Treasure the Opportunity to Better Save Setient Beings
(Clearwisdom.net) Greetings Master, Greetings Fellow Practitioners,
The last time I saw Master at a Fahui in Washington DC, I was suddenly shaken out of my complacency. As tears streamed unceasingly down my cheeks, one thought filled my mind: "I'm so sorry Master. I haven't done well enough. So many beings who've placed infinite hope in me I've let down. Please give me another chance to make up for the losses. Even if it has to be twice as hard this time, I promise I'll make up for it. Please don't let me fail all those beings who I formed karmic relationships with lifetime after lifetime. I'm so sorry, please give me another chance."
In the last several months, I see clearly how Master has answered my plea. And although these last few months have been among the most intensely difficult and trying of my cultivation, I'm infinitely thankful. In his great compassion, Master has given me a chance to right so many of my past wrongs, and to give me another chance to save those I was supposed to save. Master, from the depths of my heart, thank you.
I suppose I'll begin this story a year ago, at the 2006 New York Fa Conference. During one of the activities, I was talking with another practitioner about how quickly things were changing in Fa-rectification. He commented, "The time is drawing nearer when all of us will have to meet Master face to face and account for what we've done well, and what we haven't." I was sobered by this statement. If everything were to end at that very moment, I thought, would I be able to say that I'd done all I was supposed to? No. And my biggest regret, far outweighing all others, was that I hadn't done well as an assistant in my city.
There are many reasons for this. I moved back to my hometown of Calgary about two years ago to do media and VIP work there, and regretted the move ever since, wishing I could live in a city like Toronto or Ottawa instead. I never felt very close to the practitioners in my city, almost all of whom are recent immigrants from mainland China. I always found it difficult to communicate clearly with them, difficult to exchange understandings, and difficult to work with them, as we had radically different approaches to clarifying the truth. When I had problems in cultivation, I would only discuss them with practitioners in other cities who I'm close to. In the instances where I did try to work with the local practitioners on truth-clarification projects, I sometimes lost my patience or my faith in the local practitioners, and was always happy to revert back to my other projects. Consequently, I never did well enough at working with the local practitioners, let alone offering much assistance in cultivation.
Finally, the last reason I had difficulty doing well in Calgary is because of fear and a lack of solidity in the Fa. With most of my projects, I'm shielded from reality by my computer screen, writing and editing all day. I'm safe from the world, comfortable in my home, and there's less of a sense of having to face challenges head-on. Oddly enough, handing out flyers on the street in my own city has always been one of the most difficult things for me to do. I would often busy myself with up to 40 hours a week of Epoch Times work in front of my computer, and part of the reason may have been that I wanted a legitimate excuse not to have to do Dafa work I was less comfortable with. I thus always recoiled from clarifying the truth in mainstream society in Calgary, missing chance after chance to improve.
But in the last few months, I've had opportunities to discard many of these attachments, learn to work in harmony with the local practitioners, and make up for lost chances to save sentient beings. It began in late November of last year. I had called a meeting of local practitioners to ascertain the level of interest in holding a New Years Spectacular in 2008, after which we would decide whether or not we should apply to host the show. After weeks of trying to get practitioners to commit to the meeting, only five practitioners showed up. Although I was disappointed, I simply accepted that we didn't have the right conditions.
I was surprised, then, when two months later practitioners started discussing holding a show again. Initially I wasn't keen on the idea; the application deadline had passed, and I didn't believe we had the necessary manpower or financial resources to hold a successful show. But eventually I decided that if the group really wanted to go for it, I would have to find a way to harmonize it.
After a little while, my thoughts began to swing to another extreme. I started to believe that our ability to hold a successful show in Calgary hinged largely on me, as I was possibly the only practitioner locally who was experienced in working with the higher levels of western society.
Needless to say, this mentality, however self-sacrificing, was validating myself. By thinking that the local practitioners were not very capable, the implication was of course that I was. I was looking from a purely human perspective at what would be needed to hold a successful show. Now I realized that my one-sided thinking that I would be doing so much of the work, was actually blocking the righteous gods and righteous factors from having a positive effect.
