Work, Family Life, and Cultivation
(Clearwisdom.net) Greetings to Master, Greetings to all fellow practitioners:
I'm a Bay Area practitioner. The title of my experience sharing paper is "Work, Family Life, and Cultivation." If translated into cultivator's language, it is "Cultivation, Cultivation, and Cultivation."
Family and Cultivation
I envy the practitioners whose family members are also Dafa practitioners. They can go out and clarify the truth every weekend, they can have group Fa Study at night without restrictions.
My wife doesn't practice Dafa. We have two children, one is turning three years old and the other is eight months. My job requires me to be on the road all the time. I only have the weekends at home. Once when I came back from a week-long trip, my daughter did not recognize me. My relationship with my son wasn't very strong. My wife was very worried about this and complained to me all the time. She also has a full time job and she takes care of the kids. She felt I didn't care about her, either. She was always waiting for me to be home to help her with the house chores. But most of time when I was home, I was either busy with duties for our media or working on other Dafa related tasks. We experienced lots of conflicts at home. Balancing family and cultivation was a big challenge.
I later realized that:
"Cultivation paths are different, yet all are within Dafa." ("No Obstacles" from Hong Yin Volume II, Translation Version B)
There are many aspects of truth clarification and all our projects need help. There are different forms of participating in Fa Rectification. As long as we have the heart to assist in truth clarification, we can use all kind of forms to participate, so does this mean practitioners with family members who don't practice should stay home and not participate in Fa-Rectification? No, Fa-Rectification is mandatory for all practitioners. Clarifying the truth to everyday people is a must for a Dafa practitioner. We should however be mindful of the duration of time we are away from home. There are different approaches to take, like submitting articles to our media, distributing newspapers, and other activities.
I still have challenges balancing family life and validating the Fa. Below is what I did based on my situation. I got very positive responses from my family.
1) I arrange time to be with my wife during the weekend. I take a walk with my wife at least once a week.
2) Dinner at home during the weekend.
3) Do as much as possible to take care of my kids and wife. Bring back home some chocolate which my wife likes. Buy clothes for the kids.
4) Communicate with my wife before any major Dafa activities. My wife gets upset when I tell her in the last minute that I need to attend a Dafa activity.
5) When attending Dafa meetings, I try to avoid long discussions. Try to get back home on time. My wife feels more assured when my schedule is more predictable.
It's easy to develop new attachments of sentimentality while having a family life. Master will arrange all kinds of tests for us. The tests are serious. My experience is, a test is just like putting one object into water. If there is even the tiniest leak, water will start to get in. The situation will get worse and worse and sometimes will become overwhelming. The only way to pass the test is to find the leak and eliminate the attachment.
In October 2002, the head of the evil party was visiting the U.S. Many Dafa practitioners went to Chicago and then to Houston. I decided to join other practitioners to validate the Fa. I was worried my wife would not let me take the trip if I told her the purpose of the trip. My wife had complaints every time I attended Dafa activities. I thought, well, I travel every week anyway, why bother telling her? I started the trip without telling my wife the destination and purpose of the trip.
That trip wasn't easy. There were lots of tribulations but I felt so gratified. I felt I was truly a Dafa practitioner, a Disciple!
At night, I called home and I tried to steer the conversation away from talking about what happened to me, but my wife became increasingly suspicious about my whereabouts and asked where I was and what I was doing. I thought, I cultivate Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. I could not lie to her so I told her the truth. She was outraged. She told me that she planned to tell my parents about this and gave me two options: either come back home right away or divorce. I was stunned, but then thought, I was here validating the Fa. Now that I was at the event I would continue to the end. I knew there must be evil interfering and Master had taught us to send forth righteous to eliminate the evil. I started to concentrate and to eliminate whatever was interfering. As for to divorce or not, it will be the way it should be. I am a disciple first and then a husband. I felt my mind was empty. I got off the phone and continued sending forth righteous thoughts in the rain. I didn't call her back.
