Starting from Oneself -- My Experiences in Clarifying the Truth at Tourist Sites and Chinese Consulate
Shared at 2003 New York Falun Dafa Conference
(Clearwisdom.net) I remember early last year, after a study group some practitioners suggested going to tourist sites to introduce Falun Dafa to the public. At the time, I thought, this is something I can do.
Of the main tourist sites in New York, Battery Park was the only one that allowed us to practice our exercises because it's a park. It's also the harbor where people take the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty and it's a place where all the tourists go when they come to New York. I figured I had been here in NY this long already, and even though I actively participated in activities, I had not actually taken on the responsibility of initiating anything and seeing it through from start to finish. I also had a wish, and that was to start from myself to create a pure and righteous cultivation environment that would allow everyone here to improve. But in order to be able to keep something going in a stable and continuous way, we would need some practitioners who had the same wish, who could take on the responsibility, and who could work hard to create the conditions that would allow them to persevere.
Very soon, I was able to get in contact with some practitioners. We set up a practice site at Battery Park. The purpose was to explain the truth to Chinese tour groups -- seven days a week straight without a break. Later on, practitioners from other practice sites came to support us and our little team grew by a few more people. We would start every morning on time at 8:30am. The ferry ticket booth would open at 9am. The practice site we chose was along a path that the tour groups would have to pass by. We would welcome them in and send them off when they left. When they came in, they would all be lined up in rows, their faces were tight and they didn't dare take any flyers, but our very existence and our practice site was firmly imprinted on their minds. When they came back, their ranks were more scattered and when they passed by us individually, there would be those who would accept the materials. In the beginning, if the weather wasn't good, we would call each other on the phone and discuss whether we would go or not go. Later on, we decided we should still go forward and so we stopped calling each other and just went even if it was raining. If it was still raining when we got there, we would hand out flyers and then we'd practice after the rain stopped. If it started raining while we were practicing, we would wait in the ticketing area and go out again after the rain stopped. Anyway, no day was wasted.
At Battery Park, we learned how to hand out flyers and to clarify the truth. We kept exploring new ways, kept communicating with each other, kept evaluating, kept adapting to the other person's degree of acceptance. In the beginning, the park administration only allowed us to practice the exercises and they would come and interfere with us if we handed out flyers or set out a table. We always smiled and tried to talk to them however we could using gestures and gave them materials to read. Gradually, those around us got to know us and accepted our presence. Not only could we hand out flyers but we also set up a small table where tourists could pick up materials themselves. The vendor nearby who sold T-shirts would sometimes help us introduce the practice. One thing worth mentioning is that the person who lugged the tape deck and the materials was the husband of one of our fellow practitioners. He doesn't practice, but he would come out with his wife on time every morning. We would start practicing and then he would start handing out flyers. He's the only man in our group and he stayed with us from day one all the way until the end for five whole months.
After "9/11," Battery Park closed down. We stayed at home for a few days but got antsy and called each other, saying we had to find something to do. Right at that point, a practitioner said, "You can all go to the Chinese consulate." So, by the second Monday, we went to the consulate. We kept the Battery Park tradition of showing up rain or shine. At that time, the consulate opened its doors at 10 in the morning. We would start practicing across the street at 8:50am. The long line of people waiting for the consulate to open would quietly watch us finish our exercises and send forth righteous thoughts. At this point, the doors would open, then half of us would go to the doorway to hand out flyers, half would do the meditation. Then we would switch. After a time, some practitioners suggested we should show videos to the people in line before the consulate opened. So we bought a DVD player. Every morning, we would show videos on one side of the road and practice the exercises on the other side. With our light reflecting from both sides, the energy field was really great.
The consulate is different from Battery Park. One is that the weather is terrible. Everyone who's been to New York's Chinese consulate knows the winters over there are colder by a few degrees than surrounding areas, the summers are hotter by a few degrees, and the wind blows all year round. Sometimes the wind is so strong it's hard to walk over there and it's hard to set the mats down when we meditate. Our bags, shoes, gloves, and hats often get blown away. When the weather's at its coldest, over here the freezing wind and bitter cold chills you to the very bone. In the summer, the sun is high and the buildings can't block the rays. There's no shelter or shade here. The dry cement ground is okay when doing the standing exercises, but when meditating while sitting on the ground, it's like being roasted and steamed, and after an hour, sweat is pouring down like rain and our faces are beet red. When the winters and summers are at their most miserable, we all silently recite Master's poem:
A Great Enlightened Being does not fear hardship
Having forged an adamantine will
And with no attachment to living or dying
He walks his path of Fa-rectification openly and nobly
We keep going day by day, we don't analyze, we don't calculate, we don't watch the weather forecast. We keep one thought in our heart: we will make it through for sure.
