Becoming a Pure Lotus Flower in the Fa--Cultivating and Upgrading Myself While Selling Shen Yun Tickets
(Clearwisdom.net) Greetings to revered Master! Greetings to fellow practitioners!
Reflecting on cultivation practice during the past few years, I feel strongly that we should step forward, cultivate, and upgrade ourselves in validating the Fa. "Amidst tribulation, the gold body is refined" ("The Path to Divinity is Difficult" from Hong Yin II). As long as we step forward, and do what a Falun Dafa disciple should do, Master will expose our human attachments, let us know our deficiencies, and guide us to become mature in cultivation.
Tire His Tendons and Bones--Make Him Suffer to Temper His Heart, Mind, and Willpower
Before I started cultivating, I was used to living a comfortable life. Working intensely or sleeping a little less were not big concerns for me, but I did care about whether I ate well and slept well. Selling tickets in New York a couple of years ago rectified this notion of mine.
At that time, over 150 people were lodged in a big room about 100 square meters in size. We all slept on the floor next to each other, and you could step on someone if you weren't paying attention. There were only two washrooms and one shower. In order to take a shower, we had to line up. It was wintertime, and with the windows closed, the smell in the room was hard to endure. The first night, I cried because it was so difficult staying there, and I felt sorry for fellow practitioners who suffered so much. However, fellow practitioners didn't feel a thing. Every night, they studied the Fa together and shared experiences about how to sell more tickets. I was deeply touched and realized that in this dimension it looked like a refugee camp, while in another dimension, it was a most beautiful palace.
It wasn't enough just to suffer in poor accommodation conditions. There was more. Since it was hard to sell tickets at the time, we dressed in costumes to attract people. I had put on a general's suit that weighed over 60 pounds. The first day, I could not even raise my hands due to the weight, and I hurt everywhere. After standing there for an entire day, we had to walk to the subway and go up and down the stairs on the way back to our lodgings. After a few days, when I got a bit used to the suit, I started to have serious sickness karma, which I had never had before. I hurt all over--in my bones, my flesh, and my head--as if every cell was giving off pain. I had a high fever and had sharp pain when I swallowed. That day, we were distributing pamphlets to stores along the street. Every step was painful. Fellow practitioners encouraged me to persevere and told me that I could endure it. After all the pain was gone, my heart was purified completely. I no longer had fear of hardship and there was only the thought of selling tickets and saving more people. I no longer felt the weight of the general's suit.
Later, in my local area, I went to sell tickets almost every day since I don't have to work. For several months, each day, from the day we started selling tickets until the day of the show, I stood there for nearly ten hours. When I felt tired, I just rested a couple of minutes. In the morning, I bought several hamburgers as my food for the entire day. I tried my best to reduce my time for resting and eating in order not to miss any person passing by. In the evening, I usually had to update the ticket information and finish newspaper layout until after midnight. A fellow practitioner referred to me as an "Iron Vajra." It is Master who forged me into this during the process of ticket selling in New York.
Abandoning Human Notions and Embracing More Sentient Beings
Before I participated in selling Shen Yun tickets, I mainly worked on the layout for The Epoch Times, and made phone calls to China to clarify the truth. I had little chance to face everyday people in person. On the weekends, we went out to tell people about Falun Dafa and clarify the truth in public places, but usually we only had a chance to say a few words and hand the person a flier. Thus, my human mentality and notions that had been acquired over a long time had never been exposed. During the three years of selling tickets, and in the process of dealing with everyday people, my human notions have been exposed constantly.
