Recognizing the True Basis of Cultivation
(Clearwisdom.net) When I read the 2005 experience sharing conference announcement for practitioners in China on "Minghui Weekly," I wanted to submit an article. I tried to write several times, but was not able to complete even one. I have learned a lot of lessons and gained many understandings over the last several years of cultivation, but I could not find a good starting point to write about them. One day I read a fellow practitioner's article, "Talking about the Basis of Cultivation," in the Minghui Weekly. I completely agreed with his viewpoint and decided that I should start my article from the basis of cultivation, too. I did not complete my article on time, because I did not read the deadline announcement in the Minghui Weekly and for other personal reasons. This year, when I saw the announcement for the 2006 Internet Experience Sharing Conference for Practitioners in China, I completed my article.
I did not understand the deeper meaning of the Fa. My basis for cultivating was to improve health and fitness.
I started cultivating Dafa for health reasons in March 1999. A lot of people were studying Dafa at that time. There was a shortage of the book, "Zhuan Falun." I did not get my own book until May 1999. I was not able to understand the deeper meanings of the Fa because I did not study the Fa deeply. I did not know what to do on July 20, 1999, when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started persecuting Falun Gong. I watched the overwhelming amount of false propaganda and bloody pictures being shown on the television. I was confused and could not tell what was right from wrong. The two exercise centers I went to every morning and evening for group exercise and Fa study were closed. At the time, my family was building a house. I stopped Fa study and exercise. I often said to myself, "How I wish what is said in the book were true!"
In November 1999, I again started doing the exercises for health reasons. I started to have many symptoms of heart disease, degenerative neck osteoarthritis, tracheitis, urethritis, and a frozen shoulder. I was afraid of getting "cultivation insanity," like the propaganda on the CCP-controlled television said I would, so, I kept reciting Teacher's words, "Your thoughts have to be proper," and "Your master consciousness needs to be strong." The basis of my cultivation was the wish to gain good health. Even though I kept studying the Fa, I did not apply the higher standards to myself. I continued to compete with ordinary people over personal interest.
My heart was pounding the first time I picked up the book. I read the book over and over. I felt that the book contained nothing evil, just teachings on how to be a good person, how to cultivate and how to improve one's xinxing. The more I studied the Fa, the broader and more profound I realized the Fa was and how great was the distance between it and me. I knew that I did not want to be separated from the Fa any more. I started to recite the Fa.
My mind and body experienced fundamental changes gradually, through continuous study and reciting of the "Fa." Many of my ailments resolved themselves without any medical treatment. My view of the universe completely turned around, and I started to think about not hurting others. However, strictly speaking, I was not a true cultivator, but rather a low level practitioner seeking health and fitness. I did not use the standards of a true cultivator to measure myself. On the surface, I stopped practicing because the assistants at my previous exercise centers stopped practicing Falun Gong under pressure and I lost touch with other practitioners. I was not able to read any of Teacher's new articles and did not know the truth of the persecution. I didn't know about the requirements for true practitioners, so I just stayed at home studying the Fa and doing the exercises.
Actually, it was because I was basing my cultivation on getting healthy and fit. I did not realize that Dafa had moved into a special cultivation period of stopping the persecution and saving sentient beings. My lack of comprehension kept me in self-cultivation for two years. In October 2001, I by chance obtained Teacher's 2001 articles, "A Suggestion," "Fa-Rectification Period Dafa Disciples," "Path," and a copy of Minghui Weekly. I did not understand them the first time I read them.
A younger practitioner's article, about what he saw in other dimensions when sending forth righteous thoughts, made me realize that Dafa is miraculous and what Teacher says is true. I became over-zealous. I started to talk about other dimensions and miraculous things that ordinary people could not understand. I started to go to extremes. I read, "These people who only want to take from Dafa and not give for Dafa are, in the eyes of Gods, the worst beings." ("Suggestions"). I slapped my face and asked myself, "Aren't you this kind of being?" I felt that I was not worthy of Teacher's salvation, because I did not catch up with Teacher's Fa Rectification progress and I was worried about being left behind and being eliminated. I had the urge to rush to catch up but didn't know what to do. I wanted to clarify the truth to others, but didn't have anyappropriate materials, nor did I know how to talk to others.
