Experiences and Understandings Gained While on My Journey
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master. Greetings, fellow practitioners.
I started practicing Dafa here in New York in 1999. The past 18 years in this complicated environment have been truly wonderful, and I really cherish the time we've spent together! I would like to share some experiences and understandings I've gained while on my journey.
PART 1: My Role as a Fa-rectification Period Dafa Disciple
Recently, I've felt more and more that I'm just an actor in Master's grand play.
In “Just a Play” in Hong Yin Vol. II, Master wrote:
Heaven serves as curtain,with Earth as the stageThe Cosmos moves,Heaven and Earth openEverything through the ages,came about for the FaThe Falun turns,renewing the Three Domains
For my part, the scene is mostly New York. I'm part of the Fa-rectification Army Battalion here, and our mission is to save sentient beings while validating the Fa. We handle a lot of global communications and at the same time have many local battles going on. I tend to play the role of a hardworking and trustworthy Sargent who coordinates small teams.
In the beginning, I was given a thick, armored suit so I would be able to endure all kinds of difficult situations. The suit even covered my eyes so I wouldn't be moved by all the temptations along the way. This suit is actually able to fly, but since I'm a foot soldier, I need to stay firm on the ground and follow orders closely. Thus, I was given attachments that are like rocks that hang by chains from the suit. Perhaps Master arranged for fame, competition, and pursuit, as they would actually help in battle; however, the old forces thought this was too easy and added on a huge attachment of lust to see how I would fare dragging around such a heavy burden.
While in the suit, I can carry heavy loads but have a hard time turning quickly. It makes it easy for me to handle simultaneous tasks over long periods, but I often miss out on opportunities that require quick action.
I received a copy of Zhuan Falun to guide me and was told that, no matter how many times I trip and fall, I should just get up and keep forging ahead on my path until the battle is over. Also, I should not worry when it sometimes feels like I'm going backwards, because I'm actually moving forwards.
As you might have guessed, this suit is actually my human body and inside is my true self.
When reading Zhuan Falun, my part in the play is revealed. When I stop reading, I'm really bad at remembering my lines, and I start to think that the armored suit, with all the attachments, is actually me. Fortunately, since I've always been diligent with Fa study, each step on my path has been relatively easy to see.
There were some unique ornaments added to my suit that I discover occasionally. At first I'm not sure if they are good, and what exactly they should be used for, since there is no precedent in history. I usually find they are there to help me push forward and stay on my path. Sometimes they are physical objects, like my trusty smartphone, and other times they are ordinary skills, like the dragon dance and graphic design. It usually takes me a lot of trial and error to figure out what exactly they are, but it always turns out they are needed at the exact right time for a specific battle.
My suit has another feature, which is that it automatically draws me towards other practitioners, and this makes me happy. It somehow only allows me to see their positive sides, which makes it quite easy to team up with anybody in battle. Helpers on my teams tend to magically appear right when I need them. When nobody is available, I'm given some skill to get it done myself. I'm always amazed by Master's arrangements.
When battles become intense, I tend to thrive. Perhaps this is because I can finally feel things. Recently, I often experience "hardship as joy" when going through difficult situations. This is a nice feature for the often chaotic New York environment.
In the early days, I had a tendency to look at others in our battalion and say, “Oh, he is doing so well, I should follow along.” As I matured, I found this to be wrong, as we all need to play our own roles; otherwise, the play becomes a mess.
In these past three years, it seems Master has changed my armor a bit so it's much lighter now and I'm able to feel more. This is probably so I can move faster in this final phase.
PART 2: My First Big Tribulation
The first 15 years of my cultivation were somewhat odd because I never had any big tribulations or xinxing conflicts. I truly experienced 15 years of “good days.” I did go through a fair amount of hardship, but that was mainly from taking on a lot of Dafa project tasks at the same time as having a full-time job and a family. There were rises and drops in my cultivation, but they were very gradual and usually overlapping.
About three years ago, this all came to a halt when my wife told me she wanted us to go see a marriage counselor, or else she'd divorce me. Two years prior, she stopped practicing Dafa, and our relationship really suffered. She wanted to do more ordinary people's things, but I spent all my free time with Dafa projects. I, of course, wanted to avoid divorce and decided to go to see the counselor.
The marriage meetings were every other week for three months and were very stressful for me. During this time, I began to take sending forth righteous thoughts more seriously and started to look inside to see what gaps in cultivation I needed to close up—perhaps this would then make the problem magically go away. Unfortunately, it was not so easy, since I found so many gaps!
