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My Experiences of Overcoming Loneliness in My 13 Years of Cultivation

January 06, 2012 |   By a practitioner in China


Greetings, revered Teacher!
Greetings, fellow practitioners!

I am a veteran practitioner who started practicing Falun Gong in early March 1999. I was a graduate student at the time. Shortly after I started practicing, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned Falun Gong and began its ruthless persecution against it. At the time, I knew only a few practitioners. They either gave up practicing Falun Gong or we lost contact after they moved. Since then, I have been cultivating alone. For 13 years I have not had any practitioners to cultivate with, but I know Teacher has been watching over me constantly and giving me hints. I have the Fa with me at all times. This is the biggest affirmation of my cultivation and what drives me to remain diligent.

Prevailing Over a Lonesome Heart

Teacher talked about those cultivators that used to cultivate alone in mountain caves. Teacher said,

"They had nobody with whom to discuss what they were going through, and nobody to talk to. They had to make it through by way of correct enlightening on their own. And if they didn’t make it through, they were done for. How hard that was! Most frightening of all was the prolonged loneliness. What do people fear most of all? Loneliness. Loneliness can drive a person crazy; loneliness can lead a person to forget everything from before; and loneliness can even cause one to forget how to speak. It is the most terrible form of hardship." ("What is a Dafa Disciple")

Although I am not cultivating in a cave, I can personally relate to the hardship Teacher has described in the lecture. In more than a decade of cultivation, I have not felt lonely in my physical environment. The hardship is to have no one to talk to about anything. For more than a decade, I spent most of my time outside working alone at a rental apartment in different cities, studying the Fa, practicing the exercises, sending forth righteous thoughts, making Falun Gong informational materials, handing them out and writing articles to validate the Fa. When I am not at work, I have no one to talk to. Except for studying the Fa, I often go days without speaking to anyone. I remember that several times I became rusty at speaking by the time I returned to work after a long weekend.

For a long period of time, I wished I had a family member or a friend who practiced Falun Gong. How wonderful it would be! I would have someone to communicate with when I ran into problems. The longing was particularly strong in the early years when I faced persecution, lost my job, and lost contact with fellow practitioners. I had to face all of my friends and acquaintances, trying to talk me into renouncing Falun Gong. I faced verbal insults and beatings, and had to move from one place to another. I cried often. I had no one that understood me to talk to when it came to cultivation, work, school or daily life. Moreover, I had just graduated from school, so I had very limited experiences in life and I was very naive. I didn't have a profound understanding of the Fa at the time. I was in such agony that I often felt I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Sometimes I wanted to talk to someone, but I realized it would not be wise. They didn't know I practiced Falun Gong and they were not my close friends. I could not talk to my friends, either. They did not practice Falun Gong, so they thought, talked and acted differently. The more I talked to them, the more confused I would become. In addition, when I faced an obstacle as a Falun Gong practitioner, my thoughts about the obstacle were more or less on the negative side. If I had casually talked to them about the obstacle, they were likely to form negative opinions about Falun Gong and try to talk me into giving up the practice. Due to the aforementioned reasons, I became increasingly reluctant to talk to anyone about the problems I faced in cultivation. Those years were really tough. The fact that I didn't study the Fa diligently made it worse. I felt I was "diligent" because I was busy with clarifying the truth about Falun Gong, but I slacked off in my Fa study. There were times when I didn't study the Fa for one or two months when the CCP first started to ban Falun Gong and when I was preparing for my thesis before graduation.

After many trials and tribulations, I have finally learned the importance of studying the Fa. I started memorizing the Fa in 2003. Other than nearly a year of time when I was imprisoned, I have never stopped working on memorizing the Fa. As I continued to memorize, all kinds of attachments faded away. The longing for fellow practitioners also faded. In addition, I was able to resolve many problems that had troubled me for a long time. Teacher also revealed the beauty of the Fa to me continuously. When I memorized the Fa in tranquility, I often experienced beauty and joy beyond description. I gradually forgot what it felt like to be lonely. I thought, if I am destined to cultivate in solitude towards consummation while validating the Fa and saving people, then I must fulfill my destiny well.

