(Minghui.org) Greetings Master, greetings fellow practitioners:

I am a Falun Dafa practitioner from New Jersey who obtained the Fa in September of 1996, and stepped into cultivation while a graduate student in Boston, Massachusetts. Weeks after I began to practice Dafa, I was fortunate to attend Master's lecture in Houston, Texas. After the lecture I knew for certain that the sole purpose of my life was to obtain the Fa and cultivate.

I accepted a position with a security team shortly after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the persecution of Dafa. I always detested the CCP for misleading people and sabotaging anything it did not agree with. Thus, I was always vigilant when it came to Dafa activities I participated in. I was constantly observing and watching for possible sabotage by CCP spies. Many times, I was very tough even on practitioners who did not act as a true practitioner.

Joining the Shen Yun Security Team

When Shen Yun gave its first performance in 2006, I joined the security team. I looked very serious and watched everyone in the theater. Some practitioners said that I should maintain a better attitude towards the audience, but I ignored the suggestion. I thought I was doing the most righteous thing in the world. I really did not care too much about the feelings of others.

Then, more practitioners complained that I looked like the CCP policemen Shen Yun depicted on stage. I felt that this was some sort of unfounded exaggeration, and I simply laughed it off. After a Shen Yun performance, some practitioners asked me how many people were caught taking pictures. I told them in detail how I caught them.

During breaks the security team shared information. A rather sturdy young team member asked everyone, “Who do you guys think is the most menacing among us?” Then, he pointed at me and said that it was I. I responded: “You're much bigger and stronger than me. You got to be kidding.” He looked quite serious and said, “You probably don't know. When your eyebrows stand up, some people would be shaking out of fear.” I thought this to be a good joke and let it go.

Letting Go of Demon Nature

My everyday job required much of my attention in 2011 and the time left for Dafa related projects lessened. One day, I was driving with my seven-year-old daughter and I asked her: “Daddy doesn't have much spare time. I want to change my job so I can have more time to work on Dafa projects. What type of job should I be looking for?” My daughter said, “Daddy, you should apply to a police academy, so you could become a policeman.” I was shocked and asked her why she thought like that. She told me that she thought that I liked to arrest people. I was in complete shock, and speechless.

Another time, when going home from group study, my daughter said, “It is very noisy in the room for little practitioners. Those young boys never stop running and screaming. I really wanted to ask you to come and yell at them. I was shocked and thought that in the eyes of my daughter, her daddy had such a fierce image. I finally realized that I had to look within.

I realized that my mind was filled with negativeness. If things did not go my way, my mind always held resentment and complained. Admittedly, I am strict also with myself, but I also hold a harsh attitude towards people. If someone makes a mistake or does things I do not agree with, I criticize the person in strong terms. I did not care if the person would be able to accept my criticism. Even my family is not spared my criticism.

“We are the cultivators of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance,” some practitioners told me. “Why are you controlled by your demon nature?”

I used to ignore what others said to me. But. this time, when I looked back at the things I had said and the things I had done, I realized how scary my demon nature had been. I felt ashamed.

This time, I took it to heart and wanted to change. I read the Fa over and over again. I kept reminding myself about the danger of losing my temper. But the deeply-rooted demon nature did not let me go. Whenever my ego was under attack, the demon nature would control me and I held deep regret afterward.

Master arranged those incidents to expose my demon nature. Master wanted to give me the opportunity to realize that the demon nature is not my true self. I did not change overnight but my demon nature finally disappeared.

Improving Cultivation Level During the Shen Yun Promotion

Like many overseas practitioners, I participated in the Shen Yun promotion. I took five-hour shifts in high-end malls to sell tickets, but distributed only a few fliers. Only a few people stopped and listened to me, and I only sold a few tickets. Because my ticket sales were not effective, I questioned the efficiency of manning a ticket booth in the mall.

During the Fa-study session of the Shen Yun promotion team, a practitioner shared that she could hand out several hundred fliers, and she was able to talk to dozens of customers in the mall. I asked how could this be possible.

When it was my turn selling tickets in the mall, I smiled, and was trying to reach out to all directions to give out fliers, but no one accepted even one flier.

It suddenly occurred to me that everyday people are waiting for true salvation. I am not here to do some routine job, I am here to save people! We are the messengers of gods and offer salvation that all the beings have been waiting for. Shen Yun is not some ordinary entertainment show and should not be presented as such. It is not enough to just focus on the superficial things such as colorful costumes and pleasing music. People in today's world are searching for something that can truly help them.

Once I had these thoughts, I felt that my heart was purified. My thoughts became sacred and my body felt that it grew much taller. True compassion filled my heart and my smile conveyed this feeling. It was extraordinary, as the number of people accepting my fliers increased dramatically. Many people talked with me about Shen Yun and time flew by so quickly.