The second difference comes from the people we face. Here we face the representatives of the evil. Furthermore, this is where the elements of evil are concentrated. We are here to suffocate the evil. It is therefore essential that we eliminate interference and stay. At the very beginning, we stayed until noon, just like what we usually did at the Battery Park. However, we noticed that there were still quite a few people coming in the afternoon. We decided not to leave them out. Ever since then, two of us always stayed in the afternoon, distributing flyers until the Consulate closes.
New issues arise in the new environment. The first conflict is how to handle the issue of discarded flyers. The expense of the flyers all comes from practitioners and none of us are rich. It's really a pity to have them thrown away. This is especially true here in front of the Chinese Consulate as Dafa materials are bundled as a set, which include one booklet of "The Returning Path", one "QingLiu" magazine, and one VCD. All of them cost us about fifty cents for each set. Worrying about the materials being tossed, we were concerned deep in our hearts when distributing the materials. Whenever a person came, I would judge that person's attitude towards Dafa by looking at his or her face. I realized that this was not right. Offering salvation is a magnificent task. The factors inside the salvaged could be unstable, and our heart also drives the outcome of salvation. When distributing flyers, one's heart must be in the realm of giving up everything but desiring nothing. Behind us is the enormous strength from the Fa-rectification. In fact, it's similar to mailing VCDs. If one is discouraged when failing to reach an addressee, it'll be even more difficult later.
In the video footage of "Witnessing 2002", a Canadian practitioner was calling Mainland China to clarify the truth. He got hung-up on every time he called. Without giving up, he tried again and again. Finally the person was moved, and he said, "I'll remember, Falun Dafa is good". This is the greatness of Dafa practitioners. In the Mainland China, thousands of practitioners are detained, yet another thousand step forward. Thousands after thousands, standing up after falling down, practitioners never give up. If we keep on going as a whole without worrying about any individual result, we are bound to succeed.
In the "Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference," Master says, "In the eyes of human beings things don't change, but in the eyes of Gods all of this changes." I believe that what makes it change exists among us. It is of utmost importance to save the sentient beings. Even if only one flyer is used after we distribute ten, the remaining nine are not wasted, because these nine exist for the sake of the useful one. They exist as a whole. With that understanding, we were no longer concerned when distributing the materials, and we tried our best to have them taken. To make the person open his heart and to know the overall truth, we prepared four versions of the truth-clarifying VCDs and we encouraged people to take them all. Besides, we always assign practitioners to pick up the discarded ones on the next bus stop. By doing so, we picked up most of the discarded materials. The loss was minimized.
Our group finally overcame this obstacle and was doing better and better. We distributed the materials wherever we go and tell people about the facts whenever we can. Day after day, we've melted the rock-solid ice. When we first appeared here, many people were hostile to us. The Consulate staff was bullying us, the construction workers and their bosses were staring at us with suspicious and hostile eyes, and even some of those who come to Consulate for business were not friendly to us. Slowly, things were changing. The construction workers started to talk to us and signaled to us when Dafa materials were tossed away. Their two bosses smiled and said hello to us. And even the Consulate staff accepted our presence. Though with various attitudes, they mostly no longer bully us, and the hostility has finally faded away. Whoever comes and goes with whatever attitude towards us, we always smile at them, and present a set of Truth materials to them.
One group of people comes every day. Their job is to apply for visas for their clients. One day, a person who had refused to take the flyers after hundreds of times finally took one. Recently, another old man from this group also finally took the materials. The next day, a young lady who was accompanying this old man was still reluctant to take the flyer. The old man took it for her and told her, "This is good. Check it out!" There are so many touching stories that encourage us to keep on going.
One day, a young man asked me to go to the other side of the street and he wanted to chat with me. He said, "The Party is really afraid of you. This is lethal to them. My family and I all admire you very much."
