What’s the standard for pursuing the truth? Do you count as people who pursue the truth? (I feel that I don’t count as someone who pursues the truth, just someone who is willing to strive for the truth.) So you’ve weighed it pretty well? Have you weighed it accurately? (I don’t understand.) You don’t understand this—do you take it seriously? Have you held yourself up to it? Hold yourself up to it and do some introspection. Do you know what the standard is for pursuing the truth? That is, what do you use to weigh whether or not you are someone who pursues the truth? (Looking at whether or not I’m willing to put the truth into practice when I encounter issues, and I’m able to maintain principles in how I handle all matters, and I can act according to God’s will.) This is a general direction. How about the details? (Having a proper spiritual life every day, and having a genuine fellowship with God, eating and drinking more of His words.) This is the aspect of practice. Is there anything else? (Learning to seek the truth, and ponder God’s will and what His requirements of mankind are when encountering an issue.) This is more detailed. What else is there? (When something befalls me, I focus on looking into my own thoughts and ideas, and learn to recognize what the nature of my words and actions is, and what kind of nature is controlling me.) You all know these basic truths, and you know them doctrinally. You understand these. If people always focus on these things, which they hear frequently and which are spoken of often, if people are always putting effort into these things, then will any result come from it? Will there be any harvest? Can these things have a positive effect on people? (They can.) So do you think that if someone always does that, and always practices that way, in the end results will be seen in them? (Yes.) Right now, do you know how to weigh if a person is someone who pursues the truth? How is that weighed? People frequently accept the truth and know themselves, so what is the end result that is achieved in them? Is it that they are able to understand the truth and God’s will? You don’t know how it’s related, right? Your acceptance of the truth and how you hear sermons is always floating on the surface of some doctrines. You don’t know what outcomes there actually are from these sermons, or what they actually do for people. You don’t know that. If a person always pursues the truth, if they frequently live within that state, and every aspect of their spiritual life is proper, are they able to continuously change? (Yes.) They are able to continuously progress. Look at a child that has just been born. If he can’t nurse for three days, he’ll likely die; but if he can be fed every day, even if conditions don’t allow for him to nurse, he can have some porridge or some formula, won’t he grow bigger every day? He’ll grow every single day, and three years later, or five years later, he’s running all over the place. So did you watch him grow? (No.) You didn’t watch him grow, but after three or five years he was running all over the place, and when you think back to when he was just born, what was he like? He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t run—he couldn’t do anything. Everything he ate had to be fed to him and someone always had to be holding him. His mother had to help him relieve himself, right? If you are always eating and accepting things, in the end it will bear fruit. There’s someone who has been a believer for three years, or five years, but there isn’t much change in them; everything that comes out of their mouth is spiritual vocabulary, spiritual talk, and they do really well in fellowship. They seem really enthusiastic and they have great energy for seeking. It’s just that they haven’t had any change; they haven’t had any progress in the aspect of change in disposition. So what have they done in those three to five years? Have they been pursuing the truth? (No.) That’s exactly it. So now can you take stock of it? (It’s seeing what kind of outcome has been achieved in a person.) You’ve learned the words, but can you take stock of things? (I can’t yet, not really.)
Whether you are within the church living the church life, or you go out to perform your duty, if you are someone who pursues the truth, then you will have some progress within a period of time, and the state of your life will proceed in a positive direction and undergo change. Your spiritual state, faith in God, knowledge of your own corrupt disposition, your own nature, and the truths that God speaks of will all gradually improve. At first you’re enthusiastic, you don’t know anything, and you think that believing in God is being a good person, being a kind person, and then you gradually come to feel that people have corrupt dispositions and should be saved by God, that that is what believing in God is. You slowly gain more understanding of God’s work and God’s will in saving mankind; these things gradually accumulate. The understanding, experience, and feelings of the reality of the truth will gradually be improved. They won’t always just stop at the literal meanings or at the letters and doctrines. But maybe after believing for a number of years, you’re still saying the same slogans and the same letters and doctrines. You are still sounding off, and your faith has not yet undergone much genuine change, nor has your understanding of yourself progressed much. Your understanding of God has not advanced much either, and you are even less capable of discernment of other people. If so, what have you been doing all those years? Was it pursuing the truth? That’s not it. Very obviously it’s a symbol.
