Selfless Righteous Thoughts Are Most Powerful
Greetings, respected Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I'm honored to have this opportunity to share with everyone some of my experiences cultivating in Dafa. There have been countless lessons for me in cultivation, but those that stand out the most are about the power of selfless righteous thoughts.
Lessons from Simultaneous Interpretation
I came to America when I was still young. Also, because my stepfather is Caucasian, we speak English at home as well. Therefore, speaking English comes naturally to me. However, when fellow practitioners first suggested that I should do simultaneous interpretation from Chinese to English at the big group Fa study and sharing, my first reaction was fear and doubt.
I have never liked to be at center of attention, and being an interpreter at the big group sharing would mean that I can no longer safely and comfortably listen as a bystander. The first time that I was asked to do it, because I did not have righteous thoughts and also never had the wish to interpret, it was easy to find excuses to back out: I tried half-heartedly and found that it seemed difficult to have to speak and listen at the same time; it seemed impossible for me. So I said it was too hard, and I could not do it. When I do not want to sacrifice due to selfish ordinary notions, it's easy to find it difficult. Like what Teacher said in Zhuan Falun Lecture Nine,
"Actually, I think it depends on the person as to whether it is difficult or not. For an everyday person who does not want to practice cultivation, he will find cultivation practice simply too difficult, inconceivable, or impossible. As an everyday person, he does not want to practice cultivation and will find it very difficult."
Later, because of some events that had happened to me, I deeply felt the importance of a good whole-body cultivation environment, and also that, each single disciple has the responsibility to contribute to the whole-body. Then, I started taking the initiative to be the interpreter, so that I could do my small part in contributing to the whole. This time, because my righteous thought emerged, I found that being an interpreter is not as hard as I thought it was. I quickly picked it up and quickly became used to it.
Interpreting for others is also a small exercise in thinking of others. Each time that I interpret, I always try to take it seriously and do it well so that the English-speaking practitioners can know all the things that the Chinese practitioners said. This way, I can act as a bridge between the Western and Chinese practitioners. It is good for the whole body. Only when I'm not in a good cultivation state would I find interpreting exhausting. During such a time, if I encounter a practitioner who speaks very wordily for a long time, I would almost want to quit. Perhaps this is a test of my tolerance as well.
From becoming an interpreter I learned that, many times when I thought I could not do something, it is not actually that I could not do it, but that I did not want to do it. I did not want to sacrifice and further give up the notion of self. After I understood that, I often remind myself to pay attention to actively contribute, take on hardships, and give up selfish thoughts. Whenever I see there is a need, instead of feeling grudges and complaining that other practitioners are not doing it, I ask myself why am I not doing it? I tell myself to learn from the "junior monk who cooks meals " from Zhuan Falun Lecture Seven, who "always works hard and tirelessly." Because I think this way, there is almost nothing that I am afraid to do. I am the local assistant, I coordinate activities, I clarify the truth to the government, I am a section lead in the marching band, I also do reporting and do sales for the newspaper, I regularly deliver a large circulation of the newspaper and maintain the boxes, etc... I have even learned how to install the XBS (little helper for calling China). I constantly remind myself to not use the mentality of, "That's someone else's job," to view Dafa work.
Lessons from the Divine Land Marching Band
When the marching band was first formed, there were practice sessions almost every day. I felt that I truly did not have time to do it, so I originally was not going to join. Later, on a seemingly coincidental occasion, I went with some practitioners to the marching band practice. There, I curiously looked around to the left and right. Everyone was diligently practicing and the entire place had an atmosphere of energy and cheerfulness.
Because I am very tall, other practitioners told me I should practice to be the conductor. This was definitely a xinxing test. Sometimes, the way I think is like digging into a bull's horn: I would think, am I really suitable to be the conductor? Is this really the best thing for the band? Other practitioners told me not to think this much, just practice it first.
Practicing being a conductor exposed my attachment of introverted shyness in front of everyone. In addition, because I do not do the exercises often, I am not physically strong, so my movements were too soft and showed no strength. I knew that, it is Teacher using this opportunity to dig out my attachments so I can cultivate them away. I remember those times when I was practicing in the center of the incredibly powerful music that everyone made, I could truly feel that I was changing, as though some type of wall was demolished inside my heart. It felt warm and comfortable; I am not able to explain it clearly in words.
After some time, I was still not ready. Since we had a scheduled parade approaching, another practitioner who had already learned how to conduct became the conductor. At that time, I did not feel terribly disappointed, because I knew this was how it was arranged; in the arrangement, it was supposed to happen this way. So, I switched to playing the cymbals. Soon, I saw that there was no one responsible for teaching just the cymbals and that the cymbal players really needed help, so I volunteered myself and took on that job.
