Walking Righteously on Our Final Path
Greetings to Revered Master,
Greetings to every fellow practitioner,
I first began practicing Falun Dafa during the summer holidays of 1998. One year later, under pressure from a tremendous amount of slander by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime, I gradually gave up cultivation, mainly because at that time my understanding of the Fa was not clear and was mixed with strong ordinary human notions and a variety of attachments. I suffered a very harsh time in the following years, drowning in my ordinary life. I always knew that Dafa was good, and Master had enlightened me several times, but I still didn't practice cultivation again until Easter of 2004. On certain occasions, compassionate Master "brought" me to my sister-in-law who was a practitioner. Her patient persuasion finally broke the shell that blocked me from stepping forward, and I decided to cultivate again. Now I am going to share several impressive experiences I have had since I resumed cultivation.
I. Studying the Fa well is the essential requirement of cultivation
Master told us in the article, "Drive Out Interference:"
"The Fa can break all attachments, the Fa can destroy all evil, the Fa can shatter all lies, and the Fa can strengthen righteous thoughts."
The first time I felt the mighty power of studying the Fa was half a year after practicing again, when I decided to memorize Hong Yin II by heart. In those days I would recite and memorize one or two poems every day on my way to school and on my way home again. Several weeks later, Belgium practitioners got a permit to send righteous thoughts in front of the Chinese Embassy. At that time, I had a very strong attachment of fear; I was afraid of being videotaped and I was scared of facing arrest upon my return to China. Later, after memorizing Master's poem, it became very clear in my mind that this was the responsibility of Dafa disciples.
Several days later, when studying the Fa, I read in Master's "Fa-Lecture during the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference,"
"Don't entertain or get attached to any human thoughts, and just do what a Dafa disciple should do."
I realized I should righteously proceed and do what I should do. That day I woke up very early and copied Master's article, "In Fa-Rectification Your Thoughts Have to be Righteous, Not Human" into my little booklet for copying lectures, and went on my way to another city where a fellow practitioner would give me a ride. I was surprised that I memorized the whole article by heart with amazing speed. When I recalled what happened at that time, I didn't realized that it was through recitation of Master's Hong Yin that I was able to overcome my strong attachment to fear of doing what a Dafa disciple should do, which was to participate in the activity in front of the Chinese Embassy. Subsequently, when I applied for a visa to London to attend the Fa Conference, I recited the Fa all day long. Surprisingly, everything went well on that day. After I was able to commit several short articles published during that period of time to memory, I decided to memorize "Zhuan Falun." Even before committing the first two pages to memory, I started to feel afraid of the long and strenuous path ahead. Also, I did not get the same invigorating sensation as if the cells of my body were vibrating, as I had felt when reciting Hong Yin. So I gave up.
When I would read the Fa, I always had problems with my concentration; I would think about a lot of other things even when my lips were still moving. With interference from acquired notions and karma in my thoughts, things become even worse when I studied the Fa. It was very often that in our weekend group Fa study, after a whole lecture was complete, I wouldn't even know what I had read. I had thought that copying the Fa might change the situation, but when I copied out Essentials for Further Advancement II, I found that I couldn't concentrate even when copying. I realized I could only break through this distraction by memorizing the Fa. I wanted to do so, but it was so hard to put this into action. During those days, our experience sharing mainly involved reciting the Fa that was published on the Clearwisdom website. I found it very encouraging that even a western fellow practitioner was trying to memorize Lunyu in Chinese! He told me that reading the Fa in Chinese was very powerful. I was so ashamed to hear that, and finally made up my mind to begin.
The process of memorizing the Fa was not easy at all, but it was also unbelievably wonderful. The process enabled me to engrave every word into my heart; there was no room for laziness. The Fa principles that Master wanted to reveal to me began to emerge endlessly. I thought Master had made everything so clear, and I wondered why I had not seen them before. Sometimes I even had the feeling that I did not deserve to know such profound Fa principles. At the very beginning of memorizing the Fa, although the process was slow, in terms of understanding, I felt I was elevating. During weekend Fa study, my concentration problems were gone. I finally came to realize why I couldn't feel the resonating vibration of the Fa during my initial recitation of Zhuan Falun a few months earlier; it was because of the attachment of pursuit.
Through memorizing the Fa, I also realized why Master taught us in Explaining the Content of Falun Dafa , "Comments for Republication:"
"No matter how many more scriptures we publish, they are merely supplementary materials to Zhuan Falun. Only Zhuan Falun can truly guide your cultivation. It contains inner meanings that go from the level of ordinary people to incomparable heights. As long as you continue to cultivate, Zhuan Falun will always guide your elevation in cultivation."
I also enlightened that even for those lectures I remembered by heart, it was still necessary to study and recite them over and over again; the process of studying the Fa is actually the process of purifying oneself and eliminating our attachments.
