(Minghui.org) I recently had a dream. I was on my way to take an exam. I did not set out to the exam site early, as I thought it was not necessary.

I met a group of people on their way back from their exam. They told me that there would be a lot of hardships and tribulations along the way, and it would be very difficult for me to go it alone. Some said, “There is no guarantee you can get back safely.”

They arranged for everyone in their group to go together and help each other along the way, which was how everyone could return safely.

I was regretful when I heard this, yet, in my heart, I doubted what they said. I was not convinced. “I’m not inferior to any of them,” I thought to myself. “If they can do it, I can, too. Did they really have to go to the exam together?”

Joining a Team and Denying the Old Forces' Arrangements

When I woke up, I thought about what had happened earlier that day. I stubbornly stuck to my own schedule and stayed home to work on some projects.

It turned out that what I did at home was not very effective, because I missed the opportunity to join a group study and some local truth-clarification activities. I told myself that I was working toward the same goal of saving people.

Yet I knew the effect was not the same. I realized that the dream might have been meant to give me a hint. It is very important to join the group effort to deny the old forces' arrangements, and it could be many times more powerful than doing things alone.

Every practitioner has shortcomings in his or her cultivation, and group activities can overcome these individual shortcomings and achieve much greater results.

Master told us:

“It's just like when this fist goes out--it's strong when everyone is clenched together. (Master makes a fist.) But if you're saying that this one wants to do this, that one wants to do that, and the next one something else (spreading the five fingers apart and pointing to each finger), then that's weak, and as soon as it goes out, it will be repelled, right? You need to have a plan and organize things, coordinate well, and cooperate with each other.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference” in Teaching the Fa at the Conference IX)

I thought about why I was not convinced to take the exam with the others. I looked inside and realized that I felt superior to other people. Before I started cultivation, I excelled in school and looked down on other students.

After I became a cultivator, I was strongly attached to the projects I started, the activities I arranged, and the ideas I thought up. Sometimes I would be reluctant to participate in projects that required collaboration with other practitioners whom I deemed to be not diligent in their cultivation. I thought that working with them would not help my own cultivation.

I knew that I had brought my ordinary people's thinking and attachments to cultivation. I was attached to fame. I valued superficial results when I did projects, even more than cultivation itself.

In fact, a practitioner’s tests in cultivation are different from an ordinary person's. Ordinary people's tests have a single standard to judge by and that is the score.

It is different for practitioners. The group in my dream went to the exam together, coordinated with each other, helped each other along the way, stayed together despite conflicts, and eventually returned safely together.

Their coordination was actually part of the exam, and they certainly scored well in that respect. It also prevented the old forces from taking advantage of their individual loopholes.

Master warned us,

“In the process of doing things, what’s looked at is your hearts, not your success itself. In the process of doing things you can save people! Your process of doing things is also a process of you elevating in cultivation, which, at the same time, plays the role of saving sentient beings! It is not that only if you succeed in doing that thing can you play the role of saving sentient beings.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference”)

I realized that participating in group activities is a great opportunity to rid oneself of the attachment to self, which is critical to cultivation. One characteristic of the old forces is their attachment to their own arrangements.

Working together well denies the old forces' arrangements. When we are not willing to join group study and activities, we must look for attachments that are preventing us from joining and improving.

A Message from the Tian Guo Marching Band

I was recently appointed the team lead on a writing project. I was responsible for coordinating with the project lead and motivating the team members. I was asked to document the team's progress every day.

One night I planned to take a nap and write the summary after midnight. I did not wake up as planned but had a dream instead. In the dream, I was the secondary conductor of the Tian Guo Marching Band and was to walk midway in the band.

As the band was about to march and perform, I took a nap and was late for the performance. I had to watch the band march on without me. I was full of regret and shame.

I realized that, although it seemed not a big deal to skip writing the summary for one day, it might be much more significant in other dimensions.

Because the project was still in the development phase, the project lead once a while would send out new ways to work. I, however, still followed the old procedures until the project lead reminded me.

This happened twice. I admitted my mistake, but in my heart found excuses for my behavior: “The procedures change so fast and they are not easy to understand. How can I change so quickly?”

The true reason was that I did not pay enough attention to the project lead's messages. I would not have made any mistakes if I had been more mindful, more careful, and more willing to comply. My attitude also had a negative influence on my team.

I would give unsolicited suggestions to the project lead. I even told her how to be a project lead. One day she said to me that she had thought of the things before I mentioned them, she had made her decision, and hoped that I would respect her decisions.

Searching within, I found that, deep down, I was not satisfied with doing the work of a team lead. I had my eye on bigger things. I also did not respect the project leader and subconsciously looked down on her. In fact, my many suggestions could interfere with her.

Gradually I also realized that I should not voice my opinions and suggestions publicly in the online chat group. Instead, I should communicate with her more in private. To openly bring up opposing opinions would not benefit practitioners whose cultivation was not stable and could arouse their human attachments.

I suddenly enlightened that the Tian Guo Marching Band should be a good example for other projects in terms of team coordination. The main conductor at the front of the band uses gestures to signal to the entire band which tune to play.

The secondary conductor midway in the band must pay close attention and stay in sync with the main conductor. A minor lag in passing along the directions would cause everyone in the latter half of the band to be out of sync.

All of the band members must closely watch and follow the Falun emblem on top of the conductor's baton. Nobody would ask, “Why are we playing this song? Why not play a little faster?”

No one would march at their own pace or take another route. If someone noticed another making a mistake, the first person would quietly give support with righteous thoughts rather than stop playing and offer criticism. All members practice to perfect their own skills as a member of the band.

