Cultivation During Shen Yun Promotion
Greetings to Revered Master!
Greetings to fellow practitioners!
I would like to share my cultivation experience from promoting Shen Yun in my local area this past season.
1. Cultivation during coordinating Shen Yun promotion
I started to participate in the coordination of the Shen Yun promotion during August and September of 2009. The show venue had already been secured. The coordination team consisted mainly of practitioners with more professional experience in certain fields, e.g. media advertisement, promotion locations, ticket management, accounting, group tickets, VIPs, etc. I was assigned to more "grassroots" tasks, like putting up posters, distributing flyers, and coordinating security during the performance. I did not feel too much pressure as I had done these tasks before. I had one strong thought at that time: that I had to exert my utmost in order to help put on a successful show, and that we must not repeat what had happened in 2009. I also considered, though vaguely, that I would have to shoulder more than what was assigned to me. It was not very clear to me what I could do, but with the development of the promotion project, I participated in more tasks: In the early stage, preparation of training materials for Shen Yun promotion and conducting training; as it progressed further, coordination of manpower and equipment, delivery of special editions and posters, backstage and security coordination. In the latter stage, I helped with preparing for a daily Fa study by the ticket sales group, hosting the weekly project progress meeting, as well as arranging the weekly group study for the entire Chicago area.
All these tasks involved communicating with and coordinating practitioners, often in great detail. Though I did not do well on many occasions, looking back, I am still glad that I did not do it all with the intention to just be a coordinator. Instead, I did all this work because I felt that these areas needed somebody that is devoted. When nobody was around, I just filled in where I felt capable.
The process of coordination was one of elevating in my cultivation. I would like to share a few thoughts about how I overcame the pursuit of comfort and conquered my fear of trouble.
During my school years, from elementary to high school to college, I could not stay up late. If I stayed up until after midnight, it took me days to recover. I have always followed a regular schedule and did not dare to break the routine even once. However, it is inevitable that sometimes I have to stay up late. Though I can recover quickly by doing the exercises, it is still hard for me. When I am in a new environment away from home, it is very hard for me to fall asleep. And when I can finally get some sleep, I usually sleep very lightly, and will feel exhausted the next day. If I go to sleep around 2:00 or 3:00 am, I can only sleep for 2 to 3 hours, which leads me to have very low energy the next day.
I am very detail oriented and have a high sense of responsibility. If I promise something, I finish it earnestly. But too much attention to details can lead to another extreme, such as focusing on too many minor details. Therefore, things that others can finish within 2 hours, will take me 2.5 hours, and the result will most likely be the same. My wife, who is not a practitioner, often comments that I am not cut out to be a coordinator - too many details, too tiring. I also felt that it was a flaw in my character.
But during the six months of Shen Yun promotion, I always had to break out of my routine. I had to stay up late even though I didn't want to, had to care about something when I didn't want to. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. It always felt as if something was lingering at the back of my mind and I was afraid to forget something. I was concerned that my neglecting something might delay the whole process. I was always under pressure. Compounded with insufficient Fa study and exercising, my work efficiency dropped a lot, and I always felt exhausted. From time to time, I felt it was too hard, and the thought of quitting popped up. I agreed to my wife's words: "Look, Wang Yu, you don't even have much hair left, why are you putting yourself through this much trouble? Your energy level is only average, and you already have lots of pressure at your job, how can you handle these extras? Wouldn't it be alright to just be a pawn and receive orders? Isn't it better to have less pressure? Even if you were a pawn, you are still a Falun Gong practitioner."
However, at those times I told myself, there HAS to be someone to do this. If you don't do it, somebody else ought to; if you don't shoulder the troubles, somebody else had to. So, stick to it. "It's hard to endure, but you can endure it. It's hard to do, but you can do it." Gradually, my wife did not make any more comments.
I want to share an experience here.