As I continued to memorize the Fa at a very slow pace, I didn't feel as good as before. My understanding was rising with the progress of recitation, but the requirements were rising too. I needed to be more diligent.
II. Breaking through notions by clarifying the truth
I was a person with a lot of acquired notions, strong attachments to fame and gain, and it was because of this that I could naturally clarify the truth to strangers, especially westerners, but when it came to my friends and relatives, I was really bad. For the Chinese New Year, our Student Union in Leuven organized a New Year's party under the direction of the Chinese Embassy. I knew I should go, but my human notions prevented me from attending. I felt scared, but I had no idea what I was afraid of. Anyway, no matter what kind of attachments or notions existed, they were something I had to get rid of. Whatever it was that stopped me from clarifying the truth, I would definitely eliminate it. With this thought in mind, I shared my understanding with another practitioner after our group Fa study in Leuven on the night before the party. That practitioner reminded me, "Why can you do well in other places but not in Leuven? You should really look within yourself... I also realize this when I see you clarify the truth, you've always been afraid that others will misunderstand this and that. As a result, you always talk in a zigzag way, and the effect is not good." Then I realized that I've always been afraid that other people will look at me in a different way if they know I practice Falun Gong.
The next day, when distributing materials in front of the gate, everything went well. I said hello to my friends naturally, and handed out New Year's Gala CDs. They smiled and thanked me politely. I felt the joy of removing that attachment.
After the party began, I entered the performance room with another fellow practitioner and began to send righteous thoughts. There was a lot of commotion and the atmosphere was very tense.
So was my heart and I began to feel headache. When it was almost time for that practitioner to go back to Brussels, I went out with him for some fresh air. I told him, "I feel that my righteous thoughts are completely engulfed, I cannot send them out and I have a headache." Before leaving, the fellow practitioner reminded me that I was there to save people. No matter how the environment may seem, my heart should not be moved. Yes, I realized that I was a Fa-rectification Dafa disciple, I had righteous thought and supernormal abilities that Master had bestowed upon me, I should use them to positively influence those around me in order to save them; how could I be moved by the environment?
With this thought in mind, I went back to the hall and coincidentally, I began to sell drinks for the student union. During that time, I had a chat with a man from the Chinese Embassy. This man had an unhappy face. A while earlier when we were distributing materials outside the gate, he also stood there without doing anything and coldly refused our materials. As he stood there again, I tried to talk to him, and inquired in a kind way whether he was tired from standing there so long in the cold. At that time, I really cared about him from my heart. Gradually, his hostility melted, and he began to chat with me naturally. The topic turned to Falun Gong. Curious, he asked me several questions. I told him modestly that the main point of Falun Dafa was cultivating our heart, and that we really benefit a lot from cultivation both physically and mentally. Although he didn't accept the materials, I could see he trusted my words. After the activity, I felt a glow of radiance as I had never felt before. I know this radiance came from removing some of my stubborn attachments.
But in truth, on this aspect, I still had a lot of attachments. I still had problems in clarifying the truth to my classmates and relatives. It was closely related to my fundamental attachment: I was always attached to hoping other people would like me, always afraid that others would dislike and avoid me. Whenever others treated me badly, I would feel sad and uncomfortable. Master told us in the lecture ,"The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be,"
"All human attachments and notions that interfere with validating the Fa and saving sentient beings must be removed."
I realized this was the attachment I must remove.
III. Cultivating in the "Coming for You" European Choir
At the very beginning it was because a responsible practitioner encouraged me again and again to join the choir, that I participated in it because I liked singing. I knew I did not have a good voice; I had no idea of proper singing techniques, but I believed that supernormal things would manifest while doing Dafa work. The first training session I had was around Easter in Heidelberg. After the training we were supposed to perform in a church located in the middle of the mountains in Heidelberg. We were met with severe interference on our way, and within one hour after setting off, the car was stopped with a tire problem. The situation was weird and dangerous. Later on I was told that other practitioners who participated in the training session also almost had an accident on their way. I came to realize that the evil was really afraid of our Dafa choir, and that the choir's power of clarifying the truth and saving sentient beings was unimaginable.
Initially, my participation in the choir was to fill the numbers. I chose soprano without knowing the true condition of my voice. Gradually, under the patient guidance of fellow practitioners' expertise in singing, I came to learn how to use my voice, and was praised. My attachment to showing off increased with that. I liked to hear my voice when singing, but the most important thing for a choir is harmonization: no matter how good a single singer is, if his or her voice cannot merge into the group, then this choir is destined to fail, not to mention that I had just begun to understand how to sing. After realizing this, I gradually dropped this attachment, and I came to know that the meaning of participating in the choir was more than saving sentient beings; it was also a good process for elevating oneself.