Teacher said in "To All Students at the Nordic Fa Conference," "don't wait, don't rely on others." I wrote an article about the great change in my body after I practiced Falun Gong and sent it out. This mindless thought and action was a form of extreme action. At the root was my own gain and loss, so it resulted in negative consequences. Suddenly, one night, my husband started a fight with me. He found the truth clarifying materials I had brought home without his knowledge. I didn't tell him about them, because he had destroyed Dafa books before the CCP began persecuting Falun Gong. He asked me where I got them and I did not answer him. He yelled insults at me as he burned the materials. He told me not to do the cultivation exercises any more. I did not listen and still got up at night to do the exercises. He was usually crusty, but he was being further controlled by the evil at that time. His eyes turned red and he started doing crazy things. I did not know that I should eliminate the evil behind him. He dragged me out of bed and threw me to the ground, held my head down by my hair, and beat me with his belt. He did not allow me to study the Fa, do exercises, or send forth righteous thoughts.
Actually, this was a life and death test for me. The test was of my xinxing. However, I did not realize it. The challenges became more and more difficult for me to pass. I faced the life and death choice of whether to continue cultivation, but I used an ordinary person's heart to treat Teacher's spreading the Fa and saving sentient beings. When I was not able to pass the hurdle I tried to circumvent it. I thought of leaving home and staying at a materials center, so that I could learn more from the diligent practitioners and study Teacher's new articles more. I wanted to improve myself quickly so I could go to Beijing to validate the Fa. I did not really understand what Teacher meant when he told us to "step forward from humanness." I thought leaving home was to step out, but actually Teacher was asking us to step forward, away from human concepts and theories. Teacher asked us to "clarify the truth." Only when we start from a sentient being's view, start from a basis that they can agree with and talk at a level that they understand can we achieve good results.
Fellow practitioners helped me move into a materials center. I spent my time cooking, printing some Dafa truth-clarification posters, and studying the Fa. I read all Teacher's new articles from July 20, 1999 to 2001. I developed an attachment to time when I read Teacher's mention of "a spring of a certain year." Eventually the old forces arranged for my family to find me due to my human sentiments. My husband had changed his attitude completely when I returned home. Not only did he not forbid me to do the exercises, but he also did the exercises with me. Actually, he just pretended to change in order to obtain my trust. I could not see clearly through his facade because of the mentality of showing off. One day when I went to get Teacher's new article from another practitioner, my husband reported me to the police and we were arrested. Two more practitioners--one with strong sentiments about me--were arrested that night at a different materials center. The materials center was destroyed. A lot of damage was caused to Dafa and other practitioners. It was a painful lesson for us.
Looking back at my path during that period, it was because the basis of my cultivation was to get healthy and fit, and I did not cultivate my mind nature. I read Teacher's new articles, but I did not improve in the Fa, nor did I understand the Fa based on the Fa. In this way I was manipulated by all kinds of attachments and let the old forces find opportunities to damage Dafa and other practitioners. I rejected the old forces' arrangements when I realized this. My thoughts of saving sentient beings helped me to escape imprisonment.
Only When We Do Well Can We Save Sentient Beings
In the detention center, I memorized Teacher's new articles: "Fa-Rectification Period Dafa Disciples," "Path," and other articles. I understood that we are "Fa rectification period Dafa practitioners" and that we have "a special historical mission of validating the Fa and saving sentient beings." I must do well to fulfill my duty. I realized that only when I do well can I be worthy of Teacher's benevolent salvation and assist Teacher to save sentient beings.
