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Cherishing Opportunities to Clarify the Truth and to Cultivate

August 10, 2015 |   By a Falun Dafa practitioner in Missouri, USA

(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!

I started cultivation in the year 2000 and within a few months I began to realize the requirements for a Fa-rectification period Dafa disciple. My first thought was to complain to myself, “Others had a chance to cultivate themselves for a while first, why can't I have more time to focus on me?” But the more I got involved in doing things to save sentient beings, the more I enlightened to the principles of the Fa and the happier I felt as I carried out my heart's true wish.

In the summer of 2001, our area had an opportunity to host an art exhibit at our State Capitol. A TV reporter came, and the event also resulted in a Governor's proclamation for Falun Dafa. However, I felt like a major opportunity to reach out to the government and community was missed. I had posted a few community announcements, but I had not made personal contact with community groups, educators, or government leaders. I realized that having an event like this painting exhibit that resonates with ordinary society was a really good way to reach people, and I promised myself to seize future opportunities like this, in addition to our regular projects and other methods of raising awareness.

When the Human Rights Torch Relay project was initiated before the 2008 Olympics I recognized that this was another such opportunity. I was excited and thought that all kinds of people would support this because it included the human rights abuses of various groups in China. But when I started contacting people in my area about our event, I quickly found that after briefly describing the Human Rights Torch Relay, it was critical that I then explain that Falun Gong was the main focus and explain about the practice and the persecution. If I only talked about human rights in general, people were not automatically supportive, as I had imagined they would be. So I made it a point in every phone call to clarify the truth. This way, the process of contacting people, whether it produced a result or not, was a process of clarifying the truth. And when I visited groups to invite them to the event, Falun Gong always became the main topic of discussion.

At that time, I lived in a state with only three practitioners, so organizing a large-scale event like this a was a major undertaking. I remember realizing that because it was so big, it was beyond my control, and therefore I needed to learn to fully trust in Master, every step of the way.

After I reserved the venue I learned that we would need to get costly insurance coverage for the event. I did not know how we were going to cover it, but I knew that there would be a way. Then, eventually, one of the groups I spoke to not only agreed to be a sponsor of the event but were so moved by the persecution and our efforts to stop it that they also agreed to let us use their insurance for the event.

A few weeks before our event, I suddenly found had that we had to move the event date to one months later due to unexpected construction at the venue. I was upset at first, but I quickly realized that this was Master's arrangement. More time meant that we could reach more people and groups. And in that time, an Olympic gold medalist and my state representative agreed to join the march and rally and some well-known local musicians agreed to perform throughout the day. The later date also meant that there were more tourists, as well as beautiful weather to greet the many groups and individuals who marched and rallied in support of Falun Gong and other groups persecuted in China.

This year when I learned that the Ride2Freedom bicycle tour was coming through our state, I knew that this was great opportunity for our area, which has no theater big enough for Shen Yun. Ride2Freedom was a group of young people riding their bikes across the country to rescue orphans who lost their parents in the persecution in China. It's kids rescuing kids, and it resonates with people.

Ride2Freedom would be stopping in a city where I used to live that is an hour and a half away from me. I contacted the one practitioner I knew there and we began planning for the event. We had only a month to organize the rally and we had an especially difficult time in the beginning, nailing down the details for the event, including the venue. We were debating whether to have it on a stage by the courthouse downtown or in a small park outside of town that was already on the bike route. Some people were telling me that the venue didn't matter as long as the media came, but the other practitioner and I felt that the venue should be more official. It had been hard to communicate with the riders and we weren't sure if they could change their route to go into the downtown area.

I became so full of anxiety over this that it seemed to be the cause of a terrible toothache and fever that followed. The other practitioner working on the event got a terrible pain in her mouth for those same two days. When I finally managed to share our thoughts with one of the members of the bicycle team, he agreed and said they could change the route to accommodate our plan. I felt that his words and a similar comment from another friend of mine were hints from Master that this was the right place to have it, and I finally felt assured. I realized that a major part of my hesitance to commit to having it on the outdoor stage downtown was that I knew we would have to put a lot of effort, or else the seating area would be empty.

Around that time, while reading Master's recent lecture in New York, the words “put your heart into it” kept jumping out at me.

Master said,

“And if you want to do a good job with those projects and make them effective at saving people, then you need to do them better, put more heart into them, and spend more time on them. And that being the case, it may seem as though there’s no time for your own cultivation. But however things may be, you all still need to make time for cultivation and for Fa study. ” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference ”)

This gave me a great sense of peace. I realized that all I needed to do was put my heart into it and keep moving forward, while studying and cultivating myself. As for the outcome of the event itself, it was not up to me.

After spending a day with the other practitioner in that city planning the event, the next morning I went to the city website and found that we had just missed the city council meeting that evening and it would have been a good chance for us to invite the mayor and city council members. However, I found that that evening there would be a human rights commission meeting. I emailed the contact person, explaining our event and asking to see if there were opportunities to speak to the commission. I quickly received a reply that anyone could come and speak at the end of the meeting. Because I had to go home that day, the other practitioner and a college student practitioner who had been persecuted in China went to speak at the meeting. The commission members were moved by the college student's story and offered to help in various ways. One of the members who worked for a non-profit organization offered to supply boxed lunches for the riders. Later, we also spoke at the city council meeting and a city council member agreed to speak at our event.

