Advance Towards Maturity through Cultivation within Fa Rectification
I. Obtaining the Fa [law and principles]
A colleague of mine, who is also a fellow practitioner, gave me a copy of Zhuan Falun in the summer of 1997. I kept laughing when I first read the book, mainly because of its literary level as my personal preference is that, for anything I read, it has to be elegant in style and poetic in expression. However, Zhuan Falun is written largely in simple and plain language. Besides, the book contained things that I thought were nonexistent and therefore it was very difficult for me to believe in its contents. Therefore, after I read it through like a martial arts novel, I put it away in the same way I treated other books and I left it all behind me. Since then, that fellow practitioner talked with me about Falun Gong constantly, and I did a good job making fun of her, wondering how she could believe in the contents of Zhuan Falun so deeply.
Afterwards, I read every one of Master Li's new book's, which my colleague gave me as gifts, from cover to cover. Yet I still didn't believe anything contained in Zhuan Falun. Once I asked her about the purpose of cultivation and she told me that it is to attain enlightenment and to become a Buddha, Tao, or God. I burst into laughter saying that I had been living freely and joyfully like a God all my life, why would I need to practice cultivation? I enjoyed traveling, and I had many enjoyable hobbies such as panting, music, chess, and other classical Chinese hobbies. I had a decent job, I liked to exercise after work, and my physical health had always been good. I believed in science, in living a certain lifestyle, and in competing and making strong efforts to reach my goals. It was this ordinary person's mentality, my feeling of being superior and my self-conceit that obstructed me from obtaining the Fa [law and principles]. To this day, this attachment, which I thought I had eliminated, emerges from time to time -- it was even reflected in this article and I was totally unaware of it. Thus I would like to thank two fellow practitioners for their help, enabling me to finish this experience-sharing article after several revisions.
In September 1998, when I was quietly listening to the four-hour audio recording of Master Li's lecture in Switzerland, I was shocked when Master spoke about the structure of the universe. I remember I was trying to simultaneously picture the image of the universe in my head but repeatedly failed. For the first time in my life I felt small, ignorant, and pitiful, and my mind became empty because the magnificent yet exquisite structure of the universe cannot be described in any language or humanly imagined. Suddenly I felt that the universe is a huge mystery and I was so tiny, lonely, and helpless. I strongly wished to know where I had come from and what the meaning of life is. I knew I had to practice Falun Gong. I therefore went to the Zizhuyuan practice site in Beijing shortly after and thus the journey of my cultivation had begun.
II. My Journey of Cultivation
The early stage of my cultivation was mostly based on my perceptual knowledge of the Fa. I could always feel the comforting, warm energy in my body after completing the five sets of exercises. With my utilitarian thoughts for its health benefits, I was sure at least my sensation was real, regardless of whether what is said in Zhuan Falun was true or not. My body changed a lot after I started to seriously cultivate. At first, patches of blackish dandruff began falling off my scalp, and I didn't realize it was for the elimination of my karma. I tried expensive medicated shampoos but the problem only got worse. Then I stopped the treatment when I sensed it was to remove my karma and the problem was gone in a short while. Another attachment I had at that time was to get a fair and better skin complexion without using facial makeup, as stated in Zhuan Falun. As a result, my face and neck broke out in a rash like I had an allergic reaction to something. It later healed after I became aware of this attachment.
From September 1998 to July 20, 1999, I didn't advance much in my cultivation. I went to the practice site in the morning and the evening to do the exercises, yet I couldn't read one whole lecture of Zhuan Falun per day. I'd never attended group study, nor had I given up my old hobbies. I treated practicing Falun Gong as another amateur interest, and I didn't take my cultivation seriously until there were massive arrests of practitioners by the Beijing public security officers on July 20, 1999. On July 22, I took half a day off from work to go home and watch the important news broadcast on Central Television as announced. I was never interested in politics or any popular cultures of the society, but that day, I watched the news more seriously than anything I had ever done since childhood. This was because I didn't understand how practicing Falun Gong could violate the law. Even now I still can't describe my feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and tension whilst I watched the news, since a lot of my fellow practitioners had already been detained in Fengtai gymnasium.
