I. Practice is an activity in which people seek subsistence. Practice is man’s first need, and the first source through which man obtains truth.
Practice comprises the practice in a general sense and the basic practice. The former includes the latter. The general practice refers to all the activities of a man, such as food, housing, transport, work, leisure, play, thinking, sleeping, sitting, standing, walking, lying, and running. Man cannot do with practice, not even for a minute, and is practicing throughout his lifetime.
The basic practice refers to necessary activities. Whoever has no such necessary activities will not subsist. It may include receiving and sending out a person’s energy information (such as receiving sunshine, breathing air, taking food and discharging, receiving and sending out microwave), and also personal safety, food, clothing, housing, transport, production of means of livelihood and continuing the line of succession. The basic practice is the main thread of practice.
The basic practice is the major target of the study of the Great Balance philosophy. The purpose of the research is guaranteed subsistence, orderly development, and harmonious life. The basic practice is divided into practice for subsistence and practice for development. The individual balance seeks subsistence, while the collective one pursues development. The problem of subsistence exists all the time, while the problem of development will retreat if not to advance. They are both “ridges” people cannot cross over. It is such “tangible and intangible ridges” that force people to connect closely, live rationally, and never slacken their effort. Otherwise, people would be swamped. The basic practice moulds “man.”
The basic practice at the early stage of human development was mainly struggle with nature, hoping to break through its fetters and obtain the “freedom.” However, they were wrong. Nature is not only mother of man, but also mother of all creatures. Therefore, nature works not only for human subsistence, but also for the subsistence of all other creatures. Before nature, “all creatures are equal and the fittest survives;” there is no special case, as all creatures make up nature. And therefore, man should not consider nature as an enemy; instead, man should respect, understand and coordinate with nature, and live in harmony with man’s “mother” – nature, and “brothers and sisters” – all other creatures, rather than confront and fight with them. Otherwise, there will be no peace for all. The experience and lessons over thousands of years, especially lessons paid with blood in recent years, have made people understand:
The major enemy people fight for subsistence is not nature, but mans’ own inner greed.
As is well known, it is extremely hard to struggle with one’s inner world. And thus, the “basic practice” that the Great Balance Theory studies is actually a prolonged, hard “self-struggle” which can be won perhaps even after death. If one deals with it casually, he will find it hard to subsist or more depressing. And it is such practice that produces real happiness. It is interesting that most people avoid such hard practice “producing happiness” which exists in life, work and study all the time. But we know that it is to avoid the hardship in the process to conquer inner greed, laziness and gluttonousness. Only when demanded by livelihood, one has no other alternative but to do it. And thus some are lazy, hoping to go through with less effort, and even reap without sowing. Whereas those who cannot avoid “self-struggle” and have to work hard in practice do “profit by adversity”: they are physically strong, obtain truth, and enjoy happiness. But at the same time they find something unequal…
So, people has started the constant struggle to “divide wealth evenly between the rich and the poor,” struggle with other people and other things, and struggle with people’s inner world. However, “enmity can only be resolved with reconciliation.” The result of “struggle” can only be “reconciliation,” then “struggle” and “reconcile” again, and “reconcile” and “struggle” again. As such it repeats. This is how one spends his lifetime: full of hardship and happiness. Only with hardship, one can enjoy happiness; otherwise, one would only feel more miserable.
II. Practice has six factors: subject, medium, object, purpose, method and result.
The subject of practice is man himself. At the same time, man is also the object of himself, and the medium and object of other people, and other things.
The medium of practice includes artificial ones such as means of production, livelihood, and sci-tech research equipment, and natural ones such as time, space, sunshine, air, temperature, humidity, electromagnetic wave, electromagnetic field, energy, and information.
The object of practice refers to relevant things except the subject.
The purpose of practice is to comprehend nature, guarantee subsistence, develop in an orderly way, and live in harmony.
The method of practice is to determine the goal, and arrange the order; never lose sight of the general goal, but begin by tackling practical problems at hand; and keep forging ahead while let things run their own course.
The process of practice is from practice to cognition, then practice and cognition again…
The result of practice should be that man and nature, man and man live in harmony, develop in an orderly way, and go in a virtuous circle; and that man is an integral part of nature.
Practice is the fundamental criterion to test truth – orderly increase and decrease of overall interests.
III. Practice has three basic features: objective realism, subjective initiative, and times limitation. It is the way for human subsistence to emphasize practice, take the initiative to practice, and do well in practice.
For example, although people know that ecological degradation is harmful to human subsistence, they find it hard to control. Only when it comes to the time they cannot live on, they would adopt necessary measures. Although the price of such actions is great, human beings would drift along, just as the winter-wailing bird does, since the immediate interest is so enticing and dazzling. Only when coming to the end of resources and having no way out, people would: Rise! Rise! We must unite as one… It’s more interesting that such a simple mistake is usually repeated by leaders… Is it so serious? But when it occurs, leaders are stunned and run away, leaving the problem for common people to tackle. As the old saying goes: to mend the fold after a sheep is lost. Mend, mend, and mend for thousands of years… This is so-called: “When situation changes, thinking has to follow.”
IV. Practice is happiness. The ultimate goal to study practice is to make people really feel that those who practice are the happiest. Life is a process, during which experiences of all kinds, whether bitter or sweet, are the sources of happiness: At success we may enjoy happiness while in face of failure we are calm and resolute, trying hard to obtain happiness. Without this process, there is no life, no happiness and no sense of success. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness is born in bitterness. By comparing happiness to hardship, one can really enjoy happiness.
Whoever has never experienced hardship will not know what happiness means. Rice is delicious when one is hungry; water is sweet when one is thirsty; and sleeping is sound when one is tired and sleepy. Without experiencing bitterness, one will not know sweetness; and having going through winter, one will see spring. That is perhaps the reason why some people “do not know when they are happy.” Some day, people will take an active part in practice, work hard and appreciate happiness. Then they enter the free realm of “being self-restraint and obedient to reason.”
In general, practice and cognition are always in each other’s company and organically united. It is common that people do while learn, and put what they have learned into practice. Opinion determines practice. But opinion originates in practice. Practice, cognition, practice again… It is a periodic cycle from a lower lever to an upper level, which spirals upward around the axis of “subsistence.”