Cultivating Myself while Doing Media Work
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Benevolent Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I obtained the Fa during my trip home to China in 2009. I was intrigued after seeing that my dad, who had been suffering from various illnesses for years, was now very healthy, and my mother, who was illiterate, could read all of Master’s teachings without missing a single word. That prompted me to start reading Zhuan Falun. Not long after, I started telling people about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners, and validating the Fa. I worked with veteran practitioners to establish materials production sites and to compile and distribute informational materials about the persecution of Falun Gong to save sentient beings.
Around that time, the “Fa Teaching Given at 2010 New York Fa Conference” was published. Master said in the lecture,
“As you know, there is always the question of why there have been so few new Dafa disciples since the persecution started. It is precisely because the old forces locked up the entrance, and thus nobody could enter unless they had an exceptional circumstance or I specifically needed them. That is because, based on the old forces’ logic, the test has already reached its end, and the harshest period has passed...”
When I read this paragraph, I was very excited because I realized I was very lucky to have become a Dafa disciple during the Fa-rectification period. I’ve made up my mind to cultivate myself well and keep up with Fa-rectification.
I Decide to Work for the Media after Returning to the U.S.
I had to leave China due to a visa issue during the second half of 2010. Prior to my departure, a local Dafa coordinator asked me to join the media after returning to the U.S. Since there are fewer practitioners outside of China, more people are needed to help, and my situation fit them very well. He reminded me that I didn’t have any issues with staying permanently, no family burden, and had lived in the U.S. long enough to know it well. He said I should work for our media, go find the media. I sincerely promised him I would.
I thought, "What kinds of abilities do I have that can help with Fa-rectification? Shame on me! None. I am more ordinary than an ordinary person. The only thing I have is a heart that is firmly focused on cultivation."
When I decided to go to the media project to do sales, I only had enough money to pay my living expenses for six months. If I couldn't get any advertising customers, I wouldn't get paid. Thinking of Master’s words and the practitioner’s wish, I did not hesitate and had one simple thought, "Do things to validate the Fa, Master won’t let me go hungry." I then reduced my living expenses to what I absolutely needed and resolutely went to the media. After five months I got more than $1,000 in ad commissions.
About a year ago, due to the needs in developing the media project, I was transferred from the front-line to the back office. At the time I felt that as long as it was what the media needed, I could do anything. I wanted to cooperate with others. My new position was like a hub in the office. If it was not done well, it would affect a series of other things. It's a very important job. It was also a job that tested my temperament. It requires that the person not only be focused, detail-oriented, and patient, but also able to tolerate blame, criticism, mistakes, and loneliness. The things that I handled were all small and miscellaneous, as well as time and energy-consuming. I not only needed to take care of all aspects of my job, but also to exercise strict control of the situations. If any part is overlooked, there may be mistakes. Describing this in ordinary people’s words, my job was all hard work but no rewards. During that time, I felt mistreated.
Since I obtained the Fa relatively late, my personal cultivation is combined with Fa-rectification cultivation. During this process, I not only need to keep up with the progress of Fa-rectification but also to make up for my personal cultivation. My truly solid personal cultivation only began after I joined the media project, and I started to make up missed lessons in my personal cultivation. Although I know that I must go through the personal cultivation process solidly, I was still almost stricken down by the many tribulations in the real world, since I had only just begun practicing.
Eliminating the Attachment of Resistance to Criticism
Before I began practicing, I was arrogant and could not stand being criticized. I told myself that I could work hard but I could not take being misunderstood. Numerous times when I was trying to get through the tribulations, I clenched my teeth tightly and could barely handle it because of my strong personality.
Actually, I did not change from deep inside based on the Fa. The more I was afraid of this attachment being touched, the more it got touched. Oftentimes, I was hit again hard before I even had a chance to cultivate out of my previous wound. The tribulations came one after another, sometimes as many as six times in one day. On the surface, I did not argue when I felt hurt, but deep in my heart, I wasn’t calm at all.
After a while, this formed a large substance in my body. Each day I was dragged down by this burden as I handled my daily work, and I felt like I was drowning. This feeling of helplessness made me want to escape. I vented in my heart to Master, "I am not good at coordinating, I don’t even have an ordinary person's abilities. I'm slow to enlighten and do not cultivate 'benevolence' well. I can’t handle this anymore."
