Four Things That Endanger a Society

September 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discoveries, Discussion, Good Advice, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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September 18, 2013 | By Li Qing

Minghui.org

Around 2,400 years ago, about 10 nations coexisted in China, and each had its own king. One day, King Hui of the Wei Nation invited the other kings to his magnificent palace for a feast. Among them was King Gong of the Lu Nation (the nation where Confucius was from). When King Hui proposed a toast, King Gong told a story about the factors that lead to a nation’s destruction:

“Yidi was good at making wine, and she once gave some to King Yu, who tasted it and liked it very much. Nonetheless, from then on, King Yu abstained from wine and distanced himself from Yidi. Yu said, ‘I know some kings in the future will ruin their nations for greed for good wine.’

“When King Huan of the Qi Nation felt hungry one night, renowned cook Yi Ya prepared a delicious meal for him. King Huan really liked it and ate a lot, which made it difficult for him to wake up the next morning. King Huan then said, ‘Some kings in the future will lose their nations over their fondness for delicious food.’

“After King Wen of the Jin Nation obtained the beautiful Nan Zhiwei, he indulged himself in sensuous pleasure for three days before returning to his work on national affairs. He thus sent Nan away and said, ‘Future kings will ruin their nations for over indulging sensuously in beauty.’

“When King Zhao went up a tower to view the scenery surrounding his kingdom, he was deeply impressed by the great mountains and rivers. He was so impressed that he almost forgot everything else. He thus promised to never again forget his duties and warned others: ‘Someone in the future will lose his nation after exerting too much effort in building grand structures and being too moved by beautiful scenes.’

King Gong then concluded that any one of the four indulgences from the story could lead a nation to destruction. During this feast, however, King Hui had gathered all four types of pleasure, which could be an alerting sign.

King Hui heard these words and wholeheartedly agreed with King Gong.

Using History as a Guide

The story offers insight into the many examples of this kind from history. The Zhou, Shang, Qin, and Sui Dynasties all came to an end as a result of over-indulgences by their rulers. When kings have recklessly sought for physiological or material pleasure, they’ve doomed themselves for destruction.

Similar things are also taking place in contemporary China. Especially over the past two decades, seeking material pleasure has become a stronger and more accepted trend. Government officials now go all out in the pursuit of self interest. Officials in all spheres of society openly accept bribes at the demise of society’s well-being. Mass food consumption and untended waste from public works projects are skyrocketing at unprecedented levels. Prostitution, including the exploitation of under-aged young girls, is now commonplace. Moral degeneration on the whole has reached an unprecedented level.

After recognizing the communist regime’s corruption and inevitable deterioration, especially through reading the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party nearly 140 million people have publicly declared their intentions to quit the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated organizations. Such an occurrence is an encouraging sign for China and the rest of the world.

Chinese version available

CATEGORY: Traditional Art and Culture

Taken from: http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2013/9/18/142085.html

Do Our Thoughts Have the Power to Affect Reality?

June 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Discussion, Reflections | 1 Comment
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By Leonardo Vintini | June 12, 2013

A women performs the Falun Gong sitting meditation. Researchers found that meditation and positive thinking can produce long-term brain changes and development of positive traits. (Jeff Nenarella/The Epoch Times)

A women performs the Falun Gong sitting meditation. Researchers found that meditation and positive thinking can produce long-term brain changes and development of positive traits. (Jeff Nenarella/The Epoch Times)

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” —Attributed to Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.

Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.

Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.

But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.

Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.

If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.

“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”

Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.

Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.

For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.

Beyond Belief

Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.

However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.

Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.

Addicted to Emotions

Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.

The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.

Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.

Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.

“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.

Taken from: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/67071-can-the-mind-affect-reality/

By Doing Good We Benefit Ourselves

January 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | 1 Comment
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To the reader,

Enjoy this wonderful story from the Qing Dynasty (the last dynasty of China). It’s very touching. I hope this story will inspire compassionate thoughts in your life. Have a great day, and a wonderful new year!

Kind regards,
June Taylor

August 04, 2012 | By Chufan

(Minghui.org) A broker in the Qing dynasty, Mr. Zhang, crossed the Yangtze River from the north to Jiangning, also known as Nanjing, to collect a debt. He planned to return home for the New Year holiday right before the year ended. With his belongings on his shoulder, he left very early, but had to wait under the eave of a building in the market for the city gate to be opened.

After waiting for some time, Mr. Zhang got so tired that he gave up, put down his cloth bag filled with gold and silver, sat on it, and closed his eyes to rest. When the city gate opened, he rushed to the gate with his belongings on his shoulder, completely forgetting the cloth bag he had been sitting on. When he realized he did not have the bag with him, it was more than one li (~0.3 mile) away. He immediately hurried back to the site. But the marketplace was already crowded with people and his bag was gone.

