(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master. Greetings, fellow Dafa disciples!

I’m a 20-year-old practitioner from North Carolina. I started practicing Falun Dafa with my parents in 1998 in the US. The following is my experience cultivating from a very young age.

Personal Cultivation

When I was small child I was a very diligent, young practitioner. I had a very simple understanding of the Fa, but always faithfully believed that it was good. I remember when I was about five years old, I thought that everyone had a master, so I once asked my best friend at the time, “Who is your master?” and she replied, “I don’t know... my dad, I guess?” Being a practitioner was something that has always defined me, and as I grew up, I became more and more aware of how that set me apart from ordinary people.

In middle school and high school, I became progressively less diligent and was never very good about clarifying the truth to my friends, because I thought that telling them that I practiced Falun Dafa would make me seem different.

In retrospect, my self-consciousness about the matter was due to the fact that I didn’t study the Fa enough and didn’t have a solid understanding. I understood that I was supposed to awaken those with a predestined relationship with me, but didn’t fully grasp the seriousness of the matter.

Being a Practitioner in College

In my area, there are a couple other practitioners whom I grew up with, and we set a daily Fa study time to read together online. It was certainly good to have a routine, but I was really participating out of obligation, and usually did not study with my heart. On days I was busy, I’d make excuses to not read, and just say that I’d study on my own later on. I didn’t think that my situation was problematic because I thought that going through the motions of studying the Fa was better than nothing.

Without strong righteous thoughts, I was too immersed in ordinary life and cared too much about things like hanging out with friends, getting good grades, or traveling and studying abroad, which is something ordinary people consider “a meaningful experience.” I looked into a two-month study abroad program in Singapore that seemed very interesting for the summer after my first year in school.

I worked for months perfecting my application and was almost certain that the program was perfect for me. During my application process, though, I got an email from the office manager of a Dafa project asking if I would like to go to New York that summer to intern. I had workedfor them the summer before from home, and decided that I’d keep that in mind as a back-up plan.

When the decisions for the studying abroad program came out, I was pretty surprised that I had not been accepted. It seemed like I had everything they were looking for, and I felt that I was a very strong candidate. I then realized that this was Master’s arrangement, and that I was meant to go to New York for the summer to do Dafa work. I had no idea what to expect, but I became excited about this opportunity, and I knew in my heart that this experience would be life-changing.

My Internship with a Dafa Project

On my first day of work, I attended three different Fa study sessions at the office. The cultivation environment astounded me, and I thought that the sharings that followed the study sessions were incredibly precious and eye-opening. The practitioners connected their work with their cultivation state, looked within on their issues, and reminded each other of the importance of their work.

I was working on the web team, and I remember one practitioner saying that even though our web traffic is mostly affected by Google’s search algorithm, we have to remember that Google exists as our tool to use in Fa rectification. This statement resounded with me, and that’s when I realized I never grasped that everything today truly exists for this Fa-rectification period.

Through Fa study, I recognized that I had a strong attachment to reaching consummation, and all my life I grew up with the fear of not meeting the standard.

In the 2002 "Touring North America to Teach the Fa" lecture, Master said:

"If someone considers his individual Consummation the most important thing, I’d say that he’s not worthy of being a Dafa disciple of the Fa-rectification period... You coexist with the Fa-rectification period, and Dafa has bestowed upon you magnificent responsibilities and missions... So isn’t our saving sentient beings something truly remarkable, something truly magnificent? Actually, it’s also very urgent."

This passage made me realize how much my fear held me back, and was not at all conducive to my improvement. I was able to set aside this deeply engrained notion, and decided from then on to focus completely on improving myself for the sake of sentient beings.

Spending the summerdoing a Dafa project, with daily Fa study and an intense cultivation environment, I could feel the improvement in every fiber of my being. I felt like I had re-obtained the Fa, and like things finally “clicked” for me. Up until then, I was more so doing what my parents wanted me to, but now I finally learned to choose to be a diligent practitioner for myself.

