Cultivating in the Divine Performing Arts Orchestra
(Clearwisdom.net) Good afternoon. These past two and a half years of cultivating in the Divine Performing Arts Orchestra have required cultivation unlike anything I've ever experienced. I have been cultivating for over 9 years, so this is saying a lot.
The first major test I had to overcome was that of ming, or reputation. I had longed to become a lawyer to help in the Fa rectification and worked for a few years to make that happen. What I had been seeking finally came about. The Divine Performing Arts Orchestra was formed not long after I received offers from several law schools, but the best schools I was admitted to were far from New York. These were big-name schools at which I could meet influential people and become one of them myself. My finances are very limited, but I found that when I asked them for more scholarship money they often gave me exactly what I wanted. As is said in Zhuan Falun, "Nobody will intervene if you want something yourself. As long as it is what you want, nobody will intervene. ("Lecture Six" in Zhuan Falun) This was, I believe, a major tribulation in relation to harmonizing what Master wants. The question was: was I going to continue on the path that I thought I wanted, that I knew I had the skills for, or was I going to put the orchestra first, an orchestra that Master had formed? I could feel that in other dimensions what I was facing was a battle with a being called ming. I fought it hard in my mind and pictured myself using swords to slice through it. I told it, "I am not here in the human world for myself, I am here to save sentient beings."
You see, the problem was that I thought I would save sentient beings by becoming a human rights lawyer. But one cannot arrange one's own path. One must leave one's fate in Master's hands. The process of getting accepted to those schools had been a rocky one. There were many obstacles along the way, but I always considered them interference and remained stubbornly attached.
Finally I was able to let go of my attachment to fame, at least in that case, and decided to go to a school as close to the orchestra as possible so that it wouldn't interfere with our rehearsals. It was one of the least-known schools I had been accepted to, but the scholarships it offered covered all my expenses. After beginning school, however, I found that my studies did not leave me enough time to do the basic cultivation things, much less to clarify the truth or practice my instrument very much. I therefore decided not to continue and, I must say, have not regretted that decision for a moment. That was two years ago. I must say, that I have not regretted for this decision for a moment. In the past two years, my husband and I have constantly tried to understand the deeper meaning of Master's forming the orchestra, and to harmonize what Master requires. We have been tremendously moved again and again by the arrangements Master has made. Whenever something is needed for me to harmonize my performing well in the orchestra, that thing would turn up. When my husband and I had no money, money would come; when we had no car, a car would come; when I need a certain equipment for my instrument, it would come. I think these are all about due to the faith, the solid faith in Master and Dafa.
The next test on the path of cultivating in the orchestra has been that of letting go of humanness more broadly; this includes human notions, human attachments, and even human thoughts. Never before have I been faced with a test quite like this. Yes, we all know that the cultivation process is one of constantly getting rid of human attachments, but for me this has been different. My understanding of the reason for it is this: Each performance of the orchestra is an intense battle between good and evil. In other dimensions there are tremendous evil forces working against us, they could be the evil factors that persecute the Fa, or the karma of the people who we are trying to save, and they are all alive. Those evil and negative things want nothing more badly than to damage the show. Why? Because if the show fails to save the people, those evil things, such as karma, evil factors in people's minds against Dafa, and so on, will survive. Isn't the old forces' main purpose to save themselves only? This is the battle we experienced when we perform.
Master said, "if it was to be done, it had to be high caliber." ("Fa Teaching at the 2007 New York Fa Conference") I find that during the show any human thought I have can be seized on by negative factors and that I therefore either make a mistake at that moment or have a "technical" problem with my instrument. It is an intense experience. I'd call it real-time cultivation. It's like a mirror held up before you, showing you all your shortcomings the second they manifest. The evil doesn't want the show to be perfect and doesn't want the show to be high-caliber. My understanding is that when there is a problem in the show--such as a mistake made that people in the audience sees or hears--their minds are distracted by that, the energy that Master channels though the show cannot penetrate their minds and bodies at those times, and they may think badly of the show. If this happens, they may not be saved. So, mistakes are a serious thing. I have found that the vast majority of the mistakes I have made during the shows can be traced back to a human thought or attachment.
