Letting Go of Self While Promoting Shen Yun
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master, Greetings fellow practitioners,
I am originally of West African heritage, born in France, and I now live in Canada. I am positive that my life was arranged to practice Dafa.
In the summer of 2005 I was reading a book about finding the Truth and searching for your spiritual Master. I was Muslim at that time but was not practicing Islam much because I felt that the religion had too many contradictions.
Therefore I decided to hold on to the book about the Truth, and after I finished it – it was quite late, around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. – I fell asleep and had a dream. Today I don’t remember the images of the dream but at that time I was writing all my dreams in a journal and on August 5th, 2005, I wrote it all in detail. I wrote that a young and enthusiastic “instructor” was demonstrating Truth to me. He was always smiling and he asked me to listen to a sound that resonated like “ING.” He told me that I had to find that sound in me but in the dream it sounded more like a “GONG.” At that time I had no idea what that sound was, but I can tell you today that this sound was the first notes you hear when you do the fifth exercise.
In 2007 my mom, who was already a practitioner, insisted that I read Zhuan Falun and do the exercises with her. When I decided to practice Dafa, I made the connection with that dream and I knew that Master had already contacted me two years before. I am so fortunate! In such a difficult world, without the support of my mom and this dream, I would have never practiced Dafa. Thank you Master!
Letting Go of Self While Promoting Shen Yun
In 2009 the main coordinator asked me to join the Shen Yun team. I had no idea what it involved, but I was just happy to participate in such an event. I was relatively new in my cultivation so I did not know the relationship between my cultivation and promoting Shen Yun. I was doing things just to do them because I liked to do them and I had prior experience in this area. But Master showed me with compassion how to be a better person while promoting Shen Yun.
First Lesson: Being humble
The main coordinator assigned me to find sponsors for the VIP reception, so I got a few prospects and we went to visit an Iranian lady who makes delicious middle-eastern cookies. After talking to her and telling her about the show, she gladly agreed to participate and provide free food for 200 people. I was happy!
During this time I also secured a printing shop that does high-end invitation packages. I managed to have them print 450 personalized invitations for free in exchange for ads in the program guide. I was happy and proud!
I also made sure we had a professional PR firm giving us their top VIP list to invite, and asked them to handle all the guests before, during and after the show, securing good interviews for our media. I was on the top of my game and even more notably, this was my first time doing this.
For the food, I also secured at cost price, a good catering service for one of the best restaurants in Montreal to serve at the VIP reception.
With all these positive results I told my coordinator that we did really well. He looked at me very seriously and told me firmly: “Remember this: when it’s all good, it’s Master; when it’s bad, it’s you!”
Hearing these words, I wanted to disappear because I was so embarrassed. Later, while looking inside, I enlightened that all I did was not about me, but about saving people and giving them the opportunity to participate in this Fa-rectification period. I also realized that I had the attachments of showing off and elation, which are attachments we should eliminate and avoid.
Second Lesson: Cooperate with each other unconditionally
For the 2013 Shen Yun show, we had to complete the Level 1 training at the end of the summer of 2012. I was not part of the coordinating team because I was in Toronto at that time working for a media project. When I returned, the main coordinator asked me to quickly coordinate the training for practitioners along with another Chinese practitioner. We had to do it quickly because we had standards that needed to be met and no one could go sell tickets in the mall without having had the training.
We had booths in malls starting in mid-October and started the training in August. We had 13,000 tickets to sell and the pressure was high.
When I first read Level 1, I thought that the text didn’t make sense so I changed it by adding a few things. Then I tried to memorize it a bit before presenting it to everyone at Fa study. Although I was confident, everyone criticized me, saying that my heart was not there.
I couldn’t understand why they said that my heart was not there. I replied to my colleague on the team, “I rewrote the text to make sure it's professional and you are telling me what?”
She told me to just focus on the training, as during the upcoming week the elderly mamas (as we affectionately call them) would take the Level 1 test. On Saturday, four women passed the test; two Westerners and two Chinese ladies who barely speak English.
One after another they recited the text (Level 1) verbatim, and despite being shy and scared, they tried their best to smile and to look at everyone. We, the young ones judging them, were all in tears; we could feel their compassion while talking to us, we could feel that they were humble and we could feel they really wanted to cooperate at any cost to participate in the Shen Yun promotion.
We asked them how they could do such a good job. One of them replied, “Well, I saw that the young ones tried to put fancy words in the text, which we couldn’t; we’ve been told to simply memorize the text and everything will be okay and that’s what we did.”
