Cultivating in the Divine Land Marching Band
(Minghui.org) I am part of the Divine Land Marching Band. I joined in 2013 and in 2014 began to play the trombone.
A Wake Up Call
From the parade in Ottawa last Christmas to this past March, we didn't have any parades. During that time, I didn't practice my instrument much.
After the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ottawa (March 17), almost everyone helped to promote Shen Yun. At first, I participated in the group practice a few times. In the following months, I hardly touched my instrument. I was ashamed that I only went out a few times on weekends to give out Shen Yun flyers. Most of the time, I chose to stay at home with the excuse of studying for school.
Actually, I was not that busy. I was just lazy. It was also a manifestation of selfishness. I thought that since everyone was busy promoting Shen Yun, we had very little time to practice together anyway. I needed to relax a bit. Why should I burden myself?
This thought had occupied my mind for more than a couple of months. The more I slacked off, the harder it was for me to pick up the trombone and practice.
Sometimes I felt ashamed. Then I thought that, well, I had slacked off for a while, it didn’t matter if I slacked off even longer.
In all of his lectures in recent years, Master has mentioned that time was pressing. His tone was getting more and more serious. However, I still behaved the same way.
I was ashamed that I wasted lots of time in pursuing leisure due to my attachment to laziness. However, I realized that feeling ashamed did not help. Sometimes the shameful feeling could even hinder me from pulling myself together.
A good cultivation state would improve my performance. The Divine Land Marching Band is my main Dafa work, which is also a precious opportunity. It is my mission.
Teacher said in "Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference:"
“But have you thought about it? You once signed a contract with me when you came to this world, vowing to save those sentient beings. You could then become a Dafa disciple, and you could then do this thing. But you did not fulfill it. You did not completely fulfill your vow, and you cannot even save those beings allotted to you, those you undertook to save, behind whom are countless sentient beings and gigantic groups of beings. What is that?! Is that simply just a matter of not cultivating diligently? That is an extremely serious crime! An unparalleled crime!”
When I first read this paragraph of the Fa, I was shocked. I couldn't imagine how serious it was in terms of cultivation and saving sentient beings. When another parade was coming up and school was over, I thought to myself: “I must pull it together. I must practice my instrument well.”
Working with Other Practitioners
I came to Toronto to take a summer course. Through this opportunity, I was able to join the local band practice four times for three parades. I learned a lot as I worked with the practitioners in Toronto.
The first time I went to group practice, I was both nervous and excited because there were so many new faces. I felt that the performance level of the Montreal band was higher, and I wanted to show off. This was not a righteous thought at all.
I also felt that I played my instrument very well. Even though I was not one of the top players, I felt I was better than many of them. When hearing mistakes made by others, my show-off mentality flared up.
In this new environment, I didn't feel at ease. Whenever other practitioners could not hit the notes properly during rehearsals, I developed very negative thoughts.
At the first rehearsal my first thought was: I want to return to Montreal! I didn't quit, but a element was still going up and down inside. I didn't look within, but instead complained about the local practitioners.
I went home and calmed down. With the help of other practitioners, I came to realize that I had a show-off mentality, I liked to stand out, and I liked to complain.
This was actually a great cultivation environment for me. In the Montreal band, no one ever criticized me and the practices went smoothly. How could I increase my gong level when it was so comfortable? That's why Teacher arranged such an environment for me to eliminate those bad thoughts.
All of a sudden it became clear to me. I should focus on only one thing in the band: cooperation. It was not for me to show off or to judge who was better or worse. How could I compare myself with others? That's how the show-off mentality came about.
Actually I understood that there was a lot of room for me to improve. I could only play a few pieces well. In the later practices, I gradually realized that my fundamental skills were not very solid. I was really ashamed of myself for wanting to show off, even with such limited skills.
I was going down a very dangerous path. I could see that if I improved my skills, I would want to show off so much that I would develop demonic interference.
I also came to realize that practitioners everywhere are the same. It doesn't matter whether they are from Montreal or Toronto. We are all elements in the Fa cooperating with one another to form one body, so as to have the greatest impact.
One should never be critical of other practitioners. This negative thought was blocking me. It had also caused a negative impact towards other practitioners. In fact, it was like committing crimes towards practitioners and countless sentient beings. I was shocked by my negative attitude towards other practitioners. I made up my mind to eliminate them.
In the next parade, I eliminated the bad substance in me. Before the parade started, the band rehearsed. My section had some performance issues, and I brought it to the attention of the section leader. Though the mistakes were not corrected during the parade, I didn't take it to heart. I just quietly sent forth righteous thoughts to eliminate my own negative thoughts.