The way we were trained in the choir was to first study the Fa and do the exercises, and then start the vocal training. I obtained a lot in the choir. A professional 4-voice-part choir requires that no matter how many members are there in the choir, it should always sound like only 4 people are singing, and these 4 people integrate with each other as the arms and legs of a human being. Therefore, all choir members must have a strong conception of the whole body, from the conductor to every single member. Master told us in "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Midwest-U.S. Fa Conference,"
"The better you cooperate with each other as a whole the more powerful you are, and the more powerful you are the greater your impact."
The choir members showed their special talents and abilities by embracing all Dafa work. I never saw any of them insist on his or her own idea, but rather, they quietly complemented each other. Later, I found out that although they were so modest and quiet in choir training; actually many of them were responsible for a lot of crucial Dafa work in their countries.
According to my understanding, in the lecture, "Teaching the Fa at the Discussion on Creating Fine Art," Master emphasizes the importance of basic skills in creating art; this applies to our singing as well. At the beginning, I thought Dafa disciples could touch people just by their righteous thoughts; later on I gradually realized the importance of basic skills. Our songs can touch the heart of an audience, but from a professional point of view, we are still immature. As Dafa disciples, we ought to measure ourselves with a higher standard. I also heard other stories from choir members in different countries. At times when ordinary people are shut out and unwilling to hear the truth, choir members use their sweet voices to move them. The songs purify practitioner's hearts and awaken ordinary people's true inner desire and desperation to learn the truth. There are always some touching scenes in such cases. I sincerely hope that we can have our own Benelux choir, and have our voices exert an influence in our local Dafa events..
IV. Elevating and upgrading amidst conflicts with fellow practitioners
I entered the door of cultivation with a big attachment that I liked the environment constituted by practitioners; people here were kind, and there should be no conflicts. Yet Master had already made it very clear in this aspect:
"Conflicts are inevitable. Without conflicts there wouldn't be any improvement. If assistants did well, students did well, and nobody had any conflicts in this environment, who would be happy? Demons would be happy, and I wouldn't be happy. The reason is, you would lose the environment for cultivation, you wouldn't be able to improve, and wouldn't be able to achieve the goal of returning. So you shouldn't view conflicts as bad." (Falun Buddha Law - Lecture at the Western United States Fa Conference Feb 21 and 22, 1999, Los Angeles, unofficial translation)
I am a person that is eager to excel, and to a certain extent I am very stubborn at times. At the Stockholm Fa Conference last year, I had some conflict with a practitioner. Since we had some disagreement before leaving, in the subway in Stockholm I had the feeling that whatever I said, she would always disagree. After a while she said to me:" Why do you always contradict whatever I say?" I felt uncomfortable, but also I was astonished. I was surprised that we had the same feelings. I have found cultivation to be magical: no matter what we encounter, it always points to our own heart, just like a mirror. Whenever I see something in other practitioners that makes me feel uncomfortable, I should look inside right on this point, it must be that one of my attachments is touched, even, in most cases, the things I dislike are exactly the attachments that I also have and that should be removed.
This experience benefited me a lot, and made me always remember to look inward whenever I encounter any conflict. Just like what Master says in "Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)" (Essentials for Further advancement II)
"If you are not afraid, the factor that would make you afraid will cease to exist."
If I don't have that attachment, that substance, how can my heart be touched and influenced by those external things?
In the beginning of this year, I had a conflict with another practitioner over a very small thing. At that time I felt I was being mistreated, I didn't think I did anything wrong, nor did the other fellow practitioners that witnessed the whole thing. It happened during the time we just finished group Fa study; I managed to suppress my temper on the surface, but from within, another me seemed to be trembling with anger. It seemed the conflict took place all of a sudden, but in fact it was prearranged by Master as a test for me to pass. Co-incidentally, I was discussing with other fellow practitioners about how to deal with conflicts between practitioners, and a few days earlier I had just read Master's lecture in "Falun Buddha Fa - Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe:"
"No matter whether it's your fault or not, when my Law Bodies are having you remove your attachment, they don't care whether it's your fault or another person's. As long as you have an attachment, they will try everything to have you run into problems and have you recognize the attachment that makes you fall short. Yet you're still looking around, "This isn't my fault," or you're still thinking, "I'm protecting the Fa." Meanwhile, the other person is thinking, "I'm protecting the Fa." In fact, the conflict occurs because you probably each have faults of your own."
