Western Practitioner: Becoming a Good Falun Dafa Practitioner
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
I am a Western practitioner, and I have been practicing Falun Dafa for about four and a half years now. I have noticed a great change in myself within this time, and I have been truly working hard to do better at what a practitioner is supposed to do. That being said, I still fail many tests, and I still fall short in many regards.
I have found that deeply rooted attachments are very difficult to eliminate, and can also be very challenging to recognize. I find that I am able to quickly see when something I am doing is not right, but I have a great amount of trouble trying to correct this behavior.
I always measure myself against the Fa, and I try to recognize common situations that arise when I fail tests, so I can be better prepared to restrain myself for next time. But still, my progress is not where it should be.
It is only recently that I have been able to figure out my fundamental shortcomings in this regard.
Looking Within Versus Self Examination
Often times I have wondered what the difference is between looking within and examining oneself. Both are aimed at finding one’s problems and fixing them, but Master has made it clear that self-examination is not the same as “looking within.”
“Improvement in cultivation can’t be equated with self-examination and repentance.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference in Australia”)
What I have enlightened to is that self-examination is merely realizing problems on the surface, and then attempting to correct them, as opposed to recognizing an attachment, and then looking inward to understand what is at the core of that specific attachment, so as to dig it out at the root.
As I said before, I am usually able to recognize incorrect behavior in myself right away. I know when my thinking is not in line with the Fa, and I immediately try to correct it.
However, without enlightening to the true cause of that specific attachment, I find that there will be little progress, as sheer will power cannot eliminate an attachment.
For example, I have been working very hard to eliminate my incorrect speech.
Growing up, I was in many environments that fostered crude behavior and a foul mouth. I would commonly curse and tell bad jokes, and this was encouraged.
The dirtier the joke, and the more crude my behavior, the more my friends would laugh and the closer we would become.
Of course, once I became a practitioner, I realized right away, that this was all due to sentimentality, and that this kind of speech and behavior were not at all in line with the Fa.
However, whenever I find myself around ordinary people with this type of mentality, my speech and actions are typically not in line with a practitioner.
I have been working very hard to eliminate this behavior, and, I can honestly say, that I am better than I used to be, but I am nowhere close to where I should be.
It was not until recently that I recognized Master’s hints, as to why I had not been able to see the core attachment that was causing me to behave this way.
Enlightened by My Five-Year-Old Nephew
A few weeks ago, my brother, his wife, and five-year-old son, were in town to visit with my family. As I do not get to see them that often, I was greatly looking forward to spending the day with everyone.
I enjoyed spending time with my family, but, the entire day, I found myself behaving more like an ordinary person than a practitioner.
I was trying very hard to make my parents laugh, as well as my brother and his son, to the point that the things I was talking about were not at all befitting a practitioner.
I could recognize that my behavior was not appropriate, but I still could not control myself.
As the day went on, and we were out having supper, my behavior persisted. I was growing more and more upset with myself, but still, I could not help it.
It was only until I was driving home that I realized that Master had been giving me many hints. Looking back, I don’t even consider them hints because it was so obvious.
My five-year-old nephew is a very mischievous little boy. However, that day, he was acting even more mischievous than he normally does.
My brother was getting upset with him, and was telling him: “Stop showing off!”
I heard him tell my nephew this at least ten times over the course of the day. Looking back, I can see that it was actually Master telling me to “Stop showing off!”
When I realized my fundamental mistake, it was like a stick wake up, and I suddenly felt like a big weight was lifted off of me.
With Master’s help, I was able to realize my core attachment, and dig it out at the root.
Cherishing Practitioners and the Group Environment
Another issue I have been dealing with is not having the appropriate respect for fellow practitioners, and not cherishing the opportunity to be a Falun Dafa practitioner.
Being in an environment where we are free to practice Falun Dafa without persecution is a great thing. However, because the environment seems so relaxed, it is very easy to develop laziness and complacency; even to the point that the preciousness of Dafa is difficult to see.
It can even be easy to take fellow practitioners for granted, and to develop a lack of respect for them.
I have recognized in myself, the attachment to judging fellow practitioners, based on the attachments that they exhibit. Whether they exhibit a great deal of emotion, or laziness, or whatever the case may be, I was audacious enough to judge them, and even lose respect for them.
I even had a long standing conflict with one fellow practitioner, that I was unwilling to resolve.
However, as I am a practitioner, and I try my best to do the three things well, I find that Master is always there to help with a hint. Or in my case, a stick wake up.
A few months ago, I was introducing Falun Dafa to a colleague of mine. She seemed very interested, and she was able to accept everything I had to say about Dafa.
She knew a little bit about the persecution already, and had a Buddhist background, so I felt that she would be able to accept Zhuan Falun instead of the introductory book Falun Gong.
When I gave her Zhuan Falun, she was so excited that she gave me a big hug. She said that she was going to read it right away.
A few days later, I called her to see how things were going, and to see if she had begun to read the book. She said that she had started it, and she really liked it.
