No Trivial Matters in Cultivation
Greetings revered Master! Hello fellow practitioners.
I obtained the Fa in France in November 2006. Having cultivated for 11 years, it seems like I had just recently understood how to take my own initiative to cultivate, as most of the time I was in a passive cultivation state while attached to doing things. Every time conflicts emerged, I was forced to reluctantly look within. Today I would like to share some of my cultivation experiences with you.
No Trivial Matters in Cultivation
I was a particularly sleepy person, ever since childhood. If someone woke me up, I would throw a pillow at the person and then pull the quilt over myself to continue sleeping. I was in a state of lacking concentration very often, lacking energy and always wanting to rest. Every day I needed to sleep for more than 10 hours, sometimes even more, as if my mind could not stay clear otherwise. The more sleep I had, the heavier my head felt, and the more tired I was.
I found that my main consciousness was not strong enough, and my mind was full of messy thoughts, lacking logical thinking. No matter how many times the alarm clock rang, I was unable to hear it at all. My friends always laughed at me, saying that even an earthquake would not wake me up. During the years of my cultivation, I tried many methods to get up early for the exercises, but the effect was not good. I still needed fellow practitioners to knock on my door. I was rarely able to wake up by myself.
In Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public, Master mentioned at the beginning:
“For Dafa disciples, your doing the three things well is just the biggest thing.” (Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public)
I felt like I really had to get up early to study the Fa and do the exercises. Determined to make a change, I made an agreement with another practitioner that we would help each other. We decided to get up earlier to study the Fa together. We might not be able to get up at the time we set, but we agreed that if one person could get up, he would call the other person. We kept doing this for one day, two days … a week. Both of us had a strong desire to solve the problem of not being able to get up early. Another practitioner joined us after a couple of weeks. Gradually, we could get up on time. Three fellow practitioners joined the group. We decided to send forth righteous thoughts together in early morning, and then do the exercises and study the Fa.
I can finally hear the alarm and get up on time now. This experience told me that cultivation requires one to have a strong desire and willpower, as well as persistence. There are no shortcuts. We made progress bit by bit by encouraging each other and forming a positive field. I've enlightened that cultivation is not really about doing something significant, but about assimilating to the characteristic of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance in our daily lives and removing attachments gradually.
Breaking through Human Notions
I went to the United States to participate in a new project last year. Upon arrival, my first test was related to time. I grew up with a habit of doing things very slowly. I had little awareness of time and urgency. I found that the pace of work in the U.S. is frenetic. People can work with high efficiency and little rest.
I was already at a loss on my third day there. The workload I was assigned was more than twice what I could finish according to my normal capacity. I really didn't know how to do it. I thought the assignment was unreasonable, because there was no way for me to finish the task on time.
A practitioner explained that the work schedule had to be set like this to match the schedule for Shen Yun promotion, as a lot of the work was tied to Shen Yun. I had to accept the schedule, but had no idea how to complete the task within the short time period. I was so anxious that I felt as if my whole body was burning every day. My temperature was high and my body felt as if it was being baked in an oven. The practitioner who worked with me is a highly efficient person. She must have wondered how on earth I was doing things so slowly. She must have cultivated a lot regarding her patience during the time she worked with me.
During that period I did the three things every day, my mind was very clear, and things could also be done faster than usual, but there was still no way for me to complete the task on time. I began to work every day from the moment I opened my eyes until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
My efficiency did not miraculously improve, and the tasks were not completed on schedule. I was extremely depressed. One day, I burned instant noodles while cooking. Another day, I accidentally missed a step and rolled down the stairs. My heart was suffering much worse than the physical pain. Sometimes I felt I could not keep going, and my body and mind could not bear it any more. I was completely stuck on the notion of time and dreaded thinking about time.
One morning, I was in the state between being awake and asleep when a paragraph of the Fa from Zhuan Falun appeared in my mind:
“There once was a person who was tied to a bed. They took one of his arms and claimed that they would slit it to make it bleed. Then they blindfolded his eyes and scratched his wrist once. (He was not at all cut and bleeding.) A water faucet was turned on so that he could hear water dripping, and he thus thought that it was his blood that was dripping. The man died shortly afterwards. In fact, he was not cut and bleeding—it was running water that was dripping. His psychological factors caused his death.” (Cultivation Insanity, Lecture Six from Zhuan Falun)
The sentence “His psychological factors caused his death” hovered in my mind. Suddenly I realized that if psychological factors can cause a person’s death, the person could live if he changed his way of thinking. The same principle can be applied to my situation. If I could change my notion and stop thinking that I am a slow person with slow actions, stop acknowledging my inability to finish the task on time, and consider my task as arranged by Master, there must be a way out.