Master said,

“Your mind will become increasingly pure as you reach higher levels. What your thinking brings forth then, and what you say, will be extremely pure. The purer and simpler they are, the more they conform to the principles of that level of the universe. The words you speak then can instantly pierce people’s hearts, strike the depths of people’s thoughts, and strike the more microscopic part of their existences. Now isn’t that going to be powerful?! So if you can become tranquil, that ability signifies that you have reached a certain realm.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland)

I found my answer in Master's teachings. Some practitioners can convince everyday people to withdraw from the CCP organizations upon the first encounter, while some practitioners can demonstrate Dafa's power during Shen Yun promotions. This happens because they reached a certain realm and they acquired righteous power. Their words are powerful enough to disintegrate the prejudices and dissolve bad substances. Their words can awaken the conscience of all beings. This is the vivid manifestation of their cultivation status.

From then on, before I went to the mall to sell tickets, I did the exercises, studied the Fa, and sent forth righteous thoughts. I stood before Master's picture and asked for His guidance.

Standing in the mall, I clearly felt that I was being tested how well I had cultivated throughout the years. I understood that whether people are willing to accept my fliers depends on my compassionate heart, as well as whether people are moved by my words and whether I could instill the thought of wanting to see Shen Yun. It had to do with my cultivation state.

I used to think of selling tickets in the mall as a volunteer job. But now, I treasure this opportunity. I am so grateful to Master, because Shen Yun promotion has purified my heart.

Cultivating as a Member of the Tian Guo Marching Band

I joined the New York Tian Guo Marching Band at the end of 2006 and began to play the trumpet. I did not look for a trumpet teacher and practiced by myself. I thought of finding a technique, so I did not need to practice hard and still could play well. I read a few books, and bought a variety of trumpet mouthpieces in the hope to accomplish the best sound without too much effort. I even found a special technique on the internet. However, my fundamentals and endurance did not improve. My fellow trumpet players were playing better and better each time we met, while I showed no improvement. I was getting worried.

By studying the Fa, I understood that both music and painting are art forms passed down to mankind from distant cosmic bodies. Master told us that in those cosmic systems the elevation of lives is sustained by their skills and improvement of those skills. I realized that my pursuit of some special technique that would allow me to play nice music without investing much effort had gone wrong.

Master established the Tian Guo Marching Band, so Dafa disciples could validate the Fa through band performances. If the trumpet can be played well through some special technique, without hard work, if the musical skills can be obtained by using worldly wisdom, how is this validating the Fa? The only way of improving trumpet skills is through hard work, while constantly raising one’s morality by following Dafa's requirements.

I recognized that I took a wrong path. I was determined to come back to the right practice method. My fellow trumpet players in the band encouraged and corrected me, but it took one year before I was able to play the trumpet well. This lesson was profound. It made me understand that if practitioners pursue worldly wisdom and go after opportunistic shortcuts they do wrong.

In the early days of the Tian Guo band there used to be a lot of parades and practitioners turned more and more towards Shen Yun promotion. In addition, my media project work left me less and less time for practicing the trumpet. The thought of leaving Tian Guo band grew stronger. Fellow band members shared their understanding with me regarding the importance of the Tian Guo band. But, I was of two minds, especially since there were only four to five parades a year, yet one had to practice a lot.

Music Reflects Our Cultivation State

From Fa study, I learned that the words we say contain all of our thoughts, including our human attachments and desires. Some practitioners shared that when a well- cultivated disciple reads the Fa, lotus flowers would come out of his mouth. I realized that playing an instrument has the same effect. The music we play also carries all of our thoughts and are a reflection of our cultivation state.

Master told us that when Tian Guo band marches and plays music, the powerful shock waves eliminate the evil. Many bystanders would simply become motionless. Their attachments and all kinds of human emotions would be suppressed.

I thought, “As a member of the Tian Guo band, how much was I contributing to the powerful shock waves? If I cultivated myself well, if I reached a high realm, then the music I play would indeed be powerful enough to disintegrate evil and awaken people's conscience. If I did not cultivate well, the energy of my music would not be able to reach far, and its effectiveness would be quite limited.

Master said,

“Drums and horns of Fa display divine mightPurging all manner of evil,beckoning souls back to heaven.” (“Tian Guo Marching Band”)

Whether we can purge all evil and whether we can beckon souls back to heaven, totally depends on how well we have cultivated

After I understood this, I immediately felt that Master established the Tian Guo band to give practitioners an opportunity to cultivate. Every project Master creates is bestowed upon us to redeem ourselves. How could I be so choosy? In fact, regardless if it is the Tian Guo band or any media work, whether a project can be effective in saving people completely depends on whether practitioners practice true and real cultivation.

Looking Within Is Universal Key To Solve Problems

I participate in the KanZhongGuo Media Group (Vision Times) and coordinate certain efforts. There was a serious conflict among the chief directors from local branches at the beginning of 2017. When the problem was reported to me, I was very involved in the Shen Yun security work, I tried hard to keep a cool head. The Shen Yun performances required 100% of my attention. I could not let my thoughts wander and be affected by angry practitioners. I told myself, I should not be moved. I should not develop negative thoughts towards anyone.