At the end of the summer, I dreaded leaving New York and the precious cultivation environment and really didn’t want to go back to college where I couldn’t focus on just doing the three things every day. However, I knew that it was my path to go back to school and awaken the sentient beings there.

My Cultivation Path

With this new mindset, I felt the urge to fully clarify the truth to my friends and classmates. I realized that clarifying the truth to those that care about me would have much more of an impact because they would trust what I have to say. Especially when coming from a compassionate mindset, I have found that my friends really listen when I tell them about Falun Dafa.

Many of my friends seemed to immediately understand that Dafa is good, and what the Chinese government is doing is wrong. One of my friends has a Chinese girlfriend, and when he heard about the propaganda against Dafa in China, he told me, “I’m going to ask her if she’s heard about it before, and if she thinks bad things about Falun Dafa I’ll break up with her.”

Because I hadn’t clarified the truth to most of my friends before, I never explained the real reason why I don’t drink alcohol, and always explained vaguely that it was a personal choice. This led them to believe that I would probably drink some day, and they sometimes would still offer me some, but I would always turn them down.

After telling them that I practice Falun Dafa and explaining that I don’t drink because of the practice, they were incredibly understanding and have never mentioned it to me again. Since then, my friends have only been supportive and sometimes ask me more about the practice and the persecution.

Even though I was effectively clarifying the truth to my friends and the results were phenomenal, I felt really uncomfortable being back in ordinary society, and it took me a while to get used to it again. Initially, I had no interest in the seemingly pointless conversations and felt that the things everyone worried about were incredibly useless.

In Master’s 2003 lecture in Vancouver, He said:

"During cultivation you're in fact constantly stumbling and falling and then picking yourself up to keep on going. But this society that you're facing, which has been forged by this human science, this reality, is very enticing...But no matter what, you're Dafa disciples, so just keep righteous thoughts in your minds and try your best to do well what you should do. You're cultivating while conforming to ordinary people to the maximum extent.”

I realized that I was not making an effort to conform to ordinary society, and I was not being compassionate to my friends. What really mattered was that I stay righteous in my mind, and as long as I maintain that, I would do what I was supposed to do.

This past school year, I made sure to prioritize Fa study and never skip a day, no matter how busy I was. I found that when I have a very righteous mindset, I often meet new people with high inborn qualities, and I really feel that sentient beings are beginning to awaken. A couple of times when I could only briefly clarify the truth to someone, they would immediately pick up on the three principles of Truthfulness- Compassion-Forbearance. A couple of them would then go to research the practice on their own and asked to read the book and learn the exercises.

One friend of mine read on the Falun Dafa website about how the Falun is always spinning in the abdomen, and casually brought it up during lunch and asked if I could feel my Falun turning. It was amazing to me how high some people’s enlightenment quality is, and I’ve learned how important it is for me to maintain my own state so that I can meet those with a predestined relationship without interference.

Moving Forward

With a lot of hard work, I, along with the two other practitioners at school, established a Falun Dafa club. We have weekly sessions where we teach other students the exercises. At first, it was just a few of our friends that came to learn, but with perseverance and various ways of getting the word out, others have come to learn the exercises and have all been incredibly quick to learn!

It’s clear to me now that my path is well paved, and I must continue doing the best I can wherever I am. With the unique environment of college and the opportunity to reach thousands of sentient beings a day, it’s vital that we raise awareness about the Falun Dafa club and make sure to maintain our own cultivation states, otherwise those with a predestined relationship won’t be able to find us!

Observing the purity and sincerity of my friends who learn the practice and others who come to the club, I feel the utmost happiness for the countless beings in each of their respective worlds being saved. Just like the last poem of Hong Yin,

"I Smile

I smile—sentient beings have awakenedI smile—Dafa now spreadsI smile—the ferryboat has set sailI smile—for sentient beings there is hope"

The above is my limited understanding. Please correct me if there is anything incorrect. Thank you, Master. Thank you, everyone!