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The Criterion for Gauging Spiritual Development

Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai, Long Beach, CA, USA
December 29, 1996 (originally in English) Videotape No.571

Q: I'd like to know if the things that happen in our life have meaning: good things, bad things, natural disasters and so on. And is it good to be aware of the hidden significance behind these events?

M: Well, they happen for our spiritual development even though sometimes during a crisis or event we might not be able to understand it. But everything has some purpose. If you can be aware of the hidden meaning, it's fine. If you can't, just let it be. Things happen; it doesn't matter how they happen. It's not what happens but how we react to the event that's important. The event is there so that we can reflect on ourselves and our development. Then we know how far we've grown up, to what height.

I'll give an example so it's easier for you to understand. Some journalists write some things about us that aren't true. Some people get upset, and they tell me. They cry and all that, thinking that because of the journalists, I get my name blackened, and they're upset for me. But I say there's no need. The journalists write what they write. I am what I am. How I react to them is what's important, not what they write about me.

If they write something good about me, if I'm proud or very excited, happy and feel very arrogant, then that's bad for me. So it's not that writing good things about me is good, but whether my attitude toward it is good or bad. It's for me alone. And then if they write bad things about me and I get really upset, I feel bad for a long time, I hate them or I want to make revenge, and that's also no good for me. It means I'm not truly so developed as to have my peace at every moment, in every situation. So, if you look at the situation like this, then how you feel, how you react and how you solve a problem, that's the lesson. That's the tool to help us remember who we are, how great we are, how tolerant, how loving and how understanding.

I also feel upset sometimes for a very short while because the situation should not have happened that way. It should have happened in a more beautiful way. That's just my expectation. But I'm not upset because of bad people who write bad things about me, nor do I expect them to write good things about me. They write bad things because they don't know me. Even you don't know me so how can outside people know me? That's a very obvious reason; they don't know me. And I'm not going to go out into the world and tell all the journalists how good I am. Even if I tell them, whether they believe me or not is another question. Why should they believe me?

Even you, so-called disciples, came here by yourself voluntarily, and you really love God so much that you can even humble yourself to ask questions and learn from me. But sometimes you doubt me. You think bad things about me. You look at my appearance and my actions in a distorted way and then criticize me and leave the path. You look at my personality instead of my teachings. I was born the way I am. God made me the way I am. I can't °•wig-wag' myself to please everyone the way you think. I am what I am and I'm perfect: finished. You're also perfect: finished. If you don't know you're perfect, then you have to know.

You have to learn how to accept yourself as perfect. Anything that's not perfect according to your opinion you can change if you want. I think I'm perfect. (Applause) I don't mean that sometimes I don't make a mistake according to your opinion, but that's all right. I accept my mistake, too, as long as I don't stick there all the time thinking it's good. But maybe it is good! (Master laughs) Maybe my mistake is necessary for someone else. It looks like a mistake, but it might not be. It might not be a mistake.

Say for example, there's a man who's crying in distress and emotion. Maybe he looks handsome and good-looking. And I might hug him or comfort him. In your opinion, maybe I shouldn't do that. Maybe I should refrain from hugging him because I'm a woman and he's such a good-looking young guy. But I care not about what you think. So maybe in that instance, you think I make a mistake. But maybe my mistake was necessary for that man. He needed my mistake. Maybe I shouldn't have done it in order to keep my reputation more flawless and to keep your respect. But I don't care. Why should I care about everyone's opinion? His or her opinion might not always be correct. I just do what I feel is correct at that moment according to my understanding. And I always stand for what I believe in and what I feel at that moment only. For anything else, I'm not responsible. That's the way it is. (Applause)

So that's one thing. If all the newspapers or people outside talk bad about me and I feel very hateful toward them, it means I don't understand. It means that I still have to practice harder, I have to control myself and try to look into the situation better, with more intelligence. That's my job. Their job is to write what they want. They're responsible for their actions and I have to be responsible for my actions. So I look at it this way: They don't know me. They can't understand me and that's fine. They write according to their beliefs, their understanding and their opinions. And that's all right with me. If I can, I'll explain it to them. If I can't, then I just forget it.

I have to tell you that even though we're spiritual practitioners, we don't always immediately have understanding about every situation that we encounter in our lives. We may not always understand, but at least because we practice, after a few minutes of anger and immediate reaction, we reflect and say, "What is this here?"

So don't blame yourself if in some moment of natural reaction if you feel angry or you feel you want revenge. But afterwards, after it subsides, you think, °•This is not the way I should react to this situation. How should I react? What should I do in this situation that's the most beneficial for me and for the opponent?' And that's the way it is. It's not that you don't get angry sometimes, but that you don't overdo it. You don't overdo it and you don't let the anger override you for a long time so as to affect your health, your spirit and your situation. It's not that you don't get angry sometimes. It's good to be angry sometimes. It's healthy. But what you do with the anger, that's another thing. Don't let it destroy you. So for any event that happens in our life, it's up to us to measure how we've grown already in our spiritual development. If you can look at it that way, it's fine. And try to know how to react to it in the best way for yourself.




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