Western Practitioner: Solidly Cultivating, Forging a New Path for Our Media
(Minghui.org) Since stepping onto my cultivation path, I have experienced the power of Dafa and the wisdom and compassion of Master over and over. I would like to share about finding Dafa as a college student, and my journey that brought me to work full-time at the newspaper run by practitioners.
I started practicing Falun Dafa in my sophomore year of college. I was 18 years old, and life was busy and confusing. As I grew into my teen years, I started to see the shallowness of the world around me. I had always asked the bigger questions of why we are here and where we come from. However, I never found the answer.
I remembered that my older brother had a friend who was deep into spiritual things and was even able to see with his Celestial Eye. I sought him out, and we both stepped onto the path to obtain Dafa together.
In the beginning, we would get together to meditate and drink tea. As we started spending more time together, though, strange things started to happen. We both developed this deep sense that we were meant to do very important things on Earth. We knew that something large was going to shift in the cosmos, and that somehow we would be at the center of it.
Sometimes when we would get together to meditate, he told me that he would see thousands of beings gathering around to watch us. I was unable to see anything, but I knew they were all there. There were many divine beings that started to give us hints and point us into the right direction.
We enlightened to the fact that we were meant to play a major role in guiding humanity into a new era, a new universe. Even though we understood this, we had no clue where to start. As we talked about it, we discussed Tai Chi, but we both knew that it was very low level. My friend then suggested that we find a qigong practice.
We knew that if we found the right qigong practice, we could obtain enlightenment and have the wisdom to save the human race. However, where could we find a good qigong master? We talked about it and concluded that all of the good qigong masters were in China. Thus, we thought that perhaps we would need to head East. We weren't sure how, but we knew that we would need to find a very high-level qigong master from China to help us reach enlightenment, so that we could play our role to save the human race and guide them into the new universe.
I decided to start by looking online at school the next day. Like magic, the second website I came across was for Falun Dafa. Instantly I recognized Master Li's name and thought, "Master Li! He must be the qigong master I am looking for!" So, that day I printed off a copy of Zhuan Falun and ordered two copies of Falun Gong.
I instantly immersed myself in Zhuan Falun and started learning the exercises. My friend wasn't as quick to jump in as me, but instead watched the changes happening in me. Every time we would get together, he would notice huge changes in me. He would say, "Wow! I can see a big energy spiral coming off your head!" or "Wow! There is this huge white energy spinning around you, with all of these cosmoses inside!"
One day, about three weeks into my cultivation, I had my friend over to my apartment. This was before he had read any Dafa books, but he was starting to see how amazing the practice was. When we were talking in my room, he looked at me with a surprised look on his face and said, "Wow, my friend, there is something really amazing happening. You have these three flowers starting to form above your head, and they are spinning, with energy coming out!"
I was very surprised to hear that. I had only read Zhuan Falun once or twice, but I remembered reading about this in the book. The amazing thing is that he had yet to read about the three flowers gathering atop the head. We were both truly amazed when I found the passage in the book.
Stepping Onto the Front Lines of Fa-Rectification
After a few years of cultivation in our hometown in Ohio, my friend and I felt that we needed to move to a major city to join the front lines. I got in contact with the newspaper staff and because I had a professional education in design, so working in the media seemed like the perfect fit for me.
After making a few arrangements, I moved to the city and began to work full-time for the newspaper. It has now been almost exactly five years since I first started working there.
The path I have walked working in the media has been full of successes, difficulties, tribulations, and intense cultivation. My ego and selfishness have been painfully ground away.
A Second Chance
After a few years of living and working in this major metropolitan area, I started to get worn down. Everything started to become more difficult, and my cultivation started to slip. I had been extremely busy with the newspaper, as well as running a business with my wife.
As I got busier doing things, cultivation and Fa study fell to the wayside. Because my cultivation was in a poor state, the world around me became my enemy. I became depressed and despondent.
Deep down inside, I knew that I was a cultivator, but that thought drifted further and further away. I had long-term tribulations that I was unable to solve, and it seemed that the tribulations got worse as my attachments grew larger.
I started to pull away from the newspaper, and was eventually only working one day a week. There was an immense sadness inside me, as I knew that I was failing in my cultivation, and I no longer believed I was at the standard to reach Consummation. To ease my sorrows, I started getting back into a lot of ordinary hobbies, such as movies, television and music. However nothing I did could truly put my mind at ease.
I feel like Master described my situation perfectly in "Expounding on the Fa" from Essentials for Further Advancement:
"Whenever a tribulation comes, you do not see it with the side of your original nature but view it completely with your human side. Evil demons then capitalize on this point and inflict endless interference and damage, leaving students in long-term tribulations. As a matter of fact, this results from an inadequate understanding of the Fa by your human side."
