Enlightening To the True Meaning of Cultivation Through Fa Rectification Projects
Greetings to our respected Master!
Greetings to all fellow practitioners!
I am a Dafa disciple from Chicago, and I began participating in Chicago's media projects in late 2004. At that time, I was filled with a sense of enthusiasm. I chose this project because I thought that
someone with more capabilities in ordinary human society was needed, it was harder because it required lots of interaction with ordinary people, and also because there was a shortage of manpower. In the last few years, I slowly began to treat it as an ordinary person's work and lowered the requirement in my cultivation to that of a good person in ordinary human society. For instance, being enthusiastic about work, having good work skills, being able to work hard as well as have all kinds of work experience, etc.
This change was very gradual. As I was not able to truly improve in cultivation, I was baffled by a lot of things that surfaced. I was not able to truly complete my responsibilities with a cultivator's attitude. As a result, even though I appeared very busy, and appeared to be working very hard, the results in ordinary society were minimal. It was not until this year that I slowly began to emerge from this troubled state. I slowly began to understand how to truly cultivate amidst a busy work schedule. Here, I would like to share this cultivation experience with everyone.
1. Studying the Fa Well Is the Foundation for Doing Your Work Well
In preparing for the first NTDTV Chinese New Year Spectacular in Chicago, I was involved in a lot of work, from sponsorship and media relations to governmental officials, ticketing, etc. However, I was not able to achieve good results in any area. In retrospect, the biggest manifestation at that time was a very troubled heart, feeling that there were a lot of things to do, yet not knowing what to focus on. Whenever I see something that has not been done, I want to do it. When I see something that is done well by others, I want to do the same thing. In the end, I had my hands in everything, but none of them were done well, yet I was constantly busy and in a messy state.
After the Spectacular, I sat down to summarize my experiences. I realized that my biggest problem was that I had not studied the Fa well. I had set myself a goal to read three lectures of Zhuan Falun every day and was able to maintain it very well all these years. However, once preparations for the Spectacular began, knowing that I could be very busy every day, I decreased my goal and read Teacher's new articles every day. Quality and quantity were both greatly affected as a result.
In order to do better for the second Spectacular, I told myself, "I must not neglect Fa study." When the Spectacular ended the first year, I started strengthening this aspect. From studying the Fa every day, I began memorizing and writing the Fa from memory every day. Of course, the initial stages were very painful. However, once I overcame that fear of hardship and resistance, I began to truly feel the sense of thirst in my heart. Especially after an entire day's busy work, when my thoughts and physical body were both very tired, the only thing I wished for was to sit down to calmly read Zhuan Falun. Very often, I will only have a chance to start reading after midnight. Every so often, I would feel myself bathed in a strong energy field. Of course, there were also a lot of times when, due to tiredness, I could only mechanically complete my duty. In this way, I was able to maintain my goal of memorizing and writing the Fa from memory every day until the first day of the Spectacular performance in Chicago.
From memorizing the Fa to writing it out from memory requires a very tranquil mind. Slowly but surely, I found my mind becoming more tranquil even amidst the busy work of the day. I was able to do well everything that fell into my hands and even handle many more things. On the surface the Spectacular looks like a giant project, but its success is founded upon many tiny, minute things. For instance, in making phone calls, are we concentrated and energized? In writing news and papers, do we possess clear, logical thinking? Are we using the right words? When we talk to others, are we honest and courageous and do we respond well? When handling large amounts of information, are we organized? And when facing sudden, unexpected events, are we able to handle them well? The logical, steadfast mentality that a cultivator should have is manifested in how we handle all these things.
2. Stepping Out of Human Confinement
At the beginning of the article "The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be," Master says,
"A person has many tests to overcome in the course of cultivation, one reason being, from the time of birth on, a person ceaselessly forms notions of every sort as he comes to an understanding of human society, and attachments result."
The article continues to point out that
"To this end, as they gain experience people come to form notions about life; and those experiences, in turn, come to fortify these notions as people live out their lives."
