Three Stages in My Cultivation Journey
(Minghui.org) Dear fellow practitioners:
I’m a Western practitioner originally from Venezuela, living in the city of Mississauga for the last 6 years.
What I’m going to share with all of you today are some of the most important things I’ve learned and experienced as a Dafa disciple, including how I’ve discovered and faced many of my attachments, and some specific Fa understandings I’ve come to on my cultivation journey.
My cultivation journey is divided into three stages:
The first stage goes back to the period between 2007 and 2011, when I obtained the Fa back in Venezuela and then moved to Uruguay, where I cultivated alone but with the support of other fellow foreign practitioners who encouraged me to study the Fa regularly and keep connected with a body of practitioners.
The second stage, from 2011 to 2014, was when I landed in Canada and started to attend the Mississauga practice site and participate in truth clarification activities.
From 2015 to the present I’ve been working full-time for the Canadian edition of the English Epoch Times.
I’m going to tell briefly to what I learned from Dafa cultivation in these three stages and where I am now.
I. Obtaining the Fa
The first time I learned about Falun Dafa was in 2005 when I was visiting New York City with my wife on a trip to visit her parents, who used to live in the New York area.
At that time, a Falun Gong practitioner in Chinatown clarified the truth to me and my wife about the persecution. I remember he handed me some fliers and a CD with information about the persecution.
I didn’t remember too much about the practice itself, but I understood that the persecution was real, affecting millions of people, and that it was so totally evil. I just said, “How can that possibly be happening? How can people be tortured just for meditating and following a spiritual practice?” I was really moved.
After that trip, I returned to Venezuela, and didn’t hear about the practice again until the end of 2007, when a friend introduced me to it and recommended that I attend a local practice site in Caracas, Venezuela.
At that time I was going through a period of intense spiritual curiosity, probably due to an internse tribulation I was experiencing, so I was looking for answers to transcendental questions in life.
I learned the exercises and read Zhuan Falun quickly for the first time. From the first reading I felt that it was exactly what I was looking for. It was so clear, so logical. Nobody forced me to practice and people were willing to share understandings and the non-religious spirit of the practice. I liked that a lot, as I consider myself a spiritual person, but not really a religious one.
A few months later, in November 2008, I got married and moved to another South American country, Uruguay, where there is no formal practice or study group.
But because I had learned well and practiced diligently before leaving Venezuela, I contacted practitioners from Argentina, a country with a strong body of practitioners and very near to Uruguay.
They invited me to study the Fa on the internet, and I studied the Fa with them regularly for a couple of years.
I learned two important things during that time:
(1) Studying the Fa is what really makes me improve quickly, because it is the foundation of cultivation. When read the Fa, I began to understand fundamentally what cultivation is really about, and most importantly, the relationship between what I learned from the Fa and the application of those principles in my life.
I discovered the many wrong things I had done in my life, the ways I had behaved incorrectly, and all the attachments that I needed to get rid of, such as lust, saving face, pride, comfort, attachment to money and recognition, and many others.
It was like a parade of attachments that surfaceed, one after another, and despite the fact that I initially felt bad that they existed, it was actually something good, because it meant I had already realized they existed, they were rooted inside my being, and that I knew that eventually I would need to get rid of them.
And I say “eventually,” because at first I didn’t think of getting rid of them, but I started to feel they were wrong. Initially I wasn’t able to make sacrifices, exercise self-control, or exercise Forbearance, one of the pillars of our practice. But at least I had recognized for the first time that they were completely wrong and I needed to get rid of them.
This is where the cultivation process starts, in realizing the attachment, facing it, and then gradually improving.
I am so grateful to Master for that stage and for being patient with me and guiding me through the process. I’m also grateful to fellow practitioners from Venezuela, Spain, and Argentina, who always encouraged me to practice and study the Fa regularly.
(2) The second major thing I learned in this initial stage was that I am here to cultivate.
The group I studied the Fa with on the internet always studied the lectures and conferences other than Zhuan Falun, including all the lectures before and after the persecution started.
So, what did I learn from those additional lectures?
Well, I learned many good things, of course. But the major impact those lectures had on my cultivation was that they gave me the conviction, the faith, the depth of understanding of what cultivation really is: that we really came here to cultivate and obtain the Fa. It was like a reaffirmation that I came here to cultivate.