The Shen Yun show in Springfield, Illinois was scheduled to take place two months ahead of the one in Chicago. But there's only one practitioner in Springfield. The general coordinator lived two hours away, but Chicago's Shen Yun preparations were also under a tight schedule. Since I had handled the backstage security before, I volunteered to take care of this part for the Springfield show as well. But when I actually took over, I discovered that it was more troublesome and harder than I had expected.
The practitioner in Springfield had no one that could handle eight meals for the Shen Yun performers and the staff. They had to turn to Chicago for help. I spent several sleepless nights to discuss with practitioners the details of the whole preparation. We usually discussed until midnight or 2:00 to 3:00 o'clock. The next morning, as soon as I woke up, I went through all the details for the day and planned how many phone calls needed to be made.
Looking back on this experience during those ten days, it felt as if I went through a great battle. I don't remember how many hundreds of phone calls I made. Several times, I reached my physical limit, and went beyond that. But I felt sure and steady in my heart: I am helping Master to rectify the Fa. I am fulfilling my vows and carrying out my responsibilities.
Through the coordination of the Shen Yun show in Chicago, I realized the necessity and importance of coordination work, as well as the responsibilities and pressure a coordinator is under. The bigger the project, the more a practitioner is involved. The physical and mental pressure is higher, and he has less time to study the Fa and do the exercises. Therefore, he has to keep righteous thoughts and righteous actions all the time in order to make it through, and to do the job well. When I realized this, it gave me more initiative to cooperate with other coordinators. During the process, I was also able to get into contact with more practitioners and was able to see their strengths. I was always moved by fellow practitioners, many of whom overcame many hardships silently, contributed without considering themselves, and always thought of others. It also motivated me to think more about others during my coordination work. Also, practitioners who did righteous things with righteous thoughts usually allowed me to see my own shortcomings, which was very helpful for my own elevation in cultivation.
2. Promoting Shen Yun at work
Every year during the past few years, I contacted the HR department of my company and asked them to send out newsletters about the Shen Yun show to every employee in Illinois. Also, I have introduced Shen Yun in detail to more than 30 employees in my department, though only two of them went to see the show with their family. This year I feel regret that the newsletter service was canceled due to company restructure, and I could not broadcast Shen Yun to all my co-workers. The only comfort is that I did not miss the opportunity during the last two years.
Going forward, I am still hesitant whether I should promote Shen Yun to my co-workers, because I am concerned that they might judge me for doing something outside my job.
The company I work for had three waves of layoffs last year, and nobody knows when the next wave will come. Should I be laid off, or if it is someone else, then this person would not have had a chance to hear my introduction of Shen Yun. This might be an eternal regret, since he or she may not have another opportunity. Thinking this way, I then took the Shen Yun album with me and the beautifully printed special edition. Every day during the lunch break, I introduced Shen Yun to everyone. Some of my audience was from my department, others were from different departments and we never had any contact. But I managed to start the conversation and lead the topic to Shen Yun.
More than ten days went by, and I talked to dozens of co-workers about Shen Yun. In the end, three of them went to see the show with their families. They all had very positive feedback. One of them even asked me about Falun Gong, and learned the truth. I feel happy for them, and happy for not missing the opportunity, as some of them had already left my company.
3. What are we cultivating for?
After the Chicago Shen Yun show ended in April, my regular job suddenly became very busy. We worked around 60 hours per week. Those long work hours were caused by several factors. My work changed a lot. I could only draw a little upon my past experience, and needed to learn the new stuff, just like a freshman. I had to spend more hours in order to handle the job in a short period of time.
After several months of working under high pressure, I made some progress technically, but it was still far from my expectations. I also felt tired both physically and mentally, especially mentally. I am a person of high self esteem. Throughout my work experience, I always got praise from my boss and co-workers. But in the current environment, I am nobody. Sometimes I found it hard to accept this. I felt that I had wasted lots of years for an academic degree. I realized then that this attitude was a strong attachment to fame, ego, and prevailing over others. I tried to overcome it, but I could not get rid of it from the root. I struggled with the attachment.
Starting in May, Chicago practitioners started to prepare for the 2011 Shen Yun show. Seeing other practitioners being devoted to helping Master rectifying the Fa, I was overwhelmed by my work and had virtually no time for Dafa work. I could not even guaranty to study the Fa every day or do the exercises, thus I fell behind. I was anxious because I could not follow other practitioners' diligent steps. But then I thought that maybe I needed to put more time into my job. Maybe when I learned more, I could come back to Dafa work again.
But things always turn out to be the opposite of what one wanted. Though I worked hard, my work progress seemed to get slower and slower, and the pressure was mounting. Sometimes when I woke up at midnight, I still thought about work, and when I opened my eyes in the morning, I was still worried about work. One time, I even lost my appetite, and could not sleep well, thus my health was terrible. It was extremely difficult for me to get over this by myself. I needed the help of other practitioners.
On a Saturday, I shared with two other practitioners about my cultivation state during the recent five months. One practitioner patiently listened to my whole story, and said straightforwardly: "You have fears."
It took me by surprise. But when I started looking inward, I did find a bunch of fears: I was afraid that a bad performance could cause me to lose my job. Should I lose my job, my living standard would deteriorate, I could not afford my mortgage, my house was bought at the market's peak, if I sell it now I have to suffer a big loss. What more did I fear? My family complained and misunderstood, saying, "If you spent more time on your work, and less time on Falun Gong, it wouldn't be like this!" Other fears were: not daring to face my classmates and friends, especially those who used to envy me for my job in a big American company. When I candidly described all these fears, I came to realize that the root of my fears is still "fame, material interest and emotion." I am still locked down by these three attachments.
The practitioner continued to ask me: "Can you tell me what are you cultivating for?"
It took me by surprise again. Then I replied: because I believe that the meaning of life is not simply the few dozens of years of birth, aging, sickness and death; there are higher and better levels and forms of life. Cultivation is the way to achieve that, to return to one's original, true self. There were other things that I wanted to talk about, but couldn't think of the words. Then the practitioner kindly reminded me: "Our cultivation is in the Fa-rectification period." It suddenly dawned on me and my understanding of the Fa was deepened. Although I kept telling myself that I need to do the three things and help Master rectify the Fa, but these thoughts just flashed across my mind. I did not really weigh the true meaning of these few words.
Among the billions of people in the world, how many are fortunate enough to obtain the Fa, and how many were able to make it through these years? But fortunately, I became one of those few. Under Master's benevolent guidance, I validate the Fa, save sentient beings, and reach consummation during Fa-rectification. That is the meaning of life!
I felt ashamed, because my first response to the question was not putting Fa-rectification in the first place. I did not have a very clear understanding of the most fundamental question: what are we cultivating for?
At the same time, I realized my mistake, which was to put ordinary people's work in the first place, while I put Dafa cultivation second. This originated from one thought before the Shen Yun show left Chicago: "The layoffs are too frequent in my company. It would be very hard for me to find a job if I were laid off. After the show, I need to put more time into my work. Anyways, I've put my best effort in this year's show." Behind this thought was the attachment to self: feeling that I am better than before, that I contributed a lot, and could take a break to take care of my personal life. This one thought of attachment to self cost me a huge detour over the last five months.
That night, on my way back home, I felt a tremendous relief inside. It felt like a layer of heavy, dirty matter that used to wrap me tightly was gone. The month after that, I regained my appetite and could sleep well again. I also made more progress in my work. Though I still have the attachments to fame, self-esteem, and prevailing over others, their influence on me has significantly diminished. I gradually can allocate more time to participate in Dafa work. And I believe things will even get better. So here I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to practitioners for helping me, and to Master for arranging others to remind me. I have come to realize where I fell behind on the most fundamental question - why do we cultivate?
This experience has taught me that we should put Dafa always in the first place. Not only should we be clear in our mind, but we have to put it into practice. During cultivation, especially when we are in a tribulation or have lost our direction, we need to ask ourselves the most fundamental question: "Why do we cultivate?" As soon as we are clear on this, it is easier to see through all kinds of delusional appearances in this human world, and easier to let go of attachments.