Which area of truths would you most like to hear about during this time? Do you have any idea? Let’s first exchange some ideas about this. Once we’ve reached consensus, we’ll begin fellowshiping. I’ll give you several subjects to choose from. We’ll fellowship based on which one you choose. The first question is, How to know oneself? That is, what is the path to knowing oneself? Why must people know themselves? Is this a question? (Yes.) The next question is, What have people lived by during these years? Have they genuinely lived by the truth? Which states prove that people are not living by the truth? What is expressed in people that proves what they are living by? Is this a question worth talking about? (Yes.) The next question is one we’ve talked about before: What are dispositions? How many corrupt dispositions did we speak of before? (Six.) Which states are the specific expression of these dispositions? This is the third question. Now you may choose one. Which is the question you want to understand most yet understand the least, and is the hardest for you to get to grips with? You can fellowship about this. What was the result of your fellowship? (We choose the second question.) What was the second question? Read it out again. (What have people lived by during these years? Have they genuinely lived by the truth? Which states prove that people are not living by the truth? What is expressed in people that proves what they are living by?) OK, let us fellowship this topic.
Have a think—what does this topic touch upon? What is the focus of the question—“What have people been living by during these years”—that I asked you? The focal point is the word “what”—what, exactly? What is the question you should be considering? (What to live by.) Just what to live by. You should be pondering one word: “what.” What is covered by the word “what”? This is what you should be thinking about. In the most superficial sense, what do you understand in relation to the word “what”? What you ordinarily believe—that living by such things is not putting the truth into practice, and does not satisfy God’s will; it is the goodness of people, or what they believe—this is the scope of the word “what.” This is the subject we’ll be fellowshiping. What people ordinarily encounter in their lives, or what you’re capable of given your education, or what you’re capable of given your age, or what you’re capable of given the breadth of your life, or what you’re capable of given your experience—you can fellowship all of this. Has anything occurred to someone? Right now, is there the most fundamental understanding of this word in your brains? The most fundamental is, what you live by. You believe it is appropriate and righteous for you to live according to this thing, that this is accepted by God, close to the truth, the reality of positive things, after God’s heart, and in line with the truth. You believe it to be good. During these years, you have been living according to this in your belief in God, performance of your duty, and pursuit of the truth. What can you think of at the moment? (I feel that, in my belief in God, I will be able to perform my duty well as long as I pay a price. And as long as I am effective in performing my duty, I can be saved by God.) This viewpoint of yours is something you believe to be good: suffering and paying a price. So what difference is there between the viewpoint of suffering and paying a price and that of Paul? In substance, are they the same? (They are the same.) What is the substance of this viewpoint? It is a kind of imagining. During these years, you have been living, performing your duty, paying a price, believing in God, or engaging in any kind of life that involves belief in God according to something you imagine, according to what you believe is right. This is an imagining, it is what people live by. Anything else? First, you must determine that you believe that the foundation or basis of your actions is right, and that this is putting the truth into practice. What relates to this is this subject, do you understand? (I felt that it was very hard in the world. After believing in God, I felt God had saved me, that I should believe in God, I should do my duty and expend myself for God, that I did not belong to the world—I believe in God according to this kind of conscience.) This is the thing that drives you in the pursuit of belief of God, it is the foundation of your pursuit of belief in God, yes? Anything else? (I feel that a lot of worldly things have no value or meaning. I feel that nothing is more meaningful or valuable than believing in God and knowing God.) What is this? Can you tell what this is?
Most of what you’ve mentioned are things that are quite perceptual. They are not things you’ve come to know. How much of a connection do they have to the subject we’re going to be talking about? Is there a big connection? Most of what you’ve said is the understanding of belief in God and faith. After believing in God for these years, you have some perceptual knowledge of belief in God, some knowledge of belief in God based on your feelings. Regardless of whether what you know is relatively in line with the truth, or has no connection to the truth, most of it is like that. So just what does this topic relate to? Just what concerns the topic of putting the truth into practice? This is what we ought to be fellowshiping about. The quickest way is to start from a topic you all understand: Paul. We’ll start with Paul and then relate it to you, OK? (OK.) Why OK? Is there anything bad with this? What’s the advantage of this? Why are we talking about Paul? Do most people know the story of Paul? Who’s going to tell a classic tale, or say a typical subject concerning Paul? Who’s read the classic sections of the Bible about Paul—for example the most famous sayings often uttered by Paul, or the particularities and character of Paul, or what he was good at and his strengths. You can talk about any of these. (Paul studied under teacher of the law Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a very famous teacher, and this reflected very well on Paul; it was like graduating from a famous university.) To put it in today’s words, Paul was a theological student who graduated from a famous university—is it fair to say that? That’s number one. It is a subject that is fairly typical of Paul. Paul was a theological student who graduated from a famous seminary—this was his background, his level of education, his social status. Number two: What is a classic saying of Paul? (I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:7-8).) This is what drove him to finish the course. In the words of today, Paul suffered and paid a price, he did his work, spread the gospel, and preached the way of the Lord. What was his original motive for doing this? What did he do it for? (For the crown.) This is number two. Continue. (Ultimately, he said that for him to live was Christ.) For him to live is Christ. This is also one of Paul’s classic sayings. Anything else? Say something about Paul’s humanity, gifts, strengths, and intellect. For example, Paul spoke of a subject unknown to many people. He was aware of a subject that many theological students, and even priests, were ignorant of, for he knew more than others. This means that he knew more than others. Speak of the evidence of this. We just covered three points. The first was, Paul was a theological student who graduated from a famous seminary. What does “famous” mean? “Famous” means that the school he graduated from—the school he was taught in—was renowned. Those who graduated from this school undoubtedly had a higher social status than most people. In addition, in terms of expertise, was the expertise imparted by this school likely to be more wide-ranging and profound than most schools? And so, since Paul had graduated from this school, did he have more theological expertise than most people? So he had also read more theological books than most people, yes? Such was the educational background of Paul. What effect did possessing such an educational background have when he went on to spread the gospel and shepherd the churches? Was it beneficial or detrimental? Did it help? Some of you are saying “yes.” I don’t know what you mean by this—are you saying it did, or that you don’t know? Did it? What was the next one? (I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:7-8).) What do these words say about Paul? (That Paul lived by them.) He lived and pursued according to these words. So could it be said that this was the motivation that drove Paul to fight the good fight and suffer and pay a price? Simply put, what was Paul’s motivation? (Being rewarded and gaining the crown.) Being rewarded—which is to say, he ran about, paid a price, and fought the good fight in exchange for the crown of righteousness. So what did he live by during those years? Did he live by such a motivation, did he live driven by these words? So if he departed from these words, if there hadn’t been these words, and he had instead said “I have finished the course, I have fought the fight, and everything that remains is in God’s hands”—if he had such a motivation, such a conviction or vision, would he have done the work that he did? Would he have paid such a price? Given Paul’s character, pursuit, motivations and ambitions, would he have paid such a price? If the Lord Jesus had told him in advance, “You have persecuted me whilst I have been working on earth. You have already been punished and cursed—whatever you do, you will be unable to make up for this wrongdoing, nor for this mistake; no matter how much you repent I shall not save you,” what attitude would Paul have had? (He would have forsaken God and stopped believing in God.) Not only would he not have believed in God, he would also have denied God, denied that the Lord Jesus was Christ, and denied the existence of God in heaven—yes? So what was I just saying? What did Paul live by? (The motivation to be blessed.) The motivation to be blessed. To put it plainly, all his running about was directed by the desire to be blessed. If he did not have the desire to be blessed—if he didn’t have that thread of hope—would he have acted thus? Certainly not. Look at his work: Paul was possessed of abundant religious expertise, he had an established reputation, and parts of his education had been unique. It is fair to say that he was more knowledgeable than most people. What did he work according to? (His caliber, gifts, and expertise.) He worked according to his own caliber and strengths, he worked according to his expertise. What is this shown by? What makes you say this? Is there any evidence? In the Bible, are there any records of Paul testifying that the Lord Jesus is Christ, the Lord, God? (No.) So who did he testify to? (Himself.) How did he testify to himself? (He said that for him to live was Christ, and to die was gain.) What is the subtext of these words? The Lord Jesus is not Christ, He is not the Lord, He is not God, Paul was—he had his ambition. All of his running about and preaching was because of his motivation and his ambition. What was his ambition? To make everyone—all the people he preached to or who knew of him—attest that for him to live was Christ, was God. This is one aspect; he lived according to his own desires. In addition, Paul worked according to his own expertise. Is there evidence of this? Which of his words showed that he worked according to his own expertise, and that he did not speak of the work of the Holy Spirit, the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, or the reality of the truth? Is there evidence of this? When he worked, Paul never testified to the words spoken by the Lord Jesus. For example, the Lord Jesus taught people to repent and confess, and said some things about practicing—but Paul’s work was outside of this. Given his personal circumstances, what things could he speak of, in work external to this? Was it the theological things he’d learned, the things of knowledge and theory? What did those things of knowledge and theory include? Did they include imaginings, philosophy, and inference? They included these things. Of course, there were also even more other things, but in sum, none of them were the truth, much less were they in line with the truth. That’s all there is to say about the example of Paul.
Now that you’ve heard the example of Paul, compare it to yourselves. Have you thought of anything about the subject we’re fellowshiping today, the subject of “What have people been living by during these years”? Most of you are nodding your heads. What have you thought of? (What I’ve thought of is, if for my whole life I don’t raise a family, don’t return home, and don’t betray God’s commission, and if when great trials come upon me I don’t complain about God, then in the end God will not let me die.) Living by wishful thinking—that’s one aspect. It’s somewhat relevant; it relates to one aspect of actual states, and actual pursuit in life. This is a kind of view. Anything else? Let me give you some suggestions. Some people have believed in God for many years and, based on what they’ve learned through belief in God and their imaginings during these years, or based on some things they’ve learned, experiences, or examples from reading spiritual books, they sum up some practice-related ways of practicing connected to how to achieve spirituality in belief in God, or how to put the truth into practice in belief in God. They believe that in this way, they are putting the truth into practice, that in this way, they will be able to satisfy God’s will. I’ll give you a practical example. For instance, some people fall ill. When people fall ill they must seek God’s will, they must seek the truth. This is one of the most basic things to know in belief in God. But what does the person who is ill put into practice? They say: “This illness was part of God’s arrangements. I must live according to faith. I won’t take medicine, have any injections, or go to the hospital. What do you think of my faith?” Not bad, yes? Do they have faith? Raise your hand if you believe this is someone of faith. So you agree with this viewpoint, and you yourselves also put this into practice, yes? “Not having any injections, taking any medicine, or going to the hospital to see a doctor is putting the truth into practice.” It could also be said that not having an injection, taking medicine, or going to the doctor when you’re ill equates to putting the truth into practice and fulfilling God’s will—is it fair to say that? (Yes.) What makes you say this is putting the truth into practice? Is there a basis for saying this? (If, when I’m ill, I feel like taking medicine or getting a prescription, I believe that I am trying to break free from the environment God has arranged for me. If I don’t take medicine, I am obeying the environment God arranged for me.) That’s your understanding of it. A lot of people hold such viewpoints. There are many who have such beliefs, and put such things into practice. So are such practices correct or not? What is their basis? Have they ever been proven? Do you know? You’re not too clear about this, yes? You’re clueless—you don’t know whether doing this is right or wrong. So why do you put these things into practice? When you’re ill, you don’t have an injection, take medicine, or go to the doctor, or try to treat it at all. You just wait it out. Your only practice and solution is praying to God and asking God to remove the illness, or else leaving yourselves at the mercy of God’s arrangements. Is it right to practice thus? (It is not.) Do you only now believe this to be incorrect, or did you believe this before? Or are you unclear about just what to put into practice? (If I take medicine or go to the doctor, I feel that to practice thus is something done on the outside, and I have not emerged from the illness according to the truth; I removed the disease using forces from the outside world.) So is the subtext of what you’re saying that if God allows you to become ill, and you deal with the illness—you remove it—then you are betraying God, and not obeying the arrangements that God has made for you? (That’s the viewpoint I have.) Is it that you fear such viewpoints are wrong, or that you’re doubtful, or that you’re totally unclear about whether doing that is right? Anyway you’ve always done things like this, no one thinks any different, much less has there been any adverse reaction, or any reproach. So you have carried on putting this into practice, right? (I’ve always been like this, and have never sensed anything wrong.) So would you say there’s any confusion about doing this? Things done with confusion are unreliable. If it is done with confusion, let’s put aside whether it’s right or wrong, there is one thing that’s for sure: At the very least, doing this is not in line with the truth. For, if it were in line with the truth, people would surely know which principle they were adhering to in doing this, which principle they were acting within the parameters of. That’s the very least that could be said of this, yes? But looked at now, sometimes when people do this it is because of their own imaginings, they are holding themselves in check when they do this. In addition, they have set their own standard for themselves and made themselves do this. Yet you’re not clear precisely what God requires you to do and what God’s intention is. This is according to your own designs, or else you’re doing this according to your own path that you’ve set for yourself, and you’re not clear about what the result will be like. With a state as this, what are you living by? (Imaginings.) And do your imaginings contain conceptions? What conceptions? (If I put this into practice, I will be praised by God.) This is a conception. So is the path of such actions and your understanding of this incorrect? (Yes.) That’s right. We have a definition, a result: Living by such imaginings and conceptions is not putting the truth into practice. Are there any other such states?
Now, you’ve basically thought all you need to about this subject. You know what this topic is basically about, right? So let us talk of several types of states. You don’t have to note all of this down, just listen carefully. Listen and think about it. What is the aim of thinking about it? To compare it with yourselves. And what is the aim of that? The aim is to get to grips with your own state. If you have such states, such problems, then you should resolve them, and strive to live by the truth. Don’t live by all kinds of things that have no connection to the truth.
The subject of what people live by covers a lot—let’s start with gifts. Some people are quite good at articulating themselves, they are eloquent and quick-witted. They rely on their own silver tongue, their own gift of the gab, and whenever they talk or interact with someone, they’re very quick on the uptake, speaking the words of man when they meet a person, and the words of demons when they meet a demon. In the house of God, they perform their duty by relying on their own silver tongue and sharp wit. Naturally, there are many different kinds of duties—there’s spreading the gospel, leading the churches, and other duties—as long as these people are able to make use of their silver tongue, they bring their talent to bear. What talent is this? It’s being smart-mouthed, it is facility with words. Most problems are a breeze to them. Why do I say they’re a breeze? Because they’re smart, and they have some experience and insight into the outside world, usually when something happens to them, their brain gives it some thought, gives it some consideration, and the solution comes to them—and when it does, they say, “I’ve got it! I’ve settled the problem! It’s no big deal.” They’re very pleased with themselves. Others are envious of them and say, “When something happens to them, they can settle it with just a few words, then it’s solved. Why can’t I do that?” They’re also proud of themselves: “Look at the tongue, teeth, and brain God gave me—I’m clever, insightful, and quick to respond. When something happens to me it doesn’t give me any difficulties, it’s a breeze, I can settle it.” Now, a problem arises: Being sharp-tongued and sharp-witted, they use this talent and ability to perform some duties, and as they perform these duties, they naturally solve some problems and do some things for the house of God. But upon closer inspection, there remains a question mark over whether everything they do is in line with the truth, whether they are acting in accordance with the principles of the truth, and whether they are capable of fulfilling God’s will. Which is to say, although, most of the time, such people don’t understand the truth, and don’t know how they should act in order to be in line with the truth, they’re still performing their duty. And regardless of how well they perform their duty, what is the thing they’re relying on? What is the source of their performance of their duty? It is their thoughts, insight, and their silver tongue. Are there any such people among you? (There are.) So when you people who live by your own brains, lofty intellects or sharp tongues act, are you aware whether what you’re doing is in line with the principles of the truth? Do you abide by principles when you act? In other words, when you act, are you aware of whether you are living by your own intelligence, your own brain, or by any of the words of God? Most of the time, are you aware of this or not? (Most of the time we’re somewhat aware.) So are you aware if there are areas in what you say and do that violate the truth or the words of God? (Sometimes we’re aware.) When you are aware of this, what do you do? (Afterward, I know that my motivations are wrong, and I pray to God, and I resolve not to do this again.) And when this kind of thing happens to you again, you let it pass once again, and set your resolve once more, yes? (Yes.) So what are you relying on? (Gifts.) In this, you are relying on your gifts. Is this the only type of reliance on one’s gifts? Are being smart and silver-tongued the only gift? Yes? What gifts are there? Specifically, some people, for example, really like singing. Generally, after listening to a tune twice they’re basically able to sing it—it’s a breeze to them. And what do they believe? “This will be the duty I’ll perform, God has given me this duty.” Feeling this isn’t wrong. It’s correct to feel this way. Over the years, they’ve learned and sung many songs. They’ve learned very quickly, and their singing voice has gotten better and better. Is there anything wrong with this? (No.) But there is something wrong that they’re not aware of. Others might not be able to see it, too. And what is it that’s wrong? Their singing voice becomes better and better, they sing more and more in tune; they get better and better at singing, and their singing moves people more and more—and they treat this as their life. Is that wrong? It is. This becomes what they live by. What do they live by? (Their gift.) What gift? (The gift of singing.) So are people who have the gift of singing unable to gain life? Put like that, is it very difficult for people who are talented and gifted to understand the truth? Is it hard for them to enter into the reality of the truth? Is that the case? (No.) So how are people who are talented and gifted able to gain the truth? How are they able to not live by their talents and gifts? How are they able to free themselves from this? Aren’t these the questions that people ought to understand? Let’s fellowship this.
First, you must differentiate between what are gifts, and what is life. If you are gifted, if you respond faster than other people, if you understand things quicker than others, or if you’re good at articulating yourself, and are more talented in this respect than others, and if you have advantages over others in this respect, what do you believe? How do you regard this? This is very important. If you believe that as long as you are able to put your talents and gifts to perfect use, or no one can take your place in performing this duty, and as long as you use your gifts and talents in the performance of your duty, and do so without cease, remaining in the house of God and performing your duty, then you are putting the truth into practice, are such beliefs right or wrong? (Wrong.) Why are they wrong? In that case, are people who are gifted and talented sinners? (No.) So just what are their talents and gifts? How can they be understood? How can they be used? How should they be regarded? Are there those among you who treat the talents or strengths within you as a kind of tool, using them when you’re performing your duty, and saying nothing of them when you aren’t? Are you capable of that? You are not, yes? This is what you lack when it comes to entry into the truth. When you live amidst your own talents, or else when you do particularly well at bringing your strengths and gifts to bear, what is the state within you? (Smugness.) What level of smugness? Do you walk on air? Here’s another question: Do you know what the biggest problem with people who are fairly gifted and talented is? Have you any experience in this? Have you ever gone through it? (The biggest problem with such people is that it’s not easy for them to accept the truth and put the truth into practice.) That’s one aspect. Anything else? (It’s difficult for them to put aside their own gifts and talents. When things happen to them, their viewpoints and opinions are born of their gifts and talents; they don’t look at things using the truth or accept the truth; it is difficult for them to put aside their own capital and the things they believe are right.) (It is hard for people who are gifted to truly pray to God. They rely on themselves when they do things.) What do you all say—which of them was closer to the mark? Was what the second person said more fitting? A lot of the time, the thoughts, actions, and mentality of people who are talented and gifted are at odds with the truth. But they themselves are unaware of this. They think, “See how clever I am, I’ve made such smart choices! Such wise decisions! None of you can match me.” They forever live in a state of narcissism and self-appreciation. It is difficult for them to quell themselves and contemplate what God asks of them, what the truth is, and what the principles of the truth are. It is hard for them to enter into the truth and the words of God. So, too, is it hard for them to find or grasp the principles of putting the truth into practice, and to enter into or grasp the reality of the truth. As they live on and on, keep contemplating, thinking on and on, they enter their heads, they get inside their heads and thoughts; having entered their heads and thoughts, they think on and on and start to be pleased with themselves, and as they become more and more pleased with themselves, they start to swagger about, and as they keep doing that, they get carried away, they walk on air. What kind of state is this?
Gifts and talents can be viewed in the same terms. What do gifts cover? Some people are really good at technical things. Some men, for example, really enjoy fiddling around with electrical things. Others are adept at digital things; for example, as soon as some people turn on a computer, after one glance at the processes or software, it comes to them very easily. What’s more, they become familiar with it very quickly, they get to grips with it and memorize it very fast; in other words, they are exceptionally skilled in remembering or understanding these things, more than most people. Is this a talent? Other people are very good at learning languages. No matter what country’s language it is, they learn very fast. Their memory is also better than most people’s. What things are other people good at? Things relating to song and dance or art. Still others are able to read very quickly—ten lines at a glance. What else? Are there lots of talents? Does hairdressing count as one? (It does.) Hairdressing, beauty and makeup, directing, acting. Other people are very good at performing. Regardless of what people are talented at, what does everything that relates to this subject refer to? Why are we dissecting people’s talents? Why are we talking about this? Is this an issue we ought to be thinking about? What does it mean to live by such things? Why is it said that people are living by such things? (Because they treat them as life, as capital.) That’s one aspect; they treat them as life and capital. What else do they treat them as? As a rice bowl, as the value in living, the meaning and goals that they strive for in living, even the meaning of their conduct, of pursuing the truth, of believing in God. You live by them, you rely on these things to live, and you believe that these things are an indispensable part of your life. All of this is on-topic. What kind of people live by their gifts? What kind of gifts do you live by? (In the course of spreading the gospel, when I communicate and talk with foreigners, I’m able to get close to them. When I speak, they’re willing to listen.) Do you feel that’s something bad? Does this relate to the topic? (I feel that my gift is language, so when I’m performing my duty, I use my gift to interact with people.) Is this good or bad? (Having heard God’s fellowship, I feel that this stops me from trying to seek the principles of the truth.) What you mean is that you now feel these things are bad, and in the future you won’t live in this way; you won’t use this method to communicate with them, making them unwilling to listen to what you have to say—is this what you mean? (No.) So what do you mean? Right now, you have to understand what the focus of this subject is. What problems do you have that we’re trying to solve? What’s wrong with living by these things? Speak up. The thing that’s wrong with living by your gifts is your corrupt disposition. In what way is it wrong to use your gifts? What’s good about this? You have to be clear about this. Don’t let it get so that, talking on and on, you start to feel that what’s right is wrong, what’s wrong is also wrong, that everything you do is wrong. If you don’t understand this, can this problem be solved? You haven’t understood the focus of this topic. (I see that my motivation is not to satisfy God and perform my duty, but to show off and congratulate myself, feeling it is good for me to act in this way.) Some of what you’ve said has hit the mark. It has explained why it is wrong to live by one’s gifts. You believe this thing is your capital, and what else? (The realization of my self-worth.) It’s something wrong. The source of this is something wrong. This thought is something wrong. So how do you free yourself from this? (I must know that when I act by my gifts, it is in order to perform my duty properly, it is in order to complete God’s commission. Gifts are only a tool—they’re a means, a skill.) And now that you think in this way, are you able to put the truth into practice? Is this a problem? So how can the problem be solved? How can you put the truth into practice, and not live by this thing? If, when you do something, you use your gifts to show off your skills and abilities, what are you living by? (By my gifts.) But if, at the same time as doing this, you use your gifts to perform your duty well and be loyal, and then achieve the fulfillment of God’s will and the effect that God asks for, if you ponder and think about what you can say to achieve greater testimony to God, to give people greater clarity and understanding of what God wants to do, so that they then accept the work of God—if you use your gifts and expertise to perform your duty properly—what are you living by? (By the truth.) Yes, this is putting the truth into practice. Is there a difference between these two? Whilst showing off your talents or gifts, abilities, and skills, you’ve forgotten yourselves, you’ve forgotten that you’re performing your duty, and are instead smug in front of others; they’re unbelievers, you, too, have become an unbeliever, you’re the same as they are, you’ve forgotten what you’re doing—do such circumstances exist? (Yes.) So under such circumstances, do you know what the state within you is? You are indulgent and without the fear of God, there’s nothing holding you in check, there is no reproach, and when you act, there are no aims or principles within your heart; you’ve lost the dignity and propriety that basically ought to be possessed by a Christian. And what is this? Parading your skills, betraying your own personality. When you perform your duty—when you bring your talents and gifts to bear—do many such states occur? Or else, when you have such states, are you capable of realizing this? Are you able to turn a corner? If you are, you can put the truth into practice; but if you’re always like that, over and over again, if you carry on being like that in the long-term, then you are someone who lives entirely by their gifts, and you do not put the truth into practice, not at all. So what is the force holding people in check? And what is how great this force is, based on? It is based on how much you love the truth, and how much you hate evil or negative things.
There’s also another kind of state: Regardless of whether people have a talent or a gift, or a skill, or an aptitude, they simply act, they simply use their strength. Regardless of whether, when they use their strength to do something, it is according to imagination, conceptions, or their own instincts, they do nothing more than use their strength. They never seek the will of God, and have no thoughts or needs in their hearts, saying, “I must put the truth into practice; in this, I am putting the truth into practice, I am performing my duty.” The only starting point for their thoughts is: “I’ll do this job well, I’ll finish this, I’ll complete this task.” So is this someone who lives entirely by their gifts, abilities, skills, and talents? Are there such people? In their faith in God, they think only of using their strength, of selling their own labor, of selling their own skills. Are there many such people? (Yes.) “Many”—this is not a good word. Why do you say there are “many”? Is this what’s really happening, or just something that came out of your mouth? Give an example based on what you’ve seen. (I myself am this kind of person. If I am able to perform my duty properly, then I am happy. If I haven’t performed my duty properly, then I feel awful, I feel very indebted. And this indebtedness is because of the loss of face and status from not having properly performed my duty. I gave no thought to how to rely on God as I performed my duty. As such, I was merely using my strength.) How pitiable, how sad—this is most people’s state. Most people act with this viewpoint particularly when God’s house gives them general tasks to do. All they do is use their strength. Why do we say they are using their strength? These words sound pejorative. The subtext is that they are selling their labor. Sometimes that means using their mouth, sometimes it’s using their hands, sometimes it’s using their strength, sometimes it’s using their eyes, sometimes it means running about—doing things like this. Why is it said that doing all this is living by those things, and not putting the truth into practice? There’s a difference. For the moment, let’s not go into what putting the truth into practice is. The person is given a task, and after accepting the task they think, “How can I complete this task, and then get the church leaders to praise me, so that I can go and give an account before them?” Then they start to think, and might come up with a step-by-step plan. Their attitude might be somewhat earnest, but they focus on nothing more than completing the task. They do this for appearance’s sake, or else, when they’re doing it, they set their own standard for themselves: how to do it so they feel happy and contented, achieving the level of perfection that they strive for. Regardless of what standard they set, if there is no connection to the truth, if they are not seeking to understand and confirm what God asks of them and what God says, if they act blindly, in bewilderment, this is all “using strength.” They are acting according to their own wishes, according to their own brain or gifts, or according to their own abilities and skills. And what is the consequence once they’ve finished? The matter may have been accomplished, no one may have picked out any faults, and you might feel very happy—but in the course of doing it, number one: you did not understand God’s will; and number two: you didn’t do it with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength—you did not put your whole heart into it. If you had sought the principles of the truth, had sought the will of God, then you would have been 90% effective in completing it, you would have been able to enter the reality of the truth, and would have accurately understood that what you were doing was after God’s heart. But if you were careless and haphazard, this task may have been completed, this job may have been finished, but in your heart you would not be clear about how well you carried it out, you would have no benchmark, you wouldn’t know whether it was after God’s heart or not, whether it was in line with the truth or not; you wouldn’t know, you’d have no benchmark. And so how can such states be summed up? Three words: “using one’s strength.” Is using one’s strength something good or bad? (Bad.) It doesn’t seem so good now.
In completing a task, when people do not put the truth into practice or seek the truth, when they do not devote their hearts to the truth, and when they merely use their brains to memorize, merely use their hands to act, and merely use their legs to run, then they have not truly completed the task, and have not truly accomplished God’s commission. So is there a standard for the accomplishment of God’s commission? What is the standard? The Lord Jesus said something about this. What did He say? (And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mak 12:30).) Loving God is one aspect of what God asks of people. In fact, when God gives people a commission, when they perform their duty, and pursue and follow God in their belief in God, the standard that He requires of them is this: with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. If you’re present, but your heart isn’t, if it has occurred to your brain, you have memorized it, but your thinking hasn’t got there, and if you accomplish and settle this matter using your strength, or your own abilities, have you completed God’s commission? (No.) So what kind of standard must be achieved in order to accomplish God’s commission? And in order to perform your duty properly, to perform it loyally? That is the several aspects we just spoke of. What did you understand to be the most important thing about the several aspects we just mentioned? With all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength. Of these three, which is the most superficial? (With all your strength.) With all your strength, using your strength. And which is most in line with the truth that is required by God? (With all your heart.) With all your heart. And so, regardless of what duty God commissions you to perform, what job He asks you to do, what task He asks you to carry out, if you merely use your strength, if you merely run about, only sell your strength, only sell your labor, can you achieve conformance with the truth? Are you able to act in accordance with God’s will? Can you achieve conformance with the principles of the truth? (No.) So what should you do in order to achieve these? (Act with all our heart.) “With all your heart”—these four words are easy to say, and they’re also something that people say often. So how can people act with all their heart? This is a problem here, yes? The problem is that they are incapable of acting with all their heart. There are those who say: “How could that be so? We’ll put more heart into it, we’ll spend more effort on it, we’ll give it more thought. In addition, we won’t think anything in our hearts, we’ll single-mindedly concentrate our thoughts on this matter—isn’t that all it will take?” Is it that simple? (No.) It’s not that simple. Though it isn’t that simple, let us speak of several simple principles of practice, because this isn’t the main thing we’re talking about today. Speak based on what you are able to put into practice, and what you are ordinarily able to achieve when you practice, or the principles that you often put into practice and abide by: What is the first thing that should be done in order for you to be acting with all your heart? Let us only speak in terms of putting it into practice. With all your heart—what does this mean? It means bringing your heart with you, first of all, and not losing your heart. So where did that person’s heart go? They lost it, just as if they’d lost their soul. When they speak, their heart is absent. In addition, they’re always distracted when they do things, they look as if there’s something wrong with them. They always seem like they’re dreaming. This means they do not bring their heart with them—their heart has gone who knows where. Are these words correct? Do you know how to put it into practice?
How do you tell if someone has heart? (Through the attitude they regard things with.) That’s quite a broad way of putting it. What expresses when a mother has heart toward her child? Talk about specifics. (She’s scrupulous in her care for her child.) Don’t speak in generalities, talk about specifics—I like hearing specifics most of all. For example, when a mother has given birth to her child, what kind of people do you see as having heart, and which don’t? After giving birth to her child she falls asleep and is out for seven or eight hours. When she wakes up—where is her child? It’s fallen to the ground and has been crying for hours, bawling, its mother unaware. Does this mother have heart? (No.) She does not, that’s for sure. Newborn babies need care, they need to drink their mothers’ milk, they need careful protection, and they also need to be held. A mother’s sleep is secondary. If, at such times, the mother is tired, how should she sleep in order to have heart toward her child? One is to stop herself from squashing the baby. In addition, she can’t let the baby get hungry. And on top of that, if the baby’s crying, she should be able to hear it. Do these things mean a mother has heart? The first thing a mother with heart should think is, “I must look after him, I must cherish him, I must protect him, I can’t let him get hungry, I can’t let him cry, nor can I let him fall to the ground. I must protect him, using my life to protect him.” This is a mother with heart. And so, that she fell asleep isn’t what’s most important. If this mother has heart, when she is tired and needs to rest, where will she sleep? (Beside the baby.) And so where will she place the baby? Right now, what’s most important is not where the mother sleeps, but where the baby is placed. (In the mother’s arms.) Held in the mother’s arms or placed on the inside, surrounded by the wall and the bed, so that he’s blocked on all sides, can’t be bitten by a wolf or boar, and can’t fall onto the floor—so he’s completely safe. The baby has enough sleeping space, and he can sleep in safety. As soon as he starts crying, the mother can hear him. What’s more, the mother blocks him on the outermost side, so if a wolf, dog, or boar comes in, or anyone else comes to pick him up, they can’t—they have to go through the mother. Is a mother like this meticulous? Where does this meticulousness come from? (From her heart.) So how does this mother sleep? First of all, she sleeps with her back to the outside and the child on the inside. Then, when the baby is fast asleep, she takes a quick nap, during which the child is still in her thoughts. If she has heart, there must be an expression of it; it’s not just a case of saying so with her mouth, and that’s all. And what is the expression? “The baby’s fast asleep and I’m awfully tired. I should hurry up and sleep.” She puts the child down, makes sure it’s wrapped up and covered properly, then takes a nap, sleeping for ten or twenty minutes. At the slightest disturbance, she’s instantly awake. Scared, she looks—“Oh the baby’s still here.” The first thing she does is quickly look to the baby: Is the baby crying? He’s sleeping very well. I won’t disturb him for the moment—he’s sleeping, and whilst he’s fast asleep I should take a nap. And what is the aim of taking a nap? So that she has the energy and strength to better look after her child. And so, when the mother sleeps or takes a nap she’s not being lazy or heartless. She’s acting with all her heart. Are there details to the expression of her having heart? What are these details? She cherishes, looks after, and protects her child. What else? (Concern.) This “heart” covers a lot. It’s not just a case of, “I have a child, I’m so happy!” Such a heart has no use. So what is the most important feeling? (Concern.) Concern, worry—that’s what it means to have heart. Only when there is something in her heart does she have heart. If there’s nothing in her heart, the baby will fall on the floor. After giving birth, she places the child at the edge of the bed and says, “Right, I’ve given birth to you, I’ve completed the task. It doesn’t matter whether you want to eat, drink, or sleep—that has nothing to do with me. I’m so tired, I’m going to sleep first; I’ll put you at the edge of the bed, and if you disturb me, I won’t take any notice even if you fall on the floor. If you let me have a good sleep, when I wake up I’ll breastfeed you. But if you don’t, I’ll abandon you!” What kind of mother is this? Not even a wolf would treat her cub like this! Does such a mother have heart? (No.) So is this a good mother? (No.) Why is this not a good mother? (She has no heart.) She has no heart. Firstly, she has no sense of responsibility in what she does. She does not adore her child. What else? She does not want to protect her child. When she has no heart, these details are absent. Concern, protection, adoration, and care—she has none of these.
Just now we spoke of what it means to have heart when you perform your duty. Has this example allowed you to understand? Going into more detail, when you act with all your heart, what’s the first thing you think? This should be on the tip of your tongue, right? (Responsibility.) The first thing that comes to mind is responsibility: “This is my responsibility, I must bear it, I can’t shirk it. What’s more, I must do it well, and give an account to God.” There is a theoretical foundation; so are you acting with all your heart if you only have a theoretical foundation? This is still a long way off God’s requirement of entering the reality of the truth and acting with all one’s heart. So what do you say, what is acting with all one’s heart? Is there any need to think about this question? Do you have heart? You do, a physical heart has grown in you. But do you have the “heart” as referred to in “with all your heart”? How can you act with all your heart? When acting with all your heart, the first thing you must think is, “Who am I accepting and performing this duty for? Who am I doing it for?” Is this the first thing you must think? “Who commissioned me with this? Was it a certain person? Was it a certain group?” No—then who did this commission come from? (God.) This is how you must think first. You don’t have to think it every time, but you must have thought it through. Before anything else, you must think, “This was God’s commission, I perform my duty in front of God. I am not doing it for myself, or another person—I’m performing my duty as a created being. This is the commission that God has given me.” This is the commission that God has given you—so what has God commissioned of you? Does this relate to acting with all your heart? Does this first require that you seek the truth? Seek the truth, seek what is required of this duty that God has commissioned of you, what His standards are, what His principles are, and what He has said about this. If God has spoken clearly about this, and if you are capable of acting with all your heart, what should you think of in your heart? And in what direction should you act? Shouldn’t there be an expression of this? What should you do at such times? At such times you should first find God’s requirements in relation to this: If I am clearly aware of what the standards of God’s requirements are, I’ll do it with all my heart—and when I do it, I’ll pray, and ponder, and then I’ll fellowship with people who understand. Is this acting with all your heart? It is. What else? Before acting, you seek God’s will, you seek God’s words, and you know what to do. But if, when something happens to you, there are differences, if there’s a discrepancy, with what God asks or the principles of God’s words, what do you do? You must abide by the principle of acting with all your heart. And how should you do that? When this happens to them, some people say, “I don’t care. In any case, if it’s been given to me, then the responsibility lies with me, the initiative is also with me; you’ve given it to me, and so it’s up to me—and if it’s up to me, then I’m acting with all my heart. Can you find anything wrong with that? Since you’ve given it to me, full right to have the last word is mine.” Next, they spend some time thinking about what to do, and although, in the end, they do it, is this means of practice, and this state, correct? God says you must act with all your heart—so how should you do so? How should you act in order to conform with the principle of acting with all your heart? If you say, “I’m acting with all my heart, and so the initiative is in my hands,” is this acting with all your heart? Do you know what mistake you’re making? Being arrogant, acting of your own accord—is this performing your duty? (No.) Nor is it acting with all your heart. So what is it? This is going about your own business. It is not performing your duty, but doing something that satisfies you, doing the things you like, as befits your own inclinations. It is not acting with all your heart. At this point, we’ve more or less fellowshiped everything about this topic, yes? Can you keep up when we fellowship like this? (Yes.) You can—so what are the main things you’ve heard? Can you link them to the truth? Can you get to grips with them?
We were just talking about talents and gifts. Do talents and gifts include knowledge? (Yes.) Do they include conceptions? (No.) Is there any difference between knowledge and talents? Talent refers to proficiency in something. It could be your strong points, technical skills, or the more outstanding parts of your caliber. It is the thing you’re best at, or a skill that you have a relatively firm, and thorough, grasp of. These are all called talents and gifts. You just said that knowledge is included in this—does it fall into this category? More broadly- and accurately-speaking, what is knowledge? If someone is said to be an intellectual, do they have a talent? You don’t know. What are they good at? You don’t know. So just what is knowledge? I asked you if knowledge is included in gifts and talents, and you replied “yes”—you were very sure. What question did I just ask you? If an intellectual has a lot of knowledge—if they are well-educated, have read lots of famous books, and have spent a particularly large amount of time researching a certain area of expertise or field of knowledge, and this research has reaped results, and the intellectual has a relatively detailed or in-depth grasp of it, does all this bear any relation to talents and gifts? What do the talents and gifts we just mentioned chiefly refer to? (Proficiency.) In particular, they mean a proficiency, an ability, a skill. So viewed now, can knowledge be listed in the category of talent? Suppose someone works by their talent. They might not have any knowledge—they might be an ignoramus, someone from the country who is not well-educated and hasn’t read many famous books, and might even be incapable of reading all the characters in the Bible, of recognizing all of them. This is someone without knowledge; it can also be said that they are uncultured. But they have a good mind, they have a little caliber, they’re a good talker, silver-tongued, they can talk the dead into life. Is this a talent? This person has no knowledge, but they possess this talent—so can it be said that knowledge is a talent? (No.) Specifically, just what does knowledge refer to? Try and define it.
Let’s put it like this, this might make it easier for you to understand this topic. If someone is educated, and has studied a teaching degree, do they possess the knowledge of a teaching degree? How to teach children, how to teach teenagers, how to impart knowledge to people, what knowledge to impart—this is the kind of knowledge they possess. So are they an intellectual in this area? As such, is it fair to say that they are skilled when it comes to this area of knowledge? (Yes.) We’ll use this as an example. If they were an intellectual in the field of education, what would such people often do when they worked and led the churches? What would their usual practices be? Wouldn’t they speak to everyone as if they are a child, in the same way that a teacher talks to their students? Then again, the tone of their speech isn’t important; what’s key is what they instill in people, what things they impart to people. They possess this knowledge, and they have lived for many years amid such knowledge. It has basically become a part of their life, so much so that in their interactions with other people or other aspects of their life, it can be seen that they possess traces of this kind of knowledge, and that the things that they personally live out contain the knowledge they have learned. This is very common. What do such people often rely on when they work? They rely on their knowledge, yes? Take telling people how to read the words of God, for example. There are some who say: “I am incapable of reading the words of God. When I pick them up, I don’t know how to read them. If I can’t read God’s words, how can I know what the truth is? And if I can’t read God’s words, how can I understand God’s will?” They reply, “Come, I know how to—I have knowledge. I’ll help you. Open to this utterance, it has four paragraphs. Often, if a piece of text is a narrative, it has six elements. What are these six elements? Time, place, characters, cause of events, development process, and consequences. Look at this passage of God’s words. Time—that’s not at the start. At the end it says October 2011, but there’s no specific day. This is the date when God’s words were expressed. That’s element number one. As for characters, God’s words mention ‘I.’ So the primary character is God; after that, God mentions ‘you’—that’s us. What else? They point to some of people’s states, to how some people are rebellious and arrogant. They refer to these arrogant, rebellious people, people who don’t do real work, people who are naughty, bad, evil. The course of events is people’s maleficence. There are other things that are other aspects.” How do you feel about this way of working? There would be nothing wrong with them helping people out of love, but what is the basis of what they do? (Knowledge.) Of course, it’s likely that there’s no one like the example I’ve just given; no one talks like that, no one tells the brothers and sisters to read God’s words according to time, place, characters, cause, process of events, and consequence—so why did I say that? Does putting it that way give people a clearer understanding of what knowledge is? (Yes.)
Some people don’t know how to read God’s words, but they’ve attended school and might have done well in literature when they were a student. When they pick up a passage of God’s words and read it, they say, “This passage of God’s words is very well-written! In the first paragraph, God gets straight to the point.” What do you think, this is their knowledge speaking, yes? “In the second paragraph, the tone is majestic and wrathful; in the third, the exposure is specific and clear—these are the words of God; in the fourth, there is the summary, giving people a path to practice. God’s words are perfect!” Does this come from knowledge? Although people very rarely act as in this example I’ve given—it’s a little mechanical—what is it that you can understand from this? The disgusting, ugly face of when people apply knowledge to God’s words. When people like this read the words of God, they are relying on their knowledge; as such, are they capable of relying on the truth when they do things? Certainly not. So what are the characteristics of how they act? First, their strengths: What do they believe their strengths to be? They have knowledge, they are learned, they have worked in the knowledge industry, they are an intellectual. Intellectuals have their own style and particular way of doing things, and so they can’t help but put on airs when they act. What does it mean to “put on airs”? (To do things in a certain way.) In a certain way, with a certain posture, or with a certain kind of pattern and template? In sum, it means having a certain manner. See how, wherever they go, celebrities recline with their arms and legs crossed, shades on—everything about them is over the top, and they speak with a haughty tone. And intellectuals, they may seem very mild-mannered on the outside, but what’s inside them isn’t so mild. They always have a view on everything; when they see recording equipment they’ll say, “Huh, so this can record? How does it record? Let me research it; I’ll look it up on the computer, or find some books about it. Having studied all these years, I can’t let other people know I don’t understand. I am well-educated, so it’ll be easy for me to learn this. I’ve come across this thing before, it’s been in some magazine, in some textbook. I’ll have no problems.” They wish to show off in everything they do. Then they put their smarts to use, using the viewpoints, attitudes, and ways of thinking of their knowledge to analyze and approach this matter; to them, the truth is something extraneous, something highly supplementary, something that’s very difficult to enter into. And so, how do such people regard the truth? What is their attitude toward the truth? They first analyze. What is the basis of their analysis? Knowledge.
Let’s give an example. Directing—this is one discipline. Do people who’ve studied directing possess this kind of knowledge? It is fair to say they do—this is one aspect of knowledge, although it can’t be considered common knowledge. Suppose that you had systematically studied this kind of knowledge in books, or had taken an apprenticeship or actually done this kind of work; in sum, if you have gotten to grips with this area of knowledge, then you are someone who possesses this area of knowledge—and so are people who possess such knowledge definitely able to properly carry out filming work for the house of God? The real problem emerges. Let’s use this as a live example. These aren’t criticisms, we’re just addressing the state and the problem in order to solve the issue and achieve an understanding of the truth. People who study directing learn things about directing. Regardless of whether your studies are in-depth or not, if you’re involved in the directing work of the unbelievers, such knowledge and experience are very useful, very valuable; if you’re someone with this kind of savvy and talent, then you’ll make a good director. In the world of the unbelievers, your knowledge is only beneficial to your doing this job, there is nothing harmful about it, for this kind of knowledge can standardize your execution of such work, and also help you do it better, more professionally; at the very least, your knowledge stops you doing any tasks or work that’s a no-no in the directing industry. But in the house of God, are you certain to be able to do well in the filming work if you possess such knowledge? (Not necessarily.) You’re all shaking your heads. There’s no doubt about this. It looks as if you have all had some experiences in this. So what’s the problem? You possess this kind of knowledge, but is such knowledge sure to dovetail with the filming principles and standards required by the house of God, or the effect of testimony to God that must be attained? Not necessarily, yes? But if, when you’re shooting a film for the house of God, you only focus on what the directing textbooks taught you, and what is stipulated and required by the knowledge of the directing industry—if that’s all you focus on—are you capable of performing this duty properly? (No.) At such times, how do you reconcile these things? Through what can they be reconciled? In other words, you are capable of standardizing your directorial work, and in terms of the films you direct, you’re highly accomplished at such work; and at the same time, to the people of the house of God, or in terms of what God asks of people, in making this film you are testifying to God, you’re not engaging in the directing industry, you’re not using your directing expertise to perform your duty. So shouldn’t these be reconciled? Is there a problem in how to reconcile them? Are there areas of contention? There are areas of contention between the principles of the truth and this kind of expertise. So what do you rely on when addressing these areas of contention? Ultimately, do you allow your expertise to conquer the principles of the truth, or the principles of the truth to overcome your expertise? In the end, which one remains? Can you guarantee that every shot and scene that you film, every film you make, is not tainted with your expertise, or only tainted with a very little of it, and has been carried out in complete accordance with the standards required by the house of God? Or else, can you guarantee that you are fully able to accept the things that are in contention or disaccord with this kind of knowledge, and then film according to the standards required by the house of God? Such times must occur very often, so how do you deal with this? Do you have any actual experiences of it? Have a think.
