Experiencing Genuine Cultivation
(Minghui.org) Greetings, esteemed Master and fellow practitioners!
My name is David. I am a practitioner from Spain who obtained the Fa just over four years ago. Before I started practicing Falun Dafa, I suffered from a number of illnesses, including sciatica, and acute pain in my lower back, which woke me up every four hours at night. Standing for more than ten minutes straight resulted in a stinging pain on the soles of my feet. I was also frequently in a sad and melancholic state. Nothing was making sense to me, and I felt as if my life was ebbing away.
Given my poor state of mind, I resorted to alcohol, smoking, as well as all kinds of drugs. I separated myself more and more from my family. Although I went through various treatments, and looked into spiritual and meditation practices, I could not find peace of mind, and my situation worsened.
Everything changed when I found information about a Chinese qigong practice called Falun Dafa on the Internet. Apparently anyone could practice it, and it consisted of teachings and exercises. Additionally, all materials were available for free on the Internet. So I told myself that I had nothing to lose. After two weeks of practicing Dafa, all my illnesses disappeared. I also resumed my relationship with my family, and our life is now harmonious.
Over the last four years, my mind and body have experienced drastic improvements. Although it is impossible to thank Master Li in person, I can show my gratitude by being diligent and doing the three things well.
About a year ago, I felt totally lost. Even though I cultivated, sent righteous thoughts at the global times, talked to people about Falun Dafa daily, and was involved in projects meant to save people, I lacked energy and was in a routine mode. Although I had cultivated, I had not discarded my attachments and desires.
These attachments and desires became so strong that I could not concentrate when reading the Fa. I was a Dafa particle on the surface, but my thoughts had turned unrighteous. With the excuse of working for Dafa I had neglected my cultivation, and my main spirit was weakening.
I did not study the Fa much, as the projects demanded a lot of my time and effort. Suddenly, one word kept catching my eyes whenever I read Zhuan Falun... the word “truly.”
I felt that Master was teaching me this Fa with patience and compassion. He explained to me how I had to “truly” cultivate and improve myself, how I had to “truly” abandon my attachments, and that I had to “truly” let go of human sentiments, and with it, desires. When I looked within, I discovered that I had been so busy meeting my projects' goals that I had forgotten to cultivate Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. I was not “truly” cultivating. Although on the surface it seemed that I was doing a lot of Dafa work, I had been feeding my attachments and given free rein to my desires, whilst doing my tasks and coordination.
I thus began studying the Fa more in an attempt to understand how to return to true cultivation. That was when it dawned on me that Master kept repeating, and practitioners and I had discussed many times, that we should study the Fa, study the Fa more, and study the Fa well. We should always put aside time to study the Fa when we encounter problems, and we should study the Fa without neglecting our other duties.
I shared a house with other practitioners at that time, and in the mornings, after sending righteous thoughts and doing the five exercises, we studied a lecture in Zhuan Falun. Yet, I felt sleepy and tired and was filled with worries about projects and so on, so I did not study the Fa well. I thus decided to increase my Fa study time and read one more lecture after lunch, and another one at night. I also put a lot of effort into focusing well on what I was reading. My xinxing subsequently began elevating, and everything changed.
Before I reached my true cultivation state, I experienced much interference, such as pain, inability to feel or see, sleepiness, and fatigue. I am now filled with a sacred feeling and beauty when true Fa principles are revealed to me. I find these feelings similar to when meditating in the double lotus position.
When first starting to cultivate, many practitioners experience a panicky feeling for days at a time when realizing that we have to meditate for an hour to dissolve karma. But once we pass this test of faith and our xinxing is elevated, our concentration and serenity begin to increase.
After years of studying the Fa and experiencing constant changes, I found that the steps are always the same when we improve ourselves. It starts with bitter steps in the dark. When you feel ready to give up, the situation changes completely, and you have improved on your cultivation path.
“When you are overcoming a real hardship or tribulation, you try it. When it is difficult to endure, try to endure it. When it looks impossible and is said to be impossible, give it a try and see if it is possible. If you can actually do it, you will indeed find: 'After passing the shady willow trees, there will be bright flowers and another village ahead!'” (Zhuan Falun)
Reading practitioners' sharing papers on the Minghui website also helped greatly. Although I originally thought that these articles were for new practitioners, I discovered just the opposite. For that, I found many attachments and eliminated them.
