(Clearwisdom.net) One of the cultivation issues I have had the most trouble with is following the course of nature and discerning what my own path is during Fa-rectification. In his article "Path" (from Essentials for Further Advancement II), Teacher stated:

"Studying the Fa and doing cultivation are a person's own affair. Yet often there are quite a number of students who consistently take other people as their role models--they look at how other people do things and then follow suit. This is a kind of poor behavior developed among everyday people. A cultivator has no role models. The path each person is to take is different, because each person's foundation is different, the sizes of their various attachments are different, the characteristics of their beings are different, their jobs among everyday people are different, their family environments are different, and so on. These factors determine that each person's path of cultivation is different, that how they get rid of their attachments is different, and that the sizes of their tests are different. Therefore, amidst the manifestations of things it's very hard to find a path that others have made, and it's even less possible for a person to get a ride down one. If there really were pre-made paths and effortless rides, that definitely would not be cultivation."

When I was asked to write a paper for this experience sharing conference, I was at a low point in my cultivation. I was arguing a lot with my wife and was having a great deal of difficulty enduring tribulations at work. I was reacting to many things emotionally, and I was experiencing a lot of interference in most aspects of my life.

As soon as I responded that I would write a paper, the interference became worse, and I almost wrote the team leader that maybe it would be best that I did not write a paper because of the state I was in, and that I did not have anything worthy to write about. But I remembered that when I was asked to write an experience paper for a full-scale in 2003 conference, I was bombarded with a lot of interference then too and writing the paper helped me to improve.

So, to write this paper, I continued doing what I was already in the midst of: contemplating how had I gone so off track in cultivation. I could see so many of the tests I had failed, and so many of the moments I had not been diligent and had given into qing. To be fair to myself, I also have done well with other issues, but I have not been consistent. So what is underneath my shortcomings?

Prior to obtaining the Fa, I had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder; I had lived through a series of horrible events, all of which had left me with some painful and fearful attachments.

One of the effects of trauma is that a person can become very externally oriented, always looking for threats from the outside. Compounding matters, prior to being a practitioner, I was an assistant spirit cultivator with some low-level abilities and my third eye open. Some people might consider this a head start...quite the opposite in certain respects...assistant spirit cultivation weakens the main consciousness and conditions it to be passive.

In short, I still carried around remnants of negativities about myself, and the dark minions would exaggerate these whenever they could. And in regards to certain fears, my main consciousness was still very passive. So at times, I have been very emotional and angry. I tend to do well in group settings, but the interference was most likely to show up when I was alone or in close, personal interactions. This has been so partially because those were the conditions in which I endured the original traumas.

Furthermore, because I have been too externally oriented, I have tended to become involved in too many activities. I would have trouble saying no to requests, even though I was too busy. Then, I would not read enough, and then I would not do anything well. So, why was I spreading myself too thin? One Clearwisdom article that has helped me, which I first read in June 2004, is called "Some Understandings on Eliminating the Attachment to Inferiority," written by a fellow Western practitioner. One of the many points the practitioner made: "Yet if we take on many things to cover up and hide the notion of self-worth and the attachment of longing for approval from others for a job well done, then it can become very difficult to do things with a pure heart and right thoughts."

This article helped me when I first read it, and it's helping me now. Basically, I've been counter-balancing negative attachments and notions about myself with accomplishments and the opinions of others. It was painful to confront myself about these issues, because I could see so many times how I have failed as a cultivator. However, at some point during the past week, while grappling with this issue, I was able to wrap my consciousness around the whole mass of negativity, instead of just aspects of it, and I changed. Suddenly, I feel free to stick to my own course in cultivation and the Fa-Rectification and the concern about the opinion of others is a mere shadow of what it just was, at least in regards to choosing my own path. I am also much better able to handle the fears I have been dealing with, fears I have held onto, which I am now steadily cultivating away.

Reading the article about the attachment of inferiority was an amazing experience. Every aspect of the article described me perfectly, and the writing style of the article is so close to my own, it was as if I was reading something I had written in the future, when I better understood the problems discussed. This article for me is a perfect example of the importance of practitioners sharing their insights on the Clearwisdom website .