Master did not give up on me, though. He led me back onto the front lines of Fa-rectification. At the beginning of this year, the media project's main coordinator was coming to our city to give a few days of presentations about a new direction for the English newspaper. Before he came, there was a lot of talk about some big changes on the horizon. Little did I know how big they would be.
I arranged my time with my business so that I could spend the first day at the meetings. I wanted to get an idea what was happening, but in my heart I though that I would not be able to play too large of a role. We were in a big growth period for our business, and my wife needed me there to guide every step.
After the first day of meetings concluded, I was very encouraged with the direction where things were heading. I decided to go to the meetings again the next morning for a few hours, and then go back to work.
That day, the coordinator laid out the grand plan for our media. Little did I know that this meeting would significantly change my course in life. The more in depth he explained things, the more I felt like I didn't even want to blink. I saw, step by step, how our media organization would truly become the biggest media in the world. It all made perfect sense, as if he had seen the future and came back to tell us how to get there.
As I looked back at my life and the five years I had been with the paper, everything aligned. It all clicked. The years laboring at design school, the sleepless nights producing the paper, and the trials and tribulations that taught me about cooperation and letting go of self.
I saw that Master had given me all of the talents and knowledge I would need to play a major role for the newspaper. It was as if in that moment, my true self came alive. My mind became so sharp as I thought: "This is why I am here. This is why I moved to this big city. This is why I came to this human world. I am here to save sentient beings, and this is the path that Master has given me."
Tears started rolling down my cheeks as the coordinator presented his plan. I felt like Master scooped me out of hell again, and laid a golden path at my feet. I cannot explain the amount of gratitude and humbleness I felt at that time. After faltering on my path amidst the confusion in the human world, Master still believed in me.
That weekend I had a long talk with my wife and told her the grand plan for the media, and how my role fit in. I know it was a struggle for her to hear that, as she had become used to me running the business. However, in her heart she supported me, so she gave me her blessing to join the newspaper full-time again.
I knew that I would only be able to succeed in my role if everything I did was based in the Fa. I started a morning Fa-study group at the newspaper office to help cement a study schedule. Something amazing had shifted. It was as if something deep down inside of me opened up.
Master said in Lunyu:
"In order to explore this domain, humankind must fundamentally change its conventional thinking."
When I had the thought of remembering why I'd come here, my thinking changed fundamentally. It felt as if I just started cultivation. When I looked back at my cultivation path, it seemed as if I had always been a human being inside, trying to be a cultivator. But fundamentally I had been a human inside.
I now looked at it from a completely different perspective. I remembered that I was a god who followed Master to the Three Realms to save sentient beings. So instead of approaching cultivation as a human trying to cultivate, I felt like a god inside, working on getting rid of humanness.
When I read "Expounding on the Fa" (from Essentials for Further Advancement) again, Master's words shocked me like lightning:
"When a tribulation arrives, if you, a disciple, can truly maintain an unshakable calm or be determined to meet different requirements at different levels, this should be sufficient for you to pass the test. If it continues endlessly and if there do not exist other problems in your xinxing or conduct, it must be that the evil demons are capitalizing on the weak spots caused by your lack of control. After all, a cultivator is not an ordinary human. So why doesn’t the side of you that is your original nature rectify the Fa?"
I understood that I had been approaching cultivation as a human, viewing my tribulations with human thinking. For years I had been battling laziness, showing off, lust, and jealousy. It just seemed like they were getting worse, though. The problem was that I was a human trying to fight them, with human thoughts.
After changing my thinking at the core, I truly felt in the depth of my heart that my true self was a pure, holy god. These tribulations should not have been happening for so long. I understood that these substances weren't even close to being part of my original nature. They were messy, weak karma accumulated at the surface.
They only seemed strong because my thinking was so weak. When I changed my thinking, I became strong and they became weak. This was a major breakthrough for me, and it allowed me to step into a new stage of my cultivation.
Being Grounded in the Fa
Master said in “Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa - Fa Teaching Given at the 2011 Washington DC Metro Area Fa Conference”:
“But consider what I have said: if whatever it is that you’re doing is not grounded in the Fa, if it does not have the power of the Fa, and if you haven’t cultivated well, you will not do those things well. Although you might have done whatever it is, it has not achieved any effect and simply cannot save people, for you are ineffective in dissolving evil factors. That is why Fa-study is still the most, most important thing—it is the fundamental guarantee for all that you are to do.”
I have tried to make those words the starting point for everything that I do. I have started to truly understand what righteous thoughts are, and how powerful they are.
