A Polisher's Story
Master Li and Fellow Practitioners,
I am one of those nameless gnomes who labor to bring you versions of articles that you cannot tell were not originally written in English. If we are successful, you will not notice we were there. Only our failures are apparent. From a pre-Dafa point of view, I guess I would have thought that this job is one of the less interesting, unglamorous, prosaic things that only boring people who have nothing to say themselves do. And since I am not a particularly facile writer and words do not always come easily to me, polishing other people's articles can be quite labor intensive for me. As a practitioner, though, I can say that I have found polishing translated articles to offer tremendous opportunities for cultivation. I would like to tell you a little about my life as a polisher and perhaps encourage some of you to join our anonymous ranks.
One of the neat things about being a polisher is that you get to work on some really outstanding articles written by veteran practitioners who are giving you the benefit of their considerable experience. "Work on" does not just mean revising the translation you have been given so that it reads smoothly, although you certainly want to do that. It means transmitting the original author's intended meaning, ideas, and style as faithfully as you possibly can. You read carefully, word by word, line by line, trying to be sure you have grasped the actual writer's meaning, tone, and style, so you can try your best to make the English words match the author's intentions. Sometimes it almost seems that you have entered into a mental connection with the unknown author such that you can sense, in a very direct way, the thoughts behind the words that are on the paper.
When I first started working on articles describing the persecution of Chinese practitioners, I felt the pain from the starvation, humiliation, and physical and psychological torture they suffered but I also felt a towering rage at the unreasoning bestiality of their captors and their superiors, as well as awe at the intestinal fortitude and strength of conviction of the detainees. Later, I began to feel, more from the inside out, their inner certitude, their being a particle in Dafa, their compassion for the beings who do not know Dafa or who have been deceived by the relentless propaganda, their unwavering determination to let the principles of Dafa be manifested in their every thought, word, and action. And I have been changed by that. I have worked on letters to newspapers, politicians, and other interested persons, as well as various materials written to introduce people at large to Falun Dafa and the truth about events in China. I have worked on experience-sharing articles and shared in the author's joyous physical, mental, and spiritual renewal. I have worked on practitioner's articles describing misconceptions, inconsistencies, and gaps in the evidence to support widely held theories of the present day modern science. I have worked on articles about facets of cultivation, what Fa-rectification means and its many implications, what the New Science is really about and what sorts of approaches will be appropriate to it, and many other very serious subjects. In some cases, I really had to work hard to understand at least a part of what the author was trying to convey and in other cases it was as though a small enlightenment just happened. And I have learned from that.
Does any of this relate to our guiding principles of Zhen, Shan, Ren? Well, it certainly seems that Truth is served. In doing this we try to determine the truth of what the author intended and then we try to tell other human beings, practitioners and nonpractitioners, his or her vision of the truth as faithfully as we can. In the process, we learn quite a bit of the truth about our own levels of understanding and, sometimes, lack of it. Some articles I barely understood when I first read them and it required much reading and rereading of the Teacher's words before the meaning of his student's article would come to me. On one of the websites for which I do some work, there is sometimes another layer of editing after me and, after this nameless editor has made corrections and done whatever else is called for, the corrected draft of what I sent is returned to me for my edification. The first few times this happened I bridled at the audacity of the unknown editor who had dared to find fault with MY perfect work, especially when some of the changes that had been made seemed to make things worse. I fussed. I fumed. I wrote snide emails to my coordinator. Eventually, of course, I saw my prima donna behavior and the fears that drove it and have since been working to eliminate that set of attachments. I have also learned a few things from those nameless editors. So we try to be true to the author, our audience, and ourselves.
The reason we undertake this task is to share the experiences, understanding, and insights of practitioners with the general public, other practitioners, and the new people who will need these guidelines after the completion of Fa rectification. Practitioners write these articles because they have an idea, an understanding, an experience that has made a difference in their cultivation and they are generous enough to write it down so that others may benefit from it. Translators and polishers make the range of people to whom it may be of benefit larger by one language. All of these efforts are directed towards validating the Fa with reason, clarifying the truth with wisdom, spreading the Fa and offering people salvation with benevolence as described by the Teacher in "Rationality." These would certainly fall into the category of Compassionate goals.
