Renewing the Bonds with Master
(Minghui.org) Greetings benevolent Master. Greetings fellow practitioners.
I live with my wife and our two young children. They are also Dafa disciples. This is the current situation, but that situation has greatly changed in the past few years.
I obtained the Fa in May 2007, and quit several unhealthy habits shortly thereafter. In February 2008, I left the full time job that I had enjoyed for years in order to become a full time sales rep for Epoch Times Montreal. When I joined the company, there were two full-time Chinese sales reps. One of them didn't speak English, and the other person was anti-social at first. There was also a full-time Western sales rep. who was pregnant and was due in June. Going from well-paid, structured, managed, unionized work to self-employed, commission-only based, unstructured sales work was a radical transition. But with Masters' guiding hands, the unlikely became a reality.
When I joined the company, I hadn't studied Zhuan Falun twice completely from beginning to end. I didn't understand or know how to send forth righteous thoughts, and I really didn't understand how a newspaper could save people. But I knew that Master and the Fa were what I had been waiting for all my life. I just told myself that Master was the Creator, and everything in Zhuan Falun was true. That faith was a tremendous driving force for all the years and challenges to come. I have never regretted that leap of faith. Quite the contrary, I will cherish it forever.
Needless to say, my personal cultivation was seriously lacking in many respects. I just trusted Master with all my heart and followed what the other disciples were doing. The difference was that I didn't have a solid foundation deeply rooted in personal cultivation, and didn't fully understand these things at first. I just did what had to be done. Sooner or later, this would catch up to me.
Initially my wife and I were not married. As a young Western couple in our society, most of our ordinary friends around us weren't married and we had never talked about marriage.
Gradually, we began studying Masters’ lectures. Some of them helped us to understand the importance of marriage.
“What do the old forces and the old cosmos see as the gravest thing? Lust, [in the form of] sexual activity outside of marriage. That's what they see as the most serious of things. In the past, once someone violated the precept on that, he would be thrown out of the temple, and his cultivation would be utterly finished. So how do gods look at this now? Do you know what they have said in the prophecies that they left behind? They prophesied that all of the Dafa disciples who would be left in the end would be those who had maintained their purity along these lines. In other words, these things are extremely serious to them. So the old forces and all of the gods in that cosmos will not defend anyone who violates the prohibition on this, anyone who doesn't do well in this regard; in fact they will push you downwards.” (“Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles”)
Master told us,
“So, you have to be careful with this, especially younger Dafa disciples. If you are not married, you must not engage in sexual activity, and even less should those who are married make the mistake of having extramarital relations. Dafa disciples can of course get married while cultivating in ordinary society. That's not a problem. But you must not make mistakes! You must not let the old forces' factors and the wicked beings take advantage of your gaps and persecute you to a point where eventually you can no longer cultivate. Then you will have lost your chance.”
After realizing the seriousness of being an unmarried couple, my wife and I got married in July 2008. In May 2009, our daughter was born. She was born during the time of growing the newspaper significantly, and just prior to intense Shen Yun ticket sales promotions. As a self-employed sales rep, new husband, new father, and while spending the majority of my time in malls selling tickets for Shen Yun, it was practically impossible to succeed by any ordinary standards. But Masters' arrangements are seamless and perfect. Our daughter usually slept a minimum of six hours per night when she was only six days old. So despite the pressure and tests, I was able to spend a lot of time and energy on saving sentient beings.
Masters' guiding hands and arrangements were there. All I had to do was to believe, trust, and just do the three things, no matter what.
As a sales rep for the Epoch Times, and with little or almost no management in those years, I decided how I managed my time. It wasn't as easy as saying it, because I was the main provider for our family. Sometimes spouses of the sales reps had a good job in an ordinary company, but our path was unique.
At that time, we had about 13 malls that were open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. I spent most of my days working eleven hour shifts and being responsible for picking up the tickets and practitioners prior to the mall opening, then bringing back the tickets and practitioners late in the evening. There was little time to study the Fa or send righteous thoughts. My wife would sometimes take the bus and subway out of the city with our baby so that we could have a quick meal as a family in the mall. While in my wife's arms, our baby would just stare at the promotional Shen Yun video, and people would stop to see what the baby was staring at. This gave us great opportunities to introduce Shen Yun and sell tickets.
Once again Master had arrangements for me and I could easily feel and see them.
As a sales rep, in the peak period for ad sales, I spent almost no time or energy on sales. But again, Master had a plan for me and my family. Every year after the intense Shen Yun promotion, we resumed our regular work in January. Although this was a very quiet month for ad sales, we signed many contracts, and January was always a good month. Actually, it was one of our best, despite everyone in the advertising industry complaining about it being very slow for ad sales after Christmas. Again, perfect arrangements were all around me, and I could see them.
Since I was also involved in production, I worked late hours and made phone calls during the night. My neighbor would bang on the wall to let me know when I was noisy. My home office was in my bedroom and my wife couldn't sleep, as I would spend many hours in the late evening or very early morning doing sales work. She couldn't rest well and had to take care of the baby alone all day the next day.
I once met the neighbor who lived below us. Her bedroom was right under mine, which was also my home office. I wanted to save her but didn't know how. We started talking and I was sending forth righteous thoughts and thinking how much I wished she could be saved. Suddenly, I thought of talking about work and clarifying the truth to her in relation to the newspaper. It worked well. I also mentioned that although I had to work long hours, it was worth it. Then she cut me off sharply and said, “Oh, that's it! I always thought you had a sleeping disorder, were an insomniac, or had health issues that prevented you from sleeping.” She looked relieved for me. I knew that I had to move soon.
Master gave us perfect arrangements for buying a house, and everything fell perfectly into place. Our new home required very little maintenance, had very low taxes, and was five minutes away from my parents. My parents have always been very helpful in supporting us and our dedication to Dafa projects.
However, moving takes time and sales couldn't wait. So I was even busier than before, with no time to even mow the lawn. That first year, our lawn practically didn't grow for about six weeks. I've never seen that before. I was again confident that Master was taking care of everything.
Although I gained experience in projects and doing the three things, I didn't always look inside, and I didn’t do the exercises on a regular basis. My personal cultivation was neglected since I was extremely busy. Of course, that couldn't go on forever.
Our son was born in October 2011. He woke up several times a night for about a year. We were really tired and my wife found it harder and harder to take care of the kids while I focused on the newspaper. Still, we pushed on. Despite the additional pressure, I did what I had always done. I promoted Shen Yun when I could, and also tried to balance it with selling ads.
Several larger long-term contracts were on the table in November and December of 2011. Most were to be signed in January or February. When the beginning of 2012 came and Shen Yun was over in Montreal, my partner and I focused on closing all the deals on the table. None of them were signed. I thought this was just another test, just as I had faced since day one. I thought that since things weren’t working well, I should raise my standard. I started going to work very early to do my exercises every day, and increased my Fa study to about two lectures per day. I spent more time sending righteous thoughts to clear the obstacles and save sentient beings. I also looked inside and made sure my heart didn't flinch despite the pressure and uncertainties. I kept this new and higher pace for several months with almost no ad sales. It seemed that the more I tried, the less it worked, and the more effort I made, the less results were generated. I even tried to be completely unaffected and detached by the results, but still, there was almost nothing. After several months of tremendous efforts and almost no results, I was making the financial situation difficult for the company that I had vowed to help grow. Also, as the main revenue provider at home, my wife and I were concerned about how to keep paying the bills.
After working at Epoch Times Montreal for over four years and investing my life and soul in the project, I had to make one of the most painful decisions of my entire life. I took a one year leave, making sure I didn't owe any money. I didn't return as a full-time sales rep at the end of the year.
I had formed a misconception that the ends justify the means, and that as long as I was selling ads or tickets for Shen Yun, my personal cultivation could be neglected. It went on for years. But sooner or later it would catch up to me.
Master taught us:
“You can move up only by developing gong solidly, improving yourself constantly, and assimilating to the characteristic of the universe.” (Zhuan Falun)
Master also taught:
“No matter what hardships or ups and downs Dafa disciples have gone through along the way, in retrospect, those were but a means of tempering you. It has made you more mature and helped you to remove your human attachments in the process, culminating in your progression towards Consummation. That is the path you have traveled. When you look back, you will find that to be the case.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2008 New York Conference”)
I hope that others can learn from my mistakes and not neglect their personal cultivation while not neglecting their responsibilities of doing the three things.