The cymbals seem to be viewed as the most unattractive instrument of the band, even some of the cymbal players themselves do not treat it seriously. Teaching the cymbal players gave me some xinxing tests: for example, when the practitioners are not treating it seriously, how should I react?, etc. Marching band practice takes me an hour to get there one-way. Actually, I already learned how to play the cymbals quickly in the beginning; the only reason I went to practice regularly was to teach the other cymbal players. When practitioners practice diligently, the sound they make is synchronized and pleasing to the ear.
Before I knew it, more than one year has passed already. Not long ago when I went to the marching band practice, the coordinating practitioners told me to start practicing as conductor again. I practiced it without asking them for the reason. I was shocked to notice that, after one hard year of difficult cultivation, the me that stands here now is very different from myself one year ago--I'm no longer so hesitant, shy, and vulnerable. Cultivation had helped me change so much, I did not even realize it before.
It turned out that our current conductor was going to be out of town during a parade we would have on July 14th. July 14th was only a few days away, so doubts emerged in my mind: I did not want to make Dafa look bad in front of San Francisco Chinatown. But other practitioners encouraged me, saying that I should go for it. I thought, this is going to be a big test of my righteous thoughts. Even though I was still not happy with how I did during the last practice, but July 14th was here already and I had no choice. I gathered my determination and righteous thoughts and told myself that, Teacher is here and will help me, so there is no doubt that I can make it for Dafa. Therefore, on July 14th at our parade through San Francisco Chinatown, I successfully conducted the band for the first time.
Being the conductor is an unforgettable experience. Even though it is very challenging: not only must one practice physically, but actually, it is also cultivation for the person's heart. To lead is not an easy task, one must have the courage to stand out, yet cannot forget to consider everyone else; one must listen to sound advice, yet cannot hesitate left and right amidst many contradicting suggestions. All the practitioners who give suggestions think that they are right, but the truth is, some people's ideas are incorrect. So, in the end, one must be very clear on what exactly is the right thing to do and have confidence in one's decision, to carry it through... All in all, it is not an easy thing to do.
But, when the actual parade started, everything and all things became unimportant and simply melted away in the dignified powerful field. In my heart there was only one thought: I must do well, I must present Dafa as the most dignified! As soon as the drums started, I melted into the band as a particle of the whole, a particle that happened to be walking in the front. Dissolving into the incredible music emitting immense power that everyone produced together, I was deeply shaken by the force of the whole body of practitioners. In my heart, I felt profoundly touched by the power of Dafa.
Lessons from Family
Like many practitioners, I also feel that in cultivation, how to treat family members is a rather difficult test. Not long after I was born, my biological father left my family for America and then abandoned us. I have never met him. Some years later, my family also immigrated to America. Before going to college, I had always lived at home with my mother and stepfather. They are atheists and don't have much opinion about Dafa; they do not support me practicing, nor do they oppose me practicing. But in my mother's eyes, I'm just a child who is a student. Like many Chinese parents, she restricted me to strictly spend time and energy on academic pursuits only. Not able to change this situation, I could only do truth clarification without telling my family.
During that time when I was living at home, I indeed had some tribulations. In my family, I was the child and the only practitioner. Without financial or psychological support from my family for practicing and clarifying the truth, it was a bit of pressure. I was also the only practitioner living in that city, so I was no doubt solely responsible for clarifying the truth and saving sentient beings there. After my family found out that I was clarifying the truth behind their backs, they became angry. My family confiscated my Dafa books and materials, broke my Dafa cassettes, and even threw away my picture of Teacher. Because I was young at that time, I did not understand that I should stand up to defend Dafa, instead, I always wanted to walk around the problem to resolve it.
But, because my stepfather threw away the picture of Teacher and also several Dafa books, he received karmic retribution: one day not long after what he did, when he went out fishing, he slipped and fell and broke his leg. I did not feel gleeful at his paying for what he did; instead, I felt very sad. Sentient beings in delusion are used by the old forces to commit crimes against Dafa, and they themselves do not know that they are deceived. In the future, they all must pay for the crimes they committed. Seeing the pain and difficulties his broken leg had caused him, I felt that life is very fragile and that sentient beings need to be saved.
From Teacher's lectures I enlightened that I should treat my family as I should treat all sentient beings: give with compassion instead of laying down conditions based on qing. Qing is self-serving, is full of conditions, and is created in delusion; it is not something pure or wonderful. Even though my family is not warm at all, I still do my best to put down all kinds of notions and eliminate any negative feelings toward my family. I try to do what is best for them, to do what is genuinely best for their lives as sentient beings, not motivated by selfish emotions. If I did not become a practitioner in this life, perhaps by today I would have become a very hateful person who thinks that all the pain I suffered in my family are unfair things imposed on me; I would not have tried to understand my family at all.