Master says that everything needed for cultivation is in Zhuan Falun, “Everything taught in the Fa lectures given in different regions is explaining Zhuan Falun.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference”)
So that is why, at my level, reading all those other additional lectures helped me to be certain, and then I read Zhuan Falun and other lectures frequently and cultivated diligently.
II. Moving to Canada
As soon as I moved to Canada in May 2011, I started to attend Mississauga’s practice site.
I’d studied before about the importance of regularly attending a practice site and studying the Fa in a group, a real group when possible, which Master says is much better than an online group.
Also, I started to understand that, as a Dafa disciple, cultivation was not only about my personal cultivation but about assisting Master in clarifying the truth and assisting Him in saving sentient beings.
So, as soon as I arrived in Canada, I got involved in promoting Shen Yun, helping to sell tickets, setting up promotion booths, and doing whatever I was asked to do to help.
Overall, I felt my cultivation continued to improve and my state of cultivation was much better, but I was still facing issues with some typical attachments Master clearly referred to in Zhuan Falun. I’m talking about the attachment of lust and the issue of drinking alcohol.
Regarding the issue of drinking alcohol, I had to recognize that this was a complex issue for me. The probable reason is that I come from a culture where it is very usual to drink alcohol, and, actually, there is a lot of social pressure to drink.
I convinced myself to stop drinking, and I did well, I’d say, 99% of the time. But still, on a few occasions I failed the test and I drank a bit again.
Looking inside, I realized that the reason for drinking alcohol was not actually the attachment to alcohol but to sentimentality, as drinking alcohol is a natural and usual component of family celebrations or reunions. So, on occasions like Christmas (my family is Catholic), or Thanksgiving, I still drank a bit.
I’ve tempered myself and done well lately, but I still can feel the attachment is there. I try to keep vigilant and am prepared to face the next test.
Regarding the other major attachment, lust, I also did wrong on some occasions.
In general, I’ve done much better than before becoming a practitioner but am still lagging behind in terms of the standard of a real practitioner.
I believe the major cause associated with doing wrong in this aspect is related to the lack of consistency with Fa study and doing the exercises, combined with the easy access to adult content everywhere, specifically online. If I can look inside after failing a test, I will realize how easy it is to fail a test if my guard is down, so I’ve learned to take care of my thoughts and stay on the Fa as much as possible.
Every time that I look inside and review every part of my cultivation journey, specifically the occasions I’ve failed a test, it’s because I haven’t been practicing diligently. So, in my experience, there is a high correlation between periods when I am not diligent with failing a test related to lust and many others.
So, I am aware of this. I am determined to stay on the Fa, because the minute I deviate, it will be easy to fail tests.
For example, one day after failing a lust test, I was looking inside and thinking about the situation. I started studying the Fa, specifically Zhuan Falun, Lecture Two.
I read something that, on the surface might not seem to be related to lust, but I had a specific understanding.
In that lecture, Master explains some of the most common supernatural capabilities that could emerge in cultivation, in this case the supernormal ability of precognition and retrocognition.
“Haven’t we addressed that matter does not become extinct? Within a specific dimension, what a person has done or what a person does with a wave of his hand is all material existence, and anything he does will leave an image and a message. In another dimension it does not become extinct and will stay there forever.” (Zhuan Falun)
I thought to myself, “If I understood that, it means that everything I do will be recorded and stay in that dimension forever! It will be seen by Master and other Gods even in the future, so how I can I think so lightly about this any time I fail a test?”
Since then, I’ve really paid attention to this issue. I always aim to become and reach the standard of a real practitioner.
I’d say that, of all of my attachments, this is the one I’ve put the most conscious effort into overcoming.
III. Joining the English Epoch Times in Toronto
At the end of 2014 I joined the English Epoch times in Toronto as a full-time employee.
Before starting with the paper, my first attempt to contribute to this project was helping to translate articles from English to Spanish, for La Gran Epoca, the Spanish language site of the Epoch Times.
I didn’t do well then, because I wasn’t consistent. Eventually, after a few months, I dropped out.
The reason was probably that I had a limited understanding of what “saving people” meant. Although I followed Master’s instructions and tried to help with truth clarification projects, the idea of “saving people” was, and even still is, pretty much “abstract” to me.
But despite that, I continued trying to help, more by faith in Master than anything else, and I tried to involve myself with the local edition of the paper.
Eventually I talked to some people, and those conversations led to a full-time employment offer.