For the first time, my faith was not just tested but shaken profoundly. I didn't know what to do. It was odd, because I had always known that if I did what had to be done, everything would disappear after the test was passed. I was doing the three things, but couldn't move forward, and I couldn't feel Masters' arrangements all around me. I just couldn't understand what was happening. Now, something else had to happen and I had no clue what it was.
After leaving the paper in June 2012, I started up a daycare business in our house. I also worked at an ordinary company close to home. I started with an entry level position but soon after was offered a promotion to sales rep. I took the position in order to make ends meet.
My new boss wanted results and was only focused on money. He saw that I wasn't like an ordinary sales person who was driven only by money, so he wanted to burn me out. Once, he even admitted it. He said that he wanted to see how I would react under intense pressure, to see if I would make more money, or crack under pressure. He knew I didn't care for money, and he wanted an employee who did.
A few months later, the pressure got to me. I felt paralyzed with stress and anxiety. When sitting at my desk, I had no idea how to deal with things. Even with many personal aspects, things were extremely challenging. I couldn't work anymore. I called the HR department, and they asked me to meet with a doctor and explain everything. The doctor said I was going through a depression related to anxiety, and he took me off the job for six months.
During this time, I looked inside to find out why I had the symptoms of this illness. Late one night, as I was writing my 2014 sharing, I looked at Masters' picture on the wall and asked him, “Why?” At that moment, everything became clear. I just realized that I had stopped speaking to Master for about two years. I couldn't believe it.
When I realized that I had stopped talking to Master, I don't think I ever cried so hard in my life. It was painful to realize that I had closed the door on the most magnificent Being who does everything for us, and I didn't even realize that I was the one who had closed the door to communication. I am so sorry Master.
I then started speaking to Masters' picture with tears rolling down my face, and all the answers came charging into my head. I understood everything clearly. I realized that I had to fail at that time. If I had always succeeded, some serious attachments would not have been cultivated away, like humility, fear of losing face in front of fellow disciples, doubt, blazing my own trail, being more balanced, not going to extremes, etc... In other words, getting my personal cultivation up to the standard to better do the three things. This was the path I had to take and cultivate through. During this communication with Master, I would not hear His voice, but would get the answers in my mind right away. I thought about the people I saved, the Shen Yun tickets I sold through my new job, and the posters I put up, and understood that I had to be there at that time, that those lives needed me to be there, and that all of this was still part of Masters' arrangements.
After realizing all of this, I focused on cultivation, exercises, and Fa study on a daily basis. Basically, the personal cultivation that I had neglected for so long. This gradually gave me more and more power and confidence. I now make sure to meditate and study the Fa every day. Now, thanks to Dafa and Master, I am healthy again. I feel much more positive and calm, and can get more involved in saving sentient beings solidly. I also decided to go back to school in a field that's stable, good for the environment, and will allow me to have time for doing the three things.
This reminds me of how I taught my child to ride a bike. At first, the child knows I am with him. The child can feel my hand supporting him, and knows that I am holding him if anything happens. After a while, when he is more solid, I release my hand, but run beside the child, always ready to catch him if needed.
I realized that this is similar to how Master helped us in cultivation. At first, I made the effort without doubting that Master's hands were there. Eventually, he had to let go a bit. But he made sure I was going in the right direction and was safe. I fell and was shaken, but now all is well and I'm doing the three things, and my personal cultivation is much better than before.
I've since reopened my heart to Master. I didn't even know that it had closed somewhat. I was sure it was still open. I can now truly understand the purity and sanctity of Dafa. I'm not just running around really busy and saying that it's good but not applying it well to myself. Dafa is constantly purifying me, regenerating me, helping me grow stronger, and helping me live a cleaner and healthier life.
Maybe others became fearful or hurt during their cultivation process. Maybe some became wary after a significant test or failure. Maybe some had their confidence shaken. In any case, please trust Master fully, talk to Master from the heart sincerely, and know that no matter what, He is always there. His arrangements are always there even if we sometimes can't see or feel them. They are seamless and impeccable. Master does so much for us.
Westerners call Him Master and the Chinese call him Shifu. I was told that this a combination of two words, Father and Teacher. I find this quite appropriate.
Thank you benevolent Master! Thank you fellow practitioners!