Mr. Zhang frowned and hovered nearby, hoping that someone might return his bag. An elderly man appeared and asked what had happened. He listened, then invited Mr. Zhang to his home and said, “I found a bag on the ground when I opened the door this morning. I don’t know if it is yours.” Mr. Zhang replied, “Inside the bag are two envelopes, each with a certain amount of silver bullion. The larger one belongs to my boss and the smaller one is mine.” The elderly man checked the items in the bag, which were exactly as Mr. Zhang had described. He thus returned the bag to Mr. Zhang.

Mr. Zhang was moved to tears and wished to thank him by giving him his own silver bullion. The elderly man smiled and replied, “I would not have told you about the bag if I loved money so much. Do you understand?” Mr. Zhang asked the elderly man his name and left for home.

When Mr. Zhang was waiting by the river for the ferry, a strong wind suddenly started up. Many boats capsized, and many passengers were drowning. Seeing this terrible scene, Mr. Zhang had a compassionate thought: “I recovered the lost bullion today. Without it, I would have been dead. I indeed regained my life.” Using all of his own money, he hired people to rescue those who were drowning. Several dozen people were saved by his compassionate thought.

All the survivors came to thank Mr. Zhang for saving them. One of them happened to be the son of the elderly man who had returned Mr. Zhang’s lost bag to him. He was on his way home to Nanjing after finishing business in the north area of the Yangtze River. Mr. Zhang was surprised about this. He then told his own story to those present, and everyone was amazed at the miracle. They realized it must be the heavenly law of good is rewarded with good. Later, these two families became relatives by marriage.

In this story, the elderly man did not keep the fortune he found for himself and did not ask for a reward for doing a good deed. He not only saved Mr. Zhang during his hardship, but also planted a seed in Mr. Zhang’s heart to do good deeds, thus laying an opportunity for his own son to be saved later.

Can you imagine what might have happened if the elderly man had kept it for himself? Mr. Zhang might have killed himself over the huge financial loss, and in turn, would not have had the chance to save many people from drowning, including the son of the elderly man. Even if Mr. Zhang did not die and was compassionate toward those who were drowning, he would not have had the money to hire people to help rescue them. On the other hand, it would have been worse if Mr. Zhang had not cared about those who were drowning because of his own misfortune.

An old saying advises, “Doing good deeds without seeking repayment will inspire others to be compassionate and resolve your own tribulation; helping people in need will help them accumulate money to do good deeds and you will receive help from others.

Finally, the following saying provides sound advice, “It is better do small good deeds to build up fortune for the future than to sigh over the decline in morality; it is better to help others every day so that you might be helped in hard times than to sigh over degenerate morals.”

Story from Xi Chao Xin Yu by Xu Xiling and Qian Young, Qing Dynasty

Chinese version available

CATEGORY: Traditional Art and Culture

Two Ancient Stories of Honoring Teachers

October 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discoveries, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 2 Comments
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August 31, 2012 | By Zhi Zhen

(Minghui.org) The emphasis of discipline and showing respect to one’s teacher are traditional values found in ancient Chinese culture, and such sayings as “A teacher to a student is like a father to a son,” and “A teacher even for one day should be respected as a father forever” were common. A student looks to his teacher as a profound person akin to his father, thus calling him “gracious teacher” or “master.” Teachers impart ethics, knowledge and values to their students. They teach people proper manners for interacting with each other, and for handling things in society at large. While learning from the teacher, a student must not only clearly understand the principle of respectfully serving the teacher from his heart, but also faithfully performing what the teacher imparts to him. Below are a few examples of how the ancients respected their teachers.

Emperors Yao and Shun Honored Xu You

Xu You was a noble scholar in ancient China with high moral standards. He considered moral principles more important than personal gain, and according to the book “Zhuangzi” he was Emperor Yao’s teacher. The “Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals states that he was also the teacher of Emperor Shun. All three were considered to be sages.

The land of China was peaceful and prosperous during the reign of Emperor Yao. Although Emperor Yao appointed many wise persons to assist with the governance of the country, he was still worried about possibly overlooking many qualified people. To uncover those people, Emperor Yao often searched everywhere, including outlying villages and remote mountains. When Emperor Yao heard of a man called Xu You who was virtuous and had high morals, he traveled a long way to visit him. After a conversation, Xu realized that Emperor Yao was indeed the Emperor. Emperor Yao admired Xu for his profound knowledge in the universe’s principles, and asked him to be his teacher.