I started my first hunger strike. The detention center I was in got awarded the "most advanced detention center in the nation" by the CCP. Their technique was to use practitioners against each other. While some inmates were beating and insulting me, all other practitioners and inmates were punished, too. Everyone in the cell was forced to kneel down and an old lady in her 60s was forced to kneel in front of me and beg me to eat. All the inmates started to hate me and "Falun Gong" because they were punished as well. In this way, the detention center wanted to coerce and force us to stop the hunger strike. I did not stop, and the detention center started force-feeding me on the fourth day. I had a thought before they force-fed me that I would throw up whatever they force-fed me. I did not completely reject the persecution, so I did throw up everything, including the medication they forced down my throat. They continued force-feeding me until blood came out of the feeding tube. The next day they put hard shackles on the practitioners and force-fed me again. A practitioner came to talk to me. She said, "Please eat something. Didn't Sakyamuni eventually eat after 'fasting' for 49 days?" Later I came to find out that she had been "transformed." At that time, I had sentimentality for other practitioners. I did not want them to bear the hardships for me, so I started eating. In fact, my xinxing was just at that level. I did not improve in the Fa and did not fundamentally reject the old forces' persecution.
As to their persecuting me, I never thought to comply with them. I did not know what to do when I was arrested. Sometimes I used a human heart to think. I thought my husband had told them whatever he knew, so I told the police how many stickers I had posted during the time my husband cheated me. They asked me what was on the stickers. I told them, "The Fa rectifies the cosmos, the evil is completely eliminated." They all wrote that down. One official thought it was not a good idea for them to be writing such things, so he stopped the other officers from asking me any more questions. As for the detention permit, arrest warrant, and court record, I refused to sign any of them. I told them that I had committed no crime when they tried to take my fingerprints. They just left.
Once I entered an interrogation room and saw several people who looked like reporters with cameras in their hands. They were trying to take pictures of me. I exposed the evil in front of them. I said, "If you want to create some deceitful propaganda, I will not cooperate with you. Do you know how the report, 'An Old Lady Gave up Falun Gong Practice and Became Rich in One Night,' came out? Actually, that old lady did not give up cultivation at all. Her family had had the plastic greenhouse for a long while. One day the village leader led several people to her home asking, 'Ma'am, Can you show us your greenhouse?' She let them in and the reporters took pictures of her and the greenhouse. Actually, she did not know why they wanted her pictures. Then this report deceiving the public was published." A reporter came and tried to take my picture. I pulled down my hat and lowered my head. I told them, "You can never take my picture." They were only able to get a picture of my back. Later I was told that the police had put a computer, printer, and many other things in that room to make a materials center. Actually our materials center did not have those things at all. They wanted to use that as evidence to report to their superiors that they had arrested many Falun Gong practitioners and destroyed many materials centers.
In the detention center I spent a lot of time sending forth righteous thoughts to eliminate the evil elements behind the investigation office, the evil police guards, and the evil inmates that persecuted Dafa and Dafa disciples. I sent righteous thoughts to completely reject the old forces' arrangements. Sometimes I felt like I was like a mountain fixed there. I was able to send forth the righteous thoughts for a long time. I came to the realization that "Dafa disciples' righteous thoughts are powerful." (from Essentials for Further Advancement II)
Once a newly arrived practitioner at the detention center went on hunger strike to protest the persecution. The guards came to our cell and tortured us all, using electricity and other methods. Not feeling any fear, I sat down and sent forth righteous thoughts. Suddenly a guard pointed at me, "Are you a Falun Gong practitioner? Are you still practicing?" I did not answer him. I just laughed. Then I realized that I lost my focus. Immediately, I cleared my thoughts and continued sending forth righteous thoughts. He did not ask me any more.
I also realized that Teacher was benevolently protecting me and hinting to me all the time. When another practitioner was arrested and thrown into our cell, she did not cooperate at all and left no record during her interrogation. From her righteous thoughts and righteous actions, I realized that there was a gap in what I did. Though I did not report any other practitioners or do anything to damage Dafa, I did not do exactly do as Teacher asked us and fundamentally reject the old forces' arrangements. Teacher said: "No matter what the situation, do not cooperate with the evils demands, orders, or what it instigates." (Dafa Disciples' Righteous Thoughts are Powerful") I used a human heart to answer questions, so wasn't I complying with the evil? Wasn't that a gap in me? I should completely reject the evil. When I was interrogated again I refused to answer any question. There were a lot of people standing in the corridor when the guards took me back to my cell after an interrogation. The guards told them something. With their thumbs up, they said to me, "You are great!" I realized that I had walked correctly on this path and Teacher was using ordinary people to encourage me. So from then on, I did not cooperate. Finally, the court exempted me from prosecution and released me.