I was happy, because I really wanted to help, but immediately after being hired, my first big, big test appeared: the attachment to money.
Working for a media or truth clarification project is a precious opportunity for a practitioner to cultivate and assist Master in this important period. When you see things from a cultivation perspective, there is no other opportunity in the ordinary world that can compare.
But working for a Dafa media project may also mean earning a salary that is not the same as for a regular job.
There are many reasons for that. One is probably that the complexity of the industry and the state of development of our project means money is always tight. But it also involves our own cultivation issues, to see if we can persevere and continue moving forward despite monetary limitations.
I come from a professional background and had achieved some success in my career, so I had my own aspirations and professional goals. Add to that the fact that I shared my life with a wonderful but non-practitioner spouse, I thought what I would earn, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting nor what I was aspiring to, would be insufficient for my lifestyle based on my professional background and aspirations.
So, during this time, the issue of money is one I’ve been dealing with. It has sometimes affected my motivation, but at the same time every occasion I think about the situation I know it is an issue related to me and not the project.
It is an issue related to my cultivation state, how I’m doing, and how I handle and balance the relationship between being a practitioner and living an ordinary life.
My understanding is that I’m responsible for creating the conditions to make possible devoting my time to work for a media project. So, when I feel something is wrong, I look inside, review the situation, and try to adjust accordingly.
My main understanding about this situation is that I don’t have to worry about money if I really cultivate according to the standard. Master will take care of you, Master will arrange the path.
For example, when I accepted the offer to join the Epoch Times, the money situation at home was not too good.
We were transitioning from a business we lost back home and trying to re-enter the labor market in Canada.
As the main provider at home, I was naturally worried about the issue of money. I was worried that there was not going to be enough, I was worried that my wife would complain about not aspiring to an ordinary better job, etc. We were experiencing a transition, the situation was complex, and she was also looking for a professional job.
So, despite the fact that we could still pay our bills, our budget was very tight, and I didn’t know if I could maintain that position much longer.
But despite the worry, I started to cultivate better, more diligently. And few weeks later a miracle happened.
My wife found a good professional job. It’s usually hard to get those kinds of jobs as an immigrant who is still improving one’s communication skills, but she did. It was an entry level job, but with a decent salary and benefits, so we could balance our budget better.
This allowed us to stabilize our finances. My wife has supported my work in the media and we have been stable in that regard for the last two and half years.
I’m really grateful to Master for helping me along this journey.
Also, I’m grateful to my wife, who is not a practitioner but who has supported my work in the media without pushing me too much to aim higher or to get an ordinary job.
It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been able to handle things properly until now. I know that those tests we face are the ones that make us improve and elevate our standard.
I’m also dealing with other ordinary things, ordinary desires. For example, the need to prove myself and become successful, saving face, and sentimentality, but those are issues for another occasion.
But before finishing this sharing, there are two fundamental understandings I’d like to share that really have helped me to understand better and to focus my cultivation.
Master says in the book that there are two reasons why gong doesn’t grow.
One is lack of xinxing cultivation and the other one is not knowing the Fa of high levels.
We have already obtained the Fa to cultivate to a high level, so we have half of the equation solved.
But regarding xinxing cultivation, in Lecture One, Master mentions something specific to xinxing cultivation:
“Every aspect of xinxing must be upgraded for you to make real progress. This is a crucial factor in improving gong potency (gongli).” (Zhuan Falun)
Notice that Master says, “Every aspect” not just, “The aspects I choose to improve.”
My understanding is that we must improve “all” aspects of our xinxing, meaning being strict with ourselves in every aspect of our lives. If we are capable of doing this, our improvement will be faster and solid.
The second understanding is related to the real meaning of cultivation and what “Achieving consummation” means.
“You can call it “cultivation” only when one wants to cultivate, has the desire to reach Consummation, and at the same time carries out the actions involved in cultivation.” (Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference in Australia)
These words have had a profound impact on me.
Am I really conscious about consummation and what it means? Am I really carrying out the actions involved in cultivation? Or am I just reading the book or doing the exercises but not acting as I should?
As a practitioner, I try to keep that in mind at all times. Doing the three things, but also internalizing the Fa and applying it to my own life, is the sure path to achieving consummation and fulfilling my mission.
Thank you, Master. Thank you, fellow practitioners. Please feel free to point out anything incorrect.
(Presented at the 2017 Canada Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference)