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Question 6: To protect my own position and self-respect I often cover up the truth, for example when I realize I’ve done a bad job, or when I don’t do things as well as others, I don’t want to face the fact. It’s as if admitting it will make me inferior, so I use this kind of attitude to avoid it, or I try to explain my way out of it, because I don’t want others to look down on me.
>Answer: This is a question of saying what’s in your heart. We all have this kind of state, don’t we? Some people seem especially pure and open, they speak honestly about everything they did, do you believe they don’t have such misgivings? They do. Why can they speak so purely and openly? They practice this way because they have penetration into this matter. Actually, even if you don’t say anything, everyone knows, and if you say it, everyone will understand. The problem will become insignificant or disappear. Someone always wears a hat, and others ask, “Why do you always wear a hat? Something must be wrong with you.” One day they might be fooling around, and the asker takes the opportunity to knock the hat from the wearer’s head and sees the problem—bald spots. And at that point, someone else will stand up and say, “It’s just bald spots, isn’t it? You should have told me earlier, I know how to treat bald spots.” Is this person not getting in the way of his own treatment? Some things which, once you gain the penetration to understand them, become insignificant when they are exposed. Some brother says, “There’s a sister in the church, and whenever I look at her, I like her, and I always think of ways to get closer to her, speak heart-to-heart, and be her boyfriend, but I got embarrassed. I have the courage to say what I thought now, but at the time I dared not say it, I thought others would laugh at me. But later someone else laid bare something similar, and others said, ‘Everyone goes through what you’re feeling right now!’ They understood, so I found the courage to speak.” He found the courage to say it, but is it a good thing that he did? No. Why not? The moment you say it, if that woman says, “You want to be my boyfriend? Why didn’t you say something earlier? I want to be your girlfriend!” Uh-oh. Now there is trouble! When we open up about things, there are some things we can’t say openly. There are some things that can’t be said in public. Before you say something publicly, think. If saying it won’t incur any great wickedness or consequences, then you can say it, but you have to examine whether or not saying it will have negative consequences, or whether it will cause hurt for others, damage their interests, or create a negative influence for them. If there are no negative consequences, there’s usually nothing wrong with opening up and sharing a corrupt disposition. But some secrets can’t be told, and some secrets have to be told in a certain way. You can’t simply blurt out the person’s name.
A good example to use is if you don’t perform well in your work for the church. That shouldn’t involve personal secrets, that should be something we can speak openly about, right? If someone has misgivings about opening up on this subject because of his self-respect, he is too vain and covers up his own shortcomings, too dishonest and cunning. So there are some things we shouldn’t open up about, out of wisdom and consideration for the interests of others, and that’s allowable. Some things should be public, some things are major issues which need to be made public to help everyone understand the truth. How one fails to perform his duties properly, the nature of taking the path of an antichrist, or personal intentions, these are things which should be made public so everyone can seek the truth, search for God’s will, and gain penetration into the true essence of the problem. That helps people grow, doesn’t it? Things that edify people should be public and spoken about openly, and if you don’t open up because of your vanity, you are cunning. More than simple vanity is behind this behavior, that isn’t the problem here, this is cunning. Their essences are different. Doesn’t that mean we’re dealing with two types of conditions? The first involves personal secrets, which is allowable in considered circumstances, but things related to duties and corrupt disposition, things about committing evil acts and issues of principle, these things need to be openly shared and fellowshiped, because if we all use these matters to fellowship about the truth, it benefits all of us. If you don’t open up and speak the truth about these things, a few individuals with discernment may benefit from your problem, but those who lack the discernment won’t benefit at all, isn’t that right?
Also, he says he always tries to explain his way out of problems or avoid them because he doesn’t want others to look down on him. This is someone with a gravely arrogant disposition. He fears that his image in others’ eyes will be tarnished. The essence of the problem is serious. What is that but a Pharisee? Was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees not to establish their image in the hearts of others? Was it not to gain status in the hearts of others? If you don’t want to make people worship you and fear that you will gain status in their hearts and do harm to them, then you need to open up, lay bare the truth about yourself, allow others to see through yourself, stop others from worshiping you, and encourage them to treat you correctly. That’s better for everyone, isn’t it? We need to fully understand this issue. The truth is, no matter whether you open up or what your intentions may be, you appear as you are in God’s heart, and you will eventually appear as you are in the hearts of men. This has nothing to do with your actions, no human actions can change this. No matter how you try to establish yourself or how you lay bare your degradation and ugliness, people will see you as you are. The more you fear people will look down on you, the more they will, but if you act without that fear, people might actually look up to you, “He has courage, courage I don’t have. Look at how purely and honestly he opens up about this, he lays bare his own ugliness, why don’t I have that courage? In this thing he does better than me, he is above me, he practices the truth with more courage than I do.” Isn’t that how people will see it? If that’s how people see it, then the consequences of some things are different than we think, they’re exactly the opposite of what we imagine. The more you degrade and expose yourself, the more people will admire and approve of you, but the more you pretend, the greater your hypocrisy, the more people will look down on you and expose you. Isn’t that what the great red dragon does? It has established itself for years, made everyone treat it as the “red sun,” like their own parents, and the result is that everyone hates it, it’s become “a mouse crossing the street,” something that makes people scream in alarm and try to kill it. The more it tries to establish itself, the more it dooms itself. You may as well go straight to the seat of judgment and admit that you are a sinner and a devil. If you admit that you are a sinner and a devil and should be abandoned by people, they will at least know how to deal with you correctly. That’s a fact, and once you understand its essence, you will know how to practice in an appropriate manner.
Question 7: I’ve realized I rely too much on my imagination when I speak. Sometimes I understand or intuit a few things about an issue without any real penetration, and then I express viewpoints because of my arrogant nature, which ends up misleading people. That’s how I realized my own words were untrustworthy. How can I solve this type of state?
Answer: This is someone who shows understanding of his own state. It shows he has some experience, that he exposed his own state, spoke about it, and laid it bare, isn’t that a good thing? How should we look at his question? This is someone with experience. He became aware of his own hypocrisy, and saw clearly the truth and substance of how he spoke blindly and blurted things out without penetration; he understood that being dominated by his arrogant nature, he was especially arrogant and conceited, and so he was able to act this way and say these words. This level of penetration shows that his experience isn’t shallow, most of people don’t gain this level of penetration without eight or ten years of experience. This is a university-level spiritual education, that’s how far his experience has progressed. He can say these words, so who would look down on him? He sees his own words as untrustworthy, and when others look at him, they say, “Your experience goes deeper than mine, your spiritual stature is bigger than mine, I still think I’m a good, trustworthy person. I still don’t think I’m arrogant, I think I’ve solved most of my arrogance, but I’m actually a hypocrite. You’re the one who truly understands himself!” Isn’t that how people see him? That’s why, at times, when you speak about yourself, it might appear from the outside that you know yourself, that you’re exposing yourself and laying bare your own ugliness, as though you want to stamp yourself out of existence, but what everyone says is, “I go through the same things you lay bare, we all do, so why don’t I have the courage to do the same? Merely for the fact that you can lay bare these things about yourself, you are bigger in spiritual stature than those of us who can’t! You have the courage, and it’s not easy to practice the truth with such courage. How many more years of experience before I’ll have that kind of courage? How much more experience do I need before I have the resolve? I’ll need at least another two or three years before I reach that level!” This is how those with understanding see problems, it’s exactly the opposite of what you worry about. Isn’t that how it always turns out?
In the church, there are those who are pure and open and always try to learn more about themselves; they always feel that their practice is too shallow, or that they haven’t learned to accurately conduct their practice according to principle, and they always feel that they are biased and deficient, and it pushes them to keep learning. When others look at such a person, they will say, “So many can’t fellowship anything practical after reading God’s word, but he can, he has that level of understanding. We all have the states he fellowships about, everyone does, but even though everyone has them, other people don’t understand them, so why does he understand them? His spiritual stature is bigger than ours.” That you have these states without understanding them shows your understanding isn’t as deep as his, nor is your spiritual stature as large. It’s similar to how some blush when they lie, while others can lie without it showing. How should we look at this? Those whose faces go red when they lie are honest, those whose faces don’t change at all are deceitful. That’s the difference, isn’t it? The person whose face goes red when he lies, who can’t lie without the redness on his face betraying his ineptitude at it, this person can be saved, this person can gain salvation through experiencing God’s work. The person whose face doesn’t change, who doesn’t give any hint that he’s lying, this person is doomed, he will be eliminated, he is destined to perish. Don’t evaluate people by a set of rules. Every person is different, and we need to learn to evaluate them by their nature and essence, rather than by external appearance. External appearance often contains disguise, deception, and false images. But if people’s nature and essence don’t change, those false images can’t persist for very long. The truth about them will be revealed sooner or later, won’t it?
Look at some leaders, they can’t communicate any reality of the truth, but some of them admit they don’t have any reality of the truth. “What I’m saying might be letters and doctrines, just superficial understanding, it might not contain any reality of the truth, but this is all I have in my heart, so if my fellowship is deficient, I hope my brothers and sisters can forgive me.” Such a leader also has no truth like some others, but he can say such words, so which of them is a good leader? The one who is honest. This is honesty, “I don’t know if there’s any real understanding of the truth in my fellowship, it seems to me like letters and doctrines, or maybe I feel it’s almost the same as letters and doctrines. If it isn’t practical, if it doesn’t benefit my brothers and sisters anything, please forgive me, and if brothers and sisters point out that ‘this is doctrine,’ I won’t do it anymore.” Those are the words of an honest person. Which kind of person will God pity? If someone is blatantly deceitful and speaks letters and doctrines, all the while saying he has the reality of the truth and holding himself up as an example to follow, and responds to anyone who prunes and deals with him with argumentation and sophistry, he rejects the truth! He doesn’t accept the truth. Those who don’t accept truth resist God, are done for. That’s hardly a small problem! You can see a person’s essence from his outward behavior, and you can see his ending. The moment you have penetration into the end people like him come to, once you understand where such people stand in God’s heart, and which of God’s words are directed at such people and describe their end, once you find those words, you will know how to treat them. The asker’s question comes from experience and understanding, and there is hope for such people. They can gain entry into the reality of truth.