It's very much like the Arhat in Zhuan Falun where, if he is happy, he fails, and if he fears, he fails. Here are some examples of thoughts I've had during the shows and their consequences: Once when I was playing a solo part I thought, "This sounds nice," and bam, right away my instrument had a technical problem. Another time I thought "Ooh, that note I just played was out of tune," and then I made a mistake. Another time before a solo part I thought, "Okay, I can't mess up this note," and bam, that fear made me mess up. Another time I had a negative thought about one of the performers on stage and right after that I felt like I had to cough really badly. This feeling was torturous, as it lasted through an entire, very soft piece where I had to play the whole time. Another time I thought, "My embouchure--that is, my mouth--feels tired" and then of course I really was tired.
Maybe some of you are wondering, well why is it wrong to think that a note was out of tune? I think because all of the thoughts I mentioned above come down to thinking about "self," that is, what did "I" do well, what didn't "I" do well, how "I" feel, and so on. The question is one of validating self versus validating Dafa.
When we perform I think the ideal state is to have no self and almost no thoughts; it's a state of emptiness. It is a state where we perform with our divine side instead of our human side. When this happens I find I not only make almost no mistakes, but I am not subject to human things such as fatigue or technical problems with my instrument that might otherwise seem "natural" or "inevitable." (As you might imagine, the article "Expounding on the Fa" has taken on a new meaning for me lately.) Ever since I was a child I've had a problem with fatigue when I play my instrument. But when I go into a show with no notions about fatigue and no human thoughts, I am not tired. It's as though I am not even the one playing anymore, it's effortless, as though it is fully my divine side that is playing, with divine beings behind me strengthening me. At those timesthere is nothing human getting in the way of it being gods performing.
In one city this year I kept having a technical problem where some of the holes in my instrument kept getting clogged with condensation, thus interfering with the notes that are to come out of the holes. This is considered a "natural" or "inevitable" thing for my instrument when certain physical conditions exist, such as a certain air temperature and humidity, or any drafts, etc. I found that in that city I was performing primarily with my human side for those few days. One day before the show I was able to make a major adjustment to my state of mind such that I was free of any human thoughts or emotions and completely empty. I did not think about the condensation and did not seek to get rid of the problem. Rather, I didn't think about anything. That day, although the physical conditions were exactly the same, no condensation at all collected in the holes. I was amazed.
What was so interesting about this experience is that, it's not that I suddenly became a perfect cultivator that day and deep down really didn't have any humanness anymore. Rather, I had an extremely strong will to save sentient beings and was extremely determined that absolutely nothing could interfere. I think it's like the idea of not accepting the evil seizing on our gaps to persecute the Fa and interfere with the salvation of sentient beings, a concept that Master has talked about in the Fa for many years. That strong determination that nothing is allowed to interfere with the salvation of sentient beings is something I try to carry with me into all of our shows.
I feel that through cultivating in the Divine Performing Arts Orchestra I now understand a new meaning of righteous thoughts. Just like de, it is not a concept, but an actual physical thing. Righteous thoughts create a barrier between you and the things in the Three Realms that might affect you. They are physical reality in other dimensions. Mind and matter are one and the same. I now truly believe and have now truly seen that if you have very strong righteous thoughts nothing can stop you.
Moreover, if you are determined to get rid of self and put your heart fully into saving sentient beings, there are no human things for the evil to seize on.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that I think we practitioners as a whole need to treat everything surrounding the shows with all due seriousness because of their impact in saving sentient beings and because of the potential for interference. For example, can we ensure that the environment in the theater is free of noise and other distractions so the audience members' minds can stay focused? Can we make our promotions professional enough so that they don't create obstacles in potential audience members' minds? Can we arrange things well so that the performers have as much time and energy as possible to practice for the show and do cultivation things surrounding the show? Can we treat every audience member or potential audience member with deep compassion, knowing that they represent huge cosmic systems that are longing to be saved? I think it all comes down to understanding and harmonizing what Master wants, which I believe is to use this show to directly and thoroughly save sentient beings. The divine beings that now reside in the human bodies in this human world are truly precious and are counting on us. In Fa Teaching at the U.S. Capital Master describes the gods who have descended to the human world, saying, (quote) "They were brave enough to descend because of their steadfast faith in Dafa and their conviction that Fa-rectification would surely succeed. [They believed that] the Fa could definitely save them, that Dafa would definitely succeed, and that Fa-rectification would definitely succeed, and it was thus that they had the godly courage to come to the human world. I'm not talking about Dafa disciples or students who obtained the Fa at different times, but rather the human race's overall situation right now. Many beings and many things in human society have changed. With such beings before us, we must act, we must save them." (end quote)
Let us all work together better and play our roles well to give them the best opportunity to be saved.
Thank you all for listening. Thank you, Master.