All of the support the event received, as well as the event details, slowly fell into place up until the event time. However, there was so much uncertainty along the way. At some point I became doubtful and it felt like we were not getting much support. I looked inside and recalled that I had felt uncomfortable during a conference call earlier that week in which another practitioner was explaining the success of their event. I had a strong competitive mentality and was focused on making our event successful as a means of showing off. I felt ashamed and realized that our event was not more important than fellow practitioners' events and deep in my heart I should support all of the other events.

The next day a staff representative of a federal-level Congresswoman emailed to confirm that he would speak, and staff from the Parks and Recreation Department offered to guide the riders from the rally to a nearby park, as part of our event. We also received a resolution from two state representatives, both of whom I had met in person while clarifying the truth at the state capitol earlier this year.

Two days before our event, we had a banner-signing at the local farmers market. My mom had helped me make a large banner that read, “Ride2Freedom for Falun Gong, Rescue the Orphans.” We painted a large shape of our state in white and allowed supporters to sign the state. A TV reporter came to interview us and got footage of people signing the banner. The report aired throughout the day of our event.

We had had heavy rain for nearly the entire month of the event, but when the riders arrived it was sunny and not too hot. We had a substantial crowd of people for a weekday afternoon, as well as media coverage from another TV station and the main newspaper. After the rally, a member of the Human Rights Commission who attended the rally came up to me and said that they could help sponsor an event for us in the future.

It's so hard to describe all the amazing things that happened in the course of planning and holding this event. But one thing I'd like to share is about a long-time friend of our family's. She is very wary of anything religious and she treated Falun Gong with the same distrust. Usually, not much could be said on the topic. My mom had asked her to bring her sound equipment for the event, and she agreed to do it, as a friend. But as soon as she was done setting up, she said she wasn't staying for the rally and left. But after the rally, when she came back to get her equipment, she agreed to come with us to have lunch at the park with the riders. During lunch she met several of the riders and her attitude changed completely. She asked us if she could sign our banner and later showed her support with some very kinds words on social media.

These events are good opportunities to clarify the truth to people, but in times when there are no big events to hold, we can usually find an appropriate approach and when our hearts are willing, Master makes the arrangements for us.

This spring we learned that a state representative had initiated a resolution to condemn the persecution of Falun Gong and organ harvesting. This gave us a great opportunity to go to all the state offices and clarify the truth because when it's regarding a piece of legislation and not just general information, these busy people are much more likely to listen.

After a day of going to elected representatives' offices, I was standing in the hallway at the capitol and one of the representatives waved to me and said happily, “I co-sponsored the resolution!” He held his arms out and said, “I tried out the exercises, too!” and headed into the voting chambers.

In the weeks that followed until the end of session I used every available day that I had to drive an hour to the Capitol to talk to more representatives. Sometimes fellow practitioners from farther away areas came too, especially early on, and we worked well together and learned from each other. We used different approaches. Sometimes we stopped the representatives after they came out of the voting chambers to talk to lobbyists, or while they were walking in the hall, and sometimes we caught them in their offices or made appointments through their staff.

In the past I usually mainly talked to staff and sent them invitations and only managed to meet with a few representatives in person. Speaking to the representatives face-to-face and getting their support was a big breakthrough for me, as before I was usually too timid to talk to them directly. I had a notion that they would not listen to me unless I was their constituent or unless all of the circumstances of meeting them were right. This time, I was not so passive and I just felt that these were my people, my friends, and I needed to tell them about the persecution and give them a chance to position themselves well.

My own representative did not co-sponsor at first and I started to feel a little frustrated. He had only met with me briefly on the house floor, so I didn't have a chance to clarify the truth to him in depth. Later we met with him in his office and it seemed to go well, but our conversation went a little off topic so I still wasn't sure if he truly understood. He said that he would support the resolution, and we thanked him, but failed to ask him to be a co-sponsor. Later I regretted missing the chance. I emailed him encouraging him watch the 8-minute video on organ harvesting and asked if he would consider being a co-sponsor. I put down all thoughts that he should do this for us, and only wanted to give this good person a chance. He replied a few days later letting us know that he co-sponsored.

The resolution did not make it for a vote this session due to some obvious interference. Fellow practitioners and I looked inward and discussed this issue and we feel that we need to make greater improvements and strengthen our righteous thoughts to break through the interference. However, more representatives and staff know us more thoroughly now and support Falun Gong and we have a very good start for the next session.

Fellow practitioners who have cultivated for many years often refer to the Fa teaching that we should be “...cultivating as if you were just starting...” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference”).

In my case, however, when I look back at the beginning of my cultivation, I see that I was full of pursuit and attachment to self. I did not let the Fa change me deeply. But in changing my reluctant attitude and rising to the challenges before me, in recent years especially, I feel that I've begun to truly change and my heart has become calmer and broader. Every moment is a precious opportunity to cultivate and I've learned more how to cherish it.

Thank you, Master!Thank you, fellow practitioners!

(Presented at the 2015 Mid-US Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)