I immediately got up from bed and began working with a positive attitude. With the same daily workload assigned to me, I did not think about time, but simply concentrated on doing it piece by piece. By the end of the day, I found I had completed all the tasks for the first time! I felt particularly relaxed that night. I haven't been so afraid of time since then.
My efficiency improved because of a change in my notions. The limited time seemed to stretch longer, which allowed me to complete my work. This experience gave me enormous encouragement – I can do it! Since then, I have consciously changed many other notions that I had.
Letting Go of the Attachment to Ego
I was positioned as a group leader in our project team because of my work experience. I wanted all the work to be done according to my own ideas. However, different practitioners had different viewpoints. As group leader I insisted on my idea, which created conflicts in our team. I also failed to communicate with my teammates in time, which created gaps between us. Our work progressed very slowly.
Facing the difficult situation and the conflicts between practitioners, I went through an agonizing process of looking within. I finally found my strong attachment to ego, which had been hidden for a long time. I always thought that my ideas were smart, and didn't carefully listen to other people's differing opinions. I always tried to persuade others to follow my idea. Because of my mentality of being superior or competitive, my tone sounded like I was educating others when I talked with my teammates. I was self-centered and always wanted others to do things my way.
After identifying these attachments, I truly desired a fundamental change in my cultivation. Those attachments aren't my true self. My first step toward eliminating those attachments was changing my way of thinking. Ideas from any individual cannot be perfect or well-rounded. Doing something according to one individual’s idea is not what Master wants. Master wants disciples to let go of ego and harmonize as one body. I realized that only by getting rid of my attachment to ego and incorporating good ideas from all of us, would it be possible to do our project well.
I found that when I spoke, my words were not spoken for others to understand, but simply to show off my knowledge. The root source of every word was selfishness. I was determined to get rid of this attachment by all means, starting with increasing the time as well as the frequency of sending forth righteous thoughts every day.
Something wonderful happened. My cell phone would play the audio of sending forth righteous thoughts by itself, even without setting the alarms. I realized that nothing is coincidental for a cultivator. It was Master who reminded me to send forth righteous thoughts more often. After strengthening my righteous thoughts, my mind became clearer. It was much easier for me to catch every unrighteous notion. As soon as my ego emerged, I could immediately catch it. I admitted to Master that I was wrong, and I shouldn't have such unrighteous thoughts. I immediately eliminated the thoughts by sending forth righteous thoughts.
I also apologized to fellow practitioners that I had conflicts with before, and shared my cultivation experience. I admitted that those problems were derived from my ego. I invited practitioners to point out my attachments directly whenever they saw it, so that I could get rid of them quickly. All of us shared some cultivation experiences. I asked them what would be the best way to communicate with them and what had made them uneasy before. After an openhearted sharing, I felt that the gaps between us had disappeared. They told me that they often couldn't understand what I was trying to do, and it was hard to know how or when to cooperate with me.
I realized that it's most important to fully communicate with each other beforehand when we work together on a project. We must be aware of each other's progress and situation at any time, so that all of us can stay on the same page.
I started to share my ideas with my team members, and meanwhile I listened to their input so that we could find the best way. I paid closer attention to others’ progress and offered to help whenever needed. We helped each other in cultivation, resolved conflicts and corrected mistakes in a timely manner.
After doing so, the tasks we could not possibly complete before could be completed, with better outcomes and in a more harmonious atmosphere. I know that everything has been well arranged by Master in cultivation. It isn't necessary for us to be overly worried. It's impossible for one person to do everything. All we need to do is to follow the path arranged by Master and cooperate with each other. It's unnecessary to take over another person’s job just because I'm worried about a practitioner's cultivation state. Master's arrangements are the best.
Changing Negative Thinking to a Positive Attitude
In a weekly meeting, a fellow practitioner pointed out that I had too much negative thinking, and she felt very depressed every time she talked with me. I was surprised to find that I had caused such a big negative impact on fellow practitioners. I started to pay attention to every single thought of mine in order to dig to the bottom. I found that I had a habit of looking at the shortcomings of almost everything. My thoughts were indeed very negative, because all I saw were negative things.
I used to complain unconsciously about a lot of things and point out piles of problems, though others didn't enjoy listening to me. My comments wouldn’t be helpful for solving problems, but sometimes made things worse, so I adopted the approach of speaking less and doing more, only doing jobs that were assigned to me. I was reluctant to say anything, even though I felt there was a better way to do things. I felt it was difficult to change anything while others were going in one direction, so why bother? I even dismissed my intention of trying another way.
However, I could always find a lot of problems with the way other people did things. Once a fellow practitioner asked for my feedback for something she had done. I did not say anything because all I saw were problems. I thought I could avoid conflicts by saying nothing, but the practitioner was angry with me. She pointed out that I had frowned all the time since I entered the room, and I seemed to be unhappy and dissatisfied with everything. She was fed up with seeing me like that. I wasn't aware that I had frowned all the time.