Someone says: “I haven’t seen you for years. Let’s have fellowship.” As soon as you begin fellowship, it all sounds very fresh. When you’ve just heard a sermon you are able to speak of some new light, but once it’s been two or three days, all the old words come out again. The minor experiences from the past, the small witness you bore, how God saved you, how He bestowed grace upon you, how He blessed you—all those little things come out again. Less than a week later, you are repeating those experiences and understandings. Have you grown? (No.) One can see that you haven’t. Are you able to have discernment regarding people? It’s the same—you can’t. You can talk a lot more about doctrines—you’ve equipped yourself with a lot of the doctrines—but when something befalls you you’re still perplexed and ignorant, and you don’t know how to have discernment regarding people. When you encounter an issue you can’t handle it, you are lacking principles, and you cannot find the principles of the truth. What is this about? Is there any progress? (No.) You’ve been fulfilling your duty for a number of years, but have you achieved devotedness in fulfilling it? You don’t know, but in any case, you do it every day, on time. Has there been any transformation in your state? Has your state shifted—at first you had the perspective of a non-believer doing work, and then it became fulfilling your responsibilities as a believer in God, shouldering your duty, being devoted to God, and fulfilling your duty in accordance with the truth? Can you weigh that? That’s not really possible. So how has your duty been carried out? Has your state undergone transformation? (No.) If it hasn’t, is that progress? Is there any progress? (There isn’t.) That is not progressing. Isn’t not progressing a problem? How do you treat being dealt with and pruned while performing your duty? With obedience, listening, and without resistance. You had that principle several years ago, and how about now? You still have that principle; it hasn’t changed. You just lend an ear, and after listening you do whatever someone has you do. Do you gain any understanding from being dealt with and pruned? Do you discover any rebellious states of mankind? Do you discover mankind’s corrupt nature? Do you deepen your understanding of yourself? You don’t know; you can’t figure it out. In any case you uphold one principle. When being dealt with and pruned you are obedient, you adjust your mentality, you don’t rebel or make excuses. You bear it and endure it, and the more years you’ve been enduring it, the greater your ability is. You have that kind of perspective. You had that kind of perspective before and you have it even more so now. Isn’t that a demonstration of having gained the truth? (It’s not.) In your process of believing in God, you have not entered into the reality of the truth in any aspect of the truth, nor have you grasped the principles. You just have the general principle and direction, and you say: “When I encounter issues I put the truth into practice, get a good grasp on the principles of the truth and do not step outside of those bounds.” However, when you encounter something you don’t seek, you don’t take it seriously. You just get through it in confusion. Have you held to the general direction? It seems so—you listen and obey, and you complete the tasks you have on hand well. You don’t muddle through things; you uphold the interests of the house of God, but have you reached understanding of the details of the various truths, and have you put them into practice? This depends on whether you have genuine understanding and experience of the various truths. You don’t know what the relationship between different truths is, exactly what aspect of the truth is involved when you encounter an issue, what state is involved, or what aspect of your disposition that state involves. When two people say the same words, you don’t know what is different in their natures, how they are dissimilar, or how you should treat it. Is that understanding the truth? (No.) None of that is understanding the truth. You’ve believed for three to five years and you don’t know the practical side of these truths; once you’ve believed for eight to ten years you still don’t know. Have you gained the truth? (No.) You haven’t gained the truth.
What would you say you are currently lacking? What is most people’s belief in God like? Someone tells you to hold a certain frontline position and you hold it. So do you make an active attack? No. If you launch an attack you can occupy another city, gain a little more, reap a little more, but you don’t do it. That’s the difference. You fall into this kind of state, that is, every day you just coast through things, you hold to some rules and within that scope you don’t offend God’s administrative decrees. You do your work well. Others see that as ideal—weighing that based on the truth, you haven’t made any major errors. How is that way of believing? (God doesn’t like it.) The truth cannot be gained with that kind of belief. God liking it or not liking it—those are just high-sounding words. As for you, you cannot gain the truth and you will never progress. Over a period of time, when someone preaches about knowing God, you focus on knowing God. When they talk about a change in disposition, you focus on a change in disposition. When they talk about understanding incarnation, you focus on that, and then they talk about the vision of God’s work and you focus on that. If they talk about preaching the gospel, and talk about the wisdom and truths related to spreading the gospel, then you put some emphasis on that. Whatever they talk about, you follow along and listen, you gain some understanding, and then when they’re done talking about it, do you have your own path? Are you able to continue forward? What do you do to continue forward? When obedience is discussed, everyone talks about that. Someone asks: “Have you gained any understanding recently? Have you gained any experience? Talk about it.” “I haven’t had any really deep experience, but right now I feel that obeying God is critical.” “How do you obey Him?” “When I encounter an issue, I have to think of what God has said, and not put myself forward.” “Let’s have more fellowship on the details. What about when you encounter an issue and you’re unable to obey? What do you do when it has to do with your personal interests? Have you thought about these things?” You say: “I haven’t experienced that yet; I don’t know.” You don’t have any details, right? At another time, knowing God is being discussed. Someone says: “How has your faith in God been recently? Has there been any progress?” “There has been.” “Fellowship about it.” “I feel that understanding God is the most critical thing.” “Why do you say that?” “Well, if you don’t understand God, then you will always offend His disposition, and if you’re always offending His disposition then you fall into darkness, and then you won’t be able to understand any of the truth. Then it’s easy to become just like the unbelievers, always doing things that are resistant to God.” “So then how do you understand God? In your experience of God’s work, His rule, and His leadership in your daily life, in what things have you recognized God’s leadership of you, in which can you clearly feel His rule? What’s your understanding of God’s rule? In your practical life you feel God’s rule over you, and from this what aspect of God’s disposition have you seen? Tell me about the details.” As soon as it comes to the details you have nothing to say—you falter. You say: “The other day I encountered an issue, and I felt it was God’s leadership. It was His leadership, but I felt that … I’m not really certain exactly how He was leading, I just prayed, I prayed for ages, and it seemed I could feel a bit of God’s intention. Then I ate and drank God’s words, and from that I got a bit of a sense of His intention. God had me wait, and I waited for a few days and saw, ‘Oh, this is what God is doing.’” You just went through the process. The other person says: “So what aspect of God’s disposition did you come to understand from that? What aspect of His disposition did you associate it with, were you able to match it up? Which aspect of God’s leadership of you this time matches up to what you know and what you’ve heard regarding God’s disposition? Bring these together and have fellowship.” “There wasn’t anything.” Isn’t this not gaining the truth? (Yes.)