It was obvious what my first big problem was: lust. Then there was fame: "How will I be able to show my face in front of my fellow practitioners if my wife divorces me? What a failure!" The other was a mentality of competition with my wife, which I had known about but didn't really enlighten to until later. Then there was my subtle attachment to avoiding conflict. In regard to my wife, in hindsight there were many times when I knew she was going through conflicts (not just with me) but my tendency was usually to just avoid it and go off and be happy on my own. This also was a big reflection of my selfish mentality and an overall lack of compassion.
Along with all these attachments being revealed, for the first time I began to have distinct xinxing tests, which seemed to come one after another. Many people started to complain about me, including team members on my Dafa projects, coworkers at my day job, family members at home, and even one of my neighbors. My normally peaceful kids started to fight with each other a lot, and they acquired a magical ability to really make me angry—something few had been able to do in the past. My computer, my car, and my smartphone all began to have random troubles, one after another.
The situation with my wife got worse. Much of the marriage counseling was centered around my wife’s argument that I chose Dafa over a normal married life and that it was impossible to have both. Despite my attempts to explain, the counselor concluded that there was no hope for us and recommended we divorce. During this process, I had glimpses of encouragement from Minghui articles in which practitioners were able to turn around similar situations. However, my lack of righteous thoughts and attachment of complacency seemed to lock me up, and all I could do was to watch the situation unfold.
The process of separating took a year and half, and it was packed with trials and tribulations. First was how to break the news to our two children, close friends, and immediate family. This was a big test for my attachment to fame and what people thought about me—all compounded by complacency, which drives me to avoid conflict. Then there was the test of compassion, as urges to say bad things about my spouse would occasionally surface. Finally, there were complications related to creating two separate homes when we were barely able to make ends meet.
While all this was going on, my big concern was to avoid causing any setbacks for the Dafa projects I work on. It was fall, and Shen Yun promotion in New York was ramping up. A big “stroke of luck” (or benevolent arrangement) came my way. My company was acquired, and I got a large sum of cash from stock options. I was able to buy a condo and everything needed for the kids to live with me half of the time.
But this period was extremely busy and chaotic, with the mortgage process, renovations, decisions about this and that—all at the same time when my Shen Yun work was at its peak. I recall that, on many days, I was actually “sweating bullets” and my mind was racing like crazy.
But at the same time as all these tribulations, I was finally making breakthroughs with my attachment of lust. This was also around the time I started to feel strong energy surges while studying Zhuan Falun. I took sending forth righteous thoughts very seriously, both in never missing any of the four set times and in staying focused during them. Not much later, while sending righteous thoughts, I could feel the energy going out and had a sense of its mighty power. For the first time, I could feel my overall cultivation level increasing.
While I juggled more things than ever, some new attachments surfaced. Since I started cultivation, I thought I wasn’t attached to money at all. But once I had a large amount and started to feel good when I’d see my big account balance on the ATM, it quickly became apparent that I had this hidden attachment. The next step was seeing a mediator to decide how to divide up our possessions. I tried my best to be detached, but my heart was definitely moved as we discussed who would get what.
The tribulations still kept coming. My wife announced that she had a boyfriend and wanted to introduce him to our children. Eventually, he moved in with her into our old place, and I was invited to join them for Christmas. Once again, I just wanted to avoid all this. But I knew that’s not how a Dafa disciple should be. Shortly after our divorce was finalized, she announced that they were engaged.
A few months ago, all the tribulations ended. I’m a bit hesitant to say this, but it’s very clear that they have played a very positive role in my cultivation process. My Dafa work was never affected, and everything is good between me and my ex-wife. She has nothing against Dafa and sometimes even clarifies the facts to people and recommends they try practicing it. My kids still practice with me and attend group study regularly.
Oddly, as things eased up, the strong energy I had been feeling ended. It’s very clear to me how difficult situations are good things for cultivators.
PART 3: Overcoming Lust
As a child, I was exposed a lot of lustful ideas, nude magazines, and pornographic videos. At the age of 13, I became addicted. Looking at those things made me feel good, just like drugs. I practiced Buddhism after college and felt hopeless because I couldn’t let go of lust at all. It wasn’t until I met my future wife, just prior to Dafa cultivation, that I finally paused. But the huge attachment wasn’t removed at all. As the internet grew, it was so easy to “get a quick fix” at any time.
One downside of my simple and easygoing personality is that it often leads to complacency. I've known about many of my attachments for a long time but wasn't serious about getting rid of them. I often justified them as necessities in my Dafa work. For example, selfishness, fame, and a show-off mentality would drive me to work hard and pursue good results. But when I was tired and low on energy, I would allow lustful thoughts to enter my head because they would perk me up. I wasn't serious about lust when I started to cultivate in Dafa, and I ended up failing, over and over, for 15 years, until just three years ago. It was exactly like Master said in Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six:
“If one who fails the test does not care about it, it will be harder to pass later. It is definitely this way.”
