During this year's Fa Conference in Los Angeles [2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference,] a European practitioner stayed with us for a few days. Before leaving, she solemnly pointed out to us that we weren't looking inward because we kept complaining about the cultivation and Fa-study environment in our local area, as if it were all the fault of other people. Afterwards, I read "A Calm Mind," from The Ninth Talk of Zhuan Falun:

"If you want to use some tricks or methods to achieve stillness, I'd say you're looking outward for help. And it means that you've gone wrong in your practice, or you've taken a crooked path, which is the same as looking outward for help."

When I read these words, I was taken by surprise. Looking outward would be like taking a crooked path, yet each and every thought of mine had not been truly looking inward! Instead, I was complaining about others and about the environment. Haven't I been looking outward? The old forces' dark minions could take advantage of exactly this.

I began calming my mind, in order to seriously look inward. For the past two years, I had not participated in group practice, had seldom attended group Fa-study and had been reluctant to share experience with fellow practitioners. Why had I been like this? I had not been participating in group practice because I usually edited and tested my computer programs until very late the night before, so I could not get up early enough for practice in the morning. However, laziness caught up with me as soon as I relaxed my mind. I had not been practicing the exercises on my own either. I had not been attending group practice because having a technical job requires a block of time to think things over, so I rationalized that it was good enough to study the Fa just by myself. How could I have had time to attend group Fa-study? The reason I had not been sharing experiences with other practitioners was still because I had not had the time. Besides, there are Fa-principles in the books, so there's no need for me to talk about it; one just has to come to one's own realizations. In fact, these notions in themselves are not righteous. Group practice and group Fa-study are the forms of Falun Dafa cultivation that Teacher has left for us from the very beginning, and are things that cannot be changed. Every Falun Dafa practitioner has followed Teacher's requirements at the beginning and has made constant progress this way. It is because my thoughts were not righteous that I had not met Teacher's requirements and my cultivation went off course.

I looked further inward to see where I had gone off course.

Back when I first joined the Internet Technical Team, although the interference was formidable, I had very strong righteous thoughts. For two months in a row, I worked overtime until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. for my employer, yet it did not delay my working on Fa-validation projects. Afterwards, I had too much work to do and I often had to write small utility routines for different small teams, so I became increasingly stressed. Each day, I rushed through my work and was always in a busy state. When I sent righteous thoughts or practiced the exercises, I was always in a hurry to get them done so that I could get back to my work. Although I studied the Fa every day, I had a hard time calming my mind. This kind of anxiety manifested in many different aspects of my life. Whenever I walked or talked, I was always in a hurry. Whenever I drove, it was always over the speed limit. I was unable to treat others calmly and peacefully. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I knew that my state of being was not good, but I did not know how to rectify it. Sometimes I also spent a tremendous amount of time studying the Fa and whenever I took the time to recite the Fa, it temporarily calmed my mind. After awhile, however, I returned to the same busy state. Once, when I was on my way to "put out a fire," the word "self-composure" suddenly popped up into my head. A question arose in my mind: does my current cultivation status comply with the standard for a cultivator?

One also tends to develop various attachments after having been in this state for a long time, such as thinking that my own agenda was more important than that of others, having a strong ego and getting carried away easily. We should really think hard: Is this busy state what we really want? We become so busy that we cannot control our time. Instead, time controls us. In the section "Cosmic Language" in the Third Talk of Zhuan Falun (2003 version translated by the North American practitioners), Teacher says:

"It's actually that your mind is being controlled by a foreign spirit. But for some reason you think it's pretty good, you like having it, and you're happy to have it. And the happier you are, the tighter its grip on you."

Although the old forces' dark minions are not spirits that possess people, the goal they want to achieve is even more diabolical than one of spirit-possession. They want to control us, such that each step we take is further and further away from Dafa and Teacher's requirements. We must recognize them for what they are, reject them and must not be controlled by them. We need to rectify our deviated path.

