My Cultivation Experiences with the Celestial Band
Greetings Master, greetings fellow practitioners!
I'm the drum major for the Toronto Celestial Band. It is a great honor to share my cultivation experiences of working with everyone in the band. On behalf of those practitioners from Toronto who cannot make it to today's Fahui, I will also address some of our band's stories of functioning as one body.
The Toronto Celestial Band was officially established four months ago, with help and guidance from our benevolent Master.
In the beginning, I was aware of the reasons Master had asked us to form a band. I did, however, not gain a further understanding until the Canada Fahui this May, prior to the parade. It was the first time that the New York and Toronto bands merged into one. We looked great as one body. Passing by Chinatown, I turned back to check how the band was doing. Suddenly, the image before my eyes completely changed. The band disappeared; instead, I saw a mighty force on an ancient battlefield. I suddenly remembered that someone had mentioned that many practitioners from North America in their past lives had been eminent generals in Chinese history. I finally understood why Master called us a "military marching band." Aren't we all from the armies Yue Fei and General Yang had led? We had assisted Master in the past to build up the human world; today, as a band, we are gathered together once again, carrying out our combined mission. We are using the band as a means to support Master to rectify the Fa. I felt holy at that moment to be a part of the band.
During the past four months I learned that the band was not for the entertainment of ordinary people or for entertaining ourselves. Instead, it is a serious part of cultivation. We need to keep cultivating ourselves and give up all of our attachments in this special environment. Meanwhile, I also encountered some conflicts that I had not encountered before. I gained a much deeper understanding from these conflicts of certain aspects of Master's Fa that relate to "checking inside," "always thinking of others first" and "tolerating and forgiving."
Next, I will share some stories with you.
I became the drum major inadvertently. Virtually at the same time that I decided to give it a try, I started to eliminate severe karma. I got a very high fever, showed symptoms of food poisoning, and was unable to eat or drink. During the first couple of days I was not even able to stand up straight! I have rarely been in a state of eliminating the karma since I began cultivation in 1998, and nothing had been as severe as this. I knew very clearly, though, that Master was cleansing my body. One week later I felt my body to be crystal clear after going through that episode.
Gradually, without prior musical knowledge, I began to know how to conduct, my right arm was no longer sore, and I was able to evaluate how well the band members were performing.
Once I knew the basics, I thought that being the drum major was not that all that difficult. I even considered myself lucky because I did not have to learn the fingerings as other practitioners did, nor did I have to memorize the musical notes, score by score. The next day, though, I suddenly found that I had lost my sense of rhythm. I was unable to work in cooperation with the band, nor was I able to check how well they played. Fellow practitioners said my rhythm was not steady, even though I thought it was quite steady. This lasted about one week. I realized that it was all about cultivation: no matter which role I played in the band, I would blunder once I was unable to have a correct mindset.
As time passed, some practitioners provided comments and critiques of how I conducted. I would receive lots of negative feedback, particularly following a parade. Initially I was able to handle it and cooperate well. After some time, however, I became impatient and thought, "Why are you guys so picky? Why don't you spend some time to find your own problems?"
Master had said last July in Washington, DC:
"You insist on figuring out who's right and who's wrong; even though you've made mistakes, you insist on figuring out others' mistakes. When that's the approach, you won't be able to resolve the problem." ("Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference at the U.S. Capital")
I felt so ashamed when I heard that. Later, when sharing with another band member about how to handle criticism, he said, "Since you walk in the very front of the band, even a small mistake is quite obvious. You ought to be the one who improves the fastest in this band because everyone comes to you and criticizes you. Everyone is helping you to improve, right? Isn't that wonderful?" I smiled when I heard that. Then I calmed down and carefully reviewed the comments and criticisms. I found every single one was right after all. They spoke of specific, obvious things that I did in the parade, but underneath it all they were pointing out my attachments that I must eliminate. I learned what "looking inside" means and how to "look inside" from another angle. "Looking inside" has to be unconditional. If it is conditional, one will not able to find the true source. Master said,
"No matter what trouble you encounter, no matter what makes you feel unpleasant inside, and no matter whether on the surface you're right or wrong, if you are to truly regard yourself as a cultivator you should always examine yourself for causes. Ask yourself whether you have a wrong, hard-to-detect motive that's related to the problem. If you, as a cultivator, only part with things superficially while deep down inside you still stick to something or cling to your own vital interests that you don't allow to be undermined, I'd say to you that your cultivation is fake! If your own thinking doesn't change, you cannot advance even one step and are deceiving yourself. Only when you truly improve from within can you make real progress." (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
Another thing touched my heart deeply. We all know that positive facial expressions are important for us during the parade. I believe each one of us has been training to smile pleasantly while in the parade, but several Toronto practitioners' facial expressions were somber. I was concerned with that, since from the audience's viewpoint it this may not be nice. I mentioned this several times to the practitioners, but still no changes occurred. I did not understand why, since the purpose of the band's performance was to offer sentient beings salvation. Should we not maintain a benevolent heart at all times? Wouldn't it be expected for us to smile at the audience during a parade? How comes it was so difficult? Then, on August 7 I read an experience-sharing article, "Cultivating while in the Celestial Band" by a Toronto Celestial Band member who recently arrived from Mainland China. Although she did not sign her name to the article, I knew she was a snare drummer. One short paragraph from that article reads, "During the Canada Day parade in Montreal last time, our drum major asked us to smile, to show Dafa disciples' spirit. I was not able to do so. My mind was on my dear fellow practitioners the whole time, and I felt that they were with me at the parade. I could not stop from crying... During the Caribbean parade this past weekend I was truly smiling from my heart. I did indeed give up many attachments while performing in the band..."
