Advance Together, Improve as a Whole
Shared at Washington DC 2002 Conference
I have been practicing Dafa for over 5 years. The first two years were my individual cultivation stage. During that period, it was quite clear to me whenever my xinxing level was raised, when I had enlightened to a principle, and if I had passed a test. Since the evil persecution started in 1999, in the ensuing three years I have felt as if I have been carried forward by the current of Fa ractification. My individual cultivation has been catapulted to Fa ractification cultivation. I've also transitioned to become a veteran practitioner. My understanding of the Fa has constantly improved. Amidst this enormous process of Fa-rectification, everything of mine appears to be so insignificant. My personal gain or loss and attachments are not worthy of mention.
There is an old saying that it's easier to change the landscape than to change a person's character. Yet I've become a totally new person through Dafa cultivation practice. In the past three years, the number of people that I've met has exceeded that of all my previous years combined. The people I've met come from all walks of life. I constantly broke through psychological and skill barriers as I engaged in various activities such as signature collection, handing out flyers, meeting with legislative representatives to clarify the truth, doing shows, interviews, broadcasting, media work, etcetera.
I remember the first time I went to Chinatown to distribute flyers. The hand holding the flyers was trembling and my heart was racing. I felt that the people either appeared nasty or were too old to understand the truth. The fact is, I was afraid of the embarrassment of being rejected and snubbed. I failed to hand out a single flyer in the end. Afterwards, fear and regret haunted me for a long time. After three years of tempering, passing out flyers no longer represents a challenge. My heart remains tranquil when taunted with scorn and insults. In fact many people have changed their attitude from derision to silence. Others have even initiated chitchats with me.
San Francisco is the economic and cultural hub of the Bay Area. The Chinese community is sizable. Truth clarification work is quite demanding. Probably for predestined reasons, I have ended up here. My family and friends have often urged me to relocate and find a more relaxed environment. As a matter of fact it is not that I am overly attached to this city, but I think it needs more practitioners for truth clarification, especially to the Government and media. In my opinion, this requires practitioners who can articulate well in English. Teacher mentioned in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston" that "A Dafa disciple should put the Fa first in everything he does--whenever you evaluate something you have to consider the Fa first." I feel that clarifying the truth in this city is what Dafa requires of me.
Therefore, I've been actively involved in all forms of truth clarification work to the city. Whatever I didn't know, could not do or didn't like to do, I applied myself diligently to. It is just like Master said in Zhuan Falun, "When it looks impossible and is said to be impossible, give it a try and see if it is possible. If you can actually do it, you will indeed find: 'After passing the shady willow trees, there will be bright flowers and another village ahead.'" When I really applied myself, I often found that things went quite well.
Of course, I don't mean to imply that I could manage everything. Sometimes when a project came to me, my kneejerk response was to push it back, --giving them my splendid reason, "I am too busy." In those moments, deviated thoughts came to my mind, "I've been busy all the time, and I've done so much work. It should be enough." Complacency thus took over. Later I realized that this was not the right attitude. Thereafter, whenever I was inundated with work, I would ask myself if I had tried my best, and if I should use my human notion to weigh a divine promise. I found that I fell far short. This way, I would soon settle down.
Even now as I write down my recollections, I can see my selfishness. If I do less, someone else will have to do more to make up for it. Teacher said, "whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism" ("Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature" in Essentials for Further Advancement). "Others" includes our fellow practitioners. I find my deeply embedded selfishness often being exposed in practice. This is precisely what cultivation is for.