While we played, when I found that others in my section were out of sync with me, I either stopped blowing or scaled back. In this way, I believed that to let go of myself was the only right way, rather than try to figure out what is right and what is wrong.
Teacher said in Hong Yin III:
“Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong”As a cultivatorOne always looks for one’s own faults’Tis the Way to get rid of attachments most effectivelyThere’s no way to skip ordeals, big or small[During a conflict, if you can remember:]“He’s right,And I’m wrong,”What’s to dispute?”
If the way I played the song was different than the others, that just meant I did it wrong.
When the parade wrapped up, the practitioner who was walking in front of me complimented me. The truth was the trombone I played was not my own and I was still trying to get used to it.
When the parade began, it wasn't quite cooperating. I kept sending forth righteous thoughts until the situation changed for the better. I also avoided playing some important parts, so I was not satisfied with my own performance.
I believed that the compliment was Teacher's encouragement since I managed to let go of myself. Even though I felt that I was right, I should still let it go and cooperate with the group unconditionally. This was the only way to bring a great effect to our audience. If I were to just insist on doing my own thing and not pay attention to the overall effect, I would have caused harm.
When I managed to eliminate the bad substance in myself and become part of the team, I realized that other people had changed, as well. Practitioners from the same section asked me what kind of rhythm it should be. The euphonium instructor, who was also the conductor, taught me how to improve the quality of my playing, the correct mouth shape, and how to breathe properly.
I saw how dedicated these practitioners were and how far behind I lagged. I once noticed on a very hot day an older practitioner with a euphonium, painstakingly trying to get every note right. He really inspired me. Gradually, the Toronto band members were no longer strangers. I felt that I was part of the band. Before that, it was only my notion that caused the alienation.
Time flew by. Soon my course wrapped up in Toronto. With parades on Saturdays and practices on Sundays, I have never felt so fulfilled, so different from the time when I slacked off at home.
Before I returned to Montreal, there was another parade. As we performed the piece, “Triumphant Return,” I felt a warm current penetrate my body. It was very hard to explain, as if all the instruments played together and worked as one—the solid drum beats, the beautiful sound of the woodwinds, the joy expressed by the trumpets, and the power of the euphonium.
My feelings were beyond words. It was something brought about by cultivation. It encouraged me to cherish this opportunity and to do better. I felt that I was purified as well. In the three years that I played in the band, this was the first time I felt this way.
At my first parade, I was like a blank sheet of paper and now I felt that I had grown. I truly felt grateful to Teacher. I was going downhill, and He gave me an opportunity to bounce back and elevate myself. The Toronto experience was truly a triumphant journey for me.
Parade in Montreal
After I returned to Montreal, we participated in the St Jean Baptiste Day parade with practitioners from Toronto. Seeing our growing band being cheered by the sentient beings, I was so proud! I also felt that only by doing better and better could I live up to the title of Divine Land Marching Band member.
Thinking back when I first joined the band, the elevation of the band has been truly amazing. My lesson in cooperation with the Toronto band was also the best in all these years.
Playing with members of the New York Divine Land Marching Band in the Canada Day parade was inspiring for me. The Montreal band has so much potential and I thought we could play as well as the New York band in the future, or even better.
On Canada Day I heard more than once Chinese people pointing to us and saying “This is Falun Gong.” I came to realize why we were required to wear uniforms. When we put on that uniform, we do not just represent ourselves. We are seen by sentient beings and should look our best at all times.
I came to realize that our every word and action is observed by a multitude of gods and sentient beings. We should remind ourselves all the time that we need to behave like practitioners, so that we will live up to this title.
During the past few years of practicing in the band, I have seen the band improve. I feel lucky to share what I have observed. I stayed in Toronto for a short five weeks, but when I went back to Montreal, I could see the difference that it had made in me.
I am indebted to members of the Toronto band for my improvement. I treasure what we have achieved through our collective efforts, and treasure this opportunity and mission.
I realized that, whether we rehearsed or marched in a parade, we had an opportunity to eliminate our attachments. In a storm, under the hot sun, or in the cold of winter, we were being tempered.
I truly appreciate Teacher's saving grace and the precious predestined relationships that we have with one another. I believe that we'll do better in bringing the beauty of the Divine Land Marching Band to more people and give them one sacred song after another using our Fa implements.
The above are my understandings cultivating in the Divine Land Marching Band. Kindly point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you Master! Thank you fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2016 Canada Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)