My mother grew up under the poison of CCP Party culture since childhood; as a result, she has an extremely poor knowledge of traditional Chinese history and culture. She devoted her whole heart into academic and career pursuits, and frequently worries or becomes angry. Because her temper is not good, her physical health is not good either. The way she tries to educate me is similar to the parent described by Teacher in Zhuan Falun, who wants to educate their child to be smart in protecting self-interests. In the past, I always felt that our personalities were too different and I would always ignore what she said to me. I would think: she is not a practitioner, she does not understand. In this area, for the longest time, I did not look inward at all, always thinking that she is the one that is not good.
Much later I found that the shortcomings that she pointed out in me were all true, and are all things I should have cultivated away. Actually, it was really Teacher using her words to give me hints, but unfortunately I did not look inward. When I use ordinary notions to view my family, on this one point, I become an ordinary person as well and am not able to enlighten from the Fa. After I eliminated my ordinary notions of my mother, I realized that I seriously lack compassion towards her, so I started to communicate with her more. I take action to show her that I care about her, I remind her not to work too hard, to take breaks and relax her mind more, I tell her that when she has time she should read more about traditional Chinese history and culture, and also tell her Dafa is great and clarify the truth to her.
Even though I did Dafa work besides studying, this did not interfere with my studies at all. Because I have wisdom bestowed upon me by Dafa, my grades during high school were always good and I was accepted into several prestigious universities. But in my heart I was calm and not attached at all, I knew that, wherever I go next, Teacher has it all planned out already. Finally, I moved by myself to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend a famous university, majoring in mathematics.
Lessons from Clarifying the Truth to Government
During the New York Fa Conference in April of this year, a practitioner asked Teacher about the issue of less practitioners involved in clarifying the truth to the American government. In my experience, I have found that, normally we can clarify the truth to the government without requiring putting in a lot of time. It is as the experienced practitioners say, the important part of clarifying the truth to government is maintaining a relationship. One should regularly keep the government office updated on the latest news in the truth of what is happening in China, and become one of their regular contacts. Practitioners who coordinate government truth clarification have gathered and organized useful materials for practitioners' convenient use already. They also send out updates on new developments as well, so we do not need to do our own research. Emailing this information to the aide working for my Congresswoman, for example, takes only a few minutes.
We have also visited our Congresswoman's local office, and the visit itself does not take very long. We also do not need to visit very frequently. One time, a practitioner who came out of Mainland China not long ago and I went together to our Congresswoman's local office, to clarify the truth to her aide who will report to her. The effect was very good. The Mainland practitioner describing face-to-face persecution that he had personally experienced or saw with his own eyes shakes ordinary people's conscience. His truth clarification left a deep impression on the Congressional aide.
This year, we have the July DC activities as usual. One practitioner called me to remind me to call the Congress DC office to make appointments for practitioners to clarify the truth to them. I realized that I completely forgot to include this in the plans. Even though at that time, it was already getting very close to the dates that we would like to make appointments in, I told myself, as long as I have strong righteous thoughts, I can do anything. When my heart was not calm and was doubtful, my phone calls did not have much effect. When I was able to put down attachments and call with strong righteous thoughts, I received unexpected outcomes.
For one Congressional office, as soon as I explained my request, the secretary checked with the legislative director, who was also in charge of foreign affairs, and gave me a time right away. It was surprisingly easy. For the other Congressional office I called, I had to leave a message for the legislative director. Actually, a long time ago, I have called this person before and had left messages many different times. He never returned my phone calls. Very much unexpectedly, this time, he soon actually returned my call and gave me an appointment time. I was completely surprised. It reminded me of what Teacher said during the April 2007 New York Fa Lecture,
"Looking at the situation today, it is clear that very soon the rotten demons of the wicked Party won't be able to control each of the different governments anymore. With the massive annihilation of evil now taking place, the evil's ability to control human beings is rapidly diminishing."
Indeed, Teacher has already told us that the Three Realms and everything within it were created or came for Dafa. When practitioners can genuinely understand the meaning and weight of this statement, how can there be anything we cannot achieve?
Lessons from Fellow Practitioners
In Hong Yin (Version B), there is a poem by Teacher entitled "Solid Cultivation":
"Study Fa, obtain Fa,
Compare in studying, compare in cultivating,
Examine each and every deed,
Accomplishing is cultivating."
Many practitioners have given me valuable help in my cultivation. In countless practitioners, I can see their unique amazing strengths, and in contrast, see my shortcomings. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there was one practitioner who helped me immensely, leaving a deep impression on me.
The Bay Area was my first group cultivation environment. Not long after I moved here, I still had many ordinary human notions that were preventing me from whole-heartedly devoting myself to Dafa work. At that time, I always felt that I was "busy." But after busying about, it seemed that I did not accomplish much. During this time, the fellow practitioner who helped me was still very new; he had obtained the Fa not long ago, but improved very fast. He quickly enlightened to the importance of being part of the whole-body cultivation, and started to frequently remind me to participate in more group activities.