The broadcast was quite long but I sensed something was wrong within 15 minutes of the broadcast good and bad were completely confounded, and the footage of Master Li's lectures replayed on TV was a raggle-taggle mess of scraps of film randomly edited from videos of Master's lectures in different cities. For example, I thoroughly searched all of the Falun Gong books and audio and video tapes for the statements regarding the explosion of the earth, but I didn't find it mentioned anywhere in the materials. In addition, it says that we are an organized group. I had practiced Falun Gong for over half a year and was never asked for any contact information by anybody, and everything was free of charge -- I only spent a little money on some books and audio tapes. I still feel regret for losing all the contacts with practitioners of my practice site. I didn't finish watching the news broadcast that day, and simply based on my conscience and my own experience, I made the judgment that Central Television was lying.
During the following days, Falun Gong was massively bombarded by the news media. I really couldn't understand why this was happening. Looking into my heart, I knew I hadn't committed any crime or violated any law. Ever since I practiced Falun Gong, I examined myself daily whether I had done anything immoral or against my conscience. The confusion and doubts in my mind made me spend more time and effort in studying Zhuan Falun and other Falun Dafa books, in hope of finding out why the government wanted to suppress Falun Gong at any cost. As a consequence, I came to realize rationally how magnificent and sacred Falun Dafa is.
At one point while I was reading Master's scripture "Sage" in Essentials For Further Advances: "He is on a Providential mission in this world as well as in heaven above. He has bountiful virtue and also maintains a benevolent heart; he is full of great aspirations while minding minor details. With broad knowledge of the laws and principles, he is able to unravel uncertainties. Offering salvation to the world and its people, he builds up his merit naturally." I truly felt that Master Li is the greatest, and at that same moment I experienced being guarded by Master - a warm current suddenly came down from the top of my head to all over my body. After my observation and careful consideration for a period of time, I was sure there is nothing wrong in practicing Falun Gong, regardless of the reports from the mass media. I continued practicing the exercises in my dorm room when practicing outdoors was disallowed.
Beyond expectations, suppression turned into persecution and it intensified. In spite of been in Beijing, I could still access Minghui website everyday due to the convenience of my work. I was always reading the articles in tears but didn't have the courage to step forward, and I was afraid of people knowing that I still practiced Falun Gong. Every day I practiced the exercises, studied the Fa, and read the articles on Minghui, yet I never thought about doing something for Falun Dafa. As the situation deteriorated, I heard that practitioners from my practice site had gotten arrested, fired from work, or evicted from their residences. I was still reading stories on Minghui in tears everyday, and in my heart I prayed to Master Li: "Please let it end soon. I don't expect Consummation, I don't even think about it. Those practitioners have suffered too much. Please end it quickly."
The days in Beijing during that time were heavy and repressive. It felt like being submerged in a bottomless field of karma. Facing the crazy attack by the media and listening to people's discussion and criticism, although I was touched by the stories on Minghui every day, I didn't seem to feel I was a part of it, neither did I feel obligated or responsible for explaining the truth to people around me about Falun Gong. Even so, I could still feel Master Li was looking after me, eliminating my karma for me, and protecting me. During that time of eliminating karma, I felt like I was being protected in the shade by Master Li, and I could sense Master's immense compassion at all times.
I experienced a major tribulation in October 1999. There was a bad pustule on the skin at my lower abdomen. I couldn't eat and I couldn't sleep because of the excruciating pain. I coughed badly at night like a chronic tracheitis patient, spitting out thick phlegm, and I felt like my internal organs were all being coughed up. I lay in bed for over three weeks. I knew I was eliminating my karma since I truly sensed Master Li was purifying my body and cleansing my karma which had been accumulated lifetime after lifetime. I felt warm currents flow through my body from the top of my head down to my feet, and I could feel many Faluns spinning all over my body, especially at night. Sometimes I was soaked in my sweat and sometimes I felt numb and I couldn't move my body; it was as if it were being reassembled. Finally, two days before my vacation ended, on a Saturday night, that pustule ruptured itself, and the pus that flowed out filled three paper cups and it was extremely filthy. I didn't know that there was so much filth in my body, nothing but phlegm and pus. I had a sound sleep that night, and my coughing stopped. I went back to work the next Monday and all my colleagues were surprised when they saw me. I was extremely thin because I had hardly eaten for nearly a month. (It is very embarrassing to mention that during the whole process, I often knelt down on my knees in tears begging to Teacher Li that this test was too harsh for me to endure).
My health quickly recovered. My appetite was amazingly huge, and my complexion became rosy in three weeks. I felt my muscles growing back, and my arms and legs becoming strong again. When I resumed practicing the exercises, I felt my body had been thoroughly opened, and gradually I could feel the strong energy current flowing through my body. One night I went to the washroom after meditation and I found that my hands had turned greenish and the arteries and veins were clearly visible. Then I looked at my body and found that it was completely transparent. I was truly amazed by the power of Falun Gong. I started losing bundles and bundles of hair, but my friend was asking why my hair didn't seem to get thinner. I answered with a smile "because a lot of new hair has been growing out vigorously."