When I first started selling tickets, I chose whom to introduce the show to. I watched a person's mood and wouldn't approach until I felt he or she was the "right" one. If I didn't feel right about the person, I simply handed him a flier and didn't say more. If the person was poor, before I said anything, I had a preconceived notion that this person did not have money and it would just be a waste of time to tell him about the show. When I saw the appearance of some young people, I turned my head away or said to myself that they were degenerate and would throw away fliers if I gave them any. If they were Chinese, before I even opened my mouth, a thought formed in my mind that they would not accept the flier or listen to me since their minds were full of the evil Party's deception. Because I had categorized everyday people according to my human mentality, it isn't hard to imagine that the beings who passed by me acted in conformance with my thoughts. It was my heart that led to this situation. At the time, I felt I was doing the right thing and thought I was being very efficient since I didn't waste my time on those people. I had spent my time introducing the show to those I felt would "buy the tickets."
Master said in "For Whom do You Exist?" (from Essentials for Further Advancement):
"The most difficult things for people to abandon are their notions. Some people cannot change, even if they have to give up their lives for fake principles. Yet notions are themselves acquired postnatally."
"If these acquired notions become too strong, their role will reverse by dictating a person's true thinking and behavior. At this point, that person might still think that they are his own ideas. This is the case for almost all contemporary people."
Benevolent Master kept making me pay attention to those notions by showing me the other way. For example, something unexpected often occurred to me. I remember in 2007 when I was selling tickets at the city center shopping mall, a man in shabby clothes came over to me. He looked like a street beggar. He asked for some materials. I thought of giving him a flier and sending him away, but once the man heard about the show, he said that he wanted to buy a ticket. I thought in my heart that he was joking. Yet, the man turned his pocket inside out and found some money and insisted on buying one ticket. I was stunned. Another time, a young man wearing jangling chains came over and stared at the TV screen. I didn't even want to stand up to hand him a flier. But he came up to me and asked for the flier and information about the show. Then he said that he would come back for tickets. I didn't take him seriously. A few days later, he came back with his mother for tickets. Seeing his happy face after he got the ticket, tears formed in my eyes. I realized that my judgment about people was indeed a human notion that had been acquired over a long time. Because of those notions, I didn't have the heart of compassion at all.
There are many such examples. Every time I used my notions to judge people, somebody, after a while, would show up and make me abandon that notion. When I had no notions in mind but the thought to save more sentient beings, the power of compassion manifested itself. I remember that one day when I was selling tickets at a shop, a lady started to pass me by. I greeted her and she stopped. I went over to her with the picture book and tried to tell her about the show. She interrupted me and said, "Excuse me, I won't buy any tickets." I said to her, "It doesn't matter. I only want you to know about the show." Before I finished my introduction, she started asking about prices, and then said she would buy four tickets as a Christmas gift for her family. She also thanked me for stopping her and said that she had been worried about what to buy as a Christmas gift, and now she felt she had obtained the best gift.
This how Master, pulling me by my hands, step by step, teaches me to have a compassionate heart for all sentient beings. This year when I was selling tickets, my heart was very peaceful, with only the thought of saving people. No matter what a person looks like, I think he is a great being coming for the Fa, and he has boundless sentient beings as well, and is the lord of a cosmic system. Often, standing somewhere selling tickets, I have tears in my eyes watching people passing by, and I realize that only by giving up human attachments can we have compassion for all sentient beings.
Studying the Fa Well, Cooperating With the Whole Body, and Doing Better in Saving Sentient Beings
Claiming I was busy, I ignored Fa study or didn't have a pure heart while studying the Fa. I even missed sending forth righteous thoughts many times. Consequently, I considered selling tickets as just something to do. I regarded having a full house as a symbol of success, and I used the number of tickets I sold as the reflection of my ability. Thus, I sold tickets for the sake of selling tickets. Every day, my heart fluctuated with the number of tickets sold. The attachment to reputation and validation of myself was expanding. If I sold a few more tickets on one day, I was very happy and saw myself as very capable. If I didn't sell any tickets on another day, I felt bad and dismayed. I watched the seating chart, thinking, "People who are predestined, please come buy the tickets right away." It looked as if I was doing this out of a heart for saving of sentient beings, but when I looked deeper, I found impure thoughts. Selling tickets was the only thing on my mind. Sometimes I asked myself, "Are you selling tickets or saving sentient beings?" The first response to this was, "Selling tickets," and with a very good excuse, "Wouldn't a being be saved if sold a ticket?" Because I had been regarding selling tickets as a thing to do, I started to look outward indignantly. I complained about the location, I complained about fellow practitioners not being cooperative, and I complained about this and that. Even though I didn't speak out, I couldn't let go of these complaints in my heart, let alone cooperate with fellow practitioners. This shortcoming was exposed completely last year when we were ticket selling. In addition, the overall status of cultivation in our area was one of looking outward instead of looking within oneself. Many conflicts occurred among practitioners. As a result, our ticket sales weren't satisfactory last year, and there were quite a few errors in the show itself. It was like a heavy blow to my head. For some time after the show last year, I looked within myself. Whenever I thought of the empty seats in the venue, my heart ached, and I started to tear up. I was full of regret that I didn't do well.