Master saw my lack of enlightenment, so he gave me some hints. One morning before I started doing the exercises, I heard, “Despite the huge ordeals my will never bends” (“All For This Day" from Hong Yin III). I felt my whole body shake once, but I did not realize what it meant because I was a bit numb. Then Master sent those words to me a second time. At the time, my only thought was, “Isn’t this from Hong Yin III ?”
The third time I heard these words, I suddenly understood them and couldn’t hold back my tears. I said to Master, “Master, I was wrong. What massive challenges do I have?! The principles in cultivation are reversed. It was me who did not get enlightened and held tight to my attachment, causing me not to be able to walk out of ordinary people’s notions." As soon as I realized that, for the first time during that tribulation, my heart felt light when I meditated.
“Particularly for a practitioner, in the course of cultivation practice you are given some tribulations at each different level. They all come from your own karma and are your own tribulations, which are placed at different levels for you to upgrade yourself. As long as you improve your xinxing, you will be able to overcome them.” (Zhuan Falun)
Looking back at my cultivation during that time, I studied the Fa, practiced the exercises and never slacked off, but why couldn’t I improve? Master taught us,
“Yet when we run into problems, we often look outwards—'Why are you treating me like that?'—and feel that we’ve been treated unfairly, instead of examining ourselves. That’s the greatest and most fatal obstacle for all living beings.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore)
I read Zhuan Falun every day, but when I encountered things, I had a habit of looking outward and measured the right or wrong and judged the fairness from a selfish angle using ordinary people’s principles. That was not true and solid cultivation but just maintaining a superficial form of cultivation. Even when I looked inward, I had some reservations and conditions. Sometimes, even though I found my attachments, I was not able to eliminate them completely. When the attachment surfaced, I was not able to restrain it with a practitioner’s righteous thoughts.
This period of time is for us to save people. I want to keep up with the progress of Fa-rectification. Therefore, I printed out Master’s teaching “True Cultivation” and posted it on the wall in front of me to remind me from time to time that I need to truly cultivate myself. There were still tribulations every day, and after a while I could feel something blocked in my heart again, and when others blamed me, I still felt mistreated. But now my mind is clear.
I know the one who felt that way was not the real me but a fake me that is comprised of karma. The true me is determined to fulfill my vow. Anything I do is to establish a cultivator’s mighty-virtue. All tribulations are to help eliminate karma. How could I have complaints? I sent righteous thoughts to it, trying to eliminate it little by little, and Master also helped remove a lot of the bad substances.
One day a co-worker used some very harsh words when talking to me, and I was embarrassed. But my heart did not move much. I only felt something hit my skin softly and bounce back. I went back to my seat and smiled. I had improved!
Digging out Hidden Jealousy and the Attachment to Fame
I once thought I did not have jealousy and an attachment to fame. This was because, compared to other practitioners, my ordinary people’s skills and ability are only at the elementary school level, which is not even comparable to others. How could I possibly be jealous of others? Master said,
“If in the course of cultivation practice jealousy is not given up, one will not attain Right Fruit—absolutely not.” (Zhuan Falun)
I once secretly rejoiced that I did not have major issues in this respect, and thus wasn’t part of it. As far as attachment to fame was concerned, I thought I didn't have that attachment, either. Before I began practicing, I lost any desire for fame--doing things quietly is my style. After I obtained the Fa, I identified with that junior monk who cooked meals, and I was very happy to just be a junior monk who cooks meals. But, as a matter of fact, it's not like I thought. These two attachments were revealed in a different way.
We’ve been working to meet our sales goals for a long time. After the New York Fa conference, everyone had a sense of urgency. The head office also required us to reach $1 million in advertising contracts by the end of the year. As the ads have increased, salespeople have gotten busier and the pressure more intense. The design team is also busier. The light in the office is on until midnight almost every night, and everyone is stretched to their limit.
We have a meeting in the office every Monday. At each meeting, the sales team and design team always praises and thanks each other for the hard work. Our general manager also acknowledges individuals for their contributions and encourages them. I suddenly felt that nobody ever praised or thanked me. Was I not hard working? Resentment started to come up inside me, and it was disturbing. I came into the office early every day and did not leave until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. I had no weekends, and my only chance to run errands was when I delivered the paper. I was not only working hard, but my entire heart felt bitter, and that it was unfair.
