Improving as a Whole Is the First Priority
(Clearwisdom.net) I would like to share my humble insights with fellow practitioners in Jinzhou about several local practitioners who spent a lot of money hiring attorneys to represent illegally detained fellow practitioners.
Practitioners in Jinzhou have collected donations of more than 200,000 yuan (approximately 30,000 USD) from fellow practitioners in order to hire attorneys to represent unlawfully detained practitioners. Many practitioners have voiced their opposition to this decision, and I am also opposed to doing this. Although I can relate to fellow practitioners' anxiety about rescuing practitioners who are in prison, and although I know I have made scant efforts in cooperating with group decisions, I would like to share my humble insights with fellow practitioners in Jinzhou in hopes that we practitioners in Jinzhou can improve as a whole through this event.
First of all, I think it is a good idea for fellow practitioners to try in an upright manner via legal channels, to have imprisoned practitioners released and there is nothing wrong with hiring attorneys to represent the imprisoned practitioners. However, the process and the end result have shown that some practitioners, especially the coordinators, may need to elevate their understanding on the Fa.
Many practitioners may have learned a few things about the story from relevant reports on the Minghui website (Chinese version of Clearwisdom.net). Beginning in February of this year and continuing until the Beijing Olympic Games, more than sixty practitioners were unlawfully arrested in Jinzhou. Individual practitioners have hired Li Heping and several other attorneys from Beijing to represent about ten of the arrested practitioners. Instead of being found innocent however, all of the represented practitioners ended up being given long sentences. They were sentenced to 4, 6, 8, 12, and even 13 years in prison. Lest we forget, more than 200,000 yuan in attorney fees was spent on those ten practitioners.
Some practitioners are puzzled as to why fellow practitioners must pay for attorney fees. Even for the sake of rescuing fellow practitioners, the attorney fees should have been individual expenses instead of Dafa project expenses. In other words, it is questionable who should be paying these attorney fees.
This issue has been debated for quite some time among practitioners in Jinzhou. In fact, local practitioners have opposing opinions on the matter. One group insists that rescuing fellow practitioners is a form of validating the Fa, so there is nothing wrong with soliciting donations from fellow practitioners. The other group argues that soliciting funds among practitioners, regardless of the cause, is inappropriate. Besides, 200,000 yuan is not a small figure.
In my humble opinion, it does not comply with the Fa to solicit funds among practitioners, whether or not it is for the sake of rescuing other practitioners, validating the Fa, or saving attorneys. Teacher has repeatedly warned us against solicitation among practitioners. Some practitioners maintained that they were not "soliciting," because practitioners donated the money willingly. Even if practitioners willingly donate money, we shouldn't accept it unconditionally. It is a matter of principle whether or not we should accept a donation and how we should use money for Dafa work. We shouldn't do things without complying with the principles.
I recall that one coordinator acted well in terms of using money. There was a new practitioner who because of his gratitude for Falun Gong, offered tens of thousands of yuan to produce Falun Gong information materials. The coordinator didn't accept his money. Instead, he advised him to go home, study the Fa more, and upgrade his understanding of the Fa. He said he that he would contact him if he really needed money to produce materials. Afterward the coordinator said, "We veteran practitioners have the responsibility of steering new practitioners in the right direction. Practitioners have the best of intentions for donating money to validate the Fa, but he has only just started practicing Falun Gong. It is first and foremost important for him to upgrade his xinxing level and his understanding of the Fa. Everything else is secondary. We shouldn't ask him to focus on doing Dafa project work, and thus neglect his cultivation."
When this coordinator still had some funds left for Dafa work, he refused all practitioners' donations, regardless of the amount. He told them to wait until all the funds had been used up. The coordinator has been following one principle: Never solicit money from fellow practitioners, not even to say, "The funds have been used up." At first, when there were no funds left, he used his own savings for Dafa work. Later, whenever he ran out of money for Dafa work, fellow practitioners brought him money on their own initiative. In my humble opinion, this coordinator has taken a righteous path, so he won the trust of other practitioners. Teacher's fashen has seen this, so Teacher hinted to fellow practitioners to bring him funds.
When it comes to using money for Dafa work, this coordinator used every penny in a worthwhile manner. He calculated carefully and budgeted strictly. He saved every penny. When fellow practitioners in villages or in smaller material production sites lacked money, he made generous contributions using his own money. I am not trying to praise him or make him stand out, but simply stating the facts. We all have cultivated this far. Every practitioner knows how to reflect upon himself/herself according to the Fa while we continue to elevate our standards.
For many years, a number of fellow practitioners have faced severe persecution because their thoughts and actions were not based on the Fa. I sincerely hope that we don't regret or blame ourselves after the damage has been done. On the subject of using money, many practitioners have long had an incorrect understanding of the Fa, including those who solicited donations from other practitioners for hiring attorneys this time. They stubbornly refused to listen to the objections of fellow practitioners, and called on practitioners to solicit money. They sometimes hinted to other practitioners, "Even 10 yuan is not a small donation." How is this different from solicitation? Was it not their goal to ask for money from fellow practitioners? Have they thought of the consequences of their actions? Isn't this damaging the Fa? Some practitioners may have made donations because they wanted the imprisoned practitioners to be released, because they trusted these cooperating practitioners, or because they felt peer pressure when they saw practitioners donating money. Some practitioners calmed down afterward and decided to ask that their money be returned. Either way, this solicitation of funds has had quite an impact on practitioners in Jinzhou.
I have some questions for those who solicited money from practitioners. While you were soliciting money, did you wonder whether it was worthwhile to spend so much money on a handful of legal trials? Did you consider whether practitioners in Jinzhou, after making such handsome donations, would have any money left for Dafa work? More than 200,000 yuan was gone in just a few months. Have we or have we not stepped right into the old forces' snare designed to destroy us financially? There is a report on the Minghui website about a practitioner who was unlawfully arrested and tried. She had a peaceful mind during the trial. She thought, "The more people that attend the trial, the bigger the audience I will have to clarify the facts about Falun Gong to." It turned out that everyone in the courtroom listened to what she had to say intently. In the end, she was found innocent and released then and there. We may have the best of intentions to rescue fellow practitioners, but cultivation is cultivation. Validating the Fa is not equal to validating or affirming ourselves. We must have the courage to face our flaws and mistakes during our cultivation.
I am not trying to publicly criticize the fellow practitioners who solicited money. I am simply heartbroken about what has happened. In retrospect, thinking about these practitioners who have recently been arrested, they all had large amounts of cash for Dafa work at hand when they were arrested. The money was taken by the Chinese Communist authorities. Combined with the equipment for producing the materials, there have been substantial financial losses. Each arrest has cost us between 10,000 and 500,000 yuan. Fellow practitioners, Falun Gong practitioners are not made of money. Countless practitioners in China have been living on buns and preserved vegetables to spare every penny to produce information materials, and yet we have wasted our money in this manner.
In addition, why did the coordinators refuse to calm down, think it over rationally, and analyze the situation when fellow practitioners voiced different opinions? Isn't it a top priority for us to be responsible to the Fa? Besides, the attorneys had said from the very beginning that they could not guarantee winning the trial. Each attorney required a 40,000 yuan fee. Was it really crucial to hire an attorney? Why did we think that was a reasonable rate? Why did we not cherish fellow practitioners' hard-earned money?
A practitioner argued, "How can you have a trial without money?" In my humble opinion, if fellow practitioners insisted on having a trial, they should have talked to the families of these imprisoned practitioners and ask them to hire the attorneys. Normally, the victim's family is responsible for seeking justice. This is the right solution from the Fa's perspective. Practitioners may have approached the family, but we were more active than they in finding attorneys and the money for hiring attorneys. Some families were not willing to pay the attorney expenses, and some families didn't have the money. Some families didn't want to pay when they saw that Falun Gong practitioners were willing to pay for them. I don't believe that paying the attorney fees did anything to help those imprisoned practitioners. It wasn't a good thing for their families either, because their thoughts were not pure and they were taking advantage of practitioners.
Some practitioners thought of clarifying the facts to the attorneys and explained to them that most Falun Gong practitioners have little money left after many years of suppression by the Chinese Communist regime. If the attorney had taken that into consideration, he might have reduced his fees. However, none those attorneys reduced their fees, citing various reasons. In addition, the fees for the trial itself were 25,000 yuan. Were we having a trial for the sake of winning a trial? Were we seeking help from non-practitioners? Even if these attorneys had learned and accepted the truth about Falun Gong, they coveted the precious money we had saved for producing information materials for saving sentient beings. Have we truly saved these attorneys?
Is this the outcome we expected after paying such a high price? I sincerely hope that all Falun Gong practitioners in Jinzhou will seriously reflect on this matter. They shouldn't overlook the root cause after they realize that they have made a mistake. They shouldn't cover up their mistakes by simply saying, "We will do better next time." The individual practitioners who were directly involved in soliciting and coordinating the lawsuits should reflect upon themselves. Every time something important comes up, it is always these practitioners who take the lead and coordinate. They have indeed contributed a lot to Dafa work, but I think they should have taken the differing opinions into consideration when it came to Dafa work that requires everyone to cooperate. They shouldn't have ignored opposition or insisted on executing their own ideas with those who agreed with them.
What might have happened had attorneys not been hired? Was a trial the only choice we had? Have we positioned ourselves correctly as Falun Gong practitioners or balanced well the relationship between practitioners and non-practitioners?
Some said that the process, instead of the end result, was what really mattered. However, have we solidly cultivated ourselves during the process? Have we truly clarified the facts well at every stage of the process? Have we listened to differing opinions from fellow practitioners? Have we cherished fellow practitioners' valuable money?
It appears that we had an attachment to grandeur, e.g. how many practitioners went to the court to send forth righteous thoughts or how uplifting were the attorney's defense statements. During the trials, many practitioners even commented, "The cosmic phenomena have progressed to this stage. What is there to fear?" When superficial illusions were peeled off one by one, we finally had to face the fact that we had wasted a large amount of money within a few months that could have been used for Dafa work. The represented practitioners overly depended on these attorneys and lost their righteous thoughts. Some practitioners even admitted their guilt in court after they saw other practitioners sentenced to long terms. Practitioners who were not arrested were prompted to participate and lost their composure. As a result, many practitioners stopped paying attention to security and were arrested after their identities were exposed. The incidents in early February have revealed that there must have been three to four special agents among practitioners in Jinzhou.
As long as we are on the subject, I really think we practitioners in Jinzhou have paid scant attention to our personal cultivation. Our own energy field was far from righteous, yet we continued seeking outward for a superficial solution instead of cultivating ourselves solidly. We claimed that we were leading the action, although we hired attorneys to represent our fellow practitioners, and in actuality the attorneys took the lead. We have even done things that didn't comply with the Fa. For example, we even agreed to tell a lie in order to defend an imprisoned practitioner. In order to clear the practitioner of the charge, the attorney suggested that the practitioner implicate a fellow practitioner to be the scapegoat. Finally, the practitioner agreed to implicate a fellow practitioner who had already passed away (even though one of the deceased practitioner's family is a practitioner, too). They even informed the deceased practitioner's family to "clean up" their home in case the police should ransack it. The family was outraged. The deceased practitioner had been repeatedly tortured and persecuted before he died. Each time the police came, they looted things of value. The family has already suffered more than enough torment. All this to clear the imprisoned practitioner of the charge? Didn't that mean we admitted the practitioner was guilty as charged in the first place? The act of impicating someone else to be the scapegoat has made us worse than an average person. How could we have been so muddle-headed? The evil beings from other dimensions have apparently exploited our loopholes. Weren't we attached to "exoneration?" In the end, the practitioner was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
Fellow practitioners, it has been nine years since the persecution began. Our secular thoughts have resulted in many regrets along our cultivation path. We have placed our hopes in Zhu Rongji, the 16th People's Congress, Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, the Olympic Games, and even Gao Zhisheng. This time we placed our hopes in attorneys. Isn't everything the result of our human attachments? The only way to reduce or stop the persecution is for us Falun Gong practitioners to maintain steadfast faith in the Fa, persevere in our righteous thoughts, let go of all human thoughts, cultivate solidly, and genuinely upgrade our levels. We must not think only of solving problems or forget what's really important.
"This period of history was arranged for Dafa disciples to save sentient beings, so why haven't you taken the lead role? Why give top priority to the words of ordinary people who have been indoctrinated with the wicked party's culture? Why have you paid so much attention to the evil's persecution? This is worth giving serious thought to." ("Fa Teaching at the 2008 New York Conference")
Teacher also said,
"So, when you meet with ordeals, it is the perfect opportunity for you to improve. If you are able to look inside, that trying situation will become instead an opportunity, something to overcome and a chance to enter a new state. Why haven't you looked at things that way?" ("Fa Teaching at the 2008 New York Conference")
As cultivators, searching inward is the key to upgrading our cultivation levels. I hope that we will step out of the shadows more quickly and become qualified practitioners by being rational and clearheaded. Please kindly point out anything erroneous.