So, how does this relate to doing work for the website? Because I have spread myself too thin in many respects and not cultivated well, I have not participated in Clearwisdom work as much as I should have.

Just a day or two after I had my breakthrough, I received some reinforcement from Teacher. His new article "Mature" was published. In it, he wrote:

"In this, a circumstance in which no cultivation form was left by any predecessors as a referent, it is incumbent upon the cultivators to blaze their own trails, and it is required of each person that he affirm the path that he himself has come to realize--role models aren't set up to follow. The path that each person takes can be an example only to posterity. And there is no [cultivating] in another's place--the one who cultivates gains."

This was a difficult article for me to read, because I do not consider myself a matured practitioner, but I did have a breakthrough on one of the key issues that he discusses in the article. I understood that I was truly moving on my own path now.

I really should mention a parallel issue and how I became involved in Clearwisdom. My wife and I obtained the Fa at the same moment on July 1, 2001. We had gone to visit the clergyman who had performed our wedding ceremony more than three years earlier. He introduced us to the Fa. By the end of that month, we went to a Falun Dafa workshop in a neighboring city, where a veteran practitioner taught us the exercises.

Nine months later, my wife and I saw Master Li for the first time, at the Boston Fahui. I was certain he would be there. It was my birthday, I could not believe that it was a coincidence, and I did receive the best birthday present, I was able to see Master Li. But I received another birthday present that day; the same practitioner who had taught my wife and I the exercises asked me if I would help with the website.

It's ironic: for more than four years I have struggled with what my path was within the Fa-Rectification. Yet the answers were always there, right in front of me. The hints were large. It's no accident that Teacher arranged for the clergyman who had performed our wedding ceremony to introduce us to the Fa. If my wife and I can cultivate well within marriage, we will do well in many regards, because many of our fundamental attachments will be eliminated. Overall, we have not done well as a married, practitioner couple, and I think more of the problems have been on my side. However, running parallel with my own breakthrough, we seem to have had a breakthrough as a couple, and we have recommitted ourselves to following Teacher's instructions in regards to each other.

I also understand that participating in this website has always supposed to be my foundation for participating in the Fa-Rectification. I have worked on many of articles during the past three and a half years, and helped in other ways at times. However, my level of participation needs to improve. Examining myself, I think that at times I have behaved as if CW is a "mighty-virtue safety net" for me, Dafa work that would always be there, that I could fit in around other truth-clarification efforts. I remember writing about this issue in another CW experience sharing conference paper almost two years ago. This reminds me of how deeply entrenched some attachments can be and the need to cultivate away issues steadily.

I am also grateful that Teacher knew my current needs back then. When I first started doing Clearwisdom work, I was a new practitioner and was writing a novel. Eventually, I let go of that pursuit and arrangement. I then worked as a reporter for a little while, but then I returned to the job I did before taking up the novel. I work in one of the busiest Social Security Offices in the country, and I am often interacting with very sick or mentally ill people and people with spirit possession. Much of what I have to read is written by them. I also have to deal with many issues such as fraud, drug addiction, death, divorce and other negative elements.

I realized how much my work environment was affecting me because I was not immersing myself in the Fa enough. When working on Clearwisdom articles, I read quotes from Teacher, insights from practitioners and persecution stories, all of which help to wash me clean. I find this so helpful, since some of my other Dafa work involves saving people with much more indirect methods.

So, I am committing myself to reading a lot more and sticking to my own path. I do this out of a sense of responsibility. In the new article "Mature," Teacher also stated:

"My overall impression is that most Dafa disciples have matured; the way in which they are cultivating has matured; the understanding cultivators have of cultivation has matured; and the rational behavior that comes from a progressive decrease in human thoughts has, likewise, matured. When all Dafa disciples are like this, the evil will be completely eliminated and Gods and Buddhas will grandly manifest."

By becoming a mature practitioner, I can help end the persecution and help the world to enter a new age. Finally, I just want to say that I experienced a profound shift while writing this paper. Thinking that one cannot do well in the present because one hasn't done well in the past is the thinking of the old cosmos. Teacher's kindness is infinite; miracles can happen every day.

Thank you Teacher, and thank you all for listening.