I remember one time, I refused to attend a group meeting again due to feeling busy on schoolwork and various other things. After the meeting, this practitioner called me, he was concerned about the way my cultivation state was. He very candidly said to me, Teacher tells us in Zhuan Falun that this ordinary society is "just like checking into a hotel for a few days. Then I leave in a hurry." He asked me if I really understood that. Because the way he spoke was powerfully truthful without reserve, I felt very shaken by his genuine words. Tears immediately came out of my eyes, and I was greatly touched from the bottom of my heart. His help and encouragement made me want to be determined to be a diligent practitioner.
Once I become aware of and get rid of certain notions about how to do things, I find that some things do not need to take as much time as I thought. The more we get rid of human notions, the more we can use our wisdom gained from Dafa to do things. We would then accomplish more in less time. If I strongly believe in some ordinary notions about doing something, then perhaps, I would then "forever crawl within the boundary delimited by [my] own ignorance,"(Lunyu) and would never have enough time.
During the several years that I was in school in the Bay Area, I did not have a car. So, I had to depend on getting rides with other practitioners to go here and there. This practitioner that I am referring to lived fairly close to me, therefore, I got rides with him to Dafa related activities a countless number of times. Many thanks to the fellow practitioner! When he goes to Dafa activities he is never afraid of distance and frequently drove one-hour distances; he was truly diligent. There was even one period of time when I went with him to three group Fa studies a week, forming a good foundation for genuine cultivation.
Genuinely Believing in Teacher and Dafa, We Can Do Anything
I obtained the Fa in 1994 in Dalian, China. I was only 10 years old. This year, I am 23, which means that I have spent over half of my life in the Fa. After obtaining the Fa, my family has always lived in places where there were no other practitioners, so I basically had to figure out maturing as a practitioner more or less on my own. Many years after I obtained the Fa, I saw fellow practitioners face-to-face for the first time, and nine years after I obtained the Fa, I saw Teacher at a Fa Conference for the first time.
Even though I'm a veteran practitioner, I still have many shortcomings. For example, sometimes I am too slow, or too lazy, or moody, etc. But I know that, as long as I am willing to go one step further in giving up my various attachments, and listen to Teacher, I will definitely do better. I can't really feel anything physically and am not able to use my Third Eye, however, during the magnificent road of cultivation, I have deeply felt from experience that, as long as I firmly believe in Teacher and Dafa, anything is possible.
One time, I was passing out the English Epoch Times on the street. My human notions emerged and I tried to figure out which persons would be better to hand the papers to. That day, for some reason, I was feeling especially clear in my head. At this time, there was a thought that emerged in my mind: "The Buddha School offers salvation without condition." At that moment, I felt that I suddenly understood this magnificent Fa principle more deeply somehow, and stopped trying to pick and choose people. As I walked and passed papers out, there was another thought that emerged in my mind: "No loss, no gain. To gain, one must lose." I enlightened to that, wanting to save more sentient beings is also a "gain," and in order to achieve that, one must give up more of oneself, one must "lose." At that moment, I thought, for others, for sentient beings, I'm willing to lose anything of mine, even things I value the deepest. That day, towards the end of my distribution, suddenly, in the small area surrounding me, it began to hail white hail even though the sky was completely clear and sun was out. People in the street gazed up, smiling at the sky in wonderment. It was like a little miracle. From this incident I indirectly felt that, indeed, it's like what Teacher told us, there are countless gods watching this Three Realms right now. And also, I further understood how a single thought could shake the world of ten directions.
I like standing in front of Teacher's picture in quiet moments. I don't need to say anything and I know Teacher understands all. One time, as I was looking at Teacher, my gaze fell to the blue crosshatched tie that he was wearing. The tie has patterns of white horses. At that moment, there was a thought that emerged in my mind: "With the arrival of the horse comes success." (A Chinese saying, meaning, "wishing you swift success.") I then understood that, Teacher has been silently wishing every practitioner success in cultivation and Fa-rectification all along! Every time we look at his picture, he is telling us that he wishes we do well, whether we realize it or not!
In Zhuan Falun Teacher says,
"The enlightenment that we actually refer to is a matter of whether in the course of cultivation practice one can enlighten to and accept the Fa taught by the master or the Tao taught by the Taoist master, whether one can treat oneself as a practitioner upon encountering tribulations, and whether one can adhere to the Fa while practicing cultivation." ("Lecture Nine")
Every time that I read this part, I feel very touched by Teacher's father-like compassion. Fellow practitioners, let us all be diligent together and together walk the last part of the road well! Let us not let down the historical moment of today that has such great significance for eternity!
Thank you Master! Thanks everyone!