I was very tired by the time we finished. Since we were following the evil, we didn't find the hotel until after midnight. There were quite a few practitioners in the same hotel room. By the way, the hotel room was in a terrible condition. I have never stayed in a room in such poor condition. When I lay down on the floor, I felt my body was levitated. A huge Buddha appeared, emitting golden light. My body was not even the size of one column of His curly blue hair. The scene was truly magnificent. I knew Master was encouraging me.
I returned home after the trip. My wife was very sad when she saw me but she didn't mention divorce. I was relieved, thanking Master for all the help. The one thing that I did right was my mind was righteous when I had the conversation with her. Of course, I quickly caught up on things I needed to do at home and tried my best to take care of my wife.
Our family members are not easy. They are under lots of pressure too. My wife actually has very good inborn quality. She seldom has bad thoughts and was very innocent when we got married. I truly hope she will cultivate in Dafa. Our family members bear additional burden to support us. We should be compassionate to them and do as much as we can to take care of them.
A stable family helps with the Fa Validation, too. Quite a few of my friends were shocked when they learned I practiced Dafa. They came to ask me if this was true. I told them how I started cultivation and how Dafa had benefited me, and I explained to them the evil persecution in China. They were very sympathetic to Dafa. I found that during truth clarification, we need to be mindful of how well people are accepting our message. It is very important to listen. It is easy to get a sympathetic response from the everyday people after telling the stories of Dafa practitioners being severely persecuted. We may also need to be mindful by not telling everything in one conversation. Everyday people tend to be suspicious. When you tell too much, they will become suspicious and wonder if you have a hidden agenda. Unless you have an extended period of time with them, explain one to two points and explain them well. If we meet people with predestined relationships, we can give copies of Zhuan Falun to them.
Work and Cultivation
Our workplace is also an excellent place to get rid of attachments. I have cultivated for seven years now. However, sometimes it is not easy to let go of my attachment to fame and interests. I'm a manager in a consulting company. The culture of the firm is "up and out." If an employee stays in a position for too long, this employee will be either forced out or meet the promotion criteria and move up. This is the approach many consulting companies use to keep their vitality.
By the fourth year when I was a manager, I felt that it was time for me to be promoted to senior manager. The first step to be promoted to senior manager is called "on deck," which means the business owners of the firm agree to consider this employee for promotion. There will be vigorous evaluation of this individual. After that, each "on deck" manager needs to present his or her case to the business owners why he or she is qualified and how his or her promotion will benefit the firm. Only when the partners are persuaded that there is long term value will they promote this person.
Moving to senior manager is an important career milestone. I studied the Fa and tried not to think about it. However, it seemed to me I could not completely wipe out the notion of getting promoted. I occasionally write in a cultivation dairy. In one diary, I wrote, "If they do not promote me, I should behave like a cultivator. I should not argue with anybody."
Master has said,
"But normally when a problem arises, if it does not irritate a person psychologically, it does not count or is useless and cannot make him or her improve." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 4, English Version 2000)
The test came right after I wrote the diary. In a career discussion with my boss, he told me that I was not "on deck." I couldn't believe my ears. I was disappointed and my tone became irritated and then outraged. I had been working like a horse. I wasn't even considered to be "on deck"? If that was the case, I told my boss, I would consider resigning from the firm. I remembered not a bit of what I wrote in my cultivation diary. That night, I studied the Fa for very long.