As you think, let us consider the following question: Just what is wrong with knowledge? Just what kinds of knowledge are at odds with the truth—do you know? What does knowledge give people? I’ll give you a hint: When people have more knowledge, do they become more pious and fearful of God, or do they become more insolent? (They become more insolent.) Having become very learned, people become complex, dogmatic, insolent—but there’s also something else that they might not have realized: When people have mastered too much knowledge, they become chaotic inside, they become scrambled, muddled, and without principles. And the more knowledge you get to grips with, the more muddled you become. In knowledge, can there be found answers to why people live, to the value and meaning of human life? Can there be found conclusions to where people come from and where they go? (No.) No, never. Can knowledge tell you that you come from God, that you were created by God? It can’t, can it? So just what things does knowledge research or instill in you? (Material things.) Material things, atheist things, things that people can see. What else? What things does knowledge instill in people? First, things that come from thoughts and the mind. That’s the most basic answer. In other words, everything comes from the brain’s imagination. When someone tries to imagine where a lightbulb comes from, they do some research on it. This is a kind of knowledge that people can see. What else does knowledge instill in you? Philosophy, technical skills. What else? (Common knowledge.) What else? (Natural law.) So does anyone know how lightning is formed? Has knowledge told you about current changes and abnormalities in the climate? Can it explain these clearly? (No.) It can’t tell you of issues relating to the source of all things, and so it can’t solve those problems. Knowledge doesn’t tell you why the seasons change, right? It’s not clear about why people dream. It doesn’t know about the abnormal phenomenon of people dreaming and sleepwalking. There are also those who say, “How could someone live again after dying?” Has knowledge told you? (No.) What else does knowledge tell people? Knowledge tells people lots of customs and doctrine. For example, filial piety toward one’s parents—where did this knowledge come from? It is taught by traditional Chinese culture, yes? Filial piety; this is also one kind of knowledge. So what does all this knowledge bring people? (Enshacklement.) Enshacklement, that’s for sure. What is the substance of knowledge? Amidst the throngs of people on the street, every one of them has knowledge. In particular, in this world, many people have read lengthy tomes and famous works. They all have knowledge; or else, they’ve all been involved in, studied, or done a degree in a specific type of knowledge. So, on the path of life, do such people have a direction and a purpose? Do they have a baseline and principles for their conduct? (No.) To take it further, do they know to worship God? (No.) And to take it even further, do they understand any truths? (No.) So what is knowledge? What does knowledge give people? (It makes them stray from God and oppose God.) If people have no knowledge, do they not oppose God and stray from God? Can these words refute what you said? So what does knowledge bring people? Let’s put it like this: In this world, were relationships between people simple before or after they had knowledge? (Before they had knowledge.) So what does this demonstrate? (Knowledge has made people complicated.) Knowledge has made people more complicated, more lacking in normal humanity—that’s what it does to them. And what is the consequence? The more knowledge people learn, the more they stray from God, deny the truth, and so the more bigoted and absurd they become.
Where did we just get to? So when such things happen to you, do you often practice in this way? Are you able to get through them with ease? It’s not easy, yes? So when you say “it’s not easy” and “I can’t,” do you mean you’re completely unable to do so, or that you’re capable of a bit, but it’s tainted with a little human will—and during this process, you change bit-by-bit, and the situation gets better and better? Which one? (The second.) The second is gradual change. So in the course of changing, do you start to feel the situation is getting better and better, or does it remain the same—is it the case throughout that you do half yourselves, and the remainder is carried out according to the principles of the truth, but with compromises? Is it half-and-half? How long does it take to achieve a little bit of progress? Have you ever worked this out? You don’t have any details? It looks as if you’re very confused about this aspect of entry—you’re not very specific. What does it suggest, that you’re not very specific? That when you do this kind of thing, you don’t have a deeper, truer appreciation of the state within you and your specific path of putting the truth into practice; you keep reconciling things, you keep making compromises, you go easy on yourselves as you carry on, not making strict demands of yourselves to be able to completely submit and handle matters entirely according to the principles of the truth. So is this good or bad? Does it entail any danger? (Yes.) What danger? (Acting according to our own knowledge.) So it’s dangerous to act according to your own knowledge? But I haven’t seen anyone who keeps doing things according to their own knowledge for years and years and seems to be in danger. It looks as if you have yet to understand the danger of not acting according to the principles of the truth. There is a consequence here, one that puts people in danger—do you know what danger? Think about it.
Are you now clear about what the difference between performing your duty in the house of God and being employed or making a career in the world of the unbelievers is? Do you have a clear awareness of this in your mind, have you often considered or pondered this question? Do you know what the biggest difference is? (Performing our duty in the house of God is in order to gain the truth, for there to be a change in our corrupt satanic disposition; working in the world is for the sake of one’s own flesh.) That’s more or less it. But there’s one thing you haven’t mentioned: Whilst performing your duty in the house of God, you must live according to the truth. What’s the significance of living according to the truth? For people, they can change their disposition and ultimately be saved; for God, He is able to gain you, He can gain you, this created being, and He acknowledges that you were created by Him. What’s the difference between this and being employed in the world of the unbelievers? What do people live by? (The philosophy of Satan.) By the philosophy of Satan. Collectively, this means living by corrupt satanic disposition. Regardless of whether you work for fame and fortune, or status, or money, or in order to get by and survive, this is all living by your corrupt disposition. Your mind must be razor-sharp, not one bit less—any less and you will live less well than others, any less strength and you won’t be able to beat others. You rely entirely on struggling, fighting, scrambling, maliciousness, cruelty, murder—that’s what you rely on. In the house of God, can any of these things make you perform your duty well? (No.) In the house of God, is there anyone who has stood firm thanks to being cruel, fierce, silver-tongued, gifted, or highly-educated, of a venerable age, possessed of capital, good-looking, or good at performing? (No.) This is the biggest difference.
We just spoke of another aspect: Relying on knowledge. What kind of state do people live in when they live by their knowledge, do you know? What is their most profound feeling? When intellectuals live in the world, do they suffer from anxiety about loss and gain? (Yes.) And do you have such a feeling when you live in the house of God? (No.) Once you’ve acquired a certain aspect of knowledge, you become incapable of escaping it; it grabs you and controls you. You are alright when you do not come across such things—but, once you encounter what you’ve learned, as soon as you find yourself in certain situations, those learned things of yours instantly emerge. They have been instilled in you. It’s like cement and steel: Once the cement has been mixed with the steel, you can’t separate them, try as hard as you might. When you pull out the steel it leaves damage that can’t be removed. Knowledge has done you wrong. If you knew this, you’d feel you were better off not learning this, yes? That is, not learning certain things is better than learning them. Learning them has burdened you, and brought you trouble. We just talked about how knowledge includes many aspects: education, science, material things, as well as intangible aspects like philosophy, logic, and law; there are also things relating to math and biology. So what is true knowledge, the knowledge people often speak of? It is things that fairly encroach upon, corrode, and distort people’s thoughts, for example, certain things that people are taught: continuing the family lineage, filial piety, honoring one’s ancestors—these are taught by traditional Chinese culture. As well as such knowledge, some theological theory also counts as knowledge. For example, some people have been pastors, or preachers, or have studied theology. And after this knowledge has been acquired, what does it then become? Is it a blessing or a curse? (A curse.) What makes it a curse? It’s alright if they don’t open their mouths—and as soon as they do, out comes religious theory. They always want to go on about the way of the Pharisees, they always try to instill the way of the Pharisees in people. They don’t allow people to understand the truth. What does theological knowledge chiefly talk about? Theological theory, yes? And what kind of knowledge typifies theological theory? The things it instills in you that make you feel they’re very spiritual. Having heard the words of God in this stage of work, you still might not be able to make the distinction—you might believe that thing of yours is right, and might be unable to tell that it is something beguiling, something of theory spoken by the Pharisees. In sum, if you live by knowledge, if you live in a state of learnedness, if you rely on knowledge to live, perform your duty, act, and get along with others—and even to fellowship with people—sometimes, out of the goodness of your heart, trying to help certain negative or weak people, or people who have only believed in God for a relatively short amount of time, do you know when you’re relying on knowledge to do these things? Are you able to realize this? Are you able to sense this? Are you clear in your mind about what kind of state this is? (Yes.) So talk specifically of what states and thoughts there are. (For example, when I fellowship with people I rely on my own experience and knowledge to help others. When brothers and sisters are negative and weak, or else can’t get along with each other, I use the principle of moderation to reconcile the relationship between them. Sometimes I’ll advise people to be more open-minded, or to draw on the experience and ways of doing things I’ve distilled, and apply them to what other people are going through, telling them to act according to these things. In such matters, I do not seek whether what I do is in line with the principles of the truth, I do not try to seek the truth and help them understand God’s will.) Does this have any effect? (It usually doesn’t.) This is about knowledge. How many aspects have we talked about? Two: gifts and knowledge.
Let’s talk about another aspect. Right through from when they began believing in God until today, many people have remained ignorant of what it means to pursue the truth and put the truth into practice. Throughout, they have relied on a kind of persistence, or what they believe to be right, and they keep on doing this, believing that if they carry on to the end they will remain—and that if they remain, they will be victorious. They are able to suffer for this, to forgo their careers and families, to give up their job, their home, their children, and the things they love. And they summarize some doctrine, and put it into practice as if it were the truth. For example, when they see someone in trouble, or a family having a hard time, they take it upon themselves to reach out and help, to ask if they’re OK, to show concern, to care for them. Wherever there’s a dirty or tiring job to be done, they take it upon themselves to do it. They don’t mind if it’s dirty or tiring, they’re not picky. In the company of others, they never have any disagreements with people, they do all they can to get along with everyone and live in harmony with them. Nor do they ever nitpick at others. They’ve learned to be kind and tolerant toward others, so that everyone who meets them says they’re good, that they’re a true believer. With respect to God, they say, “I’ll do whatever God asks me to, I’ll go wherever He wants me to, I shall not resist.” What is this living by? (Zeal.) This is not merely some simple kind of zeal. They are living by a conviction they believe to be right. Are there many people like this? (Yes.) For all these years, they’ve remained ignorant of what it means to submit, what it means to put the truth into practice, what it means to satisfy God, what it means to seek the truth, and what the principles of the truth are. They know none of these things. They don’t even know what it means to be honest. And what do they believe? “I need only to live in this way, I need only to act in this way and keep following; regardless of what message is spoken, I’ll abide by my own way of doing things. No matter how God treats me, I won’t give up or leave. I’ll do whatever duty God asks me to.” And yet, despite listening to the message so much for all these years, they don’t understand any truth. They are incapable of putting the truth of obedience into practice, and they don’t understand it. They don’t understand the truth of being honest, nor that of loyally performing one’s duty, nor what it means to go through the motions and fool around. And they don’t know whenever they’ve lied, if they are someone deceitful. Isn’t this pathetic? (It is.) So are there many such people among you? (Yes.) There are? That’s awful! They don’t know what it means to submit, or be honest, so what do such people live by? Is it fair to say they live by a red, sincere heart? “Red” means the color red—they live by a red heart. Why do I say this? Just how sincere is their heart? This is surveyed by the heavens and the earth. You can’t say for sure, you can’t see, but God knows, the heavens and the earth know. That’s how sincere their heart is. No one is able to understand, ordinary people are incapable of achieving this—that’s the extent of their heart’s “purity.” Why did I say theirs is a red, sincere heart? They have a kind of emotion, a kind of feeling, and they employ this feeling, or their own desires, to try and interpret what someone who believes in God ought to do, what duty means, and they apply such feelings to what God asks. What do they think? “Actually, God doesn’t need people to do anything. Or else, He doesn’t need them to have any great ability, or to understand a great many truths; all you need is a red, sincere heart.” What they believe is, “Believing in God is really simple, you just need to keep working in this way. Maybe you keep lying, being rebellious, betraying God, or opposing God, or perhaps you have loads of conceptions—it doesn’t matter how you act.” And yet what is the result? They still say,[a] “I have a heart that loves God. No one can ruin my relationship with God, no one can dispel my love for God, no one can influence my loyalty to God.” What kind of psychology is this? Is it not ridiculous? It is, it’s pathetic. There is a certain kind of state in these people’s spirits: withered and pathetically poor. Why do I say withered? Because, when something very simple happens to them, they don’t know when they’ve lied. They don’t realize, they don’t feel any reproach, they feel nothing. Having followed all the way to today, they have no standard to measure their actions by, no matter what they do. They don’t know what kind of person they are, whether they’re deceitful or not, just whether or not they are honest, whether they are able to obey what God asks. They don’t know. Isn’t that pathetic? That’s just how pathetic they are. When they are pathetic to such an extent, they are withered in their spirits. Why do I say that in their spirits they are withered? As I just said, do they know what God asks of them? (No.) Do they know why they believe in God? (No.) Do they know what kind of person they should be? They don’t know anything! Do they know whether there is any sense to whatever they’re doing? Do they know whether whatever they’re doing violates the principles of the truth? (No.) Do they know what kind of attitude they should have toward evil people? Do they know what kind of attitude they should have toward good people, who they should associate with, who they should draw close to? (No.) They are unaware when they have become negative, and they don’t know what state they have fallen into. They know none of this. In this, are they withered? (Yes.) And are you like this? (Yes.) You’re saying “yes,” that makes me feel awful! How could you not know this? So this is your state: You’re always emotional.