Consequently, the stress bore down on me intensely, and my body and mind began to collapse under the pressure I was putting on myself. Finally, it all reached the extreme. One night in January, I was about to sit down and study the Fa. Suddenly I began to feel sick to my stomach, and within a matter of minutes it had spiralled out of control into a violent illness. I decided that it was interference trying to prevent me from studying the Fa, so I tried to put my mind to sending forth righteous thoughts and studying the Fa. But I couldn't. As soon as the righteous thoughts emerged, I was stricken by unbearable physical and psychological pain. I turned on Master's Guangzhou lectures, and the evil immediately attacked my mind, only backing off when I turned the lectures off. As I lay in the middle of my floor reeling in pain, I called another practitioner and he offered to read Fa to me over the phone. As soon as I started to absorb the Fa in my mind, I would immediately vomit violently. Within a few hours, I had lost much of the water in my system and developed a painful headache. I tried reciting Master's poems in my mind, but it was excruciatingly painful. Sometimes, I tried to send forth righteous thoughts, telling the evil: "You're trying to make me sick, old forces? I'll make you so sick you can't stand it!" At best, I was only able to send forth righteous thoughts for 7 or 8 minutes before collapsing in pain. This went on for the entire night.
But the physical pain was just the beginning. Far more worrying was the thought karma, which was worse than anything I'd ever experienced. In my mind were thoughts that hated other practitioners and hated everything they did to validate the Fa. There were also thoughts that didn't believe I could ever succeed in cultivation, that didn't believe anything was real, and, finally, thoughts that told me I should just resign to death at that very moment. I knew this was thought karma, but I didn't feel strong enough to resist it. Nothing made sense to me anymore; not a single thing.
When morning broke, I was still awake trying to fight off the interference. I called one of my colleagues at the Epoch Times in Toronto and asked him to send forth righteous thoughts for me, and he sent an email across Canada asking practitioners to do the same. Although I wish I could have overcome the tribulation on my own, practitioners' righteous thoughts helped immensely. I know there were a lot of you, and I never had a chance to show my appreciation, but thank you.
That afternoon I went to a park near my house to study the Fa and reflect on what had happened. There were several issues involved. One was to force me to get rid of the attachment of fear. Just as Master taught us, the more afraid I was of my condition, the worse it got. I also believe it was a test of whether my faith in the Fa was truly unconditional. When nothing makes sense, when the world is turned upside down, when we're completely lost amidst delusion and all looks hopeless, do we still have faith?
But ultimately, I realized that the reason this tribulation had occurred was because of my sense of self-importance. With such a sacred project as the Spectacular, I was still validating myself and seeing myself as being so important.
This attachment is very deep-rooted. I remember till today that when I was young, about nine years old, I had a very vivid dream. I was in a type of divine land, and was met by an old Taoist master, with Taoist clothes and long white beard. I believe that this may have been Master taking a form of an enlightened being I could recognize. Although I didn't understand the vocabulary for cultivation, he explained to me that in the future he would impart the Dao to me, the meaning of life, and I would finally fulfil my mission in this world. In such a solemn moment, I asked one question hopefully: "Am I the only one?" "No," he replied. "There are many more," and let me see an image of the others -- thousands, perhaps millions of people from all walks of life. I was happy that I would be able to cultivate, but also disappointed at not being more special or unique.
As I reflected in the park on my attachments to validating the self, I recalled an experience I had in the summer. At that time, for a couple of days some circumstances had colluded to make me feel very unwelcome and insignificant among a group of practitioners. The practitioners around me were doing a number of "important" jobs, but I was doing menial tasks which I considered a little degrading in the circumstances. It all culminated when I was asked to sweep up some dirt. As I swept, I reflected on why I was so moved by this situation, and it was because I was hanging onto an attachment to being important, doing well in cultivation, gaining mighty virtue, and so on -- a kind of hero syndrome. I firmly said in my mind: "I don't want these. All I want is to harmonize Master's wishes. Even if Master wanted me to be a tiny, useless rock in the three realms in the future cosmos, that's what I'll be." With this, my bad thoughts dissolved. I saw that, although I was only sweeping, with a pure heart, everything I swept turned to gold in other dimensions. Furthermore, I had the profound feeling of melting into the whole body, like an energy channel merging with other energy channels to form one body of high-energy matter, with no energy channels and no acupuncture points, just as Master describes in Lecture Eight of Zhuan Falun.