On the path of pursuing the truth, people always believe and seek by following along with some spiritual terms and sayings, or trends. How is this kind of pursuit? (They won’t gain anything.) That’s not true. Haven’t these people, including those of you who are sitting here, gained some practical things? Whether you believe that you are seeking or not, have you gained anything practical? (Some things.) Some of what things? Are you able to weigh that? (I have some understanding and insight into how people are corrupted by Satan and into this evil world.) This is some understanding. When you take that understanding into your life, can it change the direction of your life, your life goals, and your principles of how to be a person? When you’re doing something bad or you’re living like an unbeliever or wanting to live like an unbeliever, does this understanding or do these experiences that you’ve gained impact your life, and your life goals? Do they? (Yes.) They probably can’t impact these things from the root, but they at least provide a surface-level restraint, right? For most of you, hasn’t your stature remained at this level? (It has.) So if it’s always at this level, is that a good thing or a bad thing? (It’s a bad thing.) How is it a bad thing? Having a bit of a restraint isn’t bad, so how is it a bad thing? (Because we can’t gain the truth. The truth hasn’t become our lives, and we’re still living based on our corrupt satanic dispositions.) This is the surface—this just speaks to the surface level. How about the practical side? Can you say something substantive? The truths that you understand, the sermons that you hear, the realities of the truth or spiritual sayings that you have already accepted in your heart, are able to impact your life and change your direction and goals as a human being, and they can also change your principles for being a person living in this world. Isn’t that more proactive, more practical than just being a kind of restraint? Have you reached this point yet? Have you remained at just being restrained, or has the transition to being impacted and changed begun? Talk about it, talk about the fact. Say what your actual changes are. After you’ve listened to God’s sermons and you’ve understood the truth, you feel that being a person like that isn’t being a person at all, but it’s being a demon. You feel that if people live like that then they’re done for, if they seek in that way they will go to hell, or “If I live that way it will be too painful.” Some people always say: “If I do that God won’t be pleased.” Are these practical words? (No.) They’re empty words. What’s so great about you? How can a person be so lofty, to please God? People have to first achieve personal satisfaction and personal pleasure. You are not so lofty—you can’t understand this. On top of that, are you able to experience God’s pleasure or lack thereof? You can’t.
What’s your personal feeling from what you are most able to experience? A personal experience: for example, you’re in a crowd of people, and they all smoke, drink, play cards, bet, and some even do drugs. You don’t like these things, and when you live in this crowd you feel tired and that their lives are too painful. They rely on those things to sustain their lives and they also rely on them to gain happiness, comfort, and peace. They use them to numb themselves. What is your personal experience when you see these things? You say: “I can never live that way. If I lived like they do, I would suffer the way they do. I must escape from that kind of lifestyle.” Isn’t that your personal experience? (It is.) This is your own experience. When you experience that for yourself, you deeply feel that if you lived that way, if you lived among those people, aside from destroying your flesh, if you engaged in their infighting, their conflict, their disputes, intrigues, their competitions and struggles with each other, their undermining of each other in secret, and drawing blood for just the tiniest bit of personal interest, with no one relying on actual skills to get things done, just tricks, what would your personal experience be? What would you learn from that kind of environment? In this world, there is no justice, no fairness, and no righteousness. If you want to live as a person instead of a demon, that’s not an easy thing to do. You can’t do it—it absolutely must turn you into a demon. If you want to adapt to them, if you want to live among them, you must turn yourself into a demon and then consort with that pack of demons. At that time, what do you experience? Helplessness and suffering, right? In order to snatch a bite of food, for the sake of your own plate and your own survival, you fight with them, you say and do things that are contrary to your own convictions. Living that way every day is exhausting. But if you don’t live that way, people will ostracize you, and then your life will be even more exhausting. What do you experience in that kind of environment for survival? Suffering, torment, and what else? (Helplessness and a desire to escape.) Helplessness, and you experience the evil and cruelty of the human world. What else? (Darkness.) Darkness, and what else? (Suffering.) You experience these kinds of suffering. And then when you read God’s words, what is your experience? (My heart is comforted.) Living in the house of God is wonderful, no one bullies you and you can’t bully others either. You don’t need to go against your convictions and do evil, right? (Yes.) In God’s house the truth wields power and God wields power. Whoever bullies others, does evil, or subjugates their brothers and sisters will be expelled or be removed. If you have the opportunity to bully someone, do you take it? (No.) Why not? Why wouldn’t you subjugate someone? You say that God isn’t pleased when you subjugate others—do you have that experience? (Yes.) Is that where it starts from? Or some people say, “Here no one needs to subjugate anyone else. No one bothers to do that—everyone gets along well and can discuss things. Why would you live such an exhausting life? If you don’t need to subjugate others, don’t do it—it’s too tiring, too mentally exhausting, and God doesn’t like it.” Is that the starting point? Now people say that subjugating others isn’t good, so how did they achieve that understanding? Was it because they always listened to the truth that there was a change in their behavior? (Yes.) Is that change in their behavior because they are restrained? That they’ve been restrained by the truth? (It is.) So are you currently remaining in this state, in this phase? (Yes.) That is the case with most people. Right now this is a really good environment, everyone is really amicable, and among you there aren’t any people who are evil or mischievous, and there isn’t anyone you’ve taken a dislike to. On top of that, you haven’t been bullied and you have no need to bully others. You don’t need to defend yourself, and you don’t need to protect yourself by pricking other people with your quills like a porcupine. This environment is very good for people, and living like that is very free, very liberating. It’s great. If a person thinks that way and does things in that way, could it be that their disposition has changed? (No.) This is a certainty. This is because this kind of expression from people is a mentality that is positive and upbeat or aspiring to positive things, or this kind of thinking brings people a kind of restraint. On top of that, the living environment of the brothers and sisters together in the house of God brings a kind of benefit, and that kind of environment has a certain impact on you. But if the environment is changed and you encounter someone you don’t like, or someone you think you can bully, or you’re given a position, will you subjugate others? (Yes.) You’re that sure? (Yes. Ordinarily I always have some thoughts and ideas, but they are constrained. I wouldn’t do those things.) So, when someone gains the truth, it is not being constrained—it’s not just constraining their behavior. If someone has gained the truth, there is a clear sign of it. You will no longer need to restrain yourself and the truth will influence you from the inside. It will guide your every move, your behaviors, as well as the way you live and your direction in life. You will develop a heart of reverence for God. That heart of reverence for God inside of you will direct you to do that, and it will be entirely different in essence from you doing that only because of being subjected to a constraint and undergoing a change. When it’s entirely different, if a position is given to you and you have the opportunity and the conditions to subjugate others, will you do that? (No.) And why not? Is it that you don’t plan to do it, you don’t want to, or that you don’t have greater capability than others? (The internal disposition has changed.) Such a person has a heart of reverence for God. They have criteria and they have principles when they do things. It is only at that time that they are able to say, “If I do this, God wouldn’t like, I can’t do things that would offend God.” They will very naturally get to that point and will think that way. What about you currently? Can you achieve this point very naturally? (Not yet.) You can’t yet. This shows that the truth has not yet become effective within you. It has just restrained your behavior, but it has not restrained your heart or changed the direction of your life, your principles for being a person, or your goals as a person. What is your current basis for being a person? It’s based on your conscience, the bottom line of being a person, and morals. It’s these things. How far are these things from the truth? Are most of them related to the truth? They can’t really be said to be related to the truth. Do you understand? (Yes.) Say a person could ascend to the following level: “I’m doing this thing and no one is restraining me. No one is watching or monitoring me, and if I did it wrong no one would deal with me. What will I do? I’ll do this according to the truth, and I’ll practice according to God’s words. I’ll do things in a principled way and with standards, with limits. I won’t do anything that will offend God’s disposition, or anything that will sin against Him. Even though there is no one to monitor me, if doing that would offend God’s disposition, if it would show that I don’t have reverence for God, and if it would be a sin against Him, then I absolutely will not do that.” When they feel that in their heart, and they don’t do it, that shows they are in a positive, proactive state.