A practitioner happened to take a picture with me in it. Looking at the photo gave me a big surprise. The person in the picture looked anxious and exhausted, with no expression in the eyes. How could this person be a Dafa cultivator? I was overjoyed at the time I obtained the Fa. I had found my Master! I was very happy, even though I didn't completely understand the Fa. I had a bright smile all day long. How and when did I become a person like this? After so many years of cultivation, why had I become more and more unhappy, had more and more human notions, and lost my feeling about cultivation that I once had at the beginning?
Cultivation in Dafa is cultivating Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and assimilating to the Fa. However, I was always attached to doing things perfectly, rather than cultivating myself based on the Fa. I worried too much about not being able to save sentient beings if the things were not done perfectly.
Actually, all of these are my human notions. Everything is taken care of by Master. All we need to do is follow the requirements of the Fa. If we didn’t do things perfectly this time, we can try next time. I need to make an effort to check every single notion of mine, maintain a positive attitude, and look at the good aspects of fellow practitioners' work. As long as we take responsibility for shortcomings and solve problems as we notice them, we will see improvements on a daily basis.
The things I do are almost the same as before, but my mentality is different. I'm no longer attached to who’s right and who’s wrong. I can accept criticism even though the mistakes were not made by me. Nothing is accidental, no matter what happens. If something isn't done well, I will do it well next time. My thinking has become simpler, and I have let go of a lot of attachments. As a result, things are going well.
I was often unhappy with others and judged them for this or that. It was actually because my own attachments had been disturbed. Once the attachments are removed, I no longer get disturbed. Cultivation is my own matter. The only way to solve a problem is to look within and change myself.
Having worked on projects for a long time, I find that the key to a project’s success is not an individuals' ability. Ability is important, but not sufficient or the most critical. The true key is to form one-body with open sharing among practitioners. It is actually not easy for a person like me, who came from mainland China.
As Master told us, Western people, even though they just got to know each other, can talk to each other about anything, including family and private matters. However, I grew up in mainland China. I grew up with the Chinese proverb to “refrain from hurting others, yet guard against those trying to hurt you.” After five years in France, I gradually realized that my thinking was different from the French people’s thinking. I had a strong sense of self-protection, which was hard to detect by myself. In fact, every word I said and every thought I formed was derived from this strong self-protection mentality.
The manifestation of this self-protection made others feel that I am not sincere and that I don't care about others. Others do not know what I'm thinking. They may think I'm not willing to share my thoughts openly. The old forces can easily take advantage of this and create a gap between me and other practitioners. Once I found this deeply rooted attachment, I sent forth righteous thoughts for a long period of time, but with no obvious effect. Though I could identify this attachment, I fell into the trap of self-protection again as soon as something happened. There seemed no improvement at all. I felt very depressed.
“Those who come out of the evil Party’s country are highly self-protective, and they have a strong desire to air their opinions on certain matters, whereas people outside China aren’t like that.” (Fa Teaching on World Falun Dafa Day - Given at the 2014 New York Fa Conference)
I burst into tears when I heard this at the conference. I vowed to Master quietly that, within the year, I must eliminate the mentality of self-protection.
I paid great attention to every single thought of mine to see if it was self-protective or selfish, and eliminated it once it appeared. Slowly this attachment got weaker and weaker. I also started to share my thoughts with fellow practitioners without reservation and gained the trust of other practitioners.
In Shen Yun performances there is a story from Journey to the West almost every year. Some practitioners said jokingly that their experience of working in Dafa projects was like their Journey to the West.
There was a group leader Tang Monk who appeared to have limited capabilities, a group member Monkey King who had great capabilities, Pigsy who had a lot of attachments, and the Sandy Monk who was hard-working without complaint. Similarly, all practitioners who are trying to save sentient beings are one-body. No matter which projects we are working on, all of us are walking on the path of Fa-rectification. Some practitioners have great capabilities, some are hard-working practitioners, and some have a lot of attachments. But we are all Dafa disciples, with responsibilities on our shoulders. We live in the illusion of this human world and can’t see our true abilities, but we can work closely with each other to help Master with Fa rectification. We also help each other in cultivation.
Cultivation is actually a process of purifying our own thinking with Dafa after living in this secular world for so many years. We are blessed with the wisdom of the Fa and have to use it to validate the Fa and save sentient beings. I hope we will work together to remove gaps between us, form one body, and work closely and diligently to fulfill our prehistoric vows.
The above is my limited understanding based on my cultivation experience. Please feel free to point out anything appropriate.
(Presented at the 2017 European Fa Conference)