However, the next day, her life was turned upside down. Her 17-year-old son, who was quite healthy, suddenly developed a severe staph infection that took over his entire body.
All of his internal organs were damaged, he had multiple mini-strokes, and his heart was failing. For over two months, he was in the hospital, on the verge of death, with his condition getting worse.
Whenever I had the chance to speak with my colleague, I would gently inquire if she had been able to finish the book. Understandably, because of all the difficulties that she was facing, she had not even touched it.
After about two months, her son was stable enough to come home, but his heart condition was still not getting better.
With her son home, and her situation having calmed down some, I encouraged her to read the book and to try and finish it. She said that she would.
As soon as she began to read the book again, though, I later found out that her husband became very violent and very angry with her, for no explainable reason.
This caused further delay with her to finish the book, but still, she was able to finish it, and was preparing to read it for a second time.
No sooner than she told me that, did she tell me that her son’s condition had turned a corner, and he was getting better.
It instantly dawned on me that all of her issues were because she was reading Zhuan Falun.
With this, it was like another stick wake up for me. Just to be able to come into contact with Falun Dafa, she had to go through all of that.
I realized how fortunate I am to be able to be a Falun Dafa practitioner, and that I did not have the appropriate respect for my fellow practitioners.
“The groundwork for all of this took such a long time to lay—two Earths’ length of time, or 200 million years—and arrangements were made for this affair. Then as Dafa disciples there is really no reason for you not to fulfill your missions. As you sit here today, being called a Dafa disciple, you have that responsibility regardless of whether you’ve been diligent or not, or are a veteran or new student. If that wasn’t in your destiny you would by no means be sitting here today.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference”)
Every practitioner has the right to be a practitioner, and if they did not, they would not be allowed to come in. And, even though Master has spoken about these things at length, it really did not sink in until the incident with my colleague.
Now that I have recognized where I have fallen short, I have made every attempt to get back on track and to correct myself.
I now cherish every practitioner, and I have a better resolve to do the things I am supposed to do.
Overcoming Selfishness and Resolving Conflicts
Lastly, I would like to share with you about how I was able to overcome my selfishness to resolve a long standing conflict with a fellow practitioner.
When I came to my current group, I had been practicing Falun Dafa for a little over a year. I was very isolated, and had no group support, and I felt that if I was going to make it I would have to be around other practitioners.
The closest city with cultivators was over an hour and a half away, but I still persisted in contacting the local coordinator to find out about group exercises and group study.
I was put into contact with a Western practitioner, and he was very kind and generous with his time to do the exercises with me and to study the Fa with me.
As Western practitioners are quite rare in my city, he also felt very isolated, and was very happy to spend time with me.
Over the course of a year, he and I would do the exercises together and study the Fa together, and he also gradually brought me into the larger group.
While all of this was very good, attachments to sentimentality arose within both of us, and I found that we began to do more things for friendship, than for the Fa.
Recognizing this, I began to feel uneasy around him, but I did not want to create a conflict, so I did not say anything.
Gradually, things between us became more and more tense, but still, I had a fear of conflict, so I still did not do anything about it.
After about a year, both of our attachments to being friends had grown, and things were about to come to a head.
Soon after I moved into the city, I had a very strong feeling that I had to get away from this fellow practitioner, but I could not really explain it.
So, one night, after group Fa study, things came to a head, and I cut off communication with him. We had some passive aggressive interactions through Facebook, and my conduct was not at all in line with the Fa.
For over two years he and I did not speak with one another. In the beginning, he tried to reach out to me to do the exercises, or to study the Fa, but I knew that it was just an excuse to hang out.
Even more, because I was attached to selfishness, and not wanting to be in a direct confrontation, I blew him off when he tried to contact me.
From then on, for the last two years, anytime we would see each other at the exercise site, or at Shen Yun, we would look right through one other.
“There have been students who were driven away by you due to your human thinking (granted, they didn’t do well either), and they left with grievances. But if you don’t find them and bring them back, then it counts as your sin. You think it’s just like any other ordinary matter, and what’s over is over? You think it’s that simple?” (“Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference”)
It was not until hearing Master’s words in New York, and witnessing the issue with my colleague, that I realized I needed to correct myself, and resolve this conflict.
So, I reached out to this practitioner, apologizing for my actions, and taking the blame for why things were the way that they were. A few weeks later, he accepted my apology, and I knew things were on the right track.
When I saw him again at the exercise site, after we were done, I went over and spoke with him. We had a good conversation, and we shook hands, and left on good terms.
It is very important that we become one body as practitioners, and not let petty trifles get in the way of our major responsibilities. We must be able to cooperate well with one another so as to save more sentient beings. If a petty conflict like the one I mentioned carries on for too long, who knows how many losses we may incur. I really feel that time is tight, and with my anxiousness, I am trying to sprint to catch up.
Thank you for listening to my experiences in cultivation, and if there is anything inappropriate, please kindly point it out to me. Thank you
(Presented at the 2016 Mid-USA Fa Conference)