If you ask some people, “Do you like nice things? Do you like money?” they say, “Who doesn’t like money?” If you ask, “If you had an opportunity to get some money, would you take it or not?” they say, “That would depend on the opportunity.” Say the money was just put somewhere and no one has claimed it. It doesn’t currently have an owner, and no one knows there is money there. Everyone likes money, and no one else knows that there is money hidden there. The person who hid the money is probably dead anyway and they’re probably missing. That is, there is no owner of the money, you don’t know who it should belong to. You’re the only one that knows. Under these circumstances, would you take it? Would you steal it? (I would.) You would steal it. What kind of problem is this? (Exposing my nature.) Your nature comes out—you are still capable of stealing. Ordinarily someone is always on guard or you don’t have enough skills to steal money so you never steal it. Is it correct to say you aren’t a pickpocket or a thief? (It’s not.) It’s not correct. But as soon as you have the chance, under the circumstances that no one else knows, you would take that money. And after taking it you would still be perfectly at ease, and have no weight on your conscience. What are you thinking? “No one knows. Even if I asked around no one would claim it or say who it belonged to. Nobody knows about it.” But you’ve forgotten one thing. No other people know, but does God know? (He knows.) God knows and you still steal it—you are still capable of taking it. You are able to appropriate it. What kind of thing is this that you have done? (It’s not having reverence for God and not accepting His watch.) It’s not having reverence for God. So when you steal it, are you a thief? Someone says: “It’s so strange. That person never stole before—how could you say they’re a thief?” Then they discuss it with everyone, and they all say that person was wronged: “This person isn’t a thief; they couldn’t be a thief.” God says that person has done something, something that no one knows about. As God sees it, since they have done this, it is what their nature is, and that is who they are. They have the nature of a thief, and the reality of being a thief. They’ve done something that a thief would do, so if they’re not a thief, what are they? You are capable of theft, so this shows that your disposition has not changed. Do you understand?
For example, the house of God has you keep a valuable item safe. Hardly anyone knows, and you are familiar with everyone who does know. All of those people trust you and say that you’re a good person, that you’re not greedy, and you wouldn’t appropriate anything. At any time that item has been left with you, they are not worried. When someone who is familiar with the situation is around, you’ll take good care of it. You’ll keep it wrapped up nicely and keep it in mind. You say: “I must take good care of this and not allow it to be lost or broken. I can’t let anyone else steal it, and I particularly can’t let anyone ruin it.” This is fulfilling your responsibilities, right? You must also realize that you can’t have greediness for that item or the desire to own it. You can’t think that way, but you must thoroughly keep it as holy. Do you think that thinking about it this way is proper? (Yes.) You think that you’ve already reached a point of having no greediness at all. You don’t have any greed for other people’s things. Even if something were placed in your hands you wouldn’t extort it or take it out of greed. Is that a good person? (Yes.) From the current situation, it could be said that that is a good person, because they don’t yet have the ideas or thoughts of taking it out of greed, and further, they are able to take good care of it faithfully, not allow it to be broken, lost, or coveted by others and they also won’t allow others to discover it. It could be said that they are fulfilling their responsibilities to the best of their ability. But the day comes when there’s a turn in the situation, there’s a change. Some of the few who are familiar with the situation are in prison, some have been transferred to other locations, and in the end there’s only one person left who knows—themselves. No one else knows about that item. Under these circumstances, has the environment changed? As soon as that environment changes it’s a test for people—the test comes upon them. The environment changes, and after one or two months their heart still hasn’t changed, and they still take care of that thing carefully. They haven’t had any other ideas. However, they look into it and find out that they don’t know where others who are in the know have gone. Some are in prison, and some were transferred to other areas. They aren’t there, so what are they to do with that item? That person prays. After praying there’s still no outcome, and without an outcome they still feel they can’t consider taking that thing. So what do they do? “I must still take good care of it. People don’t know, but God knows!” Is this a good person? (Currently it looks like this is still a good person.) This is still a good person. Why is that? When you measure this person based on the standard of a good person, their doing this to that level is great. But there’s one day that there’s a major incident in their home and they are short of money—they have to borrow some. Is it easy to borrow money now? (No.) It’s not easy to borrow money, and they don’t have any collateral for a loan. What can they do? The situation changed again; the environment changed again. Once the environment changes, a time of testing once again arrives for this person. Their family needs money but they don’t have enough. What can they do? They start to consider borrowing money, and they try with some people but aren’t successful and they start to get ideas—their heart starts to change. How does it change? “Ah, aren’t I caring for a treasure? Hmm! I’m holding onto money but I’m trying to borrow some. Aren’t I an idiot? No one knows about it, can’t I just use this? After using it no one will know; I should just use it, and besides, it’s just sitting here idle, isn’t this a proper use for it?” And then they have an even better idea that logically follows: “Isn’t this set up by God? It’s God’s grace—it would be a waste if I didn’t put it to use!” The more they think about it the more right, the more reasonable it seems, and their heart starts to change. “That’s right—I must use it this way. It’s God’s grace; it was prepared by Him. Thanks to God. It is His good will, in whatever befalls me there is always God’s good will. Hasn’t this been set up by God?” So that’s that. They consider it for two or three days and they feel at peace in their heart and free of any pangs of conscience. “I’ll use it! I’ll just use this money!” What about this? (Their thinking has started to change.) How did that change occur? (It was created by their environment.) It was created by the environment, so was it the environment that had a problem? Was it the environment that tempted them? Did the environment change them? (No.) Then what would be the correct thing to say? (A suitable environment drew out the person’s nature.) Yes, it exposed their nature. Then why didn’t their heart change the first two times their environment changed? (It didn’t touch on their own personal interests; they hadn’t become impoverished.) Before it reached that point their true thinking and their true disposition had not yet been laid bare, right? At that time do you think that that person was someone who is devoted to God? Was it someone who loves the truth? You could say it was, because they did their utmost to take care of that item without any wayward thoughts or other ideas. They never had the intention of touching that item, they