I’ll give an example of “emotional.” Some people feel they really love God. In particular, having been born during the last days and accepted this stage of God’s work, they feel that there is no greater honor than to be able to hear God’s words with their own ears, and to be able to personally experience the work of God—it brings them great happiness. And so, they feel they ought to use some means to express their red, sincere heart. And how do they express this? Out come their emotions. What emotions? Their passion bursts forth—and is this something good or bad? Their ugly face emerges, the poet’s demeanor comes forth. Before, when they were a believer in mainland China, they felt oppressed. Why did they feel oppressed? When they entered somewhere they always had to cover their tracks, when they left they had to check if the coast was clear, and wherever they went they wore a hat, glasses, and makeup. They endured great oppression in their lives, and so when the passion took them and they wanted to cry out “Almighty God! I love You!” there was nowhere for them to do so. Isn’t there a song that says about this—what are the words? (“I wanted to cry but no place felt right.”) In mainland China, they didn’t dare cry out. They wanted to, they were overcome with emotion, but they had nowhere to cry out. Why? The environment was too hostile. The police might arrest you even if you didn’t shout this; if you did, it would be like turning yourself in—they’d be even more likely to arrest you. You couldn’t cry out. Now that they’ve left China, there’s finally somewhere for them to let this passion out, finally they are able to express their red, sincere heart, to express how much they love God—that emotion they can’t express in words. There are places where they can do this abroad, there is religious freedom, so they feel they need to express it. They find somewhere outside without many people and start shouting. But just before they do, they feel they don’t have enough confidence. In a small voice, they cry, “Almighty God …” They look about and say, “No, I can’t shout, I can’t cry anything.” And what do they think when they can’t? “No, the red, sincere heart isn’t enough!” Why is it not enough? “Because I still don’t have enough love for God.” As a result, they feel awful, they return home and cry, saying: “O God, when the environment wasn’t right, we didn’t dare cry out that we love You; now the environment is OK, yet still I don’t have the faith, the words don’t come out. What can I do? My stature is too small, my faith too paltry, I lack life.” From then on, they pray for this, and prepare themselves, and start putting in effort. They often read the words of God, and are so moved by them that tears stream down their face. This mood and passion brew and accumulate in their heart, growing ever stronger. It gets to the point when one day, they feel they’re more or less ready, that they can go to a large square that holds several thousand people and testify to God before the crowds, shouting, “I love You, Almighty God!” They feel themselves full of emotion, that the time has come to cry out. But when they get there and take a look, they say: “Oh, there are so many people! There are loads and loads of them. Well, I’ll still shout it out! Haven’t I prepared for this? I have the red, sincere heart!” And are they able to cry out? When they try to, the words still don’t come out; when the time comes to cry out, they lose their voice, they hold back—why? “I have no stature, I don’t have enough love for God, I’m going back!” Even today, they have perhaps still not shouted it. But whether they do cry out or not, this is something laughable. What’s the use in shouting this? Is shouting like this putting the truth into practice? Is it testifying to God? (No.) So why do people persist in shouting that? What is this? Because, in their hearts, they believe that shouting this is more important, more real, and more powerful than any practical work that testifies to the work of God and spreads the word of God. What kind of person is this? (Someone ridiculous.) It is someone with a red, sincere heart—how can you say they’re ridiculous? It’s wrong to condemn them, yes? Is it good or bad to have such emotions? Is it normal or not? Does it fall within the bounds of normal humanity? (No.) Why? What is God’s aim in asking people to perform their duty, understand the truth, and put the truth into practice? Is it to make their emotion of love toward God or their emotion in performing their duty even more intense? (No.) Then what is it for?
Do you intermittently or often have this emotion? When you do have this emotion, do you feel that it comes on very abruptly and is not normal, or it is hard to suppress? And even though it is hard to suppress, do you still try to overcome it? Regardless, it is nothing but an emotion. It is not the effect achieved after people understand the truth, put the truth into practice, or follow the way of God; it is an abnormal state. So can such abnormal states be ranked as bigotedness? This depends on the circumstances and the degree of severity. Some rank as bigotedness, some turn into evil. It’s normal for people to have this mood from time to time. What isn’t normal? When they can’t overcome this emotion and do something, and when they are living for this. Every day, they do everything for the sake of this. When they read God’s words, it is for the sake of this, as is when they spread the gospel, or perform any duty; everything they do revolves around this. This becomes the value and meaning of their existence or their living—and that’s a problem; their aims and direction have become skewed. There are some ugly faces, some stubborn things, and some abnormal moods to people who live by a red, sincere heart. So, given that the people who live by this often live amidst a certain emotion, or else frequently live amidst this kind of state, are they capable of understanding the truth? (No.) And if they can’t understand the truth, what do they listen to the message according to? What do they read God’s words according to? Do you know? If they rely on this method to pursue, follow, and believe in God, are they able to gain the truth? (No.) Why? Nothing they do is based on putting the truth into practice or pursuing the truth. They don’t pay any attention to just what the truth is, and what God’s words say—they ignore these things. It’s as if all they need to believe in God is a heart; they rub their heart, feel that they’re still alive, that they are still able to do things, that they’re still making an effort, and that’s all—it’s that simple. They don’t know about such things as understanding the truth, putting the truth into practice, and being saved. But that’s not necessarily the case. They do think about matters pertaining to salvation; they think that if their emotions intensify to a certain point, they may well be saved. But when that time comes they’ll be in trouble! This is one aspect, and it’s fairly serious. This has been their method throughout. They use this method to pursue, they use this state of mind and attitude to pursue, believing that they just need a heart to believe in God, and that’s all: “I don’t need to understand the truth, I don’t need to look within myself, nor do I need to come before God to confess my sins and repent—much less do I need to accept any judgment and chastisement, pruning and dealing, or the reproach and criticism of any person. I don’t need these things, I just need to have a red, sincere heart.” This is the principle by which they believe in God. Ultimately, they say, “As long as I feel good, then I believe that acting thus will surely make God happy; if I’m happy, then God is happy, and so it’s OK—I’ll be saved by my belief in God.” Does this resemble the logic of an idiot? So did many of you have such a state when you first started believing in God? (Yes.) But today, you ought not to, yes? Or have you continued to have this emotion, this state, throughout? If, throughout, you live in this state, without rectifying or changing it in the slightest, then it is fair to say that you understand nothing of the truth. The truth has no connection to you; you don’t understand the truth, you don’t know the aim or significance of God’s salvation of man. You don’t understand these things, nor do you understand what belief in God is all about. Is it fair to say that? (Yes.)
So today, what do you believe the difference is between belief in God and belief in religion, and religiousness? When someone believes in religion, what do people think in their conceptions? That person believes in religion because they have no path to living. They might have difficulties at home, or else want to find something to rely on, to find spiritual sustenance. Belief in religion is often nothing more than making people do good deeds, be benevolent, help others, be kind to others, do more good deeds to accumulate virtues, not kill people or commit arson, not do the things that bad people do, not hit people or curse them, not steal or rob, not swindle others—this is the concept of “belief in religion” in all people’s heads. So today, how much of the concept of belief in religion exists in your hearts? Can you tell, when you have these thoughts, whether they are belief in religion? Is there a difference in the state in this? What is the difference between belief in religion and belief in God? When you first started believing in God, you may feel, “I believe in religion, and I believe in God—they’re the same thing.” But today, after believing in God for more than five years, just what do you think belief in God is? Is there any difference with belief in religion? (There is.) Is it a big difference? (Yes.) What makes it a big difference? Belief in religion means following a certain ritual, and it’s in order to bring happiness and comfort to one’s spirit. It doesn’t relate to questions of what path people walk, or by what means people live. It doesn’t concern their way of living. Which is to say, there is no change in your mental world, or inner world; you are still you, for you have not accepted the external things that change your humanity and your heart. You have merely done some good deeds or followed ceremony and dogma, you have merely engaged in some religion-related activities—just this, that’s all. So what does belief in God refer to? It means a change in how you live in this world, it means that there has already been a change in the value of your existence and the aims of your life. Originally, you lived for things such as honoring your ancestors, being successful, having a good life, and achieving fame and fortune. Today, you have abandoned those things. You wish to follow God, not Satan. You wish to forsake Satan, to forsake this evil trend, going against the current, and sailing against the wind. You follow God, and when you follow God what you accept is the truth, and the path you walk is the path of pursuing the truth. Your life’s direction has completely changed. So, in simple terms, can it be said that belief in God means your way of living is different—that you have changed your way of living? You follow the Creator, you submit to the Creator’s arrangements, you accept the rule of the Creator, you accept the Creator’s salvation, and ultimately you achieve being a true created being. Does this mean your way of living changed? It is the complete opposite of your previous way of life, what you used to pursue, and the previous motivations and meaning behind all you did—they’re two different things. We’ll leave it there for this little interlude on the difference between religiousness and belief in God.
Are you more or less able to compare yourselves against the state of “the red, sincere heart”? So today, do you spend most of your time living by the red, sincere heart, or do you only occasionally have this state? If you occasionally have such a state, this proves that you have rid yourself of that state, and have already begun to pursue the truth and escape from that condition. If you still spend most of your time living by that thing, and don’t know how to rid yourself of it, how to escape from that state, this proves that you are still living by the red, sincere heart, that you are still living by your emotions, and that you still don’t know what the truth is; it proves that you don’t understand the truth. Is there a big difference? If it’s an occasional emotion, if you occasionally have this state, this can be changed. But if you use this means to pursue and carry on living, and don’t have the slightest understanding of the truth, then that’s dangerous. There’s a difference, yes? Since there’s a difference, they must be treated differently. If you occasionally have this state, then you must change it, you must dissect it: Where did this state come from? Why do you feel this way? What does transient emotionalism bring you? What is the fault in acting in this way? By acting in this way, will you gain the truth? Will it increase your faith in God? You must understand and experience these things. That’s basically it for this topic. What remains is for you to compare this to yourselves.