What can people in other projects learn from this? The secondary person in charge of a project should comply with the main project lead seamlessly.

Each project member should focus on carrying out his or her responsibilities and perfecting their own skills instead of looking at the mistakes of others.

Master told us,

“When there's a xinxing friction among our students or disharmony when you're cooperating with each other, and it doesn't matter if it's something big or small, I'm telling you, it's definitely demons exploiting the gaps.” (“Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference”)

Validate the Fa—Not Oneself

One day in an online meeting for a project, a team member proposed to re-examine and re-arrange some materials that were previously discussed and determined to be the best procedure for the team.

No one responded to his proposal. He seemed upset and vented his frustration: “This team is totally paralyzed. There are some serious problems in the team.”

I thought the practitioner was being disruptive and said to him, “It's not as grave as you think. It is your own problem that you are not willing to cooperate. These issues have been discussed already. Why are you making trouble and bringing it up again?”

I was not acting according to Master's teaching:

“......you should always maintain a compassionate heart and a calm mind. If you suddenly bump into a problem, you will be able to take care of it properly.” (Zhuan Falun)

This seemed to provoke him. He pressed me to explain why I accused him of making trouble. He then asked me to withdraw from the online meeting. To avoid further quarreling, I went offline.

As I looked inward, I knew that I should not have accused him of making trouble. He must have acted out of a strong sense of responsibility. I took a step back from the confrontation and messaged him an apology.

To my surprise, he replied and suggested that I learn how to search within for my attachments of showing off and being competitive. He said my attachments had negatively affected the project.

He also told me that, within ten minutes of my going offline, he and other project members worked in concert and completed rearranging the materials as he proposed, implying that it was right to push me out of the meeting.

I lost my temper. In order to keep from exploding, I suppressed thoughts of a grudge against him or complaint. Still, I thought, “He is a veteran practitioner. How can he act even worse than an ordinary person? He is the one who should search within.” It was a difficult test for me to pass and I did not know how to do it.

I browsed through Minghui articles and came across an experience sharing piece—“Learning to Be Compassionate Toward Fellow Practitioners.” The article said, “I enlightened to the fact that I was looking at this person's human behavior, thinking that it was emanating from his true self. However, his true self is not like that at all!”

I realized I had not followed Master's teaching in how to treat the shortcomings of others. Master told us:

“A cultivator has ordinary human attachments; as long as he hasn’t reached Consummation, he has ordinary human attachments. I want to tell you about one point, though: Whether he’s [just] a student or is [also] working for Dafa, it’s precisely the attachments that haven’t yet been discarded that play out most—the attachments he can’t abandon among everyday people stand out. Why? Because what has been fully cultivated and the attachments that have been abandoned are gone, so they no longer show. Then the attachments that remain are particularly obvious and everyone can see them. But let me tell you that you can’t say that this person isn’t good. He’s already quite good in fact. It’s just that the attachments he hasn’t yet discarded are playing a role and affecting both his work and other students, and many people see his behavior. So don’t assess a situation or judge someone in the same way everyday people do.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore)

Why did he deal with me with his human attachments? Was his cultivation the only reason?

Master has pointed it out clearly:

“Why do you encounter these problems? They are all caused by your own karma. We have already eliminated for you many, countless portions of it, leaving only that tiny bit that is divided into tribulations at different levels for improving your xinxing, tempering your mind, and removing your various attachments.” (Zhuan Falun)

I came to understand that my karma and cultivation were the ultimate reason.

Master also told us,

“That’s why I tell you that whenever any problems occur or whenever you feel uneasy inside, you should look inside yourself for causes. I can guarantee that the problem lies within you.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore)

Searching within, I found that I had not been tolerant with him, which caused me to hold a grudge against him. What else did I find? I realized the root cause while reading Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York:

“If you are validating the Fa, no matter what another person says about you, you won't be affected inside. If someone counters your opinion and you get riled up and don't like it, if when other people raise an opinion opposite yours based on some problem you have or disagree with your opinion and you don't like it, and you stand up to oppose it and argue on your own behalf, and when this leads to your going off topic and not listening to others, [in all such cases] you are—even if you are defending and explaining yourself with the best of intentions—still just validating yourself. (Applause) That is because you didn't put Dafa first, and at that time the thing that you couldn't let go of most was self.”

One of the reasons that conflicts arise among practitioners is that some try to validate themselves rather than the Fa. Validating oneself usually manifests as insisting on the principles of his or her level of understanding or the method of his or her preference to save sentient beings.

On a superficial level, it seems to be for the sake of sentient beings and the Fa, while, in fact, it is to protect themselves. On the contrary, if we keep validating the Fa in mind, put others before ourselves, and act according to the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, we would be able to let go of the attachment to self and act in concert with others.

Master said,

“By his later years, Shakyamuni had already reached the Tathagata level. Why did he say that he had not taught any Dharma? What issue did he actually raise? He was stating, ‘Even at my level of Tathagata, I’ve seen neither the ultimate truth of the universe nor what the ultimate Dharma is.’ Thus, he asked people later on not to take his words as the absolute or the unchangeable truth. Otherwise, it would later limit people at or below the Tathagata level, and they would be unable to make breakthroughs toward high levels.” (Zhuan Falun)

From this teaching, I understand that to validate the Fa instead of ourselves concerns not only our own cultivation but also other practitioners' cultivation and the overall progress and efficacy of our projects.

To put it in more solemn terms, not cultivating in this aspect could play an unintentional and negative role in saving sentient beings.

Fellow practitioners, please kindly point out anything inappropriate.