never considered taking it—that’s a really good person. But as soon as the environment changed, once it changed to that degree, other thoughts popped into their mind and their thinking changed. It’s at that time that their thinking reaches that point, so why didn’t they have those thoughts before? (That environment hadn’t befallen them before that.) It’s the environment that exposed them. In fact, it’s not that they didn’t have those things, those thoughts in them, but it’s that they were hidden inside of them, deep inside before the time had come. So when they encounter that environment those thoughts come out very naturally. It’s just like water bubbling up—it gurgles out as if it were a bubbling spring. They just keep on coming out, and that’s perfectly natural. They come and they come, and then the person finds a “basis in the truth.” Once they’ve found their basis in the truth, then hasn’t their evil nature been revealed? Where did their devotion, kindness, and justice go? (It’s gone.) It’s gone. So were those things a mask before? (No, they weren’t.) They weren’t a mask. At the time it was their natural expression, but it wasn’t from a deep place. It was the most superficial, most shallow part of the person and appearance of their humanity, right? There are some illusions in appearance of humanity. For example, you have a pretty good relationship with another person, and they entrust you with their child for a day. Would you refuse to watch their child? Watching the child for a day is fine, two days is fine, and even a week is fine. But if the child’s parents had died and you were to take care of them for a lifetime, could you do that? (No.) You don’t have that level of affection. That proves that you’re not such a good person, right?
So what really are the things that God wants to change in people? What kinds of human problems does the truth resolve? (Things deep in human nature.) It is internal things of people that it resolves. When no issues have befallen a person, they have a moral baseline. They don’t greedily take advantage of others, and particularly older people often say: “We don’t covet others’ belongings and we don’t give ours away.” That is, they don’t just randomly give their own things away to other people, and they aren’t greedy for others’ belongings, and they shouldn’t be greedy. Is that a truth? (It’s not.) Can you achieve this? (No.) In fact, you can’t even achieve that. How can you not be greedy? You nab things even before you have any greedy thoughts. This is really direct, it’s really straightforward and doesn’t require thinking. If there’s the opportunity you just snatch something, so what need is there for greed? There’s no need for any greed; you just snatch it. This is vicious! As soon as that kind of environment comes upon them, their evil nature and their greedy and ferocious disposition come out. There’s ferocity and avarice. What else is there? Deceitfulness. What is this deceitfulness? What kinds of thoughts are deceitful? What kinds of behaviors are deceitful? (They said it was prepared by God, that God had opened up a path for them.) Yes, this is called deceitfulness. They are just deceiving themselves. At the same time as deceiving themselves, they are trying to deceive God. They use these nice-sounding words to just appease their own heart, to assuage their conscience and not have it be accused. Besides, they try to fool God, and say: “This is what I believed, which is why I touched Your belongings. God, please don’t blame me. It was probably just a moment of foolishness for me.” They even present a facade to God. While they are fooling themselves and spinning a beautiful lie for themselves, they also want to use it to fool God, to deceive God. Isn’t this deceitfulness? (It is.) So when this kind of environment comes upon you, that is, when the deepest things come out from within you, when you are going to do things, the truth can be effective upon you and tell you that thinking that way is not viable, that it’s despicable and evil. It can tell you that what you are thinking and what you believe are not the truth, and although you are exposed for a moment that you are going to do that thing, you pray: “That’s not okay—I can’t do that. That would offend God; it’s evil! I can’t do that—it wouldn’t be in line with the truth. Isn’t that deceiving God? I can’t ever do that, and I cannot touch that thing because it belongs to the church. It is God’s, so I can’t touch it. I’ll hold to that to the death. This thing can’t be touched. It has been distinguished as holy, and it’s something that belongs to Him, so I absolutely cannot touch it. No one knows, only God does, and because it is only God that knows, I absolutely cannot touch it.” Is that your real stature? People are capable of thinking that way, and no matter what the circumstances, they are capable of doing that. Can they restrain themselves by relying on human goodness, and the traditional culture and moral baseline that they’ve grasped? Could they achieve that outcome? (No.) So what’s the only thing that can allow people to reach this point? (They must have a heart of reverence for God.) It is only the truth that you understand, your understanding of God, and your heart of reverence for God that can constrain you, that can guide your actions and what kind of path you choose, what you choose to do. Otherwise, if it weren’t for the truth and God’s words, could another thing or another kind of theory achieve those results? They couldn’t. This is the only path that can allow you to fear God and shun evil. No matter what kind of environment you encounter, whether it’s a trial or temptation, it cannot alter your original intention—that’s what you thought and did at first, and when a major circumstance befalls you that holds great temptation for you, your thinking and your actions do not change. That will be fine. You will gain this and God will no longer test you in that aspect. You will be victorious, and you will stand firm. Is this something that most people can achieve now? (They can’t.) They still can’t achieve that! They still can’t—the truth still has not become people’s lives. The truth still has not become their lives, so what is it that is currently acting as their lives? Satan’s life philosophy and its poison along with some spiritual doctrines. What else is there? Some human faculties, that is holding to the moral baseline, the baseline of being a person, and their moral standards, as well as some spiritual doctrines and sayings that they’ve grasped since believing in God. It’s those things, right? (Yes.) When people have gained a grasp of these things they always think, “I’ve gained the truth; I’ve understood a lot since believing in God. I’ve really changed since believing in God; I’ve really reaped a harvest.” What is this harvest? In fact, it’s just the surface. It’s just some behavioral restraint, some comparatively standard things about their behavior. And in their thoughts and in their hearts, they also consider and think in more proactive aspects, and think about more positive things, right? Because of the impact of their environment and frequently listening to sermons as well as carrying out their duty, they encounter positive things more frequently in their thinking and their mentality. They are impacted to some degree—this is the benefit and change the environment brings to them. How great is the change that the truth brings to people? How much? Add it up—is it a lot or not? This lies in people’s pursuit. If you are truly someone who pursues the truth, then you will always reap a harvest in practical aspects of the truth. You will reap a harvest and gain a bit of understanding in each phase. You know whether or not you have gained anything in your heart—you have a sense of it.
What is the sense that most people currently have? They often rely upon their own kindness and do some things with effort and intention, some things that are relatively passable to human eyes. They do some good things that don’t cause them to be scolded or rebuked by others, but it can’t be called putting the truth into practice. Isn’t that the way it is? (Yes.) Most people do things with the most basic of principles: “I have to rely on my conscience in doing this. I don’t understand the truth—it’s too profound and abstract. It seems too remote from mankind. I don’t really understand it and I can’t clearly say what it is. I’ll rely on my conscience!” The majority of people rely on their conscience in what they do. They go through every day mechanically and perfunctorily. There are some terrible people who don’t even have any sense of a conscience. They don’t rely on the standards of their conscience. Someone says: “You eat three meals a day—have you done three meals’ worth of work?” “No.” “You haven’t—have you had any self-blame?” “Sometimes I’ve had a bit of self-blame and sometimes not, but after a while it doesn’t happen anymore.” How terrible is that! “How well has your work been done?” “Fine.” “Can it satisfy God’s will?” “That’s too lofty of a height; I can’t reach it. Anyway, I feel like it’s fine.” This is never pursuing the truth, but their hands are never idle and neither is their mind. They are always doing something, and it looks to others like they are briskly busy, never idle, that they never slack off and are paying their price. Isn’t this basically a standard of their conscience? (Yes.) Having a standard for their conscience doesn’t mean that they pursue the truth. You must think of ways, you must ponder and contemplate. When you’re not busy contemplate it—take a topic and have fellowship on it together. You say, “What should we do? We cannot just rest at this standard for our consciences, at the standard of being a nice person on the outside. We can’t stop at this level, but we have to seek toward and enter into the loftiness of the truth. Only this way will we be able to meet God’s will, and only this way will we be able to enter into the reality of the truth.” If you always pursue just satisfying your conscience, never breaking through the moral baseline, then in the things you do, what you gain in your heart will always be within this range and will never go outside of it. The truth will never have any relation to you. When you do things and speak, if it never has anything to do with the truth, will you be able to gain the truth? That way it’s very difficult to gain the truth.
Look at those scholars, teachers, Xiucais,[a] and Jurens[b] from the past, from ancient times; they usually read aloud from the Tao Te Ching, the Analects of Confucius, and the Three Character Classic. They were always wagging their heads, speaking of all that archaic literary jargon. They didn’t do any major terrible things, but small terrible things were constant. They didn’t do a single righteous thing in their entire lives and they were constantly fearing there were wolves ahead and tigers behind them.[c] However, in their hearts they were very pleased, very self-satisfied and always boasted that they were good people. At the drop of a hat they would say “Confucius said this or that,” or what is said in Confucianism or Taoism. It was always that sort of thing—they were just wagging their heads with smugness. They never accomplished a single thing in their lives or lived with clarity. They just relied on the Three Character Classic and those works of the sages to conduct themselves, but they didn’t understand or gain anything. They lived in confusion, and did things in confusion, but in their hearts they were self-satisfied and felt that they had it, that they had gained it, thinking, “No one else matches up to me.” What’s that word that unbelievers use? “Holier” something? (Holier-than-thou.) Holier-than-thou—do not live within this state. You say, “I’m a person who has a conscience, is kind, amiable and just, understands others, is always benevolent toward others and is very willing to take care of others and be attentive to them.” Are these the truth? (No.) What is it called when someone is always measuring others from the highest point of morality and boasting about themselves? It’s called being holier-than-thou. You always feel that you’ve already got it: “I’m a very charitable person and a kind-hearted person. I’m a good person. I have a great conscience. A friend helped me once and I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. That old saying is well said, ‘Repay the kindness of a drop of water with a gushing spring.’ I have to do this and I must measure myself based on this.” Is this pursuing the truth? And there are others who say: “You have to be willing to sacrifice yourself for a friend. Guan Gong placed importance on personal loyalty, and there was the Oath of the Peach Garden. They are so classic stories about personal loyalty, and we also need to be those kinds of people.” They educate themselves as well as others, and feel: “That’s the kind of person I want to be; that’s the way I’ll always live. I believe in God so I should uphold them even more.” Isn’t that a nitwit? If you are always satisfied with those things, you will never gain the truth. Those things are not the truth. The books of the sages, the Tao Te Ching—how could they be the truth? These are just fallacies, the logic of Satan, and the doctrine of the mean. All of these are the poisons of Satan. If you look upon these things as the truth, are you still a believer in God? You believe in God and listen to the truth every day, but you still use these morals, these things from the Tao Te Ching as your principles of practice, to act as your goal and direction for your behavior, and to conduct yourself. So when will you be able to gain the truth? Aren’t you rigid? (Yes.) I see quite a few people are like this—I lose My temper as soon as I look at them. Why do I lose My temper? How could they only hear and not understand? Are they not animals? They just hear, they don’t understand. No matter what kind of truths and sermons they hear, once they’ve heard it what do they still believe? It’s still that saying: “‘Repay the kindness of a drop of water with a gushing spring.’ My personal loyalty won’t ever change. People must have a conscience at all times—they must place importance on it and never lose it!” Someone says: “You’ve only gained these things from believing in God? Isn’t there anything else? Do you understand anything else?” There isn’t anything else. If you have them give a sermon, they just talk about these things—is that angering? When that person who always preaches hears those who listen to sermons always talk about these things, and use things from the Tao Te Ching to explain and preach the truth the preacher has talked about, how could the preacher not be angry? Isn’t it nauseating? (It’s nauseating.) And there is this kind of person; someone says to them: “You must be devoted in performing your duty, understand many truths, and achieve loyalty to God,” and they explain it with one saying. How do they do it? “That’s right! Isn’t there an old saying that if you don’t do what your boss wants, it is futile even if you work yourself to death?” They use that saying to explain those words to you, saying: “That’s the meaning of this truth that you mentioned. I understand.” Is this understanding the truth? (No.) Then what is it? Would you say that the person who said this has spiritual understanding? (They don’t.) Does their explanation show understanding of the truth, or a lack of understanding of the truth? (A lack of understanding.) Why do you say that? (They are using the logic of Satan to explain the truth.)
There are some proverbs or sayings in the world, which are the ways of life and practices that have been summarized by people in their lives, or they are the self-protective logic of Satan and life philosophies. The ways of demons are within these, and they are not the truth. People always combine these life philosophies, demonic ways, and poisons of Satan with the truth. No matter how you get a taste of them, they always have a nauseating flavor, don’t they? That kind of person does not understand the truth. What other things can you think of? Generally, don’t you also have quite a few of those things? Anyone who has lived for forty or fifty years has quite a few, and at twenty or thirty people also have some. People have some from the time they begin to have some sensibleness; then they start to have ways. What kind of ways are those? (Demonic ways.) They’re demonic ways, aren’t they? They say you shouldn’t let anything slip—you shouldn’t allow others to know. And what is it that some other people say? “Wherever you are, don’t speak carelessly.” There’s a saying: “Wherever you go, be a receiver, not a loudspeaker.” Have you heard this? Why do they say to be a receiver? (Listen more and speak less.) What’s the goal of listening more and speaking less? Aren’t there demonic ways in this? (Yes.) What are they? (It’s to not reveal yourself, and also not to offend others.) This is called a demonic way and a satanic philosophy. “Don’t speak carelessly, don’t lightly reveal your weaknesses or strengths allowing others to get a sense of who you really are.” That’s what it means. “You always listen, observe, watch, and see who is in the same group as who, who is capable, who has what strengths, who will be a high-up official, and then you get close to those people.” This is being a receiver. And how about not being a loudspeaker? “If you’re always speaking carelessly so that everyone can see right through you, they’ll bully you.” Is that true? There is a person whose father always told him: “When you go out you must be a receiver!” He told him that from the time he was small, and after always telling him that, what happened? That person never talks. Someone says: “Why don’t you ever say anything?” “I don’t have anything to say. It’s been a habit since I was little. I’m not a big talker, I’m an introvert.” He doesn’t speak, and he doesn’t tell the truth. Someone says: “What did you think of this thing that happened today? How do you plan to handle it?” “Wait and see, just wait and see.” In fact, he does have an opinion but he doesn’t say what it is—he doesn’t want to be a loudspeaker, so he holds tightly to those words. He has a very good grasp on that principle and is just a receiver under any circumstances, never a loudspeaker. There’s only one kind of circumstance that could break through that tight grasp—what is it? As soon as he goes to prison and is beaten and tortured, he confesses anything and everything and he is no longer a receiver, he is only a loudspeaker. He can’t withstand the torture, right? He is always deceitful and does not put any truth into practice. He is not an honest person, does not practice the truth, so he cannot gain the truth. He cannot gain the truth and he is a deceitful person, so the Holy Spirit does not work in him; since the Holy Spirit does not work in him, he could be handed over to Satan at any moment. Once he has been handed over to Satan and he is beaten, and he doesn’t truly believe, hasn’t gained the truth and doesn’t have any true faith, can he withstand the torture? As soon as he is hit just a little bit, as soon as he is scared, he wets his pants. Then isn’t it all over? He has been exposed and his destination is gone. His life of belief in God stops there—it’s over. Who told you to be a receiver; who told you not to be a loudspeaker?
