Breaking Through Notions When Using Ordinary Skills to Save Sentient Beings
(Clearwisdom.net) The first time I heard about the Celestial Band was on a Sunday when practitioners were gathering in a park after the global time for sending forth righteous thoughts, and a pile of black cases in the distance caught my eye. I could see that they were musical instrument cases and I immediately became curious. Quite a few practitioners soon gathered around the pile, and everyone took turns playing the brass instruments. They tried to get a sound out of before deciding which instrument they wanted to play.
I was told that the practitioners were going to start a marching band. After questioning, I found out that there was currently no one with musical experience, yet they were organizing it. I was really horrified. I hesitantly told one of the organizers that I could play most of the instruments. "Great!" she said, "You can teach others how to play."
I felt extremely uncomfortable. I could not understand why practitioners would start a marching band and why they would spend time learning to play an instrument when there is already so much truth-clarification work to be done.
I drove home feeling very frustrated. I had often composed and arranged music since I was in school, performing with different music groups. I also was a music teacher and could play a number of instruments. I knew that I was to be a part of this new marching band but I simply couldn't understand it from the perspective of the Fa. I wasn't able to see my attachment and instead intentionally avoided the band.
One day on the Clearwisdom website, one of the top articles was about the Celestial Band's performance in a parade in New York. The article described the onlookers' amazement upon seeing the band, and commented on how the practitioners' participation in the parade kept improving each year and now they even have a marching band! Another article commented on how Falun Dafa practitioners are counteracting the persecution in China through such an amazing way as a marching band. I was truly moved by how hard the practitioners worked to validate the Fa in such a powerful way. They had such great compassion to put in so much effort practicing at home and rehearsing as a group. Everyone who was in listening range of the band could not avoid hearing the music. Even if they had been poisoned by the CCP or didn't want to take a flyer, the music penetrated their entire being.
Teacher said in "Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles,"
"Whether it be the overall effect of the Gala, a song that is sung, or a music note that's played, all of these things that Dafa disciples do have the effect of validating the Fa in other dimensions. The energy emitted is quite strong, and it dissolves evil."
I then understood why I was so frustrated. I had been holding on to my ordinary thoughts and notions towards playing music. I thought that because I had experience in music, I was better than those who didn't. I thought that because I had spent so many years in developing my skills, how could others expect to reach that stage so quickly, especially on brass instruments which can be quite difficult to play. I gave up these wrong thoughts and wholeheartedly agreed to teach others.
I pulled out all my old instruction books and used one for the first lesson. However, I felt very uncomfortable using an ordinary instruction book during the lesson with fellow practitioners. I saw a practitioner with no previous music skill playing Falun Dafa Hao after learning in New York. I was really touched. Like Teacher says in Lunyu, I had to "fundamentally change [my] conventional thinking." I decided not to use ordinary instruction methods and I began to teach based on an understanding that any practitioner can achieve a good effect and we needed to learn quickly to keep up with the Fa-rectification and save more sentient beings. And we did all learn very quickly.
I taught the saxophone players. However I didn't really want to play the saxophone in the band and gave mine to another practitioner. Later I realized that the trumpet section was lacking as a group and began to help teach them. We also needed more trumpet players yet I didn't want to tell anyone that I had a cornet, which is similar to a trumpet which was collecting dust under my bed for the past ten years. I had tried to sell it before but no one would buy it. I didn't want to play it in the band. I knew that not wanting to play was an attachment, especially when it was needed. Looking harder at myself, I saw that the cornet was an instrument that I hadn't been able to play almost immediately like most other instruments I play. And when it had seemed too hard to learn, too loud, and didn't sound very good I put it away and stopped playing. Now as a practitioner I couldn't keep that ordinary thinking. I realized that I was attached to seeing results and was forgetting the process. I wrongly thought that if playing well couldn't be achieved quickly then it wasn't worth doing. It was painful, but when I finally got rid of this attachment, I was able to put aside what I did or didn't want to do and help harmonize as a particle within the band to help fill the gap.
During weekdays I was busy doing other Dafa work and when it came to Sunday rehearsals, I still hadn't made time to practice. I wrongly thought that it was okay because I was still able to play a bit better than most other players. I found that this thinking was wrong, as I was comparing myself to others' skills rather than comparing myself with the Fa. I still couldn't play all the notes and knew that I should be more diligent and take it more seriously. One day I promised myself and Teacher that I would practice diligently, however I didn't keep my promise. After a week of not practicing again, I opened my instrument case and a large section of my shiny silver cornet had turned black. I immediately knew why and felt tears in my heart for taking a promise so lightly. After a week of practice, the black section returned to shiny silver again.
I was still troubled by how to balance everything. There are so many truth-clarification projects - some short term and others long term. Music and art always seemed to be my last priority to the point where I wasn't finishing the compositions that I started and leaving them halfway until another one entered my mind and the previous ones were still unfinished. I knew this was wrong but I felt that I just couldn't keep up with everything and left them unfinished.
In "Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York," Teacher said,
"The Dafa disciples who compose music have a special duty to do so, and that is on top of clarifying the truth."
Teacher's words reminded me that I should be more diligent to finish everything I begin as everything has its process and purpose in Fa-rectification. With this thinking, I have been able to balance my time and tasks better.
Teacher also said,
"The fact is, you've learned what you've learned because you had that wish and accordingly arrangements were made for you back in the past since it would be needed in validating the Fa, that's all." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference")
From Teacher's words, I understood more clearly that each practitioner's skills have been arranged for use in validating the Fa and saving more sentient beings.
Every step in Fa-rectification cultivation is important and should be done well, and nothing should be left out. It is all a matter of cultivation. No matter how difficult it seems, with diligence in doing the three things, I have full faith that everything can be achieved.
Thank you Teacher Li.