I realized that only by studying the Fa well can we purify our hearts, cooperate well with fellow practitioners, sell tickets well, and genuinely save more sentient beings. So, after last year's show, we organized a Fa study group, and read Zhuan Falun in the morning and studied the articles in the evening. We exchanged experiences constantly and looked within ourselves. Gradually, the complaints among fellow practitioners faded away. This year, we formed a whole body locally. All fellow practitioners participated voluntarily and tried to harmonize the whole body. The shows turned out to be a success. The first show was almost sold out, with fewer than 20 tickets left. The second show was quite full as well.
Selling tickets this year, I had made sure to study the Fa and do the exercises every day. I paid attention to sending forth righteous thoughts and reciting Lunyu while selling tickets every day. Since the standpoint was right, my cultivation status was entirely different this year. I didn't feel tired after a long day. And I didn't want to leave when the time was up. I didn't feel thirsty after talking all day long--it was as if my voice was not my own. In the past I remembered the exact number of tickets I sold, while this year I couldn't remember. People often bought tickets after I gave only a brief introduction. I felt much less interference in ticket selling. It all depends on how much effort Dafa disciples make. The more you do, the more sentient beings you can save.
Being Considerate and Getting Along with Fellow Practitioners
During my cultivation practice, I have been able to not feel moved by everyday people's behavior. However, while I'm with fellow practitioners, my heart has been frequently moved. I've often felt indignant when other practitioners didn't agree with my opinions, or about why this practitioner should do this, and that practitioner do that. I've felt jealous and wondered what was so good about this or that, etc.
I've realized that as a group of practitioners, when conflicts occur, we have to cultivate how to let go of ourselves and cooperate with the whole body, and how to face and view fellow practitioners in this group. We have to meet the requirement of the Fa, "become selfless, considering others before myself."
Getting along with fellow practitioners is something that I had never thought about thoroughly. This year, when I asked myself this question, I came to understand why I was so easily moved by the conflicts among fellow practitioners and why I would gossip about the errors that fellow practitioners made. It was because I didn't have righteous thoughts in dealing with fellow practitioners.
I thought that because we were studying the same Fa and are all Falun Dafa disciples, we should understand everything. I couldn't understand why some practitioners were so attached to fame and self-interest. I wondered, "Why did he do that?" I would want to say something to him and ask him to let it go. I was so anxious when some practitioners were stuck in sickness karma and couldn't break through. I thought, "Why can't they just let go of such a simple thing?" With these thoughts in mind, when I was talking to fellow practitioners, I didn't come across as polite or compassionate. I appeared to be looking down on them. I had the notion that as a practitioner, he should know everything and let go of everything. I always used my standard to judge fellow practitioners and thought that they should have done better than I. So when I saw their omissions, I could hardly bear it. How could that be possible?
Due to this notion, I couldn't see the side that fellow practitioners had cultivated well. Instead, I magnified and only focused on their unsatisfactory characteristics. In the end, I thought that these practitioners were cultivating poorly. Thus, I went to the extremes and easily got into conflicts. When conflicts occurred, I fought to try to solve the problem! It was like adding fuel to a fire and just made things worse. The old conflicts unsolved, a new gap was created.