In the past, I always wanted to talk to a classmate or a friend when I ran into a problem or when I was upset. It felt good to let my feelings out. When I started to memorize the Fa, I no longer did that. In recent years I look at Teacher's photograph and talk to Teacher when I run into any difficulties. If something makes me happy, I tell Teacher as well. Whether I talked to Teacher's photograph with a smile or in tears, I feel like a child confiding in my own father. I feel very safe. I can feel Teacher next to me at all times, watching over me and protecting me. I feel Teacher knows everything that goes on in my mind. Teacher always watches over me and protects me. With this in mind, why should I be attached to having someone to listen to me? This is the reason why I have been living a full life in recent years. I have been positive and happy. I rarely feel lonely. Only when I face a very difficult test will I feel occasionally lonely, but it no longer has any effect on me.

In some articles on the Minghui website (Chinese version of Clearwisdom), fellow practitioners talked about asking the practitioners around them to help send forth righteous thoughts. I was once very envious, and longed to have fellow practitioners sending forth righteous thoughts for me when I ran into problems. One day, it suddenly dawned on me that I have Teacher. Why don't I ask Teacher for help? Isn't it a process for me to reinforce my own righteous thoughts?

When I was stuck on a test or tribulation, I thought I was such a terrible disciple that I dared not think of Teacher or ask for his help. Wasn't this a degenerated idea planted by the old forces? In addition, fellow practitioners are Teacher's disciples. When they sent forth righteous thoughts to help a fellow practitioner, was it not because of Teacher that their righteous thoughts worked? Why did I pursue less important things, but forget about the most important one? With this in mind, I stopped envying practitioners being able to get help from other practitioners. From then on, I asked Teacher directly for help when I ran into a problem that I was having difficulty overcoming.

Memorizing the Fa Keeps Me on the Path of Cultivation

A colossal challenge as a solitary cultivator is that one is likely to slack off. One's will to cultivate might lessen with time. One is likely to slack off when the environment becomes more comfortable. In the past 13 years of cultivation, I might have slacked off occasionally for a day or two, but generally speaking, I have been very diligent. Compared to those practitioners who sleep every other day or sleep for two to three hours a day, however, I am far from being diligent in my cultivation, but I have been utilizing my time well every day. I dare not waste any hour or minute, nor dare I slack off in my cultivation. I am able to do this entirely because of Teacher's excellent arrangements.

In the first few years after the CCP began its persecution of Falun Gong, I was arrested and imprisoned twice. Like all the practitioners that have been cultivating in the Fa-rectification period, I dare not slack off under the tremendous pressure and adverse circumstances. In these latter years as my cultivation environment has improved, I am able to remain diligent because I have been memorizing the Fa.

In 2005 I was released from prison, but for a year I had limited freedom because the police had me under watch while I was out on bail. It was in that year I started to memorize the Fa. From the very moment I was determined to memorize the Fa, I made up my mind to memorize Zhuan Falun completely by heart, including every punctuation mark. For the past few years since 2005, I have been working on memorizing the Fa or reciting it in Fa study every day, except on the days I study Teacher's new articles or during my yearly trip back home. I don't know how many times I have memorized Zhuan Falun. At first I counted the number of times I memorized it, but I eventually stopped counting. I know I have copied Zhuan Falun in writing 10 times. To this day I am still unable to recite Zhuan Falun completely from memory. Many times I have recited Zhuan Falun and even recited the entire paragraph or an entire lecture in Zhuan Falun without any mistakes, but after a few days I started to make mistakes. Oftentimes I could recite a paragraph one day, but forget it the next time I tried to recite the same paragraph. Sometimes I have had difficulty memorizing the Fa or memorizing anything at all. Because I have never been able to recite Zhuan Falun completely, I have been trying to memorize it every day. During first few years that I started memorizing Zhuan Falun, I was under pressure from the persecution. I felt every day was like an eternity. In the past few years, I have lost the feeling of time. I go to work every day, and when I get off work I spend time memorizing the Fa. When I take a break from memorizing, I send forth righteous thoughts while producing truth-clarification materials or I write experience-sharing articles. Later on I joined some truth-clarification projects that utilize the Internet. One day it suddenly dawned on me that I had been memorizing the Fa for seven years.

The sudden realization made me aware of Teacher's meticulous plan. Even though I have never been able to recite all of Zhuan Falun, I have always been memorizing it. Because of that, I have been impervious to the influences of the external environment and have been diligent in my cultivation.