Although she finally managed to smile, I felt awful when I read those words because I had treated my fellow practitioners inconsiderately. Not only that, I was even rude to them when I spoke on the issue of facial expressions once or twice. Not only had I failed to truly care about them, but I also doubled their pain when they were already quite hurt. I really felt that I was a terrible practitioner. Master always asks us to think of other first, at all times. This incident made me realize that to be able to do that [thinking of others first], I have to drop my own notions and really put myself into other people's shoes. I still need to be able to be tolerant and forgive, even when I think a certain behavior is wrong according to my own standards. More and more I feel that our eyes deceive us. Is it a true image, even if our eyes make it seem appear that way? Tolerance and forgiveness are the correct attitudes under those circumstances.
The Toronto Band has participated in numerous parades and community events in the past four months. Feedback from the organizers and the audiences was all quite positive. Many event organizers were very impressed. They immediately decided to invite our band to join their next year's activities. Many people in the audience, including quite a few Chinese people, came to ask about the practice sites. In addition, every band member improved greatly following each activity. On July 1, 2006, we participated in the Canada Day parade in Montreal. There were thousands of onlookers. We did a very good job that day. Walking in front of the band, I felt surrounded by the huge energy field created by the band all the time. I was so touched that my tears kept running down my cheeks. The organizer told us after the parade, "I believe in God and I am sure it is God who brought you here! None of you are ordinary people; you are all divine beings. Please do come back next year!" On the way backing to Toronto we had an open and encouraging experience sharing. We noticed that every single person in this band had experienced many tests during the past several months, and everyone has had many touching experiences. Please forgive me for not sharing all of them with you because of time constraints.
Toronto's Chinatown sponsored a Food Festival last Sunday. Some people suggested that the band should participate in truth clarification, because it would attract more passers-by. Although not many band members showed up that day, the effect was surprising. We smiled all the time, and our performance was extraordinary. Once the band played, our positive energy influenced the atmosphere. Many practitioners came to the microphone to clarify the facts to the passers-by during the break. By coincidence, Bai Xue and the men's chorus also showed up. They sang "Falun Dafa Hao" and "Coming for You" with us, over and over, again and again with us. Almost 3000 people saw our performance during those three hours. Some practitioners mentioned that they had never given out so many flyers within such a short time in the past seven years in Chinatown. Later on, one practitioner said that what we did was like a small scale New Year spectacular and that we should try to make it regular occurrence in the future.
Several days ago while reading Zhuan Falun, Master's words in the text, "Gaining in four ways at once" inspired me. We have gained four ways at once in the band as well. Our xinxing has been improved, our gong has been increased, we have had the opportunity to rescue sentient beings, and we have helped to build Dafa's image in the human world. We can see that no matter what Master asks us to do, it will be meaningful in more ways than one and on different levels.
Master said at the end of "Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference at the U.S. Capital" in July: "Everything that Dafa disciples have achieved will soon be revealed."
Perhaps it is true that our path will not be long. Everything became even more precious when I thought about this. Let's treasure the opportunity of being with Master during the Fa rectification, and please also treasure the predestined relationship between practitioners. Let us walk our final steps well!
If there is anything in this experience-sharing article that needs to be improved, please point it out with compassion!
Thank you, Master! Thank you, all my fellow practitioners!