There’s another state which is quite close to that of the red, sincere heart, although it’s less serious, not quite as severe. It is a problem of people’s corrupt disposition, not a question of how they pursue; there may be no problem with the root of what they pursue, but their disposition has a problem—which is that this person is very emotional, very wayward and unstable. When they’re happy, they do a great job, they’re very attentive and fastidious, their work looks presentable to all who see it. They say, “Today I’m happy, I’ve satisfied God, God loves me, God accepts me, I have put the truth into practice.” Today they’re happy, they’re in a good mood, they feel upbeat, they get on very well, very harmoniously, with everyone, and they take it upon themselves to ask, “Is there any other duty I can do? What do you think of my performance over the last few days?” They’re very proactive, during such times they’re very active in performing their duty, and what they express suggests that they are somewhat loyal, and have some sense of responsibility. This is when they’re in a good state. When they’re in a good state, there could well be a reason; they might have done a good job and been praised, making everybody think highly of them and earning them praise. Or else, many people might have admired and applauded something they’ve made. This is like a gas-filled balloon; the more you pump it up, the higher it goes. Yet a day suddenly comes when they perform the same duty, but don’t try to figure out God’s will when they do. They are acting by their own experience—and what happens when they do? When they do things by relying on their own experience, they do them badly. They don’t perform their duty properly, they are dealt with, and everyone is unhappy with them and criticizes them. The person becomes negative, and says, “I’m not going to perform this duty, I’ve no way of doing it properly. Whoever else can do, should—I can’t. I can’t wait on you, you’re all better than me, I’m not right for this, whoever wants to do it, should!” If someone fellowships the truth with them, can they take it in? They don’t understand, and say: “What is this? What’s the point in fellowshiping this? What does the truth matter? If I’m happy, I’ll do it—and if I’m not, I won’t. Why make such a big deal out of this? I’m not going to do it. I’ll do it when I’m feeling happy.” What of this? They’re consistently like this; whether they’re performing their duty, reading God’s words, listening to sermons, taking part in an assembly, or associating with people, in every aspect of their life, what they reveal is by turns cloudy and sunny, happy and sad, hot and cold, negative and positive. In sum, be it good or bad, all this is obvious, you can tell straight away. In everything they do, there’s no perseverance; it is according to their wayward nature, it is directed by their wayward nature. When they’re happy, they do things a little better, and when they’re not, they do them badly—or might even not do them at all, washing their hands of their duty. Everything they do is based on how they’re feeling, their environment, their own demands, and their own tastes; they don’t have any resolve to suffer, nor do they keep themselves in check, and no one can touch them. When someone does, their claws come out, they fly into a rage, their emotion disappears, they’re in low spirits, and they grow negative. What’s more, everything they do is based on their own tastes. “If I enjoy this task, I’ll do it. If I don’t like doing something, then I won’t do it now, or after a while, or tomorrow, or in the future. Any of you who wants to do it, should. This has nothing to do with me.” What kind of person is this? When they’re happy and in a good state, they love God so much they can’t put it into words, they shed enough tears to drown everyone. When they’re excited, no one can stop them. When they’re feeling down, they also bawl their eyes out, and no one can cheer them up. Don’t you think this is over the top? Do they need to cry so much? Isn’t this a hassle? “How old are you?” someone asks. “Not young anymore, I’m in my forties,” they reply. But when you look at their disposition, and what they express and reveal, you’d think they were a twenty-year-old child. Yet because of their disposition, their way of living and doing things is always wayward. Nothing they do involves any perseverance, loyalty, sense of responsibility, or burden; they never suffer, and are unwilling to assume any responsibility. When they’re happy, they can do everything—they’ve no problem with a little suffering, or any loss to their own interests. But if they’re not happy, even when something’s to their own benefit, they won’t do it. What kind of person is this? Is this your state? Those who have this state raise your hands. That’s quite a few people! This is bad, right? Why is this bad? (It’s not normal.) It’s more than a problem of not being normal—it’s not just that.
What causes a person’s waywardness? Some people say: “It’s because their disposition is unstable. They’re too young, they haven’t suffered enough. Let them spend eight years in prison—then we’ll see whether they’re well-behaved! There’s no way they’d still be like that. After eight years in jail, it will have been ground out of them. They will have become like pebbles in water. Could there be any chance of them not being well-behaved? Everyone becomes well-behaved when they’re hit with an electric baton.” Is that the case? It is not. This is a problem of disposition—and a very serious one! When performing an important duty, they delay this duty, they hold up the progress of the work, harming the interests of the house of God. They also have an impact when performing a general duty, they also hold things up. They are of no benefit to others, themselves, or the work of the house of God. The harm they cause when they do bad things during times that they’re negative, or when they hold up God’s work by washing their hands of their duty, outweighs the benefits to the house of God or anyone else when they do some small task or pay some small price. Are you all liable to do that? Everyone has this disposition. So tell Me, what disposition is this? To say it’s the dislike of the truth, abhorrence of the truth, is an understatement. “What do you mean the truth? That I’m happy and satisfied is what’s important. When I’m unhappy, it doesn’t matter what anyone says—what’s so great about the truth? What’s so great about God? I’m number one, I’m top dog!” What kind of disposition is this? (Hatred of the truth.) It certainly involves hatred and abhorrence of the truth. Is there also any arrogance in it? Is there stubbornness in it? (Yes.) Something else that’s serious: When they’re being proactive, or when they’re happy, you can’t tell that there’s anything wrong with them. You think they’re alright; they’re pretty obedient, they’re willing to pay a price, they love the truth—but when they wash their hands of their duty, out comes their vicious side, and they don’t listen to anyone. “What truth? My own happiness and comfort is what’s important.” What disposition is this? (Maliciousness.) They’re malicious! If they haven’t done anything, that’s because you haven’t pushed them; if you try to, they’ll bare their teeth at you—or even worse, they’ll claw at you. What do you think, are they fierce? Who dares provoke them? Waywardness is by no means a problem of character or youth. When people are wayward, it is because there is a deeply-rooted disposition hidden within them, and they are being directed by this disposition from within. How could it be an issue of youth? Are older people not wayward? When people are older, are they more judicious and sensible? Yes? They live by these things. So when they live by these things, does this involve submission? Does it involve the search for the truth? Does it involve tolerance? (No.) Does it involve any love for the truth? It involves none of this.
Do you all have this disposition I just spoke of? (Yes.) So without fellowship, would you feel this is a problem? (Yes.) Is it that, without fellowship, you would feel this is a problem, or that after fellowshiping, you feel this is a very serious problem? (After fellowshiping.) After fellowshiping, you feel it’s somewhat serious, yes? When people are wayward, this isn’t caused by objective reasons—it’s a problem of disposition. And in all problems of disposition, there is a consequence to what is revealed and what people do. For example, someone might have an objective reason: Their stomach’s giving them trouble, and it hurts so much they don’t want to speak. They don’t even have the energy to eat or drink, much less talk; they just want to lie down. Their stomach is so painful they’re short with others; when someone comes to say a few words to them, they have no patience, they reveal a somewhat brusque tone. Is this a problem of disposition? Sometimes the problem is not due to someone’s disposition, but because they’re ill and are having a hard time. The person talking to them has no empathy for them. They’re having such a hard time, so why do you still ask them any questions? You’d be better off waiting until their pain has passed. But if they’re often like this, if they still speak this way even when they don’t have that wrong with them, then this is a problem of disposition. Now, though, given how much pain they’re in, how could you not be considerate of them? This is a normal phenomenon, there is an objective reason for it. It is universally acknowledged that, when they say or do such things under these circumstances, it is natural and excusable, it is human nature, and the expression and revelation of normal humanity. For example, when someone’s mother dies, is it normal for you not to cry? (It is.) So is it normal for you not to cry if your mother dies? That’s not normal. It could be that you’re forcing yourself not to cry, but still cry afterward. This is normal. Some ridiculous people say: “When someone else’s mother dies, he doesn’t have the slightest compassion, he doesn’t shed a single tear. He’s so callous!” What kind of words are these? Are they objective? When someone’s mother dies and they cry, that ridiculous person says: “See how sentimental he is. He still remembers her even now, he didn’t let go after all those years, he still cries! What’s he crying for? I’m not going to cry.” The next day, when their mother dies, they cry harder than the other person. What are they like when something happens to them? Worse than the other person, yes? You must be careful what you say. There are objective reasons for some things. They are the expression and revelation of normal humanity. You must be able to tell what’s normal and what isn’t—it depends on the circumstances. Where have we got to again? Emotionalism—and emotionalism is bad, yes? What people live by all relates to two problems: One is disposition, and one is the manner and path of people’s pursuit. It is certainly not a question of temperament, character, or a superficial way of doing things. It is a problem of what path people pursue, of their viewpoint, and their disposition. What we just talked about relates to disposition, yes?
Here’s another aspect. When people have believed in God for several years and live in the house of God, each of them is surrounded by a core group. And how do they live in this group? How do they stand firm? How are they able to interact and live in harmony with others, how do they get along peacefully with them? They have a trick. When anyone assesses them, they say, “They’re not bad, they’re OK, they’re good.” They have a trick—what trick? It’s their “supreme philosophy of interpersonal relations.” When I added “supreme” to “philosophy of interpersonal relations,” some people thought it sounded funny, saying that the two don’t go together, that they’re an odd combination. Why did I say “supreme”? For most people who have a philosophy of interpersonal relations—those people who have a strategy for interacting with others and handling things—what is the principle, foundation, basis by which they exist, or what’s their trick, what’s their secret? They have a philosophy for getting along with everyone: This is the precept they value above all else. They do so even with believers in God. And what do they believe? “No one is immune from worldly concerns. Don’t you believe in God? Don’t you abide by principles? Don’t you understand the truth? Well then, I have the interpersonal philosophy for you. Aren’t you serious about everything? Don’t you think the principles of the truth important? I don’t understand the principles of the truth, but I can still make you think well of me.” Is this a philosophy? “I can still make you dance to my tune, I can still pull your strings. You would say I’m good, that I’m a good person. When I turn my back, you’re incapable of saying anything bad about me—but when your back is turned and I say you’re useless, you don’t know; when your back is turned and I play tricks on you and sell you out, you have no idea.” What is this? An interpersonal philosophy. And what is contained within this interpersonal philosophy? Plots, cunning schemes, techniques, and ways and means. They have their own ways and means of speaking. For instance, seeing that someone is useful or has status, their words are very polite, and they bow and scrape when they talk. But when they speak to people whom they believe to be less capable or inferior to them, they’re always condescending, they always look down on them, after which the person feels they’re above them, and always looks up to them. In their inner world, they have their way of toying with and manipulating people, they have a method for dealing with every type of person. When they meet you, with a single glance they know what kind of person you are, how they should treat you, and how they should interact with you; their brain immediately thinks of a tactic. They are mature, sophisticated, stable, they don’t need to think when they engage or apply their interpersonal philosophy, they don’t need to do a draft, much less do they need anyone to teach them, let alone do they need to learn from the experience of others. Some of it they think of themselves, some is learned from others, copied from others, or the result of others’ influence; other people might not have told them, but they get it, they just learn those things, those interpersonal philosophies, techniques, ways and means, plots, and calculations. Are people who live by these things possessed of the truth? Are they able to live by the truth? (No.) Being incapable of living by the truth, what impact do they have on others? People are often tricked and duped by them. What else? (They’re taken advantage of by them.) That’s one—you’re right to say that. What else? There are many others. Such things are not necessarily unique to them—they exist in everyone. Do you take advantage of people? Do you toy with them? There’s something else: Some people are good at blandishments, words that make others happy and satisfied when they hear them, words that sound good and are pleasing to the ear, words which, after they’ve heard them, make people feel at ease. Yes or no? When you drop by their house, they walk with you a long distance away from their home instead of keeping you there to eat. When it’s time for food, they say, “You’re leaving at dinnertime, why not eat here?” But they keep walking you out; when you’re a distance away, they say, “Why don’t you stay for food? I don’t see you often, why go so soon?” That’s as they’re getting you half way there. What thing is this person? They speak blandishments, say nice-sounding words, but they don’t actually do anything. Are there many people like this? Do you do this? Saying nice things but not actually doing anything—this is toying with people.