Eliminating the Interference of Romantic Feelings

Another great challenge as a solitary cultivator is interference from romantic love between men and women in secular society. When I started practicing Falun Gong, I was in my 20's, when I was my most attractive. I have a higher education than college, and I was under the influence of secular notions and longings for romantic love. I have never had any inappropriate behavior or any inappropriate relationship with any man in the past 13 years, but I have faced interference pertaining to romantic love in different stages of my cultivation.

In the first few years, the interference came from non-practitioners. I once had romantic feelings towards them, but I remembered that I am a cultivator, so I have never had any inappropriate behavior. Even though I knew we fancied each other, I hid my feelings and even distanced myself. Moreover, I was perceived to have a natural elegance and grace, which makes me somewhat difficult to approach. Therefore, men have never risked offending me, and they respected me. Of course, this is just a superficial reason. Teacher's constant protection is the true reason why I have not committed any sin in this regard.

In 2004 while I was incarcerated, I once faced interrogation that lasted more than 10 days. I was deprived of sleep and subjected to brutal beatings and other forms of torture, yet I never gave in. A prison guard threatened me, saying, "I will give you one more night. If you do not give us any information tomorrow, I will have someone come and give you what you deserve." My mind went blank at the time. I thought of only one thing: "I have Teacher watching over me. Only what is supposed to happen will happen. My Teacher is watching over me." It turned out that for a few days the prison guard did not show up. When he reappeared a few days later, he learned that I had not given any information. He told me fiercely, "If my daughter did not have a high fever the past few days, I would never have given you a break." During the prior interrogation he once revealed he had a daughter about six years old. His daughter is the only person he cares about in his life. He cared for no one else. I knew Teacher was watching over me and protecting me.

Before I started practicing Falun Gong, I was described as a "good girl," but once I started practicing, I knew I was far from being good. I enjoyed reading love stories since I was little. I often dreamed about stories of a prince and a princess. I wished I would find my "prince" who would love and take care of me. That was how I formed such thought karma. In 2002, I was under the influence of my thought karma and fell in love with a man, who took very good care of me, was attracted to me and approved of Falun Gong. He was a married man. I knew I should not have fallen in love with him. Although we have never had any physical contact, the thought karma had a severe impact on me. One night when I was going to bed, I heard a fierce woman shrieking and shouting in my head. It was quite frightening. I knew it was thought karma at work, but I could not get rid of it. I turned on my computer and opened Teacher's image file. I thought, "I fear nothing when Teacher watches over me." Then I was able to fall asleep. I had to overcome many demonic trials and severe interference to prevail over this test.

Because I failed to eliminate my lust completely, I took a bad fall in my cultivation. In 2007 I hired a real estate agent to find me a rental apartment. The agency was owned by a middle-aged woman. After a few meetings, she thought highly of me and wanted to set me up on a date. I knew from the Fa that I should not have accepted her offer, but I didn't refuse her. I told her I was not interested, but I continued to sit there and listen. I wanted to know what she was going to say. Then she told me, "The man is in his 40's. He is a manager that oversees a department in a large national corporation. He has a house and a car and earns a monthly salary of more than 10,000 yuan. He is divorced with a teenage child." Finally she said, "He would enjoy time with a pretty girl like you," insinuating things that I had no wish to associate with. I felt very insulted and was very upset and saddened. On my way home I knew I had taken a fall in my cultivation. It was a huge lesson. I had invited something so disgusting because I failed to eliminate my attachment. In the next few days I continued to feel insulted. I knew it was high time for me to purge this attachment. Since then I have refused every offer to set me up on a date.

The most difficult test pertains to a fellow practitioner. Two years ago, I met a male practitioner on-line. I heard about him and was very impressed with him before our first communication. Shortly after we started to communicate with each other, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with feelings for him. The feelings were so intense that I felt difficulty breathing. For a week after that, I was completely smitten. I did not want to eat or drink, and I thought only of him. I even forgot about Teacher and cultivation. When I did think of Teacher and cultivation, I felt my romantic feelings were distancing me from Teacher and cultivation. They felt very far away. On the surface, I was merely acting like a young woman in love. A smile constantly registered on my face, but I felt the smile must have been wicked from the perspective of cultivation.