Indeed we're creating miracles. Everyone was astonished how we could possibly show videos just a few feet away from the Consulate gate. Attempts to stop us from the Consulate all failed. One day, while we were showing the video, over twenty well dressed Chinese who were apparently from Mainland China rushed out from the Consulate, staring at us. The practitioner showing the video simply stood right next to the equipment, peacefully looking at the group. The long line of people were watching and the clock was ticking, second by second. Suddenly, the head of the group turned back, followed by the rest. The practitioner later cheerfully shared the experience with us. He said, "This is the power of a righteous thought. I was very peaceful in my heart. It was this righteous thought that safeguarded the equipment and made it possible for people to keeping on watching the video."
With the first attempt failing, the Consulate turned to the police. One day, a policeman came while we were showing the video. After talking to a lady in English, the policeman turned to our fellow practitioner and instructed her to not show the video here. Without saying a word, the practitioner turned off the player. Later she called practitioners in the Dafa association, asking western practitioners to talk to the nearby police station. The Police Chief said, "As long as you are not blocking the traffic, there's no reason to stop you. That policeman was not supposed to do so. If it ever happens again, you can write down his plate number and his name and tell us."
On another occasion, a lady in the waiting line started bullying fiercely. She was shouting so loudly that she could be heard clearly across the street. Nevertheless, the practitioner simply stood there silently without responding back. I asked a fellow practitioner to check it out. She went there, again, silently standing there. The DVD kept on playing. It was my turn to play the DVD after the standing movements exercises. A young man came out of the Visa office, asking me, "Where did the DVD lady go?" I said, "Go straight. She is taking care of her child over there." Later my fellow practitioners told me that the young man talked to the practitioner for more than an hour. He tried very hard to comfort her. He said, "We all witnessed the scene. They are really very bad. You are good. Please forget about this. I hope it didn't hurt you." Later we asked her why she didn't respond to the bully. She said she didn't want to have the audience interfered with and she wouldn't be fooled. "What a great practitioner!" I thought.
I was thinking lately, "Everybody is doing well. Is there anything we can improve on?" A few days later, a practitioner told me that the Consulate once again displayed hate literature. In the renovated Visa office are four glass doors. On the left is a shelf. Ever since the office was moved to the new building, the slanderous materials had no longer been there. Now it reappeared, with the book being displayed on the shelf, slandering Dafa. We were all worried. "What shall we do to stop it?" Sending forth righteous thoughts. What else can we do? Also clarify the truth to everyone. The practitioners distributing the flyers kept watchful eyes inside the door. We waved our hands whenever we saw people picking up that book. Some people stopped, while others took it out. We then told those who took the book that the book was full of lies. Please don't read it, as it's not good for you. A young man quickly picked it up and left hastily. A fellow practitioner went to him and clarified the truth to him. He then tossed it into the garbage can. Another driver took the same book. After we explained to him, he decided to drop it. Instead, he took our flyers.
Day by day, we kept doing the same thing. One day, at around 2:00 pm, when both practitioners were leaving, a car on the street was suddenly driving up the sidewalk, passing the stairs in front of the Consulate, smashing the three glass doors right into the bookshelf. It carried the smashed books and shelf together with the cart that carried the books. A large hole was created on the wall with newly installed granite slabs. According to the World Journal, the whole building was shaken, but the driver was not hurt at all. He seemed to be puzzled how he could possibly get here. The witnesses were shocked at how this could possibly happen. Fire trucks and ambulances all came, turning the Consulate upside down. The next morning, the staff from the Consulate were still shocked. They explained that the driver was stepping on the gas pedal by mistake, and the visitors to the Visa office were pondering why it happened. Even today, nobody wants to be on that spot. Even the guard stands inside the two doors and stays away from where the shelf was, as if it brings bad luck.
