at? Are you not a woman?” And you will reply: “I am a woman, that is the truth. But those words do not come from God, they are not the truth. Those words come from the devil and from mankind, they trample women down and deprive them of the right to life. Those words are inhumane and unfair to women. I am rising up in resistance!” Rising up in resistance is actually not necessary. All you need to do is have the right approach to these kinds of phrases, reject them, and not be influenced and constrained by them. If, in the future, someone says to you, “You don’t look like a woman, and you speak so coarsely, like a man. Who would ever want to marry you?” how should you reply? You can say, “If no one marries me, so be it. Do you really mean to say that the only way to live with dignity is to be married? Do you mean to say that only women who are virtuous, kind, gentle, moral, and loved by all are real women? That can’t be right—virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral should not be the words by which women are truly defined. Women should not be defined by their gender, and their humanity should not be judged based upon whether they are virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, but rather, they should be judged using the standards by which God evaluates man’s humanity. This is the fair and objective way to evaluate them.” Do you now have a basic understanding of this saying, “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral”? My fellowshiping should by now have made clear the relevant truths of this saying and the correct viewpoints with which people should approach it.
There is another saying which goes: “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it.” I do not want to fellowship on this saying. Why do I not want to fellowship on this saying? This saying is similar in nature to the phrase “Sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others,” and there is something a bit perverse about it as well. How inconvenient would it be if one had to commemorate the digger of a well every time they went to take water from it? Some wells are adorned with red ribbons and talismans—would it not be a bit odd if people also burnt incense and made offerings of fruit there? Compared with the phrase “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it,” I much prefer the saying, “Future generations enjoy the shade of trees that were planted by past generations,” because this saying reflects a reality that people can actually personally experience and live through. It takes ten to twenty years for a planted tree to grow to the size where it can provide shade, so the person who planted the tree will not be able to rest in its shade for long, and only subsequent generations will benefit from it throughout their whole lives. This is the natural order of things. By contrast, there is something slightly neurotic about memorializing the digger of a well every time one drinks water from it. Would it not appear a bit mental if every person had to commemorate and remember the digger of the well every time they came to draw water? If there were a drought that year and many people needed to draw water from that well, would it not prevent people from getting their water and cooking food, if everyone had to stand there and reflect on the well-digger prior to drawing water? Would this be really necessary? It would just hold everyone up. Does the well-digger’s soul reside by the well? Can he hear their commemoration? None of this can be confirmed. So this phrase, “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it” is absurd and totally meaningless. Chinese traditional culture has proposed many such sayings with regard to moral conduct, the majority of which are absurd, and this particular saying is even more absurd than most. Who was it that dug the well? For whom did he dig it and why? Did he really dig the well for the sake of all people and later generations? Not necessarily. He just did it for himself and to allow his family to have access to drinking water—there was no consideration for later generations. Is it not, then, deceiving and misguiding people to make all later generations commemorate and give thanks to the well-digger and make them think that he dug it for all people? Therefore, the person who proposed this saying was just forcing their own thoughts and viewpoints onto others and compelling them to accept their ideas. This is immoral and will make even more people feel disgust, revulsion and loathing toward such a saying. Those who promote this kind of saying just have certain intellectual impairments that make it inevitable that they will say and do certain ridiculous things. What effects do ideas and views from traditional culture, like the sayings “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it” and “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” have upon people? What do educated people and those with a little bit of knowledge gain from these sayings in traditional culture? Have they actually become good people? Have they lived out a human semblance? Absolutely not. These morality experts who worship traditional culture sit on their high perches at the pinnacle of morality and make moral demands on people that do not accord in the slightest with the true state of their lives—this is immoral and inhumane to all who live on this earth. The moral viewpoints from traditional culture that they promote can turn someone with fairly normal rationality into someone with an abnormal sense of reason, who is capable of saying things that others will find unthinkable and inscrutable. Such people’s humanity is warped and their minds perverted. It is no wonder, then, that many Chinese people tend to say things at sporting events, public venues and in official settings that are a bit off and that people struggle to fathom. Everything they say is empty, ridiculous theory and does not contain the slightest bit of sincere or practical speech. This is the authentic proof, the result of Satan’s corruption of mankind, and the consequence of Chinese people being educated by traditional culture for many millennia. All of this has turned people who lived sincerely and authentically into people who deal in falsehoods, and who excel at disguising and masking themselves to deceive others, people who appear to be incredibly cultured and capable of eloquently opining on theory, yet who, in reality, have warped mentalities and are incapable of speaking sensibly or interacting and communicating with people—they are basically all of this nature. Strictly speaking, such people are verging on mental illness. If you cannot accept these words, I encourage you to experience them. This concludes today’s fellowship.
April 2, 2022
a. The original text reads “This claim has.”