Compared to the intense feelings I had this time, it was nothing at all to overcome my romantic feelings in the past. For a very long time, I kept dreaming about him. I forgot everything about Teacher's Fa. Moreover, I didn't think there was anything wrong with my feelings. Because he was also a Falun Gong practitioner, I followed my attachment and decided it must be an arrangement by Teacher. The intense feelings lasted for about three months. I knew it was wrong, but I could not overcome the feelings, nor did I want to. It was heartbreaking to let go of my feelings for him. One day I gradually realized that it was not my thought, and I must prevail over this test. That's when I was determined to get rid of it.

I realized during the process of eliminating the romantic feelings that it is of supreme importance for a cultivator to keep righteous thoughts. In the first week, I could not eat. I felt I could hardly breathe as the feelings weighed me down. One thought came forward, which was I must not ruin him. When that thought surfaced, I felt I could suddenly breathe, and the pressure had lessened. Since then, when I was overcome with romantic feelings and wanted to tell him how I felt, I would tell myself that I must not ruin my fellow practitioner, but I must be responsible to him and to myself, and the sentient beings in our worlds. More importantly, I must be responsible to the Fa.

During this process Teacher continuously helped me eliminate the attachment. At first when I was unable to overcome the feelings and faced tremendous pressure, I repeatedly knelt down before Teacher's photograph in tears. "Teacher, please help me! Such wicked thoughts are not part of me. I shall be your good disciple. I will not be influenced by these wicked thoughts." Each time I felt powerful support from Teacher. Meanwhile, I often sent forth righteous thoughts for an hour or longer, targeting these romantic thoughts and feelings. I could clearly feel they were annihilated. In the first few months, the most important thing for me was to check emails from him after I got home from work. He has never written anything inappropriate. In fact, he only wrote me about cultivation or validating the Fa. Yet I could not forget about him. Gradually I was able to stop my attachment to him for two to three days at a time. Then, I was able to stop my attachment to him for longer. For 18 months of time, I repeatedly struggled between thinking of him and removing my attachment to him. One day when I saw his name, I suddenly felt very strange and distant. It was as though I had never felt anything for him and I hadn't communicated with him via email for a long time. I have but a distant memory that we were once close. We continue to work together and cooperate with each other to validate the Fa, but I no longer feel anything special for him. Occasionally when a bad thought comes forward, I can identify and eliminate it immediately with my righteous thoughts. It no longer has any power over me.

During the process I gradually realized that it was an external substance and not part of my inborn qualities. The most vivid encounter happened six months after I met him. That was when I was able to differentiate it from the real me. One night I actually saw it. That night I lay down on my bed after I finished sending forth righteous thoughts at midnight. I was half asleep when I saw myself lying in my bed. I slowly felt something over me, and the feeling became increasingly real. Finally I saw a deformed female ghost with long hair. She clung to my body with her lips over mine and her body over mine. It was as though she was the other half of my flesh and together we formed one complete body. When I sensed its presence, I felt disgusted and terrified. I shouted "Teacher" and "Falun Gong is good." I then tried to push and kick the ghost off my body. It was like a shell made of skin and slid off my body down to my feet. It was a wicked being. While the ghost was about to leave my body completely, it struggled with its long black ghostly hands with long fingernails in an attempt to choke me. The next morning when I recalled what I had witnessed, I knew it must have been the demon of lust. It was truly a ghost living in my space-dimension. When I identified the attachment to lust and tried to annihilate it, it had nowhere to go and perished.

When we fail to prevail over a test, we tend to see our feelings as part of us, but they are not. When we were born, we didn't have any of those wicked thoughts. We became polluted with time. Or perhaps the old forces have intentionally formed these wicked beings and used them to interfere with our cultivation and destroy us. When we are able to differentiate them from us, they become nothing.

Learning to Let Go of Self

Teacher said,

"When Dafa disciples make mistakes, they do not like to be criticized. No one can criticize them, and when someone does, it sets them off. When they are right, they don't like others bringing up things they could improve on; when they are wrong, they don't want to be criticized. They get upset as soon as others criticize. The problem is becoming pretty bad." ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles")

For the longest time, I thought I didn't have such an attachment, but the truth is that an attachment does not surface until a conflict occurs. In the past two years I have been working with fellow practitioners over the Internet. When fierce conflicts occurred between us, I realized the severity of my attachment in this regard.