As soon as my righteous thoughts emerged and as soon as I had made up my mind, I began putting it into actual practice. Now I attend group practice every morning from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. There are not many people at the practice site, and even fewer are young practitioners like myself. There are many practitioners that live in this neighborhood so we shouldn't have such a meager turnout. Undaunted, these few practitioners have persisted in practicing the exercises here every morning, rain or shine. I was very touched by this. This is also safeguarding Dafa and safeguarding the cultivation form that Teacher has left for us. I also told myself, "now that I've realized it I must persist in doing so."

Saturday night is the time for the big weekly group Fa-study/meeting in our area. The location of the meeting is on a famous university campus which is also a popular European tourist attraction visited by many tourists from all over the world, especially on weekends. For awhile prior to July 20, 1999, we used to go there to promote Falun Dafa to visitors/tourists. Afterwards, due to some interference, we stopped going there. Now a few of us have decided to go there to practice the exercises two to three hours before group Fa-study. The first time we were there we encountered four large tourist buses. As we practiced the exercises, tourists surrounded us, taking pictures of us. Many tourists from China also came over to take our material and look at our posters. In the past, I had not had time to go out to clarify the truth because I believed technical work to be far more important. While I was out there, I realized that I had done so little. How could exercise practice and Fa-study affect doing Dafa work? It could only make us do a better job, and that is also a fact.

The first time I arrived at the scheduled time for group Fa-study (with two hours of Fa-study first, then two hours of discussion), I was very disappointed. In a large classroom on campus, there was only an elderly female practitioner there to host the meeting, waiting for everyone else. Not many practitioners showed up during the two hours of Fa-study, and even fewer were young practitioners. The second time that I attended, arriving at the scheduled time, there were only four of us, all of whom arrived at the same time. Since we were there to study the Fa, we agreed that even if only one person had shown up, we should still study, so we just got started right away. Some practitioners like to study the Fa alone and then come over to share experience afterwards. Once, when we were reading "Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference," two hours had passed and we still had not finished reading the lecture. During the reading, fifty to sixty people arrived at the classroom one after another. It was so wonderful with so many people reading in unison! The more synchronized our voices and the more focused our thoughts, the more powerful the energy field that resulted. Whenever I misread something, I immediately realized that it was something around which I needed to cultivate. I just felt that we were all immersed in the Fa together with each particle melting together. After finishing our reading, I felt so energized that I could not describe my joy. Every cell in my whole body opened up. When I saw fellow practitioners, I felt only a kinship with them. The negative thoughts I used to harbor toward some fellow practitioners also all disappeared. Each time after returning home from group Fa-study, my thoughts became so sharp and clear that I was able to easily solve many technical problems. I thought about what the European practitioner had told us. She said, "Practitioners over there treasure the opportunity to study the Fa together and some drive long distances to participate. They would feel bad about arriving even a few minutes late. I too found that was indeed the case."

The cultivation forms that Teacher has left for us are unquestionably the best and cannot be substituted. Group Fa-study is not just a group of people studying the Fa together! We have been thinking about how to coordinate better as one whole body. Group Fa-study is one of the basics. If group Fa-study is implemented well in a locality, that area will definitely have fewer conflicts and the overall coordination will definitely be good. Moreover, group Fa-study does not exist as a formality; we should respect Teacher and the Fa from our hearts. Sometimes when we studied the Fa together, the sound of a cell phone could be heard ringing and some people were always late. This is all because some people did not treat group Fa-study as a serious and sacred activity. Perhaps deviation from respecting the Fa and Teacher starts with these kinds of small and seemingly trivial omissions. Each step we take must be righteous because this is a path of rectification that Dafa practitioners will leave for future people. If each step of ours follows Teacher's requirements, then the old forces' dark minions won't be able to take advantage of us and the losses will be diminished. In so doing, at this final stage on the path to achieving consummation, we will be able to ride the winds and break the waves and we can strive forward diligently and courageously.

I hope that practitioners with the same attachments as mine can break through their own notions. Once you make up your mind and change your notions, everything else will change for you as well and your cultivation levels will be advanced, which will indeed give you great benefits.