New Practitioner: Entering Dafa Cultivation
Greetings, revered Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I obtained the Fa in New York in June 2014. Just one year ago I still had a bad impression of Falun Dafa from listening to lies and believing them.
And yet, one year later, I am at Pier 17 in New York with other practitioners, learning how to distribute truth clarification materials and how to explain the truth about Dafa.
I am amazed each time I think about the changes that have happened to me in this short year since I walked into Dafa. I know that I am extremely fortunate compared to other practitioners who went through all sorts of tribulations to obtain the Fa.
You could say that I've had it easy. I never gave cultivation much thought, immigrated from China with my parents fairly early, and we've always led peaceful lives. I obtained the Fa relatively easily
The deaths of my grandparents and a cousin, as well as the aging of my parents over the past couple of years made me fear the loss of my loved ones for the first time in my life. I began to wonder about the meaning of life.
There was so much that went through my mind, but my friends told me that this was not something ordinary people should know about. I felt that there must be answers, and I really wanted to find those answers.
At the time I could never have foreseen that my questions would soon be answered. I met a practitioner, my music teacher, who obtained the Fa in the early years. I remember that, before I obtained the Fa, every time I went for my music lessons, she would always take the time to share her cultivation experiences with me, the interesting things she would encounter in her cultivation, the Fa that Master teaches, etc. I thought that I should reject these things, but instead I listened with keen interest.
Then, my music teacher recommended that I read Zhuan Falun Volume II. I still remember when I read the sentence “Man did not, as Darwin claimed, evolve from the ape.” ( “The Decline of the Human Race and Emergence of Enlightened Beings” from Zhuan Falun Volume II) My deep-rooted concepts were eliminated immediately.
Religions have always said that man was created by gods, but I never believed it. However, after reading this sentence, I immediately understood and believed that man was indeed created by gods. Now I understand that only the power of Dafa could have overcome my misconception.
Zhuan Falun Volume II had already astonished me, but my thinking changed completely when I read Zhuan Falun.
I still remember clearly when I read the sentence “From the high-level perspective, one’s life is not meant for being human.” (Zhuan Falun) It was like I was awakened from a deep slumber. When reading Zhuan Falun, my thinking changed dramatically. After reading it from cover to cover in one sitting, I felt as if I were finally awake and that, in the decades before this, I had lived half-asleep, as if in a dream.
After reading Zhuan Falun I decided to cultivate in Dafa. Even though to cultivate or not is a personal choice, if our purpose of coming to this human world is to return home though cultivation and the ordinary life is only a short process, then we shouldn't forget our real purpose.
During the first few days, I really let out a sigh of relief inside. I was at ease. This was the first time I ever had any serious belief. I had never understood the concept of true faith or what gods and Buddhas were about and had always thought that everything that happens is by chance. I had become pessimistic and depressed, and I thought that I would be like this for the rest of my life.
Only after obtaining the Fa did I suddenly realize that gods manage and control everything, using the power of goodness and compassion to arrange things. There are no coincidences. A good person will be rewarded and doing bad things will bring consequences. The principles and legends in traditional Chinese culture that were thought to be superstition are actually true! Everything is in perfect order. I was finally reassured and knew how to conduct myself.
After this sudden change in mindset, I decided to cultivate according to Dafa's requirements. Even though I understood the Dafa principles, it was still hard to change my thinking.
Many of my friends and family members had a negative impression of Dafa. In the very beginning, I told the people I associated with my understanding of Dafa, said that I practiced it, and helped them change their thinking about the practice. This was a good opportunity for me to cultivate my xinxing.
Luckily my family members did not interfere with my practicing, but in the beginning they didn't want me to get involved in "politics." At that time I still looked at things with ordinary notions, but since I had decided to practice Dafa I had to accept it in its entirety.
From the very beginning I knew that I had to get out and do what Dafa practitioners need to do. Some things I might not understand, but through cultivation and participation, I knew that I would slowly begin to understand them. My family saw that I was determined, so they did not discourage me, and the pressure was far from what practitioners endure in China.
Because of me, my family has also come into contact with Dafa. Even though she still doesn't quite understand cultivation, my mother has completely changed her wrong impression of Dafa and has begun to study the Fa and do the exercises. My father was interfered with more heavily by notions and thought karma, but after sharing and talking with him many times, he is also in the process of reading the Fa.
As a practitioner who obtained the Fa this late, I differ from practitioners who obtained the Fa before 1999. I have not experienced extremely harsh tests, but I did not feel there was no pressure, because I knew that I could not focus solely on personal cultivation; I needed to participate in telling people the facts about Dafa. I must catch up in different areas quickly. Personal cultivation and saving sentient beings must occur simultaneously.