In the process of getting sponsorship for the 2007 NTDTV New Year Gala, I truly felt that the fact that we could get more and more sponsors from major media was a manifestation of the process of getting rid of our human notions, bit by bit.
Before I started contacting media for sponsorship, I had no idea what to do. I was told by practitioners in regions that had gotten lots of sponsorship that as long as you try, you can do it, but in my mind, I still felt timid. I had had a difficult experience with doing media work for the gala the year before, so I had formed a strong notion in my head. I thought that since we did not have ordinary people's channels to media, it was difficult to break through. At the beginning, I just thought I'd give it a try by making phone calls and sending emails, I never thought about going to deliver the materials. Actually, it was not that I did not think about it, but that my notions interfered and stopped me from making any further efforts. A practitioner sensed my interference and delivered materials to my home. Gradually, some media took interest and the road was cleared.
In the end, the most important local TV, radio and newspaper media agreed to sponsor us. On the surface, we did not have any special skills; we just made phone calls, sent emails, and met with people. But I clearly felt that my righteous thoughts got stronger and stronger, and it became much easier. At the beginning, I was not confident about myself. Very often I would feel uncomfortable for a few days after getting a negative response. I was timid and hesitant in making contacts. If I got rejected or didn't receive a response for several days, I would think that either "some of their Chinese friends told them something bad" or "I didn't speak appropriately somehow" or "We still did not do well in some aspect."
Gradually, such negative thoughts disappeared from my mind. Afterwards if I was rejected, I politely asked why they chose to reject us. If there was no response, I kept trying. During the holidays, I also sent a letter with best regards and took the opportunity to pass on the good news of our performances in different cities and the progress we had made in selling the tickets. I learned to seize every opportunity to provide positive information about the gala. I also learned to use natural and polite language in delivering our message, rather than forcing our ideas on others. I feel that my daily study and reciting of the Fa enables me to have a clear mind with more wisdom and strengthens my righteous thoughts.
My righteous thoughts have been strengthened, but not through a change in the external environment. Rather, as my righteous thoughts strengthened, the outside environment then changed for the better. Just a month before the gala began, our ticket hotline was constantly interrupted by the Chinese Communist Party. I then emailed my friends who work in media to tell them that our ticketing for the gala was going very well. I wrote: "Over four thousand tickets had been sold. However, recently, we had been receiving interference calls from the Chinese Communist Party. They are very nervous about the gala. Do you know why? Because we are presenting performances that show pure upright traditional Chinese culture, reviving traditional values, and this directly contradicts the Communist Party culture." After that, I received several answers from high media officials who had not responded to me previously. They showed their support and encouraged us in their emails.
For some businesses that sponsored our gala, I kept in contact with them personally, in addition to our normal business relations. For instance, at Christmastime, I emailed them my personal history. I told them that I had graduated from a well-known university with an engineering degree and did not work for the media. During the June 4th massacre, I heard gunshots via the Voice of America, but I refused to believe that the Chinese Communist Party would have actually killed students. I thought it was pure slander by the Voice of America. When the Communist Party began the persecution of Falun Gong, I was then afraid to interact with Falun Gong practitioners, fearing that they could be insane. However, after I came to the US, I was shocked to discover that under communist control, all the education that I had received over the past 20 years was false. And that is why I later chose to volunteer for the Sound of Hope radio program and NTDTV. I hope, through such just and unbiased media, to educate those Chinese people who have been kept in the dark. After receiving my emails, the media sponsors were very touched. Later, the Chinese Communist Party directly interfered with those media, but they all responded with strong righteous thoughts. On the evening of the gala, they sent me an email and said that it had been a pleasure to work with us.