Something that happened to me while selling tickets this year caused me to change. I went to sell tickets in a small town with a fellow practitioner. We had been in town for nearly three weeks and had handed out many fliers. We planned to sell more tickets that day. After arriving, we first sent forth righteous thoughts, and cooperated very well. I received a call from one practitioner after we had sold a few tickets. She told me that another practitioner said something about me and she thought it was unfair. I started to become very agitated, since I already had some thoughts about that practitioner. So I called the practitioner right away and argued with her loudly. After I hung up the phone, I still felt very indignant. I dared not go back to the ticket selling spot for fear that I might negatively affect the energy field. I wandered in the distance and my heart became anxious from impure thoughts. I had come to this town to sell tickets, and I couldn't let it interfere with saving sentient beings. But how could I rectify this? I looked within myself in an attempt to calm down. What happened that day exposed my deficiencies in cultivation. I saw the heart of self-protection and no longer felt angry with the other practitioner. However, I still couldn't adjust myself to the proper level. I almost felt like crying. I felt very regretful about interfering with the energy field where we were selling tickets and interfering with sentient beings' chance to come in contact with the Fa. I know it is so hard to have a chance to learn about the Fa. For some beings, it could be their only chance. I saw my own problem in cultivation in how I dealt with fellow practitioners and conflicts. I didn't cultivate at all. I didn't know what to do. I stayed in the distance and kept sending forth righteous thoughts to rectify my own energy field. Then I went back to where we were selling tickets, still not feeling quite right. I felt a heavy substance above my head, so I stood off to the side quietly. After a while, a middle-aged man came over. I said to him, "Shen Yun, a world class show." He came directly toward me, his eyes on me all the time, with an inexplicably compassionate look. My heart was shaken. I started to introduce the show to him. He discussed it with his wife and bought two tickets for good seats. During the whole process, his eyes of compassion didn't leave me. The heavy substance disappeared after that, and I felt very relaxed, pure, and empty... as if nothing had ever happened. We then started selling tickets one after another.
I have great gratitude toward Master. Through this experience, I saw the huge power of compassion. Master said in "Fa Teaching at the 2009 Washington DC International Fa Conference,"
"When this compassionate goodness emerges, its strength is without equal, and it will disintegrate any bad factors. The greater the compassion, the greater the power."
I have also learned how to deal with conflicts among fellow practitioners, that is, we should not use the human way of fighting back. We should use compassion. We should genuinely consider others before thinking of ourselves.
I had often talked about "considering others first" in the past, and I told other practitioners to consider others first. But when it came to my personal interests, the selfish nature of the old universe and the bad substances would turn up. At the time, all I considered was myself. While looking within, I had only looked at things from my own perspective and not from the perspective of fellow practitioners. My standpoint was that I might have an attachment to eliminate, but the other practitioner had an attachment too, and he needed to cultivate as well. So even though I was looking within, I looked resentfully and with a competitive mentality. Sometimes I looked within, and in the end found all of the faults were theirs.
Since this experience, I can now easily adjust myself when a conflict arises or I have negative thoughts about fellow practitioners. I will immediately consider the issue from their perspective. I will think how the other practitioner has done his best and it is not easy for him. Maybe he didn't mean it at all, and it was just my judgment. I will consider his good side. In this way, the resentment will disappear right away and my heart will become peaceful. At that point, I am able to genuinely look within and see my own problem. I could not do this before. I realized that without going through the painful tribulation, without abandoning the selfish substance, without considering others first, cultivation would be like a leaf floating on the water.
What's more, I am no longer attached to fellow practitioners' attachments. I realized that everyone is cultivating at his own level and I should not measure others using my own criteria. Master said in "Fa Teaching Given in Manhattan,"
"Each of your paths is different. Your jobs are different, the settings in which you live are different, your families are each different, and so are your respective social classes, along with the things that you experience."