But there I was again just recently, so attached to my own role and my own ideas, and serving to hinder things in other dimensions. As it turned out, the local practitioners really could do amazing things without me. I was greatly humbled by all of this, and ever since have been able to do a much better job of restraining this over-inflated ego.
Over the next little while, we gained approval to hold shows in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) not only in 2008, but even in May of 2007 after the rest of the tour had finished. Again, I couldn't imagine how 2007 would be possible given the time and manpower constraints, but now I had faith that the whole body, if we worked together, and with the help of the righteous factors in the cosmos, could pull it off.
Weeks went by, however, and after giving us the initial nod verbally, the Spectacular headquarters didn't get back to us to confirm dates for the 2007 show. I didn't particularly mind; I was buried under multiple Dafa projects and was well behind in my schoolwork. I was content not to think about a 2007 show for a little while.
Then, just a few weeks ago, headquarters contacted Calgary and Edmonton to assign us 2008 show dates, so I proceeded to book the theatre for Calgary, while Edmonton did the same. Both cities also took this to mean that 2007 shows wouldn't happen, and that we should just prepare for next year. I thus released our holds on the theatre for May 14th and 15th of 2007 and Edmonton did the same with their May dates. However, about three days later, we got an urgent call from headquarter: they wanted us to try to hold the show in May 2007.
"No problem," I thought. "I'll just call the theatre and get our holds back. I'm sure no one else has booked those dates." As it turned out, four different groups were vying for May 14th and 15th. We had been first in line, but now we were 3rd and 4th in line. My sense of self-important having been thoroughly subdued, I resisted the urge to kick myself for releasing our hold on the days, knowing now that I was not so important as to have been able to determine the fate of our show on my own. Instead, I called an urgent meeting with the local practitioners to discuss how to understand the situation from the Fa. By the end, our hearts were calm: we would get our dates back. All things in the world came for the Fa, and certainly not for the evil. All things, no matter how solid they may appear to our human eyes, can move and change. And with righteous thoughts, Master can do anything to help us. We were sure that the problem with the theatre was merely an illusion to test our determination and faith.
The next morning, I went to the venue with another practitioner to give them a $5,000 down payment and challenge the other groups which had holds on our dates. If the groups ahead of us didn't want to match the down payment, the theatre manager would deposit the cheque and we would win the dates. The manager didn't favor us, however, saying that he expected at least one of the groups would meet our challenge and take the days. Again, this was just another test to see if our thoughts and faith would waver, and we shrugged it off. The theatre manager said he would get back to us in a few days.
The next day, which also happened to be the five-year anniversary since I obtained the Fa, I got a call from the theatre manager. "I'm very sorry," he said. My heart remained firm. "I'm very sorry, but I'm going to have to deposit your cheque. You won the dates." The truth was the other groups had all backed down, and we won our days, May 14 and May 15 back. What a great birthday present. Shortly afterwards, Edmonton also won May 16 in a challenge.
As one might imagine, the last few weeks have been extremely intense preparing to bring the Spectacular to Calgary. I haven't always handled it well, sometimes failing to keep up my righteous thoughts and sometimes being too moved by obstacles in the surface dimension, or perhaps too restricted by decorum and the rules of this society. There have been some nights where, after working for a consecutive 15 hours with no food and no rest on Spectacular preparations, I'd started to feel a sense of injustice, yet it passes quickly. This is what I asked for, after all. It was me who had asked for a chance to save those who should be saved, to cultivate all remaining attachments, no matter how difficult.
In the last couple weeks I've been going out nearly every day to sell corporate sponsorships -- sales being something I had never been able to bring myself to do before due to attachments of fear and comfort.
I've also had unparalleled opportunities to clarify the truth to many people I have predestined relationships with. As a third generation southern Albertan, my family is deeply rooted in Calgarian society. Growing up, my neighbours were among the most influential people in the city: judges, lawyers, CEOs, real estate tycoons, senators, and so on. I always believed there was a reason that I was born into these circumstances, but I could never find an effective way to clarify the truth widely to all these people, much to my regret. Even when I had the chance, I never knew what to do with it. For example, in my first two years of university, my summer job was as a receptionist and administrative assistant for the executives of the Calgary Stampede, a 10-day rodeo event and one of the largest local seasonal employers. It was a great arrangement: The board of directors were some of the powerful people in Calgary. I also had members of parliament, city council members, provincial legislators, business owners, the now-prime minister of Canada, the Premier of Alberta, and many others coming through my office nearly every day, but my timidity always prevented me from clarifying the truth well, and it's been one of my largest regrets ever since. Now, Master is giving me opportunities to make up for that lost chance: the printing company run by current President of the Calgary Stampede is one of our sponsors for this year, and the Calgary Stampede itself may also come on board as a sponsor.