In the winter of 2002, some practitioners started to make VCDs, so I decided to distribute them in front of the Consulate. Just in a few days, I observed good feedback. Those who took the VCDs were certainly changed. They became kinder, and their hearts were apparently more peaceful. They started to say hello to us. That was really wonderful. People started saying "Falun Dafa is good". Making a VCD costs at least 40 cents, though. We decided no matter how expensive it is, we will do it. One thousand dollars were used up very quickly. Hearing the good impact of the VCDs, we realized that VCDs are indispensable in clarifying the truth and spreading Dafa. This is because VCDs are living beings, I thought. You don't even have to think. Just sit back, and the information in it will overwhelm you with pictures, music, and comments as all senses are used at the same time. The number of VCDs we have is limited, however, so we were not able to give it to everyone. Since most of us are not economically independent, we felt the pressure to rely on our children. This is especially the case for those of us who came from the Mainland. Later some practitioners sponsored us so we can carry on our VCD campaign. Still we have been trying to reduce the cost. My daughter told me one day that Taiwan can make a VCD for only twenty cents. I asked around and learned that it could be even cheaper. I was very happy. We made the first twenty thousand VCDs and distributed them during the 2002 New York Falun Dafa Conference.
One day, having distributed the materials until noon, we entered a restaurant. Right after we sat down, we noticed a person was watching us so we invited him to come in. Holding the VCD in his hand, he said to us, "I just came from the Mainland. In the Mainland, such materials are everywhere. Every time I ride a taxi, the driver will ask me if I want to watch the Falun Gong truth and he would show me a few VCDs. Can you please give me more of these so I can take them back to China?" I was deeply touched. Even in the dangerous environment of China, practitioners did so well. What excuses do we have here in US to not do the same? The expense of making the VCDs here is no higher than in China and we must spread the Fa everywhere. I often recite Master's poem "Tathagata":
He comes with the Truth, which gives him full control
And travels the four seas with a free and easy spirit
Spreading the Fa's principles throughout the secular world
Loaded full with sentient beings, his Fa Boat sets sail
The word "Spread" is always in my mind. It so thoroughly describes the state and scope that we're supposed to attain. I often think, "Every practitioner should keep a couple of truth-clarifying VCDs in one's pocket, no matter what he does and where he goes. Spreading the VCDs, planting the seeds of truth along the way. Day by day, year by year, the world will surely change."
The DVD player outside the Chinese Consulate has been playing all the time. This type of DVD player has two advantages. 1. It has an internal charger. It can play continuously for over 3 hours outdoors without recharging. 2. The daylight does not affect its visual effect. The practice sites in New York play videos on the streets, but the screen is not visible during the daytime. I heard that Hong Kong practitioners have been doing really well. They distribute materials and play VCDs at every tourist site. I felt that we should do our best too. After we communicated with each other, we felt it would be a good idea, and thus every practice site got a DVD player. Although the screen is small, it is lively. It attracts people to come watch it during the day, when we can distribute materials. We saw the small MP3 audio player from Taiwan practitioners, which is very convenient. We also introduced it to New York. With a DVD player connecting with a small MP3 player, we can make a good show on the street.
I wanted to move forward. New York is a transportation center, and has many advantages. We could provide help to practitioners in the remote areas. We could make more VCDs for everyone to use. Fa rectification is a matter of being the one body. It is effective only when everyone does it. I started to supply VCDs at Fa Conferences. I have practiced Falun Gong for 10 years. I have seen how Master taught in the early years. I know the principles that Falun Gong practitioners must strictly follow. When I started to do this, I knew that I must take the right path at the beginning.
When I decided to do this, I knew that I had to reach a certain realm. Just like when I decided to go to the Battery Park 7 days a week, and should never stop, as soon as the thought came out, nothing could shake it. I did not have much plan or book keeping, nor did I have a set goal. I just follow the opportunities. Yet while doing this, I focused on setting every single thought of mine on the basis of Fa. You cannot say you are on the basis of Fa because you are doing Dafa's work. Your thinking pattern, your judgment on a thing, and your mental state at critical moments are all the results of many years of cultivation.