Have there been times when you’ve acted as follows? The above calls you to assembly or an update and you prepare several questions; in fact, you don’t need to ask these questions, but to achieve your aim, you have to ask them. What aim? “I have to let the above know that I take my work seriously, so I can ask some questions. If I don’t ask any questions, the above will believe I haven’t done any actual work, and so don’t know anything, and don’t have any questions. Based on this, I must ask some questions, for appearance’s sake. This will inform the above of one thing: I’m responsible, I’m doing my work. The above can’t forget me.” Is this your aim? Have there been times when you’ve done this? (Yes.) What is this? (Being deceitful.) Being deceitful—is this one of the techniques of an interpersonal philosophy? For example, say two people work as a pair. There’s somewhere they have to go; it has bad food, it’s small, dirty and messy, and a little dangerous—it could be unsafe. When asked who’ll go, what do they say? “Why don’t you go today? If I were to go, as they don’t like me, they’d always be restrained. What can be done? It seems they like you more. If you go, it’ll be good for them, and it’ll be good for the work—so you go! If I went, I’d have an effect on them, I’d make you and them feel restrained. For the sake of the work of the house of God, for the benefit of the growth of the lives of the brothers and sisters, I won’t go, I won’t make a fool of myself. I’ll leave this good task up to you.” When the other person hears this, they say, “That’s a very pragmatic thing to say.” They’ve fallen for it, and they go. Regardless of the circumstances of the person who’s fallen for it—no matter whether they believe these words or not, whether they go out of frustration or voluntarily—in sum, what kind of thing is the one who deceives people? The reason they give seems like a noble-sounding justification, it seems convincing, but are they putting the truth into practice? Do they really want to do well by their brothers and sisters? No, they’re lying. So what is the philosophy within them? They employ blandishments, and nice-sounding words that seem to be of benefit to people, in order to achieve their aim of not enduring this suffering, of not wanting to go. Is there a technique to this? You think and act in this way, you haven’t turned your back on this—so do you live by this thing? You have been controlled and bound by the techniques of this philosophy, you have not stepped beyond, you live in the corrupt disposition of Satan, and amidst the bondage of Satan. But what if you go beyond this? That’s what you think, but then you think: “No, thinking like that, I’m bad, wicked, I must quickly take back what I said, I’ll apologize to them, open up to them, saying, ‘I revealed myself as corrupt, I lied, and I’m sorry’; today, I must go to that place, even if I die there I still have to go.” In fact, you won’t necessarily die—how could you die so easily? You must have the resolve to turn your back on this thing. At such times, what are you living by? Only this is what it means to live by the truth.
Say there are two people who work as a pair, and they’re both afraid of taking on responsibility. They start to fight: “You go and do it.” “No you, your caliber is better than mine.” What they’re actually thinking in their minds is: “Whoever goes is finished; if it is done well there’ll be no reward, and if it isn’t, there’ll be dealing. I’m not going, I’m not that stupid. You’re urging me to go, do you think I’m stupid? I know what you’re trying to do. Don’t try and make me go.” And after fighting on and on with each other, what happens? Neither of them go, and the work is held up. Is this wicked? The final outcome is that the work is held up. Is this good or bad? (Bad.) This outcome is bad. So what do these two people live by? (Their own philosophies.) They have been taken captive, taken control, and bound by interpersonal philosophies and their own cunning schemes, and are unable to put the truth into practice. In this, are they bearing testimony? (No) They’ve failed. This is one aspect. There are other pairs who don’t have any disagreements. Of the two, one person takes the lead in everything; in all matters, they have the last word. And the other person says, “They’re competent. Next time something comes up, ask them to do it. If it goes badly, they’ll be the one who takes the blame, and they’ll also be the one subjected to dealing and pruning. That’s what happens when you stick your head above the parapet. So I’ll keep my head down. As it happens, I’m of poor caliber, and I don’t like stress, so OK—I’ll leave this up to them. Don’t they like sticking their neck out? Don’t they like being first off the blocks? Aren’t they capable? Isn’t that a chance? I’ll leave this for them to handle. Indeed you’re very capable. Any recognition will go to you, but shouldn’t you also be the one to suffer dealing? I’m staying out of it!” They always try to be nice, they follow after others—and what happens in the end? How well do they perform their duty? They’ve lived within this throughout, they’ve never ventured outside. What is this living by? (Interpersonal philosophy.) And they think something else, as well: “If I steal their thunder, will they be angry with me? Will this upset our working together in the future, will it affect our relationship? If so, it will be hard for us to get along.” And so, they do not abide by principle. Isn’t this an interpersonal philosophy? Day after day, this interpersonal philosophy harms them and places them in bondage. Is it tiring to live like this? (It is.) It’s not—what’s tiring about it? If it were tiring, would they live like this? Living like this saves them trouble. They don’t have to shoulder any responsibility; whatever they’re asked to do, they follow; they don’t have to stick their neck out, or think about any problems. When anything happens, they don’t have to be the first to think about it, someone else will handle it. As such, they don’t get tired. You said they get tired because you didn’t truly experience this. What is there to make them tired? If enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labor is tiring, what about those who are doing the job? Following after others isn’t tiring, that’s what they wish. This is what an interpersonal philosophy is. If they don’t live by the truth, and don’t abide by principle, then they’re not cooperating with others but just following after them. Why do I say they’re not cooperating with others? Because they don’t fulfill their responsibility in anything they do. They don’t do it with all their heart, and might not even act with all their strength and mind. And so, what are they living by? They are living by an interpersonal philosophy—which is not living by the truth. Are there many examples of this? I’ll give you another example, something which often happens. In the course of performing their duty, someone does something bad that harms the interests of the house of God. You see it, and say to yourself, “They haven’t done this very well at all.” In your mind, you think it over and say, “This is nothing to do with me, and it hasn’t harmed my interests. What’s more, I’m not the one who’s going to be dealt with—it wasn’t me who did it, it wasn’t by my hand. What am I doing getting involved? I won’t involve myself in things that don’t concern me, I’ll leave this to others. Whoever wants to involve themselves in this, can—I won’t, I’ll just get on with my own work, and nothing more. If anything happens, it’ll have nothing to do with me. Even if I did understand, I’d still keep quiet. Let them take the hit, let them take the wrong path, I’m not getting involved.” Is this an interpersonal philosophy? Do they have good intentions? (No.) What is this living by? Some people are like this in certain matters, revealing this disposition and doing things this way, while others are like this in everything, and never put the truth into practice. Regardless of whether you act and live like this all the time, or only act like this very seldomly, what does this relate to? It concerns interpersonal philosophies and corrupt dispositions—it’s not a problem of how you do things.
What other interpersonal philosophies do people often experience and see? You often encounter, often see, these things, yes? So speak up. (My most obvious interpersonal philosophy is that, when interacting with my brothers and sisters, I often use petty favors to bribe others, to make them praise me, or make them like me or think highly of me. I also pander to the likes of others.) That’s one technique—pandering to the likes of people or the other person. That’s one kind of interpersonal philosophy. (When I see others’ problems, I don’t dare to speak out directly, fearing it will harm my relationship with them.) Being afraid of offending people when speaking, not saying things directly, not saying what’s on your mind, not saying exactly what you think, always beating around the bush, only saying things that sound nice, don’t offend others, and don’t touch upon principles or questions of substance—yes? That’s one aspect, it’s also an interpersonal philosophy. (Sometimes, when I identify some problems, I’m afraid that if I speak of them, other people won’t accept my viewpoint, so I don’t say anything, and people don’t know what I’m really thinking. Often, for the sake of protecting my own pride and status, I go along with what other people say.) This is currying favor with others, it’s a kind of interpersonal philosophy. Regardless of in whatever respect people don’t practice the truth, these are the ugly faces they live out—and they are all the demonic faces of Satan. Some are insidious, some are treacherous, some are base, some are sordid, some are lowly, and some are pitiable. Those who always curry favor with others are born with a crooked back, they nod and stoop. Some people naturally have the desire to take advantage of and scheme against people—they’re very wily. Some try to come across as slick and sophisticated wherever they are. They change what they say depending on who they meet. Their minds are very sharp; as soon as they see what kind of person someone is, that’s how they speak to them. They know as soon as they meet someone how they should converse with them; as soon as their eyes meet, as soon as they’re face to face, they know how to act toward that person. How impressive they are! What of this kind of person? They’re too sly, they’re incapable of living by the truth. Keep going: Who else is there apart from people who are terrified of offending anyone, crafty people, and cunning people? What are those who speak the words of man when they meet a person, and the words of demons when they meet demons? Slippery. What else? (Sometimes, I see a problem but don’t dare to speak up. I wait and see, and only raise the problem when most people have begun speaking; I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and having to take responsibility.) You often follow the majority, it’s a case of “The law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender”—yes? What problem is this? What disposition is this? Is this crafty? This is craftiness. You never want to offend anyone or fall behind. “If everyone else is saying it, I’ll say it; if no one is saying it, I’ll keep my mouth shut. What if I happen to say the wrong thing?” You always give yourself a way out—you’re very calculating! This is what Satan left in man, it is what Satan instilled in people. Have you ever done the following things: You toady up to whoever’s a leader, you kick whoever’s down, and ignore them—do you have the capacity for that? It doesn’t matter who is chosen as leader; if they’re in charge, you think everything about them is great: “Aw, you have a beautiful face, and the perfect height. You’ve also got a good voice—you sound like a broadcaster, you’re like a lark bird when you speak, it’s as if you’re singing.” You think of every way you can to curry favor, so that the leader speaks well of you and doesn’t deal with you. You’ll find a chance to toady up, do some small favor, such as making some soup or sending some little gift; you keep an eye on the leader’s words and expressions to see what they like, and come up with a way to get it for them; you’ll come up with a way of making whatever dish the leader likes. Do you employ such techniques? (I don’t dare to say too much when I see the problems or shortcomings of the leaders and workers at higher levels. I’m afraid the leaders will say I’m overreaching, I’m worried that they will have that kind of impression about me.) You lack principle, yes? So, in your heart, do you know whether what you say is right or not? Whether it is of benefit to the work? (I’m somewhat clear about this.) You’re sure that it’s right to do that, but you don’t dare to stick to the principles—so are you able to not care whether what you say is right or wrong, but speak of what you think and believe, present it to allow everyone to differentiate? Sometimes, you give it some thought, and say to yourself, “Let everyone differentiate? That’s nothing to do with me, I won’t say anything about that. After I’ve said it, who knows how they might deal with me.” Are there also times when you think this? (Yes.) These philosophies and ways are pretty high—see how complex everyone’s brain is!
a. The original text omits “They still say.”