The Spectacular has created so many opportunities to recognize my shortcomings and save those people I had predestined relationships with.
Yet I still know that I haven't done well enough. For example, in the last couple weeks, I've overcome some of my fears and hesitation and gone out to sell corporate sponsorships. Yet why wasn't I ever able to sell ads for the English Epoch Times? I think it's because I lack faith in the Epoch Times; I've had the attitude of "seeing before believing" -- wanting to see the newspaper's power and effect first, rather than believing in it first.
I think this type of mentality, which reflects inferior enlightenment quality, is comparable to an attitude Master discusses in "Teaching the Fa at the 2005 Canada Fa Conference." There, Master explains,
"... the beings and gods in different realms are gradually coming to approve of and support Dafa. This approval, however, isn't a true, unconditional acceptance of Dafa, Fa-rectification, and Dafa disciples, but instead the result of the great momentum of the Fa-rectification's success pervading the entire cosmic body, leaving them with no choice." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2005 Canada Fa Conference")
On reading this, I always wonder: do I, too, do this? Do I support projects with my whole heart only when I see that they're destined for success? Do I hide meekly or shy away from projects that are difficult or where success appears less certain? Or do I unconditionally regard myself as a true Dafa disciple, boldly leading the way on a path with no precedents by enlightening from the Fa?
A couple of years ago, I was given an opportunity to see a manifestation in my cultivation that left a profound impact on me and is closely related to the attachment I just described. It was early 2005, when the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party were first being translated into English. Although I paid lip service to supporting the Nine Commentaries, in my heart I was afraid that it was 'getting involved in politics.' Deep in my heart, I wanted other practitioners to take the lead in pushing forward the Nine Commentaries, while I would just keep doing my regular truth-clarification work. After a few weeks, I started to notice that something was wrong in my cultivation. Although it was very subtle, I had a distinct feeling that I was falling behind. When I noticed this, I stayed up late into the night reading Master's latest scriptures and sending forth righteous thoughts constantly. I realized that my confidence in the Fa had not been strong enough, thereby leading me to be hesitant and afraid of stepping forward in difficult situations. I continued to send forth righteous thoughts, and as soon as I held one palm erect, the following scene appeared vividly before my eyes: I found myself in another dimension, in a world corresponding somehow to my body. I was in an old, small village with one main dirt road and a few buildings lining it. When I came upon the town, it was covered in a thick black ash. The sun was blotted out by dark clouds, and a giant, evil western dragon was terrorizing the town's people. Its whole body was black; its skin looked like it was covered in a slick black tar. Facing this grotesque evil thing, I felt hesitation arise momentarily in my heart, but quickly strengthened my righteous thoughts and decided I needed to face it head-on. The next thing I knew, I was wielding a big sword, and in one blow severed the head of the dragon. It fell to the ground and dissolved, just as the sun emerged and the ash lifted from the town.
After seeing this scene, I was a little taken aback. I saw how this type of fear, this lack of confidence in the Fa, can allow such horrible things to exist in our field. I remind myself of this story again and share it with all of you today, in hopes that it might encourage us to maintain our courage and determination in the Fa, never wavering in the face of difficulties.
Finally, I want to thank all the practitioners who've helped me along the way in my cultivation, shared understandings with me, worked with me to save sentient beings, and encouraged me. I also want to thank my local practitioners, who are all truly amazing...I don't know why I couldn't realize it until recently.
In the future, we will all see clearly all of the great Fa-validating feats of the Fa-rectification period Dafa disciples. Perhaps we will tell those beings in our paradises about these stories -- stories so moving as to bring all beings to tears. Yet at that time, it will not matter who did what, or who had what role in this world. At that time, I think we will all see clearly that we were one body all along.
Thank you, my fellow Dafa disciples. And thank you Master, for so compassionately arranging our paths of cultivation, and giving us chance after chance. We won't let you down.