Our work on Dafa projects is essentially cultivation. Therefore, some illusions might be created just to test our xinxing. For example, when we first talked to a mainstream TV station, they explicitly said the prerequisite for them to sponsor our gala was to have one of their staff members as the hostess. At that time, we already knew that it would not be allowed for an everyday person to host the gala. This put us in a difficult situation. The Falun Dafa Association and the gala sponsorship team exchanged understandings on this. We decided that when we talked to them, we should start with the purpose and influence of the gala and emphasize why our gala deserved recognition and support from mainstream media. Then we would discuss, from the perspective of the gala programs, why it wouldn't be appropriate to have another hostess for the gala in Chicago. We would not give up even if they insisted on their condition. When we had the meeting with them, it went very smoothly. They listened very carefully and said they understood our situation. Eventually, this TV station became our exclusive TV station sponsor.
At that time, we didn't quite realize that Teacher was using the 2007 gala to rectify the Fa. Therefore, when we met with the TV station, we gave in a little, that is, we agreed to let their hostess greet the audience at the opening and the closing of the Gala. Later on, the instructions from the Gala General Committee became stricter and eventually stipulated that no everyday people would be allowed to step on the stage. It was very close to the gala performance in Chicago when we received this notice. There wouldn't be enough time to negotiate with that TV station about the sponsorship. I felt pressured. How should I explain this to everyday people? Meanwhile, I knew in my heart that it was a test for me to see if I could remove my everyday people's notions.
After thinking about it all night, I sent an email to the contact person of the TV station and the hostess. I said in my email: "The Gala has been very warmly welcomed in other cities around the world. The Gala General Committee tried to make it as perfect as possible and has decided to make it a world-class performance. Therefore, it has very strict requirements. Specifically, because all the programs are one body, in order to maintain the integrity of the programs, the Gala General Committee will not allow different cities to add in other programs or performances. Because of this, we are sorry to tell you that we won't be able to accommodate your hostess in the Gala. However, we believe the quality of our own programs match the high reputation of your TV station, and therefore the cooperation between us will be very good for both of us."
Since I had stayed up the whole night, I overslept. Suddenly, I got a phone call from the gala office, saying that the contact person from the TV station was looking for me. I knew it must be because of the email that I had sent. I was very nervous and I didn't know what to do. I hid my head under the pillow and felt a bad headache coming on. With the encouragement of fellow practitioners, I called the TV contact person, only to find out she wanted to kindly remind me that I should talk to their hostess in person about this change, instead of just sending her an email. She also said that the first time she met with us, she realized that we didn't really want people outside to perform in our gala and therefore the change didn't surprise her at all. When I hung up, I felt so relieved.
When I reviewed the work we had done, I felt so touched. What we did appeared to be similar to everyday people's work, yet it was essentially different. We wouldn't meet Teacher's requirements if we followed everyday people's notions. It was simply because of our righteous belief in Teacher that we could prevail. At the same time, we need to become mature in our individual cultivation in order to harmonize with everyday people's society.
3. The Power of Dafa Disciples as a Whole
When following Teacher during the Fa-rectification process, I came to feel more and more the strong power of Dafa disciples as one body. We have a team set up for the gala in Chicago. One of the team members said, "Every one of us is incapable if he or she goes out alone." Indeed, none of us has the ability to handle all the things in Western mainstream society by ourselves, but each one of us has some special talent. Some are very sharp in doing business; some are good at making phone calls; and some are very calm at meetings, which helps everybody relax. Some are good at writing, some are good at collecting data. When working together, each of us tried to do our very best and we pushed the projects forward together.
When I worked on media, I would go to the fellow practitioners that are good at collecting data to get help with finding more media and contact persons. I worked with those who are sharp in doing business to discuss how to talk to businessmen. I learned from those who are good at making phone calls to find out how to make conversation. I went to meetings with those who are good at presentations. Actually, when other practitioners worked on their tasks, they would do the same, so any "achievement" that one made was a result of the combined efforts of the whole team.
When working as one body, I came to realize that our work is a cultivation opportunity. Therefore, we have to make decisions and take actions on our own instead of simply following others. Otherwise, we would just be machines that respond to commands and not enlightened practitioners with righteous thoughts and righteous enlightenment.