In the following months, I felt every single muscle of my body was burning hot. This was then followed by an itch accompanied by a stinging pain so painful that I had to bang my head against the wall, and it almost made me roll over on the floor. Anybody who has ever read the book The Pilgrimage To The West might remember the scene in which Guanying Bodhisattva chants a spell to discipline Sun Wukong which made him roll around in pain on the floor- that was exactly how I felt. The next day I could see a red rash all over my body. The impurities were being cleansed from the deepest layer of my body, which normally lasted for less then three days. Since the time Master Li first started purifying my body until now, numerous layers of skin have sloughed off my body, layer by layer, from the scalp to the rough skin on my feet, even on the tiny spots on my eyelids and the apertures of my ears. In The Pilgrimage To The West, Tai Shang Lao Chun used an alchemist furnace to burn Sun Wukong; I think Master Li was doing the same to me because of all the wrong deeds I had committed and the commandments I violated during my numerous previous lives.
My perceptual understanding of Falun Dafa facilitated my study of the Fa and my cultivation of Xinxing. Gradually I came to realize rationally how profound, solemn, and sacred Falun Dafa is, and how compassionate and mighty Teacher Li Hongzhi is. Deep in my heart, I could feel that every cell was filled with true bliss and happiness, and I felt that obtaining Falun Dafa was the most lucky thing of my life through all of eternity. I have been surrounded by this feeling of bliss ever since, and the more I read Zhuan Falun, the more I enjoy reading it. Oftentimes, I read it in tears for Master Li's earnest and unwearied teaching. From Zhuan Falun, I've found one brand-new world after another, and my heart and vision have been expanding. The more I read Zhuan Falun the more profound I find it is. I felt I could never read it through and fully comprehend it in my whole life.
III. Joining Cultivation Within Fa Rectification
Perhaps because of my limited capacity of endurance, or Master Li worried I might not be able to make it through under the circumstances, I came to Toronto from China in April 2000. Within half a month, I found fellow practitioners in Toronto. I still get emotional whenever I think of the moment I first saw Falun Dafa flags and banners in the sun under the blue sky of Toronto and heard Falun Dafa music once again in the air. I was in tears like I was like a long lost child who had found his parents again.
The cultivation environment in Toronto is so comfortable for me that I feel that if I don't strive forward in my cultivation to the best of my ability, I won't be able to face Master Li and the tens of thousands of my fellow practitioners in China who are struggling for their right to practice cultivation. The practitioners in Toronto brought me into the local environment of cultivation, and thus I saw and heard of many stories about their efforts in studying Fa, practicing the exercises, spreading Falun Dafa, and telling the truth to the world that touched my heart. Some practitioners can hardly make a living, yet they devote themselves to working for Falun Dafa selflessly. Some practitioners are not working but they spend their savings doing jobs for Falun Dafa. Some practitioners only sleep for two or three hours everyday and have committed themselves in spreading Falun Dafa with all their time and effort for their strong and firm faith in Falun Dafa and Master Li. I knew that I should also help, not for my personal gain but as a member of this big family that is suffering such hardship as Master Li is being slandered, as numerous practitioners are being persecuted and deprived of their families, jobs, and residences. As all my fellow practitioners are suffering, there is no excuse for me not to assume my part of the responsibility and duty for Falun Dafa.
As I remembered, I was bashful and timid when walking on the street to pass Falun Dafa newspapers to people for the first time. Perhaps because of the impurity of my state of my mind, a man tore up the newspaper in front of me, even stepped on it and said: "You Falun Gong people should to be treated like this." At that moment I felt very hurt and tears rolled down my face. But slowly during the process, my heart has become composed, peaceful, and steady -- now I can do it a lot faster than before, and I no longer feel embarrassed when passing newspapers out to people.