Once, for several days, everyday there were practitioners telling me that the VCD cannot be played. We were rushing to produce 100,000 VCDs at that time. How could this be? It cost so much money, and every VCD is the chance for someone. No! I called in the middle of night and asked them to stop, and redo the master VCD. Time went by day after day. The master VCD still has not come out. It is so far away between here and the factory. And it takes at least one and a half months to turn things around. If we delay for a few more days, we won't be able to get it done by next the Fa conference. I was very anxious. I used up quite a few calling cards. One day, I sat on the floor and wondered, "Am I attached to some results? I must be careful on this." When I thought deeper, I felt it wasn't the problem. Then I asked myself to calm down further, and let go all worries. Suddenly, I asked, "Am I being interfered with?" I set aside the matter, and let myself view it from outside. Missing the Fa conference would have to miss many opportunities. It is precious for the practitioners to gather together, and rise up the thought of wanting to distribute or mail the VCD. We must catch that on time. I demanded too much of details of the VCD, and many people might lose their chance. I jumped up, and decided to start the mass production. I would take all responsibilities if there were any bad result. We made it in time for the Fa conference, and 120 thousand VCDs were taken. Later, a practitioner told me that they verified that it was their machine that had the problem. Even so, I felt that we should work harder to improve the quality of our VCD. Our VCD is not a flyer, not merchandise. It does not have fixed audience. It must be suitable to different families, different people, people who are not familiar with computers, people who do not have computers, and different brands of VCD and DVD players. From then on, whenever a master disk is made, we would try it on different computers and VCD players, including the Toshiba DVD player, which is quite picky on the disk. Here, I want to salute all the practitioners who worked behind the scenes for this. They have tried their best with all of their wisdom and capabilities. Besides the effort of our practitioners, the factory also kept giving us suggestions, taught us how to improve the quality, and gave us technical guidance. Now, the design of the VCD cover, the program's linkage, the clarities of VCD are getting more and more professional. And the DVD can be played on either computer or different types of players automatically and continuously.
In the past, religion always talked about "nothingness", which I couldn't figure out what it was about. During the past year, I gradually enlightened to its true meaning. When you have that high aspiration and are not attached to anything, the doors would open for you one by one. It will open wherever you are. I was astonished what Fa is. Is it a method? It does not have any form, or any firm concept. In my heart, it is just a word: "wonderful".
Once, the practitioner who was helping us with designing covers sent me a big batch of pictures and asked me to prepare captions for them. In that period of time there wasn't an urgent need for revamping the cover, yet things were really hectic, quite often she would call me at midnight to tell me to hurry up. Preparing captions isn't something easy. It has to match the cover's picture yet provide a fresh angle on the meaning, so that it will inspire the reader to think about it deeply. I also wanted to bring in the Fa's inner meanings as much as possible without being too generic or making too much of a stretch. Whenever I was in this situation, I would calm myself down, and clear my mind of everything else. Staring at the pictures, I would relax my whole body and have my truest thoughts come out. Sometimes it would take a long time to select the right words, and at times nothing would emerge for several days. Then days later while practicing the exercises, a phrase would suddenly appear in my mind, so I would rush home to fill them in.
Time goes by fast. One day, I was distributing the materials outside the consulate. A lady came out. I said, "Please get the truth of Falun Gong." She stood there looking confused. Her attire revealed that she came from the Mainland. She said, "I am confused. I don't want to see anything. You have your reasons. They have their reasons. I don't want to know. I don't want to listen to anyone. I don't want it." She stepped backward as she said so, as if she was really scared. Although she said she didn't listen to anyone, she has been poisoned already. The propaganda had really reached her. I thought about some other people that I met lately. Most of them are adult males. He knows that the Party is bad, that the Jiang regime is full of lawlessness, and that the self-immolation was staged. He knows everything, but he does not agree with Falun Gong. He does not know what Falun Gong is. I then had a thought to make a program to introduce Falun Gong straight to the point, and display Dafa's wonderfulness to people. Every life has the component of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance." The Fa can break through it. Just like when we attained the Fa at the beginning, our hearts are touched when we see the Fa.
Since the persecution started, we put away our Hongfa materials. All of our effort has been focused on opposing the persecution, and exposing the evil slander. When we introduce Falun Gong, we try to tell them as simply as possible. Now there are far less elements that suppress people. People are thinking, and wondering. Thus, we started to show a gap here. I found the articles we used to use for spreading the Fa. When truly talking about Falun Gong, we must use Master's own words. Then we followed the framework of Falun Dafa -- Path for Humans to Return to the Origin, and made the current script. In order for the audience to have a gradual process, we used the cultivation story as the foundation at the beginning. Then we used Taiwan's video clip to show how people rush to attain the Fa. We made the program "Rebirth," which is to clarify the truth from another aspect.