When I first joined the Fa rectification, I often did things on my own. I found it to be more efficient and less hassle this way. Later, the thought "as a whole" had often lingered in my mind. There was a period when practitioners were talking about our promise related to the Fa rectification. One day, a thought came up: what if "Consummate, fly and ascend, together return to Heaven." ("Assimilation and Consummation" in Hongyin, a collection of Teacher's poems) was also part of my promise? Could I accomplish that? Teacher said in "Lecture at the Western United States Fa Conference" that "If any one of you is doing well, it's a matter of your individual cultivation; if people in one region are doing well, it means that students in that region are doing well; if we're doing very well the whole world over or in every region where there are Dafa disciples, it's no longer a matter of one region or one individual person, but of the entire Dafa doing well and it's being on an upright course." I realized then that we were entrusted with the honorable mission of being "Dafa particles." Only if all particles linked together, could we truly become part of Dafa. "Holistic improvement and sublimation" is Dafa's requirement of us. I started to put more effort in group discussion and exchange, and to consider issues from the perspective of the whole. When doing Dafa projects, I often spent more time encouraging other practitioners to participate more. Some practitioners have urged me to do more saying that I was more suitable for certain projects, and that whoever was more capable should take on more projects, etcetera. However, I feel participation is also an important process in cultivation. We must not just focus on getting a good result. As teacher said in Zhuan Falun, "Cultivation depends on one's own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one's master. It is good enough if you have this wish. It is the master who actually does this, as you are simply unable to do it." Therefore everyone should have a chance to decide whether to participate, and to fulfill his or her remote solemn promise.
Even though I had this thought in mind, I had not realized that it was my responsibility. When my desire to have everyone cultivating as a whole faded away, teacher mercifully reminded me again. When I tried to get away from being an assistant of the San Francisco area, one practitioner's words really touched my heart. He said: "You should think about being responsible to the Fa." Such a reminder happened several more times subsequently until I automatically began to think about my responsibility to the Fa.
Being an assistant is a great cultivation opportunity. Spending more time with other practitioners, the chances for improving xinxing have also increased, especially in recent months when practitioners have tended to have more disagreements. Teacher said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston," "You have a good idea, he has a good idea, too, and everyone thinks that his own idea is good... this is usually how arguments happen. And when you argue, because you've neglected your day-to-day Fa-study or have slacked off in your cultivation, you fall into ordinary people's ways of arguing."
I can certainly relate to this phenomenon. When I disagree with others, my first thought is that I am right, that I am doing it for the good of other practitioners, and that the other person has not learned the Fa well, etcetera. However, as Teacher pointed out, this only happens when one has slacked off in one's cultivation. It's also the result of not having studied the Fa enough, such that when a problem surfaces, the people concerned are not able to evaluate it from the standpoint of the Fa.
A practitioner pointed out to me once, "Forget about 'what you think.'" I realized this was a reminder that I hadn't studied the Fa enough. My mind was filled with many human notions. Teacher said in the article "Towards Consummation," "Some volunteers go long periods of time without reading or studying the Fa. How could they do Dafa work well? You have unwittingly incurred many losses that are hard to recover. Past lessons should have made you more mature. The only way to prevent the old, evil forces from taking advantage of the gaps in your mind is to make good use of your time to study the Fa." Studying the Fa has now become my top priority, and I wish all practitioners would study the Fa well.
When I see practitioners argue like everyday people; when I see practitioners rude to each other; and when I see practitioners spend all the time in Dafa work and neglect Fa study, I become worried. I know all the conflicts and obstacles are due to the lack of Fa study. Without the Fa, how can we talk about righteous thoughts, righteous faith, and righteous actions?
When I tried my utmost to fulfill my role as an assistant, and constantly reminded myself of my responsibility to Dafa and practitioners, I often sensed the power of Dafa manifest in the practitioners. In San Francisco, one practitioner had taken up the responsibility to make phone calls to inform other practitioners about Dafa activities. She spent a lot of time on the phone but had never complained. She even helped me to arrange schedules for some of the activities. During the 24 hour sending forth righteous thoughts in front of the consulate, some practitioners volunteered for the midnight slots to lessen the burden on those who had to work the next day.
When some practitioners saw my omissions, they were kind enough to point them out to me afterwards. I could feel their genuine compassionate hearts. Things like these are too numerous to mention. I feel that our environment is changing for the better, and I truly am glad. It is an affirmation and encouragement for me. When one looks at this environment from a different angle, one has a different feeling. When I view this environment and the practitioners here with a tolerant bearing, I see the unfolding of Dafa's magnificent grandeur. I know that many of the Bay Area practitioners are anxious about our environment. Everyone, why don't we first open our hearts and broaden our minds. Maybe we will be able to see the splendor of Dafa in every dimension, including our own.
I would like to conclude with master's poem
Fulfilling a Wish
For the same purpose, coming to the world, Having earlier obtained the Fa. One day flying away to the heavens, Free and unrestrained, Fa boundless.