In fact, it doesn’t matter what you are. What does the truth say, what do God’s words say, and what do God’s words require people to do? Do God’s words require man to be a loudspeaker, or a receiver? (Neither one.) (It requires us to be honest people.) So which one is the truth? (Being an honest person.) Out of being a receiver and being a loudspeaker, which one is the truth? (Neither one of them is the truth.) Neither one of them is—neither is the truth. Being a receiver is a fallacy, and being a loudspeaker is also a fallacy. All of that is just nonsense. That’s not the truth. What is the truth? (Being an honest person.) Being an honest person—that is the truth. If you are a receiver and you never make a peep, does it mean that you have the truth? If you have a bellyful of demonic ways, does it mean that you have the truth? “I don’t make a sound, so you can’t say that I lie, so I’m an honest person.” Is this a correct thing to say? (No.) “If I love to talk and I say everything, but my words are full of schemes, am I an honest person?” (No.) Some people are very extroverted and they are big talkers, and when someone first meets them, they give the impression: “This person is really open—they talk about everything. Nothing goes unsaid; they let everything slip. What they think, how they believe in God, how many people are in their family, how much money they earn, what bad things they’ve done—they talk about everything.” But there’s just one thing: They do things surreptitiously, and no one knows the true state deep in their heart. How is this kind of loudspeaker? (Deceitful.) This is a deceitful thing. So is it any use to be a loudspeaker? It’s useless, and being a loudspeaker is useless. Being a loudspeaker doesn’t necessarily mean you are an honest person. What does that person think? “You don’t want me to be a receiver, so I’ll be a loudspeaker. If I do that, won’t I be an honest person? Won’t that be in line with the truth?” Isn’t that absurd? It’s too absurd! Doesn’t that kind of person have a demonic nature? (Yes.) What kind of disposition do people who have a demonic nature have? (The disposition of Satan.) It’s generally referred to as a satanic disposition. Which aspect of a satanic disposition? (Deceitfulness.) Evil! The deceitfulness you mentioned is lighter—this is evil! No matter how many right and true ways you speak of, and how much truth you speak of, they will utilize their evil ways and sayings to explain them, substitute for them, and replace them. This is evil! “Evil” is a noun—what is it called colloquially? “Wicked” or “vile,” right? This is vile!
What is the truth? Do you understand a bit of that? First, life philosophies definitely are not the truth. Are maxims from famous and great personages the truth? (They aren’t.) Are the words in the Tao Te Ching the truth? And the so-called positive parts of humanity, the good behavior and actions that everyone agrees, and those things and theories that guide people’s thinking—are they the truth? (They’re not.) You come up with an example. Do you have any examples? (Human kindness, warm-heartedness, and taking pleasure in helping others.) Taking pleasure in helping others—is that the truth? (No.) Taking pleasure in helping others is a good thing, and a warm-hearted person is kind at the very least and can empathize with others, so how is this not the truth? (There aren’t any principles.) There aren’t any principles. It’s an indiscriminate good person, right? Would you say that being filial to one’s parents is the truth? (It’s not.) It’s right for one to be filial to their parents—it’s a positive thing, so why do you say it’s not the truth? (Because there aren’t any principles in it either. It depends on what kind of people one’s parents are.) This touches on some truth. If your parents are believers and are good to you, should you be filial to them? (Yes.) How should you be filial? Treat them differently from brothers and sisters, respect them as parents, and absolutely obey them. Say your parents are old, they don’t have any children with them, and you need to go out fulfilling your duty for several years; what if they were dead at home? There’s no one to bury them. You have to be filial to your parents and you can’t leave. You have to uphold this principle—this is the truth, right? (No.) What do you do in that situation? This is based on the circumstances—if you’re close to home, if you can take care of them, if your parents are believers or if they aren’t believers but don’t oppose you, you may fulfill the responsibilities of a child. You serve tea or water, and when they’re in their sickbed you wait on them. You console them when they’re going through something difficult. You console them with whatever things you understand as an adult of that age. If you have the financial means, buy them some suitable tonics or supplements. But when you’re busy performing your duty, there’s no one taking care of them, and they still believe, what should you do? Then what should you put into practice? What choice should you make? What is the truth that you should put into practice at that time? Since being filial to your parents isn’t the truth, it is just the responsibility, the obligation of a person, and at that time when your obligations and your duty are in conflict, then what should you do? (Duty takes priority.) (Put duty first.) Yes, obligations are not your duty. Performing your duty is practicing the truth. Do you understand? Fulfilling obligations is not the truth. Why do I say that it’s not the truth? If you have the conditions and you have that responsibility, that obligation, you should do that. But now your environment doesn’t allow for it, and you don’t have the environment. You think: “I don’t have the environment, so what should I do? I have to fulfill my duty, which is the truth I should practice. That is not what I should do.” If right now you don’t have any duties, you think: “I don’t have any duties and I’m not working in another place. I’m with them, so I have to think of a way to take care of them and do everything I can so that they can live better and suffer less.” Even if that is the case, it depends on what kind of people your parents are. If your parents are not that good and are always an encumbrance to your belief in God and you fulfilling your duty, if they obstruct your belief in God, what should you do? What is the truth you should put into practice? (Abandon them.) At that time you have to abandon them. Your obligation has been fully fulfilled. They don’t believe; you don’t have any obligation to care for them. If they believe, they are your family, your parents; if they don’t believe, they are on another path, and you are different kinds of people. They believe in and enshrine Satan, walk Satan’s path, the path they walk is that of worshiping Satan, that is a different path than your belief in God and you are different kinds of people. Then they absolutely are enemies and you are no longer a family. When you are no longer a family, you no longer have that obligation to take care of them. When conditions are present, do it according to the situation; if you’re on two different paths, then you should thoroughly break it off. Which one is the truth? Fulfilling your duty is the truth. What is the duty that is fulfilled? That’s not just simply fulfilling some obligations, doing what you should do. It is fulfilling the duty that a creature living between heaven and earth should fulfill. This is your obligation and your responsibility, and this responsibility is your true responsibility. That is the obligation and the responsibility that you fulfill before the Creator. So fulfilling that duty compared with being filial to your parents—which is the truth? (Fulfilling the duty of a creature.) Fulfilling the duty of a creature is your bounden duty. This is the truth. Being filial to your parents is not putting the truth into practice. When you are filial to a person, and you are being filial to a Satan living in the flesh, that is not practicing the truth. You understand this now, right? (I understand.)
a. Xiucai (lit. “distinguished talent”) one who passed the imperial examination at the county level in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
b. Juren (lit. “recommended man”), a qualified graduate who passed the triennial provincial exam. a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
c. Fearing there were wolves ahead and tigers behind them: a Chinese idiom, meaning “full of fears.”