After returning to the palace, Emperor Yao thought of handing over his reign to Xu. He thus asked the Secretary of Agriculture to take care of the nation’s business and set out to invite Xu to the palace. When he met Xu in a low-lying area, Emperor Yao was very respectful to him and treated him as his teacher. Emperor Yao said: “I, your student, am poor in virtue and weak in ability. When I took over the country, I made a vow that I would rule it temporarily. I said that I would visit all sages and invite one of them to lead the country. I thoroughly believe that your ability and virtues are as bright as the sun and moon, and no sage can eclipse you. I am willing to give you the country. It will be good for the people if you accept this offer without hesitation.” Xu responded: “You have led the country to peace and prosperity and made people rich and happy. This credit is yours. If I were to take over credit and your job, wouldn’t it mean that I am doing it to gain fame?” Emperor Yao persistently tried to persuade Xu to take the position, but Xu firmly declined. When Emperor Yao when to visit Xu the next day, he was gone, and no one knew where he went.

Emperor Yao continuously searched for Xu and finally located him one year later, farming on the foothills of Songshan mountain. While working on the land one day, Xu heard someone approaching and yelling “Teacher.” Xu looked up and saw Emperor Yao. He was surprised and asked: “What does the Emperor come here for? Is there anything I can do?” Emperor Yao said: “I planned to let you be in charge of the country last time because I was afraid that my poor ability and virtue might mislead the people. It was unexpected that Teacher declined the position and left. I have now been sincerely asking anyone with sublime virtues to assist me in ruling the country. After carefully thinking, no one is better to do this than Teacher. I thus come again to sincerely ask you to become the head of the Nine States (these were the territorial divisions of the nation at that time). It will be fortunate not only for me but for everyone in the country if you accept the position.” Hearing this, Xu said: “I do not understand what you said. I have never heard of anyone being head of the Nine States, only the Emperor, and that is you.” Emperor Yao explained: “Originally, there was no such title. I created it for you to show my sincerity. Please accept it.” Xu declined again and moved away to live as a hermit in a solitary place, and could no longer be found. The people knew of this story and praised Emperor Yao for his generosity and humility, and Xu You for his virtue.

When Emperor Shun was farming at Lishan, he often gave away fertile lands to others because of his righteous virtues. Within six months, farmers were politely taking barren lands and also left the fertile lands for others. Emperor Shun was well respected in Lishan, so much so that he, instead of the government, was sometimes asked to judge and settle arguments. Because of him, many people moved to live in Lishan, causing this outlying area to gradually grow into a prosperous region. Everyone there called Emperor Shun the sage, adding: “Everyone the sage meets will indeed be assimilated. The sage teaches us justice and giving, instead of taking and corruption.”

When touring Chishan one time after farming, Emperor Shun saw an elderly man walking towards him. The man then suddenly tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. Emperor Shun rushed to help him and let him sit down to rest. Emperor Shun asked the man his name and where he lived. The man answered: “Why do you ask? I have not told people my name for many years.” Then the elderly man asked about his name. When Emperor Shen told him his name, the man smiled and said: “Oh! You are the one. I have heard so much about you. Alright, I will tell you my name, but just keep it between us.” After Emperor Shun promised repeatedly, the elderly man said: “My name is Xu You.” Emperor Shun immediately knelt on the ground and bowed his head to show his respect. He said to Xu: “Where do you live? I will walk you home.” Xu smiled: “That is very good of you. Thank you. I live on the other side of Chishan.” Emperor Shun replied: “It is my honor.” After talking to Emperor Shun at his home, Xu accepted the request to be his teacher. The next day, Emperor Shun presented a lot of gifts to Xu for accepting him as his student. Emperor Shun learned many principles from Xu You, which helped guide him to become a heavenly-inspired, benevolent emperor.

Zeng Shen Sincerely Complied with the Teachings

Zeng Shen became a student of Confucius at the age of 16. He was studious and sincerely compliant with his master’s teachings, and became the main successor and disseminator of Confucianism, playing an important connecting role between generations in Confucius culture. His motto, “multiple self-reflections daily,” meant that he repeatedly examined himself every day to determine whether he had done his best for others, been honest to his friends, or reviewed his teacher’s homework diligently.

There is a classical story called “Zeng Shen showing his respect,” in which Confucius asked Zeng one time when Zeng was sitting next to him: “Former kings had sublime virtues and profound theories that they used to teach their people. Do you know why people could live in harmony and there was no dissatisfaction between the kings and their subordinates?” Knowing that Confucius was going to teach him profound principles, Zeng immediately got up and stood beyond the edge of the mat. He then respectfully answered: “I am not wise enough to know the reason. Please teach me.” This was a demonstration of great respect for the teacher. People have later learned this etiquette from Zeng Shen.