At that moment, there were two 'me's' inside. They argued with each other. One 'me' said, "You are wrong if your heart is moved. Find the attachments." The other 'me' then said, "I didn't ask for anything extra, just some fairness. Don’t I contribute anything?"
After I calmed down, I started to think, “Why am I angry?” It was because I felt that I had been mistreated after working so long without any acknowledgment. There is the attachment to fame in that thinking. Master said,
“A wicked person is born of jealousy.
Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself.”
(“Realms,” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
I suddenly realized that this was jealousy. I got angry and complained about unfairness towards myself. I remembered a practitioner who once said that anger is rooted in jealousy, but I didn’t take it seriously. This time when I thought about why I had complaints in my heart, it was because I was jealous about other people being acknowledged while I wasn’t. Digging deeper into it, I found that the thoughts for fame, benefits, lust, anger, and sentiment are all included in that jealousy, which are truly the root of many bad things. Master said,
“If in the course of cultivation practice jealousy is not given up, one will not attain Right Fruit...” (Zhuan Falun)
I want to attain Right Fruit, so I must eliminate the attachment. I will no longer think that I don’t have jealousy. I feel fortunate to have seen it clearly, and I will constantly remind myself to eliminate it.
Eliminating the Attachment to Self, Harmonizing with the Entire Group
My job is time sensitive, so it has to be completed within a certain time frame in order not to affect any of the subsequent steps. However, a lot of times I need to cooperate with everyone. I indeed went through a thought process on this and arranged things ahead of time, leaving some cushion so I could respond to emergencies. I felt that my approach was pretty well rounded and organized, and left little room for errors.
But things did not go as I planned. I have to work with many people. Each person handed me a few minor things, which added up to a big pile on my table. My arrangement was messed up many times, which not only wasted my time and energy, but also created chaos for me, and I had to rush and struggle with many changes. As a result, errors occurred often, and in the end, all the conflicts were centered on me.
I felt bitter in my heart for quite a while, and I always had some complaints inside that I just could not eliminate. I complained that other people did not deliver on time, and did not follow the rules. We had a timetable posted for daily incoming articles and ads, but people seemed to ignore it. I complained that others did not put themselves in my shoes and always emphasized their own excuses. They often times casually said, “I forgot” or, “I was tied up with other things,” and then just brushed it off. They ignored the time sensitiveness of my job and were totally selfish.
I complained that the media did not have any administrative system in place to manage people. The human side of me was stubbornly sticking to the thought that I wasn’t wrong, and "why can’t you guys be more cooperative?" I wanted to do well, but it always ended up that I couldn’t do what I wished. Whenever I thought about all this, I felt fretful, and that I had reached my limit.
Master said in the “Fa Teaching at the 2009 Washington DC International Fa Conference,” “For a cultivator, looking within is a magical tool.” Since I was already aware of it, I should have been able to find the source of my problem. Doing things in an organized way and arranging things ahead of time was not wrong. But what was the motivation behind it? After digging deeper, I realized that I wanted everyone to follow my schedule and arrangement. Master said,
“Rather, it is in the act of your cooperating and the thoughts that follow, and in how you go about things in the process of collaborating, that count as the cultivation process.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2010 New York Fa Conference”)
I know the thought I had was wrong, that coordination should not mean sitting there waiting for other people to cooperate with me, comply with my requirements, and follow my arrangements; but rather, I should see things from the other person’s perspective. I suddenly recalled what a practitioner said, “You need to minimize the 'me.'” I know this touched my fundamental attachment – I was too self-centered. Deep inside I was very persistent about what I wanted. Master also said,
“Amidst challenges, or when things can’t be resolved, people are always trying to think of some tactic to use. But there is no shortcut, in fact: you have to truly put cultivation into practice, and cultivate in line with the Great Law.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2010 New York Fa Conference,”)
True cultivation is improving one's xinxing, changing human notions, and using the Fa and the cultivation principles to guide myself. The first change I was determined to make was to take the initiative to cooperate with others. I observed each person’s characteristics and work style, and coordinated with different people in different ways. For example, for some people, a single advance reminder is good enough, but for others, numerous reminders are needed, and for others, close follow-up is a must. For those who have trouble arranging their time well, I not only closely follow up with them, but also think about and prepare things for them ahead of time. I tried my very best to fulfill everyone’s requirements.