Collecting signatures was also a harsh test for me. I felt that it was like begging, as though I was losing face, and I couldn't let go of my pride. Once I listened to how a practitioner who is an elderly lady from my site collected her signatures, and I was really embarrassed for myself. I felt that I was still full of human thoughts, the so-called "losing face" or "protecting my pride" is exactly the test that I have to pass. Maybe I am upper class, or a so-called "intellectual" in this human society, but to view it outside this boundary, this physical body of mine is solely for cultivation, and all the concepts shaped after birth are exactly the obstacles to my elevation. Sometimes I think the more so-called "knowledge" I acquire from this human world and the more concepts I build up along the way, the greater the obstruction is. Just like the elderly lady from my practice site. When the police told her collecting signatures was not allowed in the area, she did it there anyway because she didn't understand English, and she was able to collect a lot of signatures. However, some of the rules and principles formed in my head obstructed me as a result.
The process of collecting signatures is somewhat like being a monk wandering around among ordinary people, seeing all kinds of facial expressions and attitudes. In the beginning I hesitated a little, but as I saw the elderly lady practitioner handing over the signature board to the signers one after another, waiting patiently for them to finishing reading the letter, I was deeply moved. Our cultivation is exactly advanced through these seemingly insignificant things we do, to eliminate all our human thoughts that have been formed after birth from the most trivial matters. Collecting signatures is merely a formality. What matters is not the number of signatures I have collected but the attachments that I abandoned during the process.
Hampered by my human concepts, I didn't try to introduce Falun Dafa to my colleagues at work until the release of the petition letter from Amnesty International in Geneva. I asked my coworkers to sign the letter, and afterwards, a colleague inquired about Falun Gong in detail and so I gave him our website information. He downloaded the music "Pu Du" and "Ji Shi" by himself, and told me anxiously that he wanted to learn Falun Gong. I gave him a copy of China Falun Gong as a gift and he was very happy. Looking at him in such great delight, I was so ashamed of myself and of the attachments that might have made many people lose their opportunity to obtain Falun Dafa. Later on, he told me he'd forwarded the address of the Falun Dafa website to all of his relatives and friends.
Explaining the truth about Falun Dafa to the people around us is also a cultivation process. I was not willing to, and I was also afraid of explaining the truth to people. I recall a year ago that some friends of mine had a debate with me about Falun Gong, I knew I didn't do well in my cultivation at the time, not only due to my lack of compassion but also due to my inadequate understanding of the Fa. When I found I couldn't persuade them, I said to them: "You guys just wait and see." There was another time I got into an argument with a few friends but I still couldn't convince them. I burst into tears for not being able to defend my respectable Master Li. Later on I was aware that my unwillingness and fear were actually the manifestation of my insufficient knowledge of the Fa. Master Li said in "Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s):": "If a practitioner can let go of the thought of life and death under any circumstances, evil is bound to be afraid of him. If every practitioner is able to do this, evil will of itself no longer exist. All of you are already aware of the principle of mutual-generation and mutual-inhibition. If you are not afraid, the factor that would make you afraid will become non-existent. ..." If we are free of all of the concepts shaped after birth in our heads, our original nature will know what to do under any circumstances. If we are free of the selfish thoughts of protecting ourselves, we will be peaceful and magnanimous, without any hesitation or uncertainty, when handing out newspapers on the streets, collecting signatures, or explaining the truth to people under all circumstances, because we would be doing it with our original nature.
To let go of the thought of life and death is based on the steadfast faith and thorough understanding of the Fa, if it is not so, even with the hope to explain the truth to people, the result might not be as good as we expected. Gradually I have become more and more rational, and I feel that my words are more and more convincing. A friend of mine who came to visit me from China last month firmly believed that the self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square was committed by Falun Gong practitioners. Without realizing it, we talked for three hours and in the end she completely changed her idea about Falun Gong.
I've participated in some computer-related Falun Dafa work. In the beginning I thought I could not do this, I could not do that; I could not stay up late, and I could not handle that much work. But slowly I've made it through, and in this process I've realized that doing work for Falun Dafa is actually for my own cultivation, and whatever I've done is exactly what I had to do. As Master Li said in the "Great Lakes Lecture:" "No matter what it is, you should just do it. ..." Think of it conversely, if I don't take responsibility for the tasks I am supposed to accomplish in the process of Fa rectification, would it cause trouble for Master Li? If I don't strive to the best of my ability for the things I should do, will it become a burden to Master Li?
Now I realize that when I was praying to Master Li to end this disaster sooner, I was doing it because I didn't understand the Fa from the perspective of the Fa. Master Li said in "Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)": "I treasure you more than you treasure yourselves!" As it is the great law of the universe we are cultivating, no tribulation or hardship we have encountered is accidental. Master Li said in "Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)" that "Over the past year, practitioners' own karma, inadequate understanding of the Fa, inability to discard attachments amidst tribulations, inability to deal with things using righteous thoughts amidst painful trials, and so on, are the main reasons behind evil's escalation of the persecution, and are the true fundamental excuses that the evil has used to attack the Fa." Numerous Buddhas, Taos, and Gods in the universe are watching Falun Dafa practitioners closely, and I feel every single thought and action of ours is related to the progress of Fa rectification.