Since we started to make "Rebirth," I became a loyal watcher of FGMTV. Every day I would take a look at the FGMTV website, and check to see if there is new program. I found many programs that I'd not seen before. When I seriously watched the programs, I was touched. Every program shows how the composer improved himself, and how the fellow practitioner validated Fa in his own way. Great respect rose inside me. I felt grateful to what the practitioners of FGMTV have contributed to the world. I watched the program "Let Us Tell the Future" a few times. If the word "profound" is too much to describe it, it is at least hard to forget on how it deeply analyzed the cosmic climate of Dafa's spreading in the world and people's inside world. No wonder some people kept asking if the next episode is available.
Today, the practitioners play the role of connecting the past and the future. These true human bodies display the process of being assimilated to Fa, and pave the path of humans turning into Gods. We suddenly deeply understood that this is one of the things that Master wants to do during Fa rectification, which not only saved us, but also leaves great benefits for all sentient beings. I had another wish. I want to help to make these programs available to the world. No matter how many copies of each program there are, I shall let it become available in the world, spread in the world, and play its role. I started to combine programs into VCDs. Then the covers we made earlier were used here as well. In the past, in order to help the mailing, the cover and contents had no connection. Now the cover and contents are related. We won't cause misunderstandings anymore, and have some people say that we tricked them.
I felt that I should keep going forward. I should take advantage of what we have and provide help to practitioners around the world, and push the distributing of VCD to a new level. We should have a global view in Fa-rectification. From then on, I started to pay attention to different areas. If I hear someone comes from other country, or is going to other countries, I would try to contact them and ask them to take some with them. Last year, a Russian practitioner wrote a letter to me. The letter was written in some not-so-fluent Chinese. He said that there are lots of Chinese in his area. He really hopes to have some VCDs to distribute to them. He asked me to send him a copy, and he would make copies. I knew that they were having a hard time. I started to call around and look for solutions. Then, during the Russian Fa conference, Taiwan practitioners brought them 10 thousand copies.
In doing such things day in and day out, I realized the importance of materials that clarify the truth. I decided to make the VCD and other materials always available. I always have enough in stock. I am always available to people. I would supply to everyone continuously. It's been a year. Practitioners around the world have all done their best. We have produced 1.8 million copies. This is the great achievement of all practitioners.
Sometime ago, a Boston practitioner asked me to help her to mail the program "Witness." I was reluctant. I felt that I had a heavy enough burden. Later I realized that I was wrong. Then I took both the program "Walk with You" and the program "Witness" to New York for mailing. One spot can solve most of the programs when people need some materials. If I can do more simple work, then the practitioners who know computers and speak English can have more energy and time to do a better job in TV, radio, government, and media.
One day I was chatting with an assistant. Some of her words made me ponder for quite some time. The folks at her practice site are elderly Chinese. They rented a basement. A while ago, they wanted to put in some computers. But the landlord did not allow it. She said, "What to do? I was hoping to teach them to get online and do chatting. It didn't work. Now I just ask them to mail VCD, and I try to provide stamps to them. Otherwise, what would our practitioners do?" I understood her. She is thinking about the future of those practitioners. What a great assistant! If every assistant can be like her, do what he or she can do to help practitioners put efforts into saving people during Fa rectification while walking towards his own Consummation, it would be really great.
Another practitioner talked about her father. Her father is quite old and never came out to practice. He is afraid of going to the Consulate. His xinxing is not there yet. But he really enjoys mailing the VCDs. Everyday he would write dozens or over a hundred envelopes for mailing. I realized that everyone has the desire to improve. At his level, he must believe that mailing is what he can do, which also fulfilled his desire to cultivate and contribute to Fa rectification. Every one of us is responsible to contact all of those who can contribute to Fa rectification.
I have yet another wish. We would prepare a bag of materials for every practitioner at the Fa conference. Let everyone have a firsthand feeling. You can give your precious feedback on different VCD and printed materials. I hope everyone can remember this. No matter what Dafa work you do, please don't forget to mail some VCDs, distribute some materials, write a couple of envelops during breaks, and carry a few copies of these materials in your bag. Always keep the heart of saving people and truly participate. It doesn't matter how much, as long as you persist, you will have a different feeling.
Let us cherish this great era. Start from ourselves and put in all of our wisdom and capabilities. We shall be worthy of Master's compassion and suffering to save us, and be worthy of living during the time of Fa rectification.