After my relationship with my wife deteriorated and she was discussing separating, I decided, once again, to really eliminate lust this time. However, after a few weeks, I failed many times in a row. It was worse than ever! Was I completely hopeless, or perhaps was this attachment finally at the outermost surface? A few weeks later, I became inspired again after reading a Minghui article about a woman who recently overcame lust and balanced things well with her husband. She used “mie” to eliminate lustful thoughts and also memorized this passage from Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six:
“Desires, lust, and things of these sorts are all human attachments, and all of them should be given up.”
I usually stay away from “tricks” to overcome things, and I have found that what works for other practitioners rarely works for me, but this time I figured I had nothing to lose. I quickly memorized the passage and started to eliminate lustful thoughts with “mie” whenever they entered my mind. I also sent forth righteous thoughts just before bedtime, because usually, many bad, lustful thoughts would enter while I was asleep. Surprise! After just a few days, the effect was really good! Wow, this is cultivation!
It also seems like what Master said in “Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference:”
“Let me tell you that a lot of those bad, microscopic beings cover you and your thinking like dust, but they’re actually nothing, and when you send righteous thoughts you can eliminate those rotten things. A lot of people just go through the motions when they send righteous thoughts. If you don’t clean up those things in your body, your cultivation will be affected. But those things can be eliminated with one thought. When your righteous thoughts are not strong enough, when your righteous thoughts can’t come forth, they won’t work.”
I got better and better with eliminating any lustful thoughts and images right when they appeared in my head. When in private, my hand automatically raises up to the position for sending righteous thoughts. I don't see much with my celestial eye, but it's very much like a video game in my head: I first slice those bad things up into tiny pieces, I blast them with "mie", and then I make sure to clear out any traces in both the microcosm and macrocosm of my dimensional field. I also put a lot of effort into eliminating the entire history, in other dimensions, of lustful things that I had taken in over the years.
I’m happy to say that it’s been three years now and there have been no relapses. It seems the greater part of that attachment has been rooted out.
Looking back, it makes me cringe to think about how I, a “diligent,” assistant and solid veteran practitioner could have such a horrible attachment for so long. I’m quite certain Master must have cleaned up those dirty things for me along the way so they wouldn’t impact the projects I was working on.
PART 4: Conclusion
Over these past few years, I have gained a deeper meaning of this passage from Lecture Six in Zhuan Falun. Master said:
“It is under the circumstance of demonic interference that you can demonstrate whether you can continue your cultivation, be really enlightened to the Tao, be unaffected by interference, and be sure-footed in this school of practice. Great waves shift the sand, and that is what cultivation is all about. What is left in the end will be genuine gold.”
Now that I have passed through some “great waves,” many dirty things seem to have been eliminated from me. I feel great now about cultivation, even more so than when I began. My body and spirit feel light, and I’ve gained new vigor and appreciation for doing the three things.
When reflecting on my past, I often think about this passage from “Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference,” in which Master said:
“Things have been arranged for such a long time and this is such a major event, so things are really well-ordered! If I told you that even every step you take as you walk, and that even how big your stride is, were arranged, you might not believe it. But even the number of times you would scream while being persecuted and how many blows you would be dealt were arranged by them.”
Perhaps the old forces’ arrangement was to use lust to prevent me from cultivating. If I had just given up because I felt unworthy and I had no chance of completing cultivation as a result, it would have been detrimental. Yet, through Fa study, I could always feel Master's compassion and neverending encouragement. Deep inside, I knew this day would eventually come. I'm just shocked it took 15 years.
I'm very grateful that Master extended the end time of Fa-rectification. As mentioned in “Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference:”
“Fortunately, this affair hasn’t yet ended. As a Dafa disciple, no matter what setting you are in, you should do well, do even better, and quickly eliminate your shortcomings and the things you shouldn’t have.”
Over the years, it was never clear to me what, on my path, was an old-force arrangement, personal cultivation, or Master's arrangement. I used to think that negating the old-force arrangements meant that I would be able to stroll through my Dafa work with no problems or struggle. But since those old-force arrangements were so meticulous, it is extremely difficult to get around them. My current understanding of “following Master's arrangement” is to stay diligent and keep striving forward with what we need to do, no matter how dire things may seem. When we trip and fall, we need to quickly get up, stay positive, and keep pushing forward with our missions.
I'm often surprised that I was able to make it this far. On the surface, the reason is that I was “good at getting back up after falling” and staying positive. I also have always been diligent with Fa study. However, ultimately, I know it is Master's benevolent arrangements and his dissemination of such an immense Fa to which I owe everything.
I hope we can all do well on this final stretch of each of our own paths.
(Shared at the 2017 NY English Fa Conference)
Category: Improving Oneself