I deeply enlightened that day; I realized that I was selfish and I did not want to follow Shen Yun instructions to simply follow the material they gave us. I also realized that again I wanted to show how good and capable I was, which can put others down and make them doubt their desire to participate in promoting Shen Yun if they see the coordinator behaving that way. I also enlightened that as a coordinator I should set a good example to others, because they only know what we tell them and any bad behavior on my part could lead to confusion.
“If you don’t cooperate well, you won’t be able to effectively carry out what Dafa disciples are supposed to do. Here’s what often happens. When certain initiatives need everyone to act together, the first thing people do is to argue on and on, with each person sticking to his or her own opinion, and the end result is that things go unresolved and, as a consequence, Dafa disciples are not able to accomplish many things or even do a poor job of them.” (“Be More Diligent”)
Once again, I realized that my involvement was not about me, but about helping practitioners to pass the test successfully and move on the next step. At that moment I made a promise to Master, to fully cooperate with everyone and to be available whenever they might need me.
The training process was not easy. The Chinese practitioner and I had to do the training every weekend for three months without fail and organize the exam during the week. We could see that this really motivated everyone to participate, especially moms who could not come during the weekends, or busy practitioners with ordinary jobs.
During the ticket-selling period from Mid-October to mid-January, we also had experience sharings after coming back from the malls to encourage and learn from each other. All this was very tiring but at the same time very sacred.
When we sold 12,096 tickets we were so surprised. But we realized that helping each other during the training, then sharing with each other, resolving conflicts with each other in a kind way, then putting ourselves out in the malls for three months was truly cooperating with each other to form one body!
Without everyone’s dedication and cooperation we wouldn’t have been able to sell all the tickets. It is only because we cooperated well that the miracle happened.
Master told us:
“As you realize, with the many projects that Dafa disciples have initiated in order to counteract the persecution, clarify the truth, and save sentient beings, what is most important is that Dafa disciples cooperate together well, and that only when people work together well will things go well.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa - Fa Teaching Given at the 2011 Washington DC Metro Area Fa Conference”)
Third Lesson: Eliminate fear when approaching sponsors
The following two stories made me clearly recognize and overcome the attachment of fear when it comes up during Fa-validating work.
We were instructed to be careful with expenses when doing Shen Yun promotion, so the main coordinator insisted that we look for sponsors who could provide things for free, especially food.
I was assigned to procure a free restaurant for Shen Yun so that they could have a nice brunch before heading to Quebec City.
There is a restaurant chain in Quebec that does healthy brunches and lunches with very good food. In my network of business friends I happened to meet a woman who is a friend of the founder of this food chain. I met her at a private event and during her speech she kept praising the founder of this restaurant chain. So I went up to her and explained what I needed. She told me to email her and she would connect me with the founder.
I emailed her that same night and waited for her reply for a week. When she didn’t return my calls and emails, I became fearful. I wondered if I should call her again or call the founder directly. When I called her I didn’t get a response and I didn’t get her private number either. My fear was increasing as my coordinator was putting pressure on me to find a place, as Shen Yun was coming the following week.
So I decided to forget about them and call the franchise owners directly, but I wasn’t sure which one to call since there were so many. I remember holding my phone and saying to myself, “If you don’t try you will never know if someone is there waiting to help Shen Yun. Think about it, Master said that everything is created for Dafa; are you not going to give them the chance to participate?” I also told myself the worst that could happen is that they say no; so why was I so afraid?
I went on and on and on repeating these sentences inside my head, asking Master to give me strength to overcome this. I checked the phone directory and found the closest restaurant to where the Shen Yun Team was staying. When I called, a man told me that the owner was too busy to talk to me then, but I could leave my information and he would call me back. After two days of waiting he did not call back. I was determined. I called again and spoke to the same gentleman that I got the first time. He said: “Oh, Tony did not call you? Wait a minute.” I then heard him saying something about getting back to me quickly and then he told me to come at 2:30 to meet with the boss.
I did not have any excitement or fear. Instead I prepared my video and sponsor package and sent forth righteous thoughts for a good meeting.
When I met with the boss, he had a huge smile on his face and apologized for not returning my phone call. When he said that he was so busy, I replied that it wasn’t a problem.
He offered me a beverage, and watched the 30-second promo video carefully. Right after, he looked at me with a big smile and said, “Oh this is a lovely show. I saw this on TV. How lovely. Tell me how I can help.” At this point I had not said anything. I just showed him the video. I said, “Well the team needs to have brunch before going to Quebec City and they need a lot of food, including a lot of fruit.”
He said, “No problem, I can do that.” I thought next that he was going to ask for money, so I should quickly ask him if he wanted an ad and tickets. As I handed him the program guide, he said yes to the ad, giving me the name of the graphic artist to contact. He also asked for 2 pairs of tickets so he could do a raffle with his staff, saying that he wanted them to have a good time since they worked hard.