As I was letting go of self little by little, what I saw was more and more practitioners’ extra contributions, enduring pressures, and undertakings. I was no longer attached to the superficial right or wrong of a thing, but, rather, I thought about others, and saw things from their perspective, and thought more about whether or not it could benefit the entire group. Every time I stepped back even a little bit, I found I had gained a broader view of the entire group and the overall situation.
Letting go of self and harmonizing with the group is what Master wanted. I was very happy that I enlightened to this and continued to correct myself. During that period of time, whenever I made a little improvement, I could hear the exercise music in my ears, I know Master was encouraging me.
Increasing My Capacity
Because the Fa-rectification is moving forward, the bar has been raised. I could feel that I was being pushed forward. As soon as I got some enlightenment and improved a little, there were new requirements. It’s just that the pace of my improvement could never catch up with the new requirements.
At work, I'm very serious. Once I make a promise, I do my best to deliver. However, as things move forward, there are a lot of options. If I choose to do the task at hand well, then there may be a lot more details, and one thing often turns into several piles of things. Many things come up that need to be done in between those major things.
In the beginning when the manager increased my workload, I was able to cooperate because I knew we were shorthanded. However, when additional work was added, I thought that being a coordinator wasn't easy. I had a lot of things that needed to be coordinated in my area, so I could understand the coordinator’s tough situation. As such, I agreed to take on the extra workload. But when more work was assigned to me, I felt that I had gotten into a bottleneck and turned it down. My excuse was that I only had so much ability, so it was impossible for me to do everything well. If I knew I couldn’t do it well, I shouldn't try.
Not long ago, I was assigned more regular work that needed to be performed on a daily basis. My reaction was to turn it down on the spot. Although I turned it down, I was struggling inside and felt that I should have done it. It made me feel uncomfortable. I thought it might be the enlightened me who felt this way.
I exchanged my thoughts with a fellow practitioner. She said that I'm a practitioner who obtained the Fa relatively late, and she asked me to think about those veteran practitioners. When they stepped out to validate the Fa, acted to end the persecution, and saved sentient beings. What were we doing? We were living an ordinary person’s life. Shouldn’t we do more now? Have we thought about it - this might be the cultivation path we need to take. Everything was arranged by Master.
"Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master."
"One’s gong level is as high as one’s xinxing level." (Zhuan Falun)
As long as you want to do it, Master will give you the wisdom, so that for sure you can do it well. Other practitioners reminded me that it was time for me to increase my capacity.
I sincerely thank those practitioners who helped me see the weakness and distance in my cultivation. I immediately adjusted myself and accepted the new assignment. Actually I’d done things like this when I was doing an everyday people’s job, so it wasn’t new to me and not as difficult as I had imagined. It’s just that I needed to contribute more.
From the beginning when our monthly contract sales was relatively low, to now, when we are aiming at ten times that amount, it was still just me by myself most of the time. During the entire course of it, I had the opportunity to enlarge my capacity constantly. It was truly a solid self-cultivation process. Just as a practitioner said, being in this position, I was able to get something extra. I want to thank Master for giving me this opportunity.
As we are approaching an increased monthly sales goal as a group, another goal of achieving a large amount in operating cash flow has been laid in front of us. The fast paced Fa-rectification has forced me to raise the bar constantly. One day I suddenly realized that if all of my abilities can be used in Fa projects, it would be a great honor in my life.
Looking back on the path I’ve traveled, I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to work and cultivate in this Fa-rectification project. I thank practitioners around me for their help. Being part of the group, I was able to avoid many mistaken steps. Especially this year, I grew with the media project. For a long time I felt that I was lacking wisdom and was not capable of handling many things and taking on any responsibilities. As I improved in my cultivation, I found that those are excuses for being selfish, attached to comfort, and not willing to take responsibility. I have now changed because I have Master, and the Fa gave me wisdom. As long as I believe in Master and the Fa, my abilities are boundless.
On my cultivation path, there's been happiness, pain, and complaints, and there have also been regret and pleasure. There has been tribulation after tribulation. I wasn’t able to overcome each one of them well, but I cultivated myself. Every single bit of it was part of the path I walked. This is also my understanding and practice of the Fa principles at my level.
If any of my understandings are incorrect, please compassionately point them out.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
(Presented at 2013 US Western International Fa Conference)