It was very helpful to see other practitioners gauge things based on the Fa when they confront tribulations. These practitioners' understandings influence and encourage me to keep going. These sharing articles have become an invaluable help in my cultivation.
I have been reading three lectures of Zhuan Falun daily and memorized some paragraphs. Thinking about the past year, I am convinced that as soon as I increased my Fa study, I went from having no time to study to having time to read experience sharing papers and participating in new projects. I have become responsible towards Dafa and my own cultivation. My mind has become more lucid, my main consciousness has become stronger, my xinxing has elevated, and I am now able to look within in more depth when conflicts arise. When I clarify the truth or collaborate in projects, the results have remarkably improved. I no longer look outside for answers but use the Fa standard to measure myself.
But I must not fall into formalities. Cultivation is not a daytime job, nor can it be used to seek recognition from other practitioners, as this would result in attachments.
Overcoming the Illusion of Sleepiness and Tiredness
It is common knowledge that some practitioners get up at around five in the morning to send righteous thoughts and do the five sets of exercises. Although I could do so occasionally, I never imagined I could do it every day. Fellow practitioners encouraged me when I felt very tired, and it has gradually become the norm for me, which I try to meet without allowing for any excuses, no matter what time I go to bed the night before or in what situation I find myself.
This does not mean that there are not times when I feel sleepy and tired. Often, my body aches, and I feel weak and stiff upon waking up. This results in mental suffering, which is often greater than the physical discomfort. Every thought tries to convince me to go back to sleep. At that time, I realize that I need not worry since Master cares for all things. My righteous thoughts are strong when I have studied the Fa a lot and well, and I will overcome all interference.
I have come to realize that if I do not do the exercises in the morning, I find excuses not to do them that day. These excuses may then come up again the following day, and it could become a habit. It is clear to me that if one does not do the exercises, one will not be able to transform one's body or achieve perfection.
“Dafa requires both cultivation and exercises, with cultivation taking priority over the exercises. A person's gong will not increase if he merely does the exercises and fails to cultivate his character. Meanwhile, a person who only cultivates his character but does not perform the exercises of the Great Way of Spiritual Perfection will find the growth of his gong strength impeded and his innate body (ben-ti) unchanged.” (The Great Way of Spiritual Perfection)
I felt especially exhausted and sore when I got up one morning. I sent righteous thoughts and then started doing the exercises. During the second set, I heard a body falling to the floor. I then realized that I was lying on the floor. I got up, could not understand what had happened, where I was, and could not remember my name. I just held the thought that I was doing the exercise, and thus I continued doing the exercise.
I had no injuries, and my body felt very light. A reassuring emptiness dominated my mind, and my heart felt very serene. I did not doubt for a moment that Master continually protects us. My conscious state returned, and I completed the five sets of exercises without giving it more thought.
I then read a lecture in Zhuan Falun. But, after finishing my reading, I again felt tired and sleepy, tempting me to go back to sleep before leaving for work. This interference was very strong, but remembering an appointment helped me not to give in and go back to bed.
The fatigue was overpowering however, and I thought that if I were to sleep more, everything would change for the better. The mental and physical pressure was rising. I started reciting Lunyu, but it did not work. So I decided to send righteous thoughts. As soon as I started doing so, my body felt a jolt. At the same time, it bent itself in half, and each of my muscles tensed up. I continued sending forth righteous thoughts. As I tried to keep my balance as my body was fully tensed, I suddenly felt a deafening explosion in my mind and body, and several shock waves followed. In a fraction of a second, my body straightened itself, and I regained control of it. My whole body felt rested. My mind was completely lucid and peaceful, and my heart was calm and happy. That morning, I felt I had overcome the illusion of sleepiness and tiredness.
Righteous Thoughts Bring Relief
I was in an important industrial area of a big city one day, searching door-to-door for advertisers for our Dafa practitioners' media projects. It was cold and windy, but I didn't give it much thought and kept on walking. I knew that Master does everything and that he has already paved the road for us–all I do is walk and talk.
But, then it began to rain. This overwhelmed me to the extent that even breathing became difficult. My heart started to complain, and I felt frustrated and helpless at this added difficulty. I also began to feel much anger and injustice, and I lost my serenity. The pressure in my head became huge. I thought that I could withstand the cold and the wind, but the rain was too much–I could not present myself to the heads of companies I intended to visit soaking wet, as I was not carrying an umbrella. The long walking distances between the companies I had to cover also presented a problem. This all sounded very reasonable and logical in my head, and I was ready to go home.