I just calmly said “No problem,” but in my mind I was speechless! I'd just showed him the video and hadn't said anything! Shen Yun is so powerful! This man was just waiting for this moment to happen, to do what he was supposed to do in this Fa-rectification period. I then realized that the demons had taken advantage of my lack of faith in Master to reinforce my fear and try to force me to abandon my quest.
“It’s not that if you have fear you are no good. It’s about overcoming your fears and trying to do the three things well with stronger righteous thoughts, and that is outstanding. (Applause) To put it in perspective, no matter how afraid you may be, if when faced with the responsibility of saving sentient beings you feel compelled to take action, to go save people, then that is remarkable.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference”)
When Shen Yun arrived at the restaurant, he had prepared a special buffet for them full of healthy fruits and on the other side was a nice continental buffet brunch with as much coffee and juice as anyone wanted.
The next story happened last year: I went with another practitioner to visit a woman who has a boutique next to a fancy hotel and she gives a lot of donations to the arts.
The first time we went, she was busy with clients and asked us to come back the next day, which we did. My colleague recited the level 1 very slowly while I was sending forth righteous thoughts. At the end, she said that she saw Shen Yun in 2008 and she liked it and would think about whether she could donate or not because her budget for donations was tight this year. She told us that she would let us know. Before we left she said, "Oh I think this show will be great for my Chinese friends. I have a lot of business friends at the Chinese consulate, I am sure they will love it! I will tell them about it. Give me a couple of flyers so I can have the information with me.”
We thanked her and she told us she would call us in regards to giving a donation or not. When the practitioner and I went out, we felt that something was not right; we sat down not far from the boutique and discussed the situation: "She is friends with the consulate; of course they will tell her that the show is not good!” My colleague said she should have clarified the truth to her right away but we missed the chance.We knew we'd gotten scared, and we knew we were afraid to say something. We felt helpless and sorry that we'd missed the opportunity to give her the chance to position herself well. We decided to wait until she called us, and then we would clarify the truth to her.
When I went home, I felt uneasy as if I had a hole in my heart. I said to myself, “Today you were afraid to clarify the truth? After all that Master showed you, after all the experiences you had?” I answered myself, “But this one was different, I never had a potential sponsor who was a friend of the Chinese Consulate.” I let that thought go and waited for the woman's call. She never called!
Fear came to me again and I could see a movie playing in my head, picturing the lady being poisoned by the evil. I didn’t know what to do. I called my colleague and we decided to go clarify the truth to her at her store.
Then I said, “Master, at the end of the day it’s not about the sponsor. It’s about saving sentient beings! I don’t care if she says no to the money but she needs to hear the truth.”
“Just speaking about things in terms of cultivation, you should truly have no fear in your mind, be confident and aboveboard, do what you should do, continue on the path to divinity in a noble and dignified manner, and not be afraid.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference”)
Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. sharp I was at the boutique with my colleague, determined to give her a chance to position herself well. She welcomed us with a smile and apologized, saying that she was busy and did not have time to call us. She then said that she decided to not give us money but to donate merchandise if we wanted to do a raffle. I looked at my colleague briefly and she started the conversation. We clarified the truth to her, starting with the persecution, to what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is doing to stop Shen Yun from performing in cities, to how this show is bringing good to society. We laid it all out there fully and deeply.
The woman smiled at us and said calmly, “I know the whole story. Believe me I know. I am a businesswoman and the consulate cannot dictate where I give my money or who I should do business with. I know these people. They have their own way of handling things, but believe me, I will go see the show with my good Chinese friend because I am aware and very clear about all this. You ladies do not need to worry, but thank you for caring about me.” Then she added, “Let me also tell you that in 25 years of dealing with people, I never met two charming ladies like you. You are so professional; you really touched my heart. You were respectful, not calling me all the time for money. When you came the first time, I had customers, so you left quietly without disturbing me. I was impressed. I can tell that you do this with your heart.”
My colleague and I knew that not only did we clarify the truth to her but we also validated Dafa by showing the kindness and consideration of Dafa practitioners. She gave us a fur article for our raffle.
Along my cultivation journey, when I am engaged in projects, Master gives me the opportunity to clarify the truth. Therefore I should not see it as a challenge, mixing fear and discouragement, but on the contrary, I should cherish any opportunity that comes to me.
This is my limited understanding of the Buddha Fa through my cultivation journey.
I still have a lot of attachments I have to let go. Remembering people I’ve met during my cultivation experiences helps me to go forward one step at the time.
Please point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you fellow practitioners, thank you Benevolent Master!
(Presented at the 2015 Canada Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)