Striving for Diligence and Being More Diligent
(Minghui.org) Greetings, revered Master. Greetings, my fellow disciples from all over the world.
I have cultivated for 9 years. During all these years, it feels like time has flown by so quickly. I feel like there are things that I didn't handle well, and areas where I still need to improve after many years. But I have grown and matured in Dafa. I went from being a 22-year-old, restless young man when I first began cultivating, to the 31-year-old man that I am now. All along I have sought out ways to be a better cultivator. I couldn't always enlighten to the answers, or do everything perfectly. I think there are some attachments that even remain after years. Regardless of how I have cultivated, I never cease striving for diligence, and being more diligent has never left my mind. Whether I could always achieve it or not, I certainly did not let it leave my mind.
After being in New York for many years, I suddenly got the chance to visit Taiwan and study Chinese last year. When I arrived, I was eager to find practice sites and Fa study groups, and meet the local practitioners. I participated in the weekly English-language Fa studies there. There were some other Western practitioners who were in Taiwan either studying Chinese or visiting family. There were also Taiwanese practitioners who spoke English who participated. There was also a new practitioner girl there from the Philippines who obtained the Fa from her practitioner boss in Taiwan. Some English speakers also attended the Fa study online. It was great to study with them all.
I also participated in Chinese-language Fa study groups. It was an amazing experience. Although I could not understand enough Chinese at the time, as long as I truly focused and concentrated, I could get the main idea of what practitioners spoke about during sharing. While reading in Chinese, the parts that I could understand would trigger my mind to recall the same sections in the English lectures I had read, and would trigger a recall of the specifics. So I don't feel I fell behind in Fa study despite non-fluency in Chinese. I feel that Master was looking out for me and making sure I could comprehend what I needed to during Fa study groups.
I stayed with a wonderful practitioner family near Taipei. They were warmer than my own family in America, and they trusted me upon our first meeting. I began to feel that they were my real family. I felt at home in Taiwan.
Many tour groups come to Taiwan from mainland China, and this presents a great opportunity for Taiwanese practitioners to clarify the truth. It seems like a divine arrangement. Interestingly, I noticed that my ability to speak and read Chinese only improved when I decided to spend a lot of my time going out to talk to mainland Chinese tourists.
Divine Land Marching Band
The marching band is a project that has always felt very special to me. It is such an amazing thing to do! During performances, we are on the world stage. It is something to cherish. And while out there in front of the spectators, we should perform well, because we will affect all within listening range. We should strive to have them hear something of beauty.
I now look upon every moment of my participation in the band as saving sentient beings. I try to keep this in mind at all times: as we play, when we practice, and even as we line up in preparation for parades. It is important to get accustomed to having the correct state of mind – the state of mind that is most effective in achieving the goal of saving sentient beings. It is too easy to get caught up in little, trifling matters if one's mind is not focused on one’s purpose.
In the past I was very attached to improving my skill in the marching band, but it was because I could sense Teacher had granted me a talent, and I wanted to see just how skillful I could become and how far I could take that talent, and the marching band was a project that I enjoyed doing. But these projects all have a purpose. Our personal likings and feelings and personal goals should not get mixed in. I started to take the marching band as my personal indulgence. I wasn't thinking about saving sentient beings during that time, but about my potential as a musician.
Of course, if Master gives us certain skills, they are for certain uses. We receive and command the instruments for the purpose of others, not for ourselves or our own personal satisfaction. Improving our skills in the marching band is directly connected to saving more sentient beings. That is why it is so important to be involved with the correct purpose. The marching band provides a channel for sentient beings to directly connect with Dafa and Dafa practitioners in their communities, and to have Dafa and practitioners enter their communities in an impressive and grand fashion, with roaring trumpets and earth-shaking drums that fill the streets, clear the skies, and shake the ten directions!
During my three months in Taiwan, I spent much of that time performing and practicing with Taiwan's marching band. I was so impressed by what I saw there. Their band is huge, and they march for an extremely long time. After other groups in the parades had already stopped, Taiwan practitioners would keep marching, and march from one end of the town to the other and then back! Of course this impressed the spectators. During breaks in performances, they were all studying their music notes, making sure they played everything correctly. I could see that they put a lot of care into what they were doing.
Working at the Station
I have been with the TV station for more than eight of my nine years of cultivation. I started working with the station even before I had been practicing cultivation for a year. I came into it with basic skills in writing, sound, and video, but I've had to develop many new skills. It felt like whenever a new skill was needed to do a certain task, it wouldn't take long to develop it. Whether it was script-writing, narration, camera work, editing, or Internet technologies, they were not difficult to pick up when needed. I know this is a condition provided by Master so that we can carry out our work well.
But just as with any ability, this can lead to attachment if you are not careful. It can lead to arrogance about our talents, which may then lead to friction and competitiveness with others.
There were times I would feel proud when others called on me and recognized my ability in certain areas, and I would feel kind of down when others got chosen to perform certain tasks that I felt I was skillful in. But working at the station is not about proving your talents. Of course we all are talented, but can we use our talents to achieve the purpose for which the station exists and truly make it a success? Sometimes we've got to let go of our talents and feelings of being capable so that we can work together.
As I understand it, cooperation is the talent that we currently need to develop more of. When we focus on and fight to prove our individual skills and talents in editing, narration, camera work, anchoring, or writing, we lose the larger and more powerful ability which we need right now, and that is the ability to cooperate well together.
Recently I had a good experience and the feeling of truly cooperating with another practitioner in doing the work. This practitioner called on me to help her with a project at the TV station. She described how she had had bad experiences working with other practitioners and was looking for someone to fulfill a role in her movie project. She had trouble moving the project forward. I asked her to tell me what her experiences had been. I listened carefully to see what the underlying problem was.
From the beginning, instead of trying to do things my way, I made sure that she knew up front that I trusted and respected her judgment. I encouraged her to point out right away if there was anything I was doing wrong in the work. I let her know that I was putting full confidence in her and constantly asked her opinion of whether she felt that the project was going well or not. It seemed like she grew less and less afraid to state her feelings and to play her role as director. I let go of any of my own views. I just wanted her to feel satisfied and to just support her idea. I had to get her to be clear on expressing her idea so I could help her carry it out. We worked very well together. I often felt tears in my eyes while working on that project. It is because I could see how once it was complete it would be a powerful vehicle for truth clarification. I was without selfishness. I didn't care if I had talents or not. I let her decide what was right or wrong in my work, and if it wasn't right, I changed it immediately. The project went exceptionally well due to our cooperation. I know that if I had been attached to my way of doing things or contradicted her on some point or other, or wanted to show off my talent, that may have led to a different outcome. From the beginning I provided an environment where this practitioner was free to talk openly with me and criticize my work as she wished. Really, I just wanted her to succeed in her idea to clarify the truth, and to bring it to fruition.
Cultivating Away Jealousy, Competitiveness, Resentment
There are times when I have been overcome by jealousy in the form of competing with others in cultivation, competing with others in doing work, or feeling that others are looking down on me and that the way I am being treated is unfair. I only recently realized that these experiences were meant to pull out of me the attachment of jealousy – to let me see and notice it so that I could get rid of it for good.
Looking back, it seems I had many aspects of jealousy to get rid of. This manifested most prominently in a recent job I had. It was a great company, but it seemed the people there were never pleased with my work. I always felt unappreciated, bored, and lost. It seemed also that maybe I couldn't do that type of work well. I could have simply been honest once I realized this and gone out to look for a more suitable job. Simple as that.
One day I walked into the office to hear a coworker tell me that the boss was looking to fire me. At the time, I should have accepted this. I knew the job was not very suitable anyway. I should have just said “okay” and walked away and accepted being fired like a gentleman. There are other jobs out there that one can get, perhaps ones that would be a better fit. But due to my attachments, when I heard the rumors, I burned with anger inside. I felt hurt, upset, unappreciated, and unfairly judged. I started to argue and yell at her. Then she proceeded to tell me other rumors that had been passed around, including ones that she herself spread. I felt extremely betrayed and that I could not trust anyone at the job.
At that point, I decided not to quit my job. I wanted to stay and work, with the goal of proving my worth, proving that I was capable, and to not let the boss fire me before I had a chance to quit on my own. It seems my attachments grew. I could not bear to lose face, even though I had no other reason to stay at that job. It seemed like the more I worked, the more displeased some of the management staff were with me, and the more I felt I was being treated unfairly. I eventually left the job in an irresponsible fashion.
Later, with the help of fellow practitioners in a Fa study group sharing, I realized that the attachment behind this was jealousy. I was jealous of the relationship my boss and supervisors had with the other employees and felt ignored and unappreciated by them. My behavior and thinking during that time were out of line. I shouldn't have cared so much about what people thought of me.
My Fa study and exercises suffered during that time, as the job had long hours, and I was not in a nice, calm state. I wish I had handled the situation better, but nonetheless, I am glad that I finally uncovered my attachments and had the opportunity to cultivate myself in the process.
I realize now that it is okay if others are better than me in some area, perform a job better than me, or receive more favors from the boss, or even live a better life, as we all have different amounts of de and karma and different life paths prearranged based on them. I have taken things to be unfair for too long. I also thought my childhood with my particular family was unfair, and it led me to think that the world was an unfair place. I brought those human notions with me into many things I did.
Master said in “A Dialogue with Time” in Essentials for Further Advancement:
“There are also such people among veteran disciples. And the most outstanding evidence of that is that they always compare themselves with humans and with their own past, but fail to examine themselves with the requirements of the Fa at different levels.”
I just need to look inside, walk my own path, and gauge everything with the standard of the Fa. I need to constantly be firm about my mission for coming to this world and not let myself get distracted or too absorbed.
It seems that despite the fact that I have had the best thing – the Fa – for many years, I kept focusing on situations where I lost out, got hurt, or felt people were not being reasonable. I realize now that these situations are all insignificant in light of being a Dafa cultivator in the Fa-rectification period.
I want to share a poem from Essentials for Further Advancement that illustrates the attachment I need to let go of:
Realms A wicked person is born of jealousy. Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself. A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion. With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy. An enlightened person has no attachments at all. He quietly observes the people of the world deluded by illusions.
Master, I will let go of my thoughts of having been treated unfairly. I won't focus on those things based on selfishness, jealousy, or resentment. And I promise you, Master, from this point on, I will cherish all of what you have given and make it worth your while to have put this right at my doorstep in having entrusted me with the grand responsibility of being a Fa-rectification Dafa disciple. What an immense honor. I will live up to the name.
Thank you for listening to my cultivation experiences. Anything I've said is just my own personal understanding and experience. Please feel free to point out anything lacking.