Within a short time I read Master's earliest lectures up to Guiding the Voyage. At that time I did not really understand that studying the Fa in itself was elevating in levels. I only wanted to know more and was able to believe and accept everything. However, perhaps because I had read everything so quickly, I didn't have a solid grasp on much of the Fa. I was still attached to seeking novelty, and I was still far from truly understanding the Fa.
When I got to Guiding the Voyage, I felt a kind of intense pressure. I was only reading the Fa, but I was already experiencing the feeling of being pressed for air. My attachments to fear and worry surfaced. I couldn't even imagine how steadfast those practitioners in mainland China must be in their belief in Master and the Fa to be able to bravely go to Tiananmen Square, courageously clarify the truth, and be jailed, tortured, or even persecuted to death. I am so far behind them.
While reading Master's lectures following Guiding the Voyage, my thinking changed in an unexpected way. Even though I had lived outside of China for many years, I've always thought of myself as Chinese because I have deep love for Chinese culture. However, I was never able to differentiate between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China. I only wondered, "Why is our country doing things that are not in line with universal values?" Over the years, these things have made me feel ashamed to be Chinese, and I've always felt conflicted in my identity.
Only through walking into Dafa and understanding Dafa disciples as a cultivating group did I realize that there is still a large group of Chinese people who truly have beliefs. They are good and noble people. They don't fear power or tyranny and do not resort to violence. They use peaceful methods to clarify the truth to people and spread the beauty of Dafa's Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to different peoples and cultures. There are no words to describe how amazing and admirable they are.
In reading many of Master's lectures, I finally realized that the real, traditional Chinese culture is one that is divinely inspired and noble, and it is worth protecting and being proud of. I was finally able to overcome my low self-esteem. I had found myself and was no longer conflicted about my identity. These are all changes brought to me by Master and Dafa.
I have come to many understandings since beginning cultivation. One of my biggest attachments is that I am overly self-conscious, which means I have attachments that stem from vanity. I am still attached to saving face and worrying. I do not want to be criticized, and even a little criticism makes me very uncomfortable.
In addition, I am quite introverted. When I was in school I had trouble speaking in class, and as I grew older I became more introverted, so much so that I have problems communicating in social and public settings. Later I realized that this is actually the influence of the bad components in CCP culture. I was not able to shake it even after being out of China for so many years. I was only able to realize that this was a huge attachment after cultivating. So now I am working on this aspect.
The first day I went to Pier 17 to learn how to talk to people about Dafa was truly nerve-wracking. This may seem like nothing to those practitioners who have been through a lot, but for me there was a psychological barrier. In reality, however, as soon as I stepped forward, it was easy.
In an international city such as New York, although there is no persecution like in China, one of the greatest challenges for a cultivator is the comfortable environment. One can easily lose ones motivation to cultivate. New York is indeed a special place, with people, cultures, and religions from all over the world. At the same time, the material and entertainment temptations are hard to avoid. They can influence one and cause interference.
Before I began to practice, my thirst for knowledge was intense. I thought living in New York was very convenient, because I could learn about anything I pleased. After I began cultivating, I knew that I needed to take this kind of curiosity lightly. In the beginning it was very difficult, and I could not give up the attachment.
Master has already clearly said,
“People think that the renowned persons, scholars, and different sorts of experts in human society are great. In fact, they are all really insignificant, for they are everyday people … Even if someone were to grasp all of mankind’s knowledge, he would still remain an everyday person.”(“What is Wisdom?” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
As I continued to study the Fa, I was able to slowly let go of this curiosity.
As for material things, I was an only child and was never deprived. Now that I’m cultivating, this has become an obstacle. I would not go so far as to say I’m pampered, but I often spend money carelessly, and over the years I’ve become somewhat attached to material things. I like to eat well and wear nice things. Even though we should not go to extremes while cultivating in ordinary society and we should lead normal lives, we should take lightly the the enjoyments of everyday life and attachments to material things.
This includes not being lazy about studying the Fa, doing the exercises, sending forth righteous thoughts, etc. These look like ordinary tasks, but I've found it is difficult to do them well. I realized that cultivating in this easy environment includes doing everyday things as best as we can, remaining diligent, and improving in this environment full of temptations.
I've enlightened to the fact that life is a test. This applies to both cultivators and ordinary people, but only cultivators know it is a test. Because we are lost in a maze, we are being tested. Every day we are met with the choice of following a cultivator’s standards or acting according to ordinary people’s attachments and desires.
I began cultivation late, so I can only work hard to catch up and study the Fa more. If I don’t study Master’s lectures, I cannot enlighten to many Fa principles.
I need to cultivate my xinxing solidly by always looking inside and trying to find my attachments and ordinary notions, starting with the smallest things.
I’m truly grateful that Master arranged such a wonderful path for me to walk.
My cultivation time is short and my understandings are limited. Please kindly point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, everyone!
(Presented at the 2015 New York Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)