Therefore, regarding fellow practitioners' attachments, the best way to deal with them is to point them out compassionately and send forth righteous thoughts for the practitioner to eliminate the elements of interference, and at the same time to harmonize what he did not do well or compensate for the omission.
Be on Time to Sell Tickets and Keep the Promise to Sentient Beings
There is a scheduled time for each venue for selling tickets. I didn't pay much attention to what time to start and what time to close. Sometimes I worked late on other projects, and in the morning, I thought it would be okay to be a bit late because there weren't many people shopping in the morning. Sometimes in the evening when there was less traffic in the mall and it became difficult to hand out fliers, I might feel it was better to go home early, study the Fa and do the exercises, and attend to the many things waiting for me to deal with, and that it was useless to stay late. I didn't take the time schedule as a serious promise.
Something happened to me while selling tickets this year which made me understand that the time schedule is actually a promise, a promise to gods and to all sentient beings.
On one occasion I went to sell tickets in a small town with another practitioner. It was winter, with bitter cold with icy snow everywhere. There weren't many people shopping. We started at 10 o'clock in the morning and it was about five in the afternoon. We had only handed out over a hundred fliers and sold only two tickets. The other practitioner needed to go home early and left. I looked around and saw very few people. After a while, a person passed by in a hurry and wouldn't stop and listen to me. I started to say to myself, "It's so cold today, and I don't expect many people this evening. We will come back here next week anyway and won't miss the predestined people. I'll go home early today. I'll pack up at seven." I was supposed to stay until nine.
At seven, I was ready to pack up. Just then, a couple with three young kids rushed in. They looked like they were Aboriginals. They cleaned their footwear and rushed in. The lady looked up and saw our roll-up poster. She paused and then hurried into the store. According to my experience, that pause and the expression in her face and eyes indicated to me that she was predestined, so I decided to wait until they came out and give them some information. However, after a long time, I didn't see them come out, so I thought of leaving again. As I was hesitating, they came out, without buying anything. I stopped them and started to introduce the show. The family quietly watched the footage on the TV screen and liked it very much. They decided to buy seven tickets. After they chose their seats and were ready to pay, their bankcard didn't work. While the husband made a phone call to the bank, I chatted with the lady and found out that she was a junior high school art teacher, and she had majored in music and played several instruments. She liked Shen Yun very much and thanked me again and again for stopping them and introducing the show to them. She also expressed interest in organizing her students to go see the show. After the family left, I took a look at my watch. It was nine o'clock.
When I started to address the envelope to mail tickets to them that night after I got home, I saw a strange address. Out of curiosity, I looked up their address and discovered that they lived in a distant native reserve in the North. It had taken them three and a half hours to get to the shopping mall. That is, in order to be there at seven, they had started their journey at three in the afternoon--or even earlier because of the weather. I suddenly understood, and tears streamed down my cheeks. It was good that I didn't leave early that night. The scheduled time isn't child's play. Gods scheduled it and had led the predestined people to come for tickets.
On another occasion we were selling tickets in a big shopping center, and the traffic was light. It was also difficult to hand out fliers. The other practitioner selling tickets with me wanted to pack up early. I shared my previous experience and my understanding, saying that the scheduled time was a promise to gods and to sentient beings. The other practitioner decided to wait until the end. As a result, the predestined people came to find out about Shen Yun, and we sold six more tickets.
The above are some of my experiences in selling Shen Yun tickets. Our great compassionate Master has created such a sacred opportunity for us to aid in Fa rectification. Let us cherish this precious chance, study the Fa and rectify ourselves constantly, and cultivate diligently. Let us fulfill our vows made in prehistoric times, "And follow your master to return, consummated." ("Destined Return for the Holy Fruition" from Hong Yin)
Kindly please point out anything inappropriate in my sharing.
Thank you, Master.
Thank you, fellow practitioners.