I have been cultivating alone for a long time, so I never had to discuss things with anyone or seek approval from anyone. I made all the decisions. If I felt it was good for saving people, I would work hard to make it happen, but it would not do when I worked with fellow practitioners. Often times I would have a different opinion from other practitioners. If my proposal was denied or questioned, I would immediately quit. I insisted on winning the argument because I thought my opinion was right and had to be adopted. When practitioners refused to use my suggestion, I would be upset or throw tantrums. I would even bicker with practitioners, and sometimes the conflicts were very fierce. I knew from the Fa that I should not have been attached to my own opinions, but I simply could not prevail over this test. When I looked at myself, I discovered many attachments. Vanity, for example, is one of them. I was embarrassed when my suggestion was not adopted! The attachment to personal accomplishment was another one. I was used to doing things by myself. Whether it be writing articles or handing out truth-clarification materials, I could see my accomplishments. Therefore, I felt my hard work was not wasted. However, making truth-clarification materials over the Internet does not produce an equally obvious or measurable result. Besides, it is teamwork, so I didn't feel I had established any mighty virtue, or when my suggestion was not adopted, I felt I had established very little mighty virtue. I had always wanted to make bigger impacts than other practitioners in the production so that I could establish my mighty virtue. When my suggestion was not adopted, I felt I had wasted my time and became upset or disappointed. Therefore, I always wanted to use my suggestions, and I was very attached to this idea. The root cause is actually selfishness and being egocentric. I knew I should let go of self, but I didn't know how. Each time my suggestion was refused, I felt so upset and it was heart-wrenching.

Not long ago, the conflicts with practitioners became so fierce that I was not able to study the Fa. I was in a terrible state of cultivation. That was when I finally woke up and decided that I had to pass the test. I started to seriously study the Fa, send forth righteous thoughts, and search inward. When I was in the agony of prevailing over the test, I begged Teacher for his help. I finally made it through. During the process I repeatedly studied the following passage of the Fa.

Teacher said,

"Dafa disciples, in your cultivation in the ordinary human world you all have understood something clearly that's based on the Fa's principles, namely, not to be attached to the "gain and loss" of ordinary people. So when things related to validating the Fa are involved, there too you shouldn't insist on voicing "my ideas" or on having things done my way. It's not like only then can you establish mighty virtue in the cosmos. If you've got a good idea, well, you came up with it, you're being responsible to the Fa, and it's not important whether your idea is adopted or whether your approach is used. If another person's idea can achieve the same effect and you aren't attached to your own idea and instead you go along with his, then whether you've shared your approach or not, Gods will all see this and think, Look, he isn't attached, and he's able to be so tolerant and broadminded. What do Gods look at? Isn't this what they look at? When you're attached to emphasizing your things you are too caught up in it and the Gods watching above can't stand it. Even though you keep claiming it's for the good of Dafa, and that my approach is good and can reach such and such goal--and maybe that really is the case--still, we shouldn't have attachments that are too much like ordinary people. If you can really do that, all the Gods will say, This person is truly remarkable. It's not like Gods see that your idea worked and then they raise your level. Instead, they only raise your level when they see that your understanding of it has improved. This is a truth in the Righteous Fa. If you're thinking, I'll have XYZ happen to me if I've gained such and such amount of merit, well, yes, that's how it works for an ordinary person, and it might be what's looked at as far as certain facets of the cosmos's Fa-truths go or in a particular situation. But true improvements come from letting go, not from gaining." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.")

Nowadays, I am able to conduct myself calmly. I keep positive thoughts when my suggestion is not adopted. I ask myself if I have done anything wrong. What is my mindset when I make the suggestion? Or I ask myself, “Will his/her suggestion work?” If so, I can accept calmly that their ideas should be adopted instead of mine. Sometimes when negative thoughts surface, I can easily differentiate them from myself and eliminate them. Sometimes when I fail to prevail, I will ask myself, "What would I be like when I reach Consummation?" I know I would not have any attachment or loophole. I would be completely selfless and altruistic. If I wish to reach Consummation, I must eliminate these negative thoughts completely. Since I should not have any of these attachments, why am I holding on to them now? I find it easier to eliminate my attachments this way. During the process, I began to learn what it means to let go of myself.

In the past 13 years of cultivation, I have experienced and learned a lot. I also realized how difficult it is to cultivate. More importantly, I know that Teacher has been watching over me and protecting me. Only if I keep following Teacher's Fa, will I be able to remain diligent on my path of truly saving people in my world, so as to live up to Teacher's expectations of us.

Thank you, compassionate and magnificent Teacher! I will always follow your teachings and follow you for eternity!