"As a matter of fact, when you agonize over infringements upon your reputation, self-interest, and feelings among everyday people, it already indicates that you cannot let go of ordinary human attachments. You must remember this: Cultivation itself is not painful -- the key lies in your inability to let go of ordinary human attachments. Only when you are about to let go of your reputation, interests, and feelings will you feel pain." ("True Cultivation" from Essentials for Further Advancement)
"What's not a right mind? It refers to a person's inability to always treat himself as a practitioner." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 6, English Version 2000)
Master also said,
"Whether you can let go of ordinary human attachments is a fatal test on your way to becoming a truly extraordinary being. Every disciple who truly cultivates must pass it, for it is the dividing line between a cultivator and an everyday person." ("True Cultivation" from Essentials for Further Advancement)
It's not easy to become a truly extraordinary being. I felt there was a huge amount of qi cumulating near my heart. When I started reading the Fa, the qi started dissipating. The more I read, the better I felt. In the following discussion with my boss, I apologized to him.
A few months later, it was again time for the on deck, evaluation and promotion process. I told myself, "A job is just a job. If I get promoted, that's good. If I don't get promoted, I am still myself. At least I'm a Dafa practitioner." I wasn't thinking that big a deal of the promotion.
The entire process took one year but it went surprisingly smooth. I was told I was on deck. After my speech to the business owners about the value I added and the opportunity I would bring to the firm, the business owners unanimously agreed that I should be promoted.
From that event, I realized that we can cultivate no matter what kind of job we have or level we are. Our life is rearranged by Master. It's not important what we do in this society.
"Also, with those people that you run into by chance, who you run into in daily life, and the people you run into at work, you should all clarify the truth to them. Even when in your daily life you pass by people so quickly that you don't have a chance to talk to them, you should still leave them with your compassion and kindness. Don't lose those who should be saved, especially those with predestined connections." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference")
Our workplace is an excellent place for us to clarify the truth to everyday people. I take trips to many remote places. That has become my main area of truth clarification. When I clarify the truth to my colleagues and also to my clients about the evil persecution in China, they are very sympathetic.
Participating in the Celestial Band
Let me spend a few more minutes to talk about my experience in the Celestial Band. I joined the Band after Master's trip to San Francisco. The band was still recruiting. I went over and told the coordinators that I was interested. The coordinator thought I was young and since the majority of the other instruments were taken anyway, he gave me the trumpet. I was very pleased.
Because of my traveling job, I don't usually get an opportunity to practice with other practitioners. During the weekend, I need to do media work. I spent very little time practicing the trumpet. I considered myself good at learning new things and was sure that I would catch up one day.
It was very embarrassing that after three open performances in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, I could barely play the high note "mi." I used a bit of self-mockery to get by but in my mind, I thought "what's the big deal about it? Isn't it just playing the trumpet?" A few months later, the situation got worse. I was at the verge of being kicked out. The coordinator started talking to me about changing to a different instrument. That was a big wake-up call. My wife was probably the only person happy to hear the news. I felt very bad. I realized that playing the instrument was a very serious matter. Playing the trumpet itself is cultivation. Music is formless, but it connects with other dimensions. If one cultivates well, he or she will play it well. If you don't study the Fa well, you can't play the instrument well. If we study the Fa well, do the exercises well and send forth righteous thoughts well, we can play the instrument well too.
Beginning about three weeks ago, I started practicing after work no matter how late I came back. The hotel I stay in was close to a highway. There was an office building with one side facing the highway. I usually don't return from work until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. After that, I still need to spend one or two hours checking e-mails. By the time I walked over to my practice site, it was usually 11:00 p.m. or sometimes even 11:30 p.m. My persistence paid off. After a few weeks of practice, I could feel my progress. I'm still not good at the high notes, but the gap between my trumpet skills and the rest of the team members is narrowing.
The Fa Master taught is simple. It's "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance." However, only the cultivator understands how complex, how profound and how serious it is. The Fa Rectification is approaching the end. Let me use Master's poem to finish my experience sharing paper:
"Persevering, lifting the feet, the ten-thousand-pound legs, Forbearing hardships, advancing whole-heartedly, discarding attachments." ("Climb the Tai Mountain" from Hong Yin)
"Strive forward with every effort until Consummation." ("Enlightenment" from Essentials for Further Advancement,).
Please point out if you have different understandings than my sharing. Thanks all!