Master has always taught us that our gong level is as high as our xinxing level. When I am designing something, or working on another aspect of the paper, my thoughts directly affect my abilities. If I am only thinking in a human way, then that is where my xinxing is, and my gong level is also only that high.
There have been countless times when I have been hours into a complicated design, getting stuck in multiple ways. At some point, I would stop and look at myself. I would look inside my heart and try to figure out what is wrong. At that point, I would realize that my heart had not been that of a compassionate god working to save sentient beings; rather, my heart and mind were filled with ordinary thoughts and the pursuit of trying to finish the work.
At that point, I would close my eyes and say, from the depth of my heart: "Master, I am working on this design so that it can save sentient beings. I don't want anything in return. I only want to save sentient beings. Please allow me to have the wisdom to make the best design, so that more lives will come to it and be saved."
As soon as I have that thought, I always feel a rush of energy up my spine. Sometimes I well up with tears, as I thank Master for giving me such a grand opportunity.
After that, the design would flow from my mind through my hands. Very quickly I would finish the task, with the best design possible. I know that Master had given me the wisdom I needed because my heart was aligned with the Fa.
Once, I had a very vivid dream. In the dream, there were two teams designing the same news page. There was one of me on each team, so I saw the pages being designed simultaneously. On one team, everyone was using all of their human skills and thinking to edit and design the page. On the other team, we were all very simple in our thinking and only thought about saving sentient beings.
Amazingly, that second team finished the design very quickly, and it was perfect. They would only need to do each step once, and it was complete. The team that was thinking in a human manner, however, took a very long time to finish the page. They kept having to move things around, and mistakes kept showing up. This dream was a big reminder from Master that our wisdom comes from the Fa and righteous thoughts.
Amazing things can happen when our hearts are aligned with the Fa.
For a media business these days, the website is a crucial part of the business. The newspaper's website had needed to be redesigned for many years, but we never had the capacity to do it. I personally had no clue how to design a website for a large media company; I had only designed very small and simple websites for small businesses.
There was an initial meeting between the website director and our main coordinator that I happened to sit in on. I really had no intention of being involved with the website design, as I had no clue how to do it. As the meeting progressed, though, it became apparent that the main coordinator wanted me to head up the redesign. I was a little worried, but I just trusted what he wanted, and trusted that Master had a path arranged for me.
After the meeting, I sat with the website director with a blank stare on my face. I said, "So, I guess we should start redesigning the website?" We both laughed a little bit and started working.
We were both very clear that Master had everything arranged for us, and that we were just walking our paths to save sentient beings. We were also very solid in our minds that whatever the main coordinator wanted was the best, and that we would support it wholeheartedly.
The most amazing things started happening, and continued to happen for the next few weeks. As I started working, design ideas just started flowing out of me. I almost felt like my human mind disappeared, and everything flowed through me. It was as if the design just made itself, as if it had already existed. Decisions that would usually take hours or days to figure out happened almost instantly. In my heart, I felt like it was Master who was actually doing the work.
That night we finished the first major draft for the site. When we met with the main coordinator the next day, he almost didn't believe his eyes. He said it was just like what he had imagined, only better. I think we all knew that divine things were happening.
That day was the start of the most intense design project I have ever undertaken. We had only scratched the surface of the work that would need to be done for the site. For the next two months straight, it seemed like the website director and I lived at the office. We had a development team in India we had to work with during the night and our normal work to do during the day.
Keeping up with Fa study became the key to maintaining our righteous thoughts amidst that schedule. Without proper Fa study, our minds became clouded and doubtful, and our thinking would become very human. Master's Fa continued to be a beacon of light for us, grounding our minds in righteous thoughts.
Master said in the “Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting” that regardless of one's role working in the media, “in each and every regard there exists the question of whether you are able to handle things with righteous thoughts.”
With the amazing support and cooperation of our team, we were able to launch the new website this past month. It was like a new child had been born. With the great efforts of the editors, writers, and the tech team, the website has entered a new stage.
We are now getting five times the amount of traffic we had before, reaching over 100,000 visitors a day. And I know this is just the beginning. The paper has also completely transformed, and is growing rapidly. I can truly see us stepping forward an becoming the world's largest media.
Word cannot express my humbleness and gratitude. I am so thankful that Master gave me this historic opportunity. And I am thankful for all of the amazing practitioners that I have had the opportunity to work with. I am trying my best to cherish every moment I have as a Fa-rectification period Dafa disciple.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Master. And thank you, fellow practitioners.
I did my best to write this sharing from the bottom of my heart, clear of any human thinking. However, please point out if you find anything inappropriate.
Category: Journeys of Cultivation