When I finally calmed down and carefully looked inside, I found a lot of attachments, such as the attachment of pursuing comfort, dislike of troubles, afraid of making others unhappy, and even falsely finding a lot of excuses to cover my attachments like an ordinary person. On the surface, other practitioners might find it difficult to notice, they might find that I did not do anything wrong, but actually I knew it clearly in my heart, these attachments were actually the fundamental cause of this conflict. The process of removing the attachment was not easy. Each time I felt my righteous thoughts had conquered the attachment, complaints of mistreatment and attachment to fighting grew up again within a short while, and there was always a voice telling me that "I was not wrong." On each of this occasions, Master reminded me with the appropriate Fa principle to help me to pass the test. But a few days later, things hadn't changed, and the notions that came out from my mind were even getting worse. I almost lost my temper: why was this attachment is so difficult to remove? At that moment, Master reminded me:
"If you took a look in the extreme microcosm at the material formed by what your mind is attached to, [you'd see that] they are mountains, huge mountains, made of hard, granite-like rock, and once they are formed there's simply no way for a human being to move them." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference")
Thinking of this, I calmed down again. Several days later, Master's new lecture was published, where there was a paragraph that says:
"Some students forget that they are cultivators and become unhappy as soon as they run into anything troublesome. Some students become unhappy whenever they encounter conflicts or emotional turmoil. In that case, are you still cultivating? Cultivators look at things in just the opposite way. They see tribulations and suffering as good opportunities for improvement. [To cultivators] these are all good things, and the more there are and the faster they come, the faster the improvement. Some cultivators want to push them away and think, "Don't come." Whenever [conflicts and turmoil] come up they think that others have a problem with them and they can't stand it when others say anything negative about them. You just want to live a more pleasant life, but is that cultivation? Can you really cultivate that way? If to this day you still can't come around on this concept, then as your master, I don't know how you will ever move towards Consummation. " "Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005 (Q&A portion)"
I was so happy to see that, I knew I had passed the test.
Despite all of this, I also went through some small xinxing test. Once when I shared with my sister-in-law, we were suddenly enlightened to the meaning of what Master says in Zhuan Falun
"In Buddhism they say that everything in the world is an illusion, that it's not real."
Our acquired notions are like our physical eyes: if we observe things with these eyes, we can be easily deceived by the surface phenomenon; we cannot find our way out or limit ourselves by resolving problems with ordinary approaches. Just like when ordinary people go to see a doctor, they just postpone the illnesses or transform them, yet actually the tribulations are still there, and once there is a chance, they will come out again. Only when we abandon the acquired thought, and use our righteous thoughts, which are our true eyes, to see the problem, can we see the true nature of the problem, find out our attachment, remove it, and then the problem will naturally disappear and resolve. I experienced this several times: each time when I really realized and removed my hidden attachments, the surface phenomenon in ordinary life suddenly changed. Other people were not aware of it, but for me, it was really like seeing light at the end of a tunnel.
V. Harmonizing our cultivation environment creates an unshakable whole body
I am very grateful that I was given the chance to blend myself into the special cultivation environment constituted by Belgium practitioners. Belgium is a small country, and we don't have a lot of people, so wherever there is an activity, almost all practitioners will take part. Together with the fixed weekend group Fa study, we keep on harmonizing our cultivation environment with each other through the procedure of resolving conflicts and experience sharing. An experience that impressed me was that once we talked about a non-Belgium practitioner who may have done something that was against the requirement of Dafa disciples. I had seen it in a group email, but I thought the incident had nothing to do with me so I ignored the issue. But in that experience sharing after Fa study, one practitioner said, "Whatever happens, it is a test, it tests how everyone reacts to the incident surrounding this event, whether we blame others, whether we treat it as an irrelevant issue and how we harmonize better, or like Master says,
"The next person's things are your things, and your things are his things." ("Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. Fa Conference, 2002")
Another practitioner said, "No matter what happens, what we should do first is always look within ourselves, to see whether we still hold some attachment, because nothing is accidental." That experience sharing left a deep impression on my mind and helped me a lot; it always reminds me that harmonizing our group cultivation environment as a whole is the most important thing.
There are a lot of things I didn't do well, I had a lot of notions and attachments, I pursued comfort and was not diligent, I am exactly the one Master talked about in the lecture, "Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles"
"If it's a Dafa disciple who cultivates himself very well and who manages to rationally understand what Dafa is, he will surely work at it with considerable effort and not let up when it comes to this. On the other hand, those who are not diligent are likewise studying the Fa, and they know that the Fa is very good, but their thinking is not grounded in the Fa and they don't have ample righteous thoughts. So, naturally their understanding is not high; that is, they can't truly understand the preciousness of the Fa. That's why they're not all that motivated."
My not being diligent had troubled me for quite a long time. Fellow practitioners reminded me that there must exist a serious attachment hidden behind it, but I was not even motivated to find out this attachment. This attachment prevented me from clarifying the truth to a great extent. However, the closer we come to approaching the end, the more urgent the need to save people, and the chances left to save sentient beings are becoming less and less. I really should dig out my attachment in this aspect; otherwise I am ashamed to face Master and those sentient beings that put their reliance and hope on me.
Thank you all for your attention and patience.
What I have said here is according to my understanding, if something is not correct, I ask you kindly to point it out.