On March 3, 2003, the detention center that I was imprisoned in transferred all female inmates to another detention center. There were over 40 female practitioners there. I asked myself, "Why move us from one detention center to another one?" "None of this is coincidental." ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Chicago") There are no coincidental happenings for cultivators. We started to write appeal letters, telling them how wonderful Dafa is. We warned them that arresting and imprisoning us was illegal, that their actions trampled on the law and on human rights, and that anyone persecuting good people living by the principles of "Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance" would be punished by the Heavens. We requested immediate release. Later I thought that I should not rely on changes in ordinary people or the mercy of ordinary people. We were Dafa disciples. All changes should come out of our own cultivation.
I decided to hold another hunger strike. I discussed it with other practitioners. Some said, "Please wait. Let's all do it together." I also felt that it would be much more powerful if all practitioners held a hunger strike together. Practitioners sharing the same view with me talked to other practitioners. Some said, "I did not get that enlightenment." Some said, "I do not want to bear that hardship." Some said, "Isn't that like committing suicide?" We saw Teacher was very serious in his recent articles. To walk correctly on our cultivation path, I studied with other practitioners Teacher's "Fa-Lecture During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference." Then I had a strong thought that I should reject the old forces' arrangements. Not only should we do that by sending forth righteous thoughts, but we should also use our actions to eliminate the persecution and not endure passively. Our purpose in holding a hunger strike was to fundamentally reject the old forces' arrangements. The hunger strike was a form of anti-persecution, not committing suicide. Setting up the right basis for the hunger strike, I decided that I would do it first and keep coordinating with other practitioners while I was doing it. Later all the practitioners in our cell improved their xinxing based on the Fa and decided to hold a hunger strike together. Some practitioners in the next cell also joined us when they heard about it.
The authorities were quite alarmed. They threatened us, "Whoever does not eat will be force-fed." They requested a doctor from another detention center for force-feeding. Also, they pretended kindness and many other methods to move practitioner's human hearts to break us. Some practitioners that did not want to bear the hardship started eating. Even though only a few practitioners continued the hunger strike and were able to leave the detention center, this event helped us to improve as a group.
When I felt that it was almost impossible to stand the hunger and thirst, Teacher's Fa appeared in my head, "Who is really the gallant lead in this gigantic play? I made this trip just for the sake of sentient beings." ("New Year's Greetings to Dafa Disciples in 2003") This thought kept me on the hunger strike for ten days. Under Teacher's benevolent protection and help, I was able to leave the detention center and return home in April, 2003.
Once the Fundamental Problem Was Resolved, the Environment Changed
Even though I was able to leave the detention center under Teacher's protection, I didn't systematically study the Fa for a long time, I didn't improve myself based on the Fa, nor did I find my fundamental attachment. I had a strong attachment to going to Beijing to validate the Fa. What was my purpose of validating the Fa? It was for my own improvement. This thought was selfish, so the evil still followed me. During that time, I often dreamed of a black dog coming to bite me and I was not able to escape using ordinary people's methods. It even did not work when I shouted, "The Fa rectifies the cosmos, the evil is completely eliminated!" I was not able to care for myself the first few days at home. I then recovered quickly. My husband took care of me, but he would get extremely angry whenever I mentioned Dafa. One day a friend visited me and said, "Please stop practicing. Haven't you seen on TV what happens to practitioners?" I said those were all fake, just to deceive the public. When she left, my husband used a broom to beat me until blood ran from my mouth. I started exercising when my I had healed a little. One day I was doing the sitting exercise and my husband poured a gourd of cold water over my head, soaking me. Another day when he saw me reading Zhuan Falun, he beat me, leaving black and blue marks all over my body. He also destroyed the book. Practitioners overseas called our home and asked him, "Why do you torture your wife?" He cursed at them and he slammed the phone down.
I did not want to stay at home with all these challenges. I thought of divorcing him and going to Beijing to validate the Fa. I was also afraid that if I did not walk my path correctly, it could negatively impact Dafa. It might keep ordinary people from seeing how wonderful Dafa is and keep them from being saved. I cried and worried many times. I asked myself why my cultivation path was so difficult. My strong attachment led to my developing unrighteous thoughts. My husband destroyed Teacher's picture. My selfishness gave the old forces an opportunity and, for a time, I walked on the path arranged by the old forces. Later, I rejected my bad thoughts saying they were not mine.
I suddenly enlightened to something when I recited Teacher's article, "Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature." I realized that selfishness was the characteristic of the lives in the old universe. I thought that was the extent of the old universe's wisdom, but I was still not very clear on the Fa. I kept wondering how I could become selfless and altruistic? In October 2005, I read the announcement about the Internet experience sharing conference for practitioners in China in Minghui Weekly. I started to write my experience down and all of a sudden I understood the Fa. Wasn't my previous cultivation based on selfishness? I kept thinking I wanted to do this and that to cultivate. I wanted to do this and that to elevate. But I did not think of Teacher, think of Dafa, or think of sentient beings. This was the characteristic of the lives in the old universe. This was my fundamental attachment. A selfish life will not last forever. It will come to extinction. However, the characteristic for the lives in the new universe is altruism. So Teacher asked us to "attain the righteous enlightenment of selflessness and altruism." (Essentials for Further Advancement). Even though my article missed the deadline, it was helpful to me. I was able to clearly understand the Fa and find my fundamental attachment.
Once the fundamental problem was resolved, everything became harmonious and the environment changed. Over a dozen people have been studying Falun Gong with me. Even my husband started practicing. We have established a Fa study group and exercise center. I have looked for all the practitioners who practiced Dafa before July 20, 1999. Some of them had kept practicing and some did not. They all came back to cultivation after I had discussions with them. Of course, this is all done by Teacher. I keep reminding myself that without Teacher coming down to rectify the Fa, spread the Fa and save people, all lives in the entire universe would be destroyed. What can I do or achieve? I am only helping people with predestined relationships to obtain the Fa. I am only doing what a Dafa disciple should do."
I also want to express my gratitude to practitioners overseas who often call us to expose the evil. I continue to clarify the truth among our relatives and expose the evil. I also keep sending forth righteous thoughts toward my husband, getting rid of my hatred for him, and treating him benevolently. I now understand the importance of exposing the evil.
I started to recite the Fa in 2005. After I finish reciting the whole book once, I keep reading it for a while longer and then I start reciting it again. Now I have recited the book four or five times. I feel that reciting the Fa is completely different from reading the book. Only when I become totally focused can I recite the Fa. I also have strong physical feelings when reciting the Fa. Now I think it would have been very difficult to walk out of that hardship without my previous foundation of studying and reciting the Fa. I had only recited the Fa through to the sixth lecture at that time and then could not go any further. That was a big hurdle for me. Actually, only when we study the Fa well, can we do well the three things that Teacher asked us to do and assimilate to the Fa.
I also found many shortcomings in myself. Why did the evil destroy our books when persecuting us? Now I realize that it was because I was lacking with respect to Teacher and Dafa before. I treated the Dafa book as an ordinary book. I would lay it down anywhere and read it laying on my back or stomach. Now I have gotten rid of all these bad habits. Currently, I am often disturbed by sleepiness when studying the Fa, especially during group study. I continue to repress and disintegrate the sleep demon. As for clarifying the truth and helping people quit the CCP, I often think of saving sentient beings. I feel that Teacher uses all kinds of environments and opportunities to bring the people with predestined relationships to me to learn of the Fa. However, sometimes my human heart comes out and causes that person to lose the opportunity to be saved.
I know that I am still far from what Teacher asks us to be. Teacher, I promise that I will set strict requirements for myself, try my best to do the three things well, and be a disciple that Teacher does not need to worry about. Fellow practitioners, please point out my gaps you may find in this article.