There is Endurance in the long hours sometimes necessary to do all the work before us, in trying to tease the writer's meaning out from the occasional difficult translation, and in trying to find better ways to express the writer's intent even after many of those hours. There is Tolerance in the polishing of articles in which the author's opinions are at variance with our own, as his or her level of understanding may be at variance with our own. A polisher's responsibility is not content, unless it runs rampantly against the principles of Dafa, but the transmission of whatever the writer has intended. We may not agree with what the writer has written but we have to be very sure the reader will know what it was, without adding or subtracting anything. Dealing with other practitioner participants in the publishing process can sometimes require a touch of Forbearance, as does functioning in any group effort.
Of course ascribing various aspects of polishing to individual principles within the triad of Zhen, Shan, Ren is only a matter of superficial convenience. In truth, they are all interrelated and merely reflect the light from different facets of the same gem, depending on the way they are held, or discussed. The searches for the author's true meaning and the best way to transmit it in accordance with proper English usage are both examples of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, all at the same time, for example. So it is clear that polishing articles is a legitimate cultivation activity with many opportunities to upgrade one's xinxing.
But let me tell you about an experience of mine that might serve as a warning to you. As a beginning cultivator I did not see the importance of studying the Fa as clearly as I should have. I was very faithful about all five of the exercises but, after finishing the book a couple of times, I did not make any special effort to read more than a couple of chapters a week. As Master Li and other practitioners continued to emphasize Fa study, however, I made more time and grew to be committed to finishing the book at least once a week. Then I started doing the polishing work. It went well at first. As a new polisher, I was given mostly narrative articles that were largely straightforward in their translation and polishing. The hardest thing was figuring out as many synonyms as possible for "the evil(s)." Then some more theoretical articles came my way and I began to read Zhuan Falun even more because of what I had begun to understand from polishing those articles. I was amazed at the ideas that were pouring in, the breadth and depth of the concepts and their relationships that were filling my consciousness as a result of reading the book and polishing other practitioners' articles. Master Li said that as we read Zhuan Falun more and more our levels of understanding rise. He said it wasn't because we all of a sudden got smart, but because the Buddhas and Taos saw fit to tell us things. I figured that reading the book was helping to raise my level enough so I could understand what the Buddhas and Taos were telling me using the medium of polishing practitioners' articles.
But then there were so many good articles. The polishing grew very seductive. I spent so much time steeping myself in articles from other practitioners that I no longer made the time to read Zhuan Falun very much. And then I began to notice that I could no longer understand what some of the other practitioner's articles meant. My level of understanding was no longer high enough to decipher their meaning. I thought if I just kept reading those pages over and over again from their articles, I would catch on. But their words were steeped in Dafa and if I were not sufficiently steeped in Dafa as well, I would never catch their meaning. A fellow practitioner told me that she had awakened in the middle of the night thinking she must tell me that I had to read the book more. And so I learned once again my beginner's lesson that one must first and foremost study the Fa, read the book, again and again and again.
I invite you to share this experience, to join our quiet ranks, and facilitate the communication from and between practitioners whose languages differ. The need for help is great; there are many, many wonderful articles out there and more being written each day. There are several North American level Falun Dafa websites operating now, in addition to many local/regional ones. Just about all of us who use computers have visited FalunDafa.org to download books and introductory materials for our own use and for Fa spreading activities. I am sure you are all familiar with the extremely important role the Minghui website and its English version, ClearWisdom, have in disseminating the news about everything relating to Dafa in this critical time, largely to practitioners. The FalunInfo website has a salient role in public relations and making news items relating to the persecution in China and other, more positive, events available to the press and the general public. The youngest websites, Zhengjian and its English language sister site, currently called PureInsight, seek to empower their readers "with a deeper understanding of reality grounded in the principles of Falun Dafa;" allowing "a more penetrating insight into the entire spectrum of phenomena. This is accomplished by articles of varying nature, ranging from ancient history and archaeology to new findings in biomedicine and astronomy, from clinical research on Falun Dafa to unusual photographs related to the practice."
If you haven't found these two websites, they are linked to Minghui and ClearWisdom. I think they are extremely interesting and valuable resources and the English version at least really needs more writers, translators, and polishers. Please come, have a look, and consider making your own contribution to these websites. Remember that the future is undetermined at present and "everything Dafa disciples are doing at present is creating the future..." ("What Are Supernormal Abilities"). Keep in mind that in the process of polishing, the polishers are also polished, eventually, we hope, into shiny, golden Dafa particles that will help make a shiny, golden future.
Thanks for listening. I would appreciate it if, when you have some time, you could point out my errors to me so I can begin to improve.
Category: Experience Sharing Conferences