I somehow summoned some strength from I don't know where, and I calmed down, stopped dramatizing, and started walking whilst sending forth righteous thoughts. As the rain started soaking my coat and trousers, I thought, “If I keep doing my job, the rain will stop–it's just another test to see if I'm determined.” I got to the next client's door and went in. I got through to the right contact, and everything went very well–no one seemed to care that I was wet.
When I left the place, the rain had not stopped. I began to feel impatient once again, and my resolve to go back home became stronger than ever. So I sent forth righteous thoughts again. I calmed down, and a thought arose in my heart: “Can a simple rain shower prevent a Dafa practitioner from doing what he has to do? ”
The rain kept falling, but I felt it was no longer important whether it stopped or not. The only important thing was doing what I had to do. I was at peace with everything. I felt an indescribable joy in my heart and realized how truly fortunate I was to do this Dafa work.
“We have said that good or evil comes from a person's spontaneous thought, and the thought at that moment can bring about different consequences.” (Zhuan Falun)
The rain continued all afternoon, and I kept sending forth righteous thoughts while walking from company to company. I also recited fragments from the Fa and listened to Master's audio lectures. I just focused on doing my job well. When I looked, I was wet from top to bottom, but then when I looked after a visit or walking for a while, I was completely dry. The rain never touched my face or my hands–it just fell on my clothes and got my hair a little wet. After two and a half hours of sending forth righteous thoughts while walking in the rain, I completed my visits and returned home to attend our group Fa study.
During the group Fa study, I calmed my mind. While studying, I realized that I was attached to listening to my own voice, my intonation, and my way of reciting the lectures. I considered my voice to be firmer and better than the others, but I then realized that those thoughts were not aligned with the Fa. After looking within, I felt the greatness of Dafa and felt true compassion arise in my heart towards each of my fellow practitioners. I noticed how numerous attachments, such as those of competition and showing off, were dissolved by the energy of the group.
Eliminating Thought Karma During Conflicts
After encountering numerous conflicts with other practitioners, I did not look within. I always seemed to focus my attention on the faults of others and never on their virtues.
“If you spend your energy on external things and look for others’ shortcomings instead of working hard on your own mind, how can you improve yourself? Others will improve and advance in cultivation after you point out their shortcomings, but you’ll still be here. 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)
Master uses conflicts to help us look within. But some thoughts are so deeply rooted and so difficult to detect that whenever a conflict arises, they cause me to look outside and look for whom to blame. It's even worse when I feel frustrated at work. Such thoughts seem to be untouchable and not subject to discussion. New thoughts then emerge from the old ones, which have been settling in the mind for a long time and shaping our thinking. They seem to be correct and very useful, but their basis is none other than selfishness. My numerous attachments are thus sustained.
I was not able to eliminate this thought karma, even after identifying it through Fa-study and reading experience sharing articles. Although I knew that these thoughts were not aligned with the Fa, I could not get rid of them. They even tried to take control of my emotions and urged me to react based on human notions, thereby strengthening my attachments and desires.
Although I made a conscious effort to eliminate them, the intensity of the conflicts with my fellow practitioners did not lessen. Some physical ailments even began manifesting in my body, because I was unable to dismiss this thought karma.
One day, as I was on the computer, it occurred to me that I should write, in detail, all about this thought karma that seemed to be indestructible. And so I wrote, “My most hidden thoughts are those that tell me that someone is no longer worthy–that once the person has said something improper or acted in an improper way, the person is someone I cannot trust, that I should not listen to them, that their attachments are enormous. But, in reality, this person is actually pointing out my own shortcomings.”
After writing this down, this issue no longer mattered, and my thought karma almost disappeared. I had weakened it to the extreme. My relationships with other practitioners subsequently improved, since the conflict inside me no longer existed.
After writing this sharing paper, I noticed how I could listen to others without thoughts and attachments stirring up my mind. I stopped feeling the need to add my own understandings when talking with others in order to “improve” them, and I stopped trying to find an intelligent reply while listening to them. As Master had cleansed much of this thought karma for me, I could listen to others with a calm heart and learned to look at things from others' perspectives.
Thank you, Master ! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2017 European Fa Conference)