The process of doing work for Falun Dafa is the process of self-transcendence. Master Li said in the "Great Lakes Lecture" that "... no matter where you are or what you're doing, you are improving yourself in the midst of the things you're supposed to do." Once when I was editing an article, a fellow practitioner brought something to my attention that I had overlooked all along -- in Zhuan Falun, all the (Chinese) characters of the word "practice" in connection with the orthodox Fa are written with the "fire" radical. From this I understood the meaning of cultivation practice at another level: Falun Dafa practitioners eliminate all their impurities in this smelting furnace of the human world and refine themselves into the most splendid and purest gold. No matter where we are in jail, labor camps, or mental hospitals, and no matter when it is -- be it either in the freezing winter or scorching summer, in rain or snow, as long as we have Falun Dafa and Master in our hearts, it is the bravest and most invincible Gods that we will become.
I treasure the environment of group practice and study in Toronto very much, as well as the opportunities of sharing experiences with fellow practitioners around me. I had never attended group study when I was in China, and I am still regretful for it today. I remember one fellow practitioner told me before I left China: "You are so lucky to be able to practice cultivation and share experiences freely with the practitioners in Toronto. How I wish that one day all Falun Dafa practitioners can share experiences together." Whenever I am too lazy to attend the group study, I think of that day and the expression in her eyes. Indeed I feel this group environment is very important, as it fortifies my consciousness of cultivation, which is slightly weakened after a week's life in ordinary human society. It is like I am washing away the dirt that I have picked up with clear water. In that environment I feel myself insignificantly small, even selfless, and whenever I come back from the group study, I am ashamed of myself, I blame myself and even feel very lost and upset for the huge distance that I have fallen behind compared to my fellow practitioners and for all the attachments I am not yet able to give up. Therefore, I always try to put away the human side of me as much as possible in order to join the discussion in the purest state of mind, so that I can notice where I fall short and where my attachments are in this environment.
Once I had an argument with a veteran practitioner and I spoke in a very impolite tone. Later on a fellow practitioner told me I was not compassionate enough. I analyzed myself afterwards, and realized I was listening to my fellow practitioners' discussion with my human concepts - I preferred listening to those who express themselves clearly and nicely but not those whom I regard as being verbose. Actually, every practitioner is in his own state of cultivation, and has enlightened to his/her principles of the Fa. I shouldn't have judged them with my human concepts.
I know the process of my cultivation is the process that Falun Dafa uses to remake me. I have been completely recreated by Falun Dafa. The layers and layers of skin sloughed off, the pain during the transformation of my body, and the energy current that quietly flows in my body are all telling me that a brand-new "me" is coming out from the shell of a human being that has been shaped over thousands of years, stepping forward to the pure, true origin of life. For every step I make in my cultivation, every inspiration I have in the Fa, and every transcendence I experience are all with Master Li's immense compassion. As Master said in "Great Lakes Lecture:" " ...no Fa could save today's beings, and no one could change today's people. What did I mean by that? I'll tell you. Today's people can't perceive their own warped thinking because the very nature of people has changed, no matter what cultivation way is adopted, you can only change what they can be aware of, but not the distortion of their very nature." Along with the part of the distorted "me" beyond my own perception, I also have deeply rooted concepts built up during my long life as a human being. Only by unconditionally assimilating to Falun Dafa, melting all my heart and body into the Fa, and believing firmly in Master Li, will I be able to return to my true homeland.
During this year, I've grown up within Falun Dafa and have become more mature in the process of Fa rectification. I am no longer passive and dispirited but peaceful and steadfast in my faith. Looking back at my journey of cultivation, it is filled with sadness, thorns, and tears. Yet, the road is also full of blooming flowers, a carpet of green grass, and endless bliss, happiness, and peace. I can't describe in any words how profound, splendid, solemn and heavenly sacred Falun Dafa is, and my gratefulness to the greatest merciful Master Li Hongzhi is beyond description of any human language. Thousands and thousands of words I want to say can only be expressed in this one sentence: "Follow Teacher closely, Steadfastly cultivating Falun Dafa."
[Shared at 2001 Ottawa Conference]