This past January, the evil Chinese Communist Party launched a large-scale harassment campaign against our gala ticket-booking hotline. Meanwhile, they also harassed our sponsors. We decided we should hold a news release conference within the week to expose what they did. Three days before, the NTDTV New York home office had a similar news release conference. It introduced the gala and exposed the CCP's interference. The New York office recorded the whole conference and sent a copy to us. We could have simply copied what they did, which would have made our work much easier.
But we didn't do that. When we closely listened to the tape and shared our understandings with each other, we realized that our English skills are not as strong as those of our fellow practitioners in New York. Therefore, we wouldn't be able to present the background details as clearly as they did. Also, our local media and the New York media have a different focus and perspective. The gala in Chicago is also quite different from that in New York in terms of resources and scale. Due to these factors, we reached an agreement on how we should present the gala and explain the relationship between Falun Gong and the gala in Chicago. From what happened later, it was confirmed that our news release conference was very successful. The mainstream media clearly got the message that we were trying to convey.
There are other cities in the Mid-USA that will host the Gala for 2008. I'd like to make a suggestion to you: You can definitely reference what the other cities did, but you need to analyze it first and see if it fits your own city's situation.
4. Step Out of the Notion of Self
When preparing for the gala, I felt that my cultivation state was very good. Unintentionally, I started to get very picky with other practitioners, thinking they were not as good. After the gala, for some period of time, I felt uncomfortable being around a lot of practitioners. I felt I couldn't bear their everyday people's words and actions. In fact, it was because I thought highly of myself and looked down upon others. From the beginning of my cultivation, I realized that I had the attachment of competitiveness. It showed up under different situations and at different times. However, it had never been so strong and unshakable as it was this time after the gala.
I knew in my heart that the competitiveness was not a part of my true self. However, I couldn't get rid of its interference. Instead, I got stuck in strong repentance. I felt each word that I said was picky and sounded like criticism, and each thought was negative and impure. I felt that my arrogance hurt many people and caused losses to Dafa work. Because of this strong feeling of repentance, I wasn't willing to talk to other fellow practitioners and I didn't want to show up at any public places. I got stuck in a state which I used to despise the most--I wasn't willing to do anything and I didn't care about what I said, and what I said wasn't true.
During that period, I spent a lot of time studying the Fa and memorizing the Fa. However, I felt like I was walking in mud, because I had to put in extra effort both mentally and physically. One day, I came across an article published in 2003 on the Clearwisdom website, entitled "Golden Buddha." It was written by a fellow practitioner. Teacher had a comment on this article: "Suggest Dafa disciples all read this article."
When I read this article, I was in tears. The article talked about a cultivator. He appeared to be very common and there was nothing special about him. One day, he killed himself over some small issue. After he died, people cut him open and saw it was all golden inside his stomach. People all shook their heads and felt sorry for him. They said, "He appeared common yet he had treasures inside him. Too bad he's dead now."
I came to realize that it might be because I was too picky with others that I started to get stuck in a non-diligent state myself, which made me personally experience the suffering that others might have when they tried to get rid of their attachments but hadn't been able to. I started to realize as a bystander how I should look at other practitioners' cultivation states. I came to realize that my tolerance and understanding of fellow practitioners before were shallow and displayed deliberately. I didn't have the benevolence that an enlightened person would naturally have when he or she saw a true cultivator trying to get rid of the old forces' constraints on us.
When I reviewed my cultivation process during last year's gala project, I saw my heart wasn't pure. I was trying to make sure that some of the achievements on the project "I" was responsible for. I was trying to validate myself. If I hadn't walked though the six-month preparation period, I wouldn't have realized this essential attachment of mine. During the coming 2008 gala preparation, what I would like to do is to finish my mission with the most pure heart.
I'd like to end my sharing with one of Teacher's poems.
A wicked person is born of jealousy.
Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself.
A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion.
With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy.
An enlightened person has no attachments at all.
He quietly observes the people of the world deluded by illusions.
(from Essentials for Further Advancement)