After returning to the State of Lu from Chu with Confucius, Zeng farmed during the day and studied in the evening until midnight every day. He was poor because he did not hold any official position. The king of Lu heard the good virtues of Zeng, and decided to bestow him with a piece of land. Zeng declined the offer, citing that he could not accept the land without doing any work to earn it. The king’s envoy advised him: “Why don’t you accept, since you did not ask for it?” Zeng sincerely replied: “I often hear that a giver has pride, while a receiver is humble. Even though the giver is not prideful, how can I not be humble?” Knowing that, Confucius praised him: “Zeng’s words have proved his moral integrity.”

After Confucius died, Zeng and other students such as Zi Xia, Zi Zhang, Zi You and You Ruo went into a period of mourning for three years. At the end of the mourning period, they bowed in unison to Confucius’ grave and then left in tears. Zi Xia, Zi Zhang and Zi You then proposed: “Since You Ruo looks like teacher, we can make believe that he is Confucius and serve him as sincerely and courteously as we did Confucius. Doing so would show our respect for teacher.” Zeng became very angry and was opposed to the idea. He said assertively: “We should not do this. Teacher’s virtue was so clean, like being washed by the clear river water, and so bright, like being bathed by the autumn sunshine. His virtue was also as glorious as the vast universe. How can he be compared to someone who just looks like him?” They we astonished at what Zeng said, and were deeply moved by his sincerity to his teacher and his meticulous etiquette.

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A Cultivator’s View of the World: After Tens of Thousands of Cuts and Polishings, One Finally Becomes Something of Value

October 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Posted in Discussion, Good Advice, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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(Minghui.org) It says in Three Character Scripture: “Jade will not become jade without being carved and polished.” To be carved on is a painful process. Therefore, after long-standing endurance and patience, it usually will become something of value. According to legend, a long time ago a large temple was built in a city. The temple was very sacred and quiet. The only thing missing was a Buddha statue for believers to worship. So the faithful invited a famous jade craftsman to carve a Buddha statue so that they could express their admiration.

The jade carver saw that the believers were very devout, so he personally went to the mountains to select the stone. His hard work finally paid off because he found a superior stone. Because the stone was so large, he split it into two pieces, picked up one of them at random, and started working on it. As it was being carved, this piece of stone could barely tolerate the pain. It said to the craftsman, “It hurts terribly. Can’t you cut more gently? I have endured the wind and rain in the mountains, but I have never experienced such pain as this. Can you really carve me into a Buddha statue?” The carver responded, “Endurance is a process. As long as you are determined, there will be a new life at the end of the pain. Trust me and please continue to endure.”

The stone thought for a while and told the carver, “I’ll consider it. When will you be finished carving me?” The carver put down his chisel and said to the stone, “I’ve just started working on you. You will need to continue to endure for 30 days. After I am done, if people are not satisfied with my work, I will need to rework it and improve it. But if others are satisfied, you will become a Buddha statue.”

The stone became silent for a while. On the one hand, it thought about how great it would feel the day it became a Buddha statue. On the other hand, it could not bear the severe pain of being carved. After two hours it cried out, “This is killing me! This is killing me! Please stop using the chisel to carve me because I really cannot stand the pain anymore.”

The carver put down the stone that he had carved on only a little bit and simply broke it into four slabs that he laid down on the temple floor. He then picked up the other half of the stone and started working on it. After carving for a while, the craftsman curiously asked this piece of stone, “Don’t you feel any pain?” This second piece of stone said, “The last piece of stone and I were originally one piece. The intense pain is the same, but I will not give up easily.”

The man asked, “Why don’t you ask me to carve you gently?” The stone replied, “If I ask you to carve gently, the Buddha statue might not turn out refined, which would then be returned for reworking. It’s better for you to do it perfectly the first time and not waste anybody’s time.” The carver was impressed by the tough character of the second stone and was happy to continue his work. After 30 days of endurance, he had successfully carved a beautiful Buddha statue.

Soon after, a solemn and mighty Buddha statue was presented to the believers of the city. It was placed on the altar, and people admired and praised it. The temple became increasingly popular and welcomed an endless flow of people every day. One day the first stone, which had been made into stone slabs, asked the Buddha statue, “Why are you placed so high above to be worshiped, while I have to bear being trampled on by thousands of people every day?” The stone that was made into the Buddha statue smiled and replied, “It’s simple. You only had to go through a very simple process to become stone slabs. I had to endure numerous cuts to become a Buddha statue.”

Throughout history and in looking at human life, this situation is the same for everything in this world. In fact, the only difference between choosing to endure and seeking comfort is one thought. If one misses a given opportunity, one might face endless pain in the end. If one believes in the promise of the future and endures the test with tenacious perseverance, one will have a bright future.

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