Though I was not moved by the conflict development during the Shen Yun performances, I still had to face the arguments among the coordinators. Upon hearing the escalation of the conflict, I was so worried that I could not sleep well at night. I was told that I was talking in my sleep. I could not find a solution. I clearly saw the cultivation problem of the involved practitioners. I quoted Master's teachings and tried to use it to point out the xinxing problems. But the situation worsened and I was also confronted by the practitioners.

Master said,

“Cultivate yourselves. I don't want the environment Dafa disciples have to become one in which people point fingers at each other. I want the environment to be one in which everyone can accept criticism and at the same time look inside themselves. If everyone cultivates himself, everyone looks within, and everyone cultivates himself well, won't the conflicts be few? This is a principle I have taught all along, going back to when I first began teaching the Fa. Isn't that so? Improvement for a cultivator definitely doesn't result from finger pointing, nor does it result from my criticism of you as your Master or from your pointing fingers at or criticizing each other. It comes from you cultivating yourself.” (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles)

Looking within is the universal key to solving all kinds of problems? Isn't this the magic tool that opens all hearts? When studying the Fa I remember it, but when facing conflict, how come I had forgotten this magic tool? Although I was supposed to solve the problem, I was also within the conflict. I decided to look within to see what xinxing problems I have.

I found that although I said I would listen to all parties' opinions, my mind had been biased by practitioners' emotions and attitude from the very beginning. Thus, some practitioners excellent points were filtered out by my negative thoughts.

When talking to the involved practitioner, I was rigid because I did not want to hear harsh words and did not want to feel the strong human emotions. I only wanted to hear a bullet point style of discussion, and hoped the conversation would end soon. On the surface, I had a private exchange with the practitioner. In fact, I did not want to hear the true voice. I lacked a compassionate heart. My starting point was not to help others solve their issues, but getting rid of the conflict I was facing.

In my conversation with a practitioner, I was frequently quoting Master's words. I was hoping that the practitioner would be using Master's Fa to reflect on herself and begin to look within. My true intention wasn't out of a compassionate heart, but was to use Master's Fa to help this practitioner cultivate.

A practitioner reminded me that even if I was right about something, I needed to tell it in a kind way.

When facing the conflict among fellow practitioners, if I rush to solve it as a coordinator, the conflict may not be resolved but rather could intensify. When seeing practitioners' shortcomings, if I hold no selfish thoughts, and only want to make our media project a pure land, my fellow practitioners will all come to support the effort.

Disturbances Resolved

During the Shen Yun touring season, I joined the security team again.

When I walked into the theater and saw that all seats were occupied, I truly treasured the audiences. I was speaking to them in my heart, “Sentient beings, in order to save you, Dafa practitioners have been making every effort. Please focus all of your attention on the performance. Please do not be bothered by worldly distractions, do not make phone calls, and do not look at your cell phones. More importantly, please do not take any pictures or create any disturbance.”

Together with other security team members, we talked to audience members and made sure that the policies for the Shen Yun performance were followed. At the end of the show, some practitioners asked if I caught anyone taking a photo. I was very delighted to tell them: "Today's show was perfect, no one took a picture!"

Difficulties Caused By Sentient Beings’ Karma

There was a period of time when I was not motivated to do anything. There were problems with all the projects I participate in and no progress could be made. I felt exhausted.

When my spirit was down, I had a dream. Master and Dafa practitioners were riding bicycles on an uphill road. It was very difficult for everyone. I asked, “Why don't we find a flat road or even better a downhill road? The uphill road is so hard!” A voice sounded in my ear, “The difficulty was caused by the karma of the sentient beings to be saved.” Master passed me on his bike. He looked back and smiled at me.

When I woke up, I came to realize that all the challenges we encounter in the projects have to do with the karma of the sentient beings. In fact, the snow storms during Shen Yun touring season, the rain storms, the scorching heat and freezing cold during the parades in which the Tian Guo marching band participates, the various obstacles Dafa media companies run into, most of them have to do with the sentient beings we are trying to save.

Master said,

“Steering the Fa Vessel before disaster descends,Millions upon millions     the hardships and perils, blocking my path,Carrying the Cosmos, boat broken and torn,At last! I pull into shore—     a dream of ten thousand years.” (“Suffering to Save” from Hong Yin)

In order to save all the beings from the old cosmos, Master has been extending time. Using His benevolent might Master has been carrying the broken and torn universe. The only reason that the collapsing cosmos is still sustaining itself is because Master has been taking all the sufferings upon himself.

We, like everyone else on earth, came from the universe of the past. We all want to redeem ourselves and save sentient beings, we all want to escape from the total destruction at the final end, we all want to fulfill the vows we made to the Creator. Doesn't that require our sacrifice? Our vows call for unfading devotion, unyielding valor and enduring commitment.

(Presented at the 2017 New York Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference)