Elevating in Cultivation through Working on Shen Yun Promotion
(Minghui.org) Greetings esteemed Master and fellow practitioners:
I obtained the Fa in 2009 and have been involved in the promotion of Shen Yun ever since. Last summer, I was asked to coordinate a team to promote Shen Yun using the Internet.
When I was first asked, I was unwilling to accept the assignment. I had a lot of experience promoting Shen Yun through newspaper and outdoor advertisements (ads), had established my network and had gained a lot of expertise. To assume another position, I not only would have to train other practitioners to replace me, but also have to learn from scratch how to do it via internet. I was overwhelmed, as there was no one to teach me.
Complaining Is Not of Value
I have always enjoyed working with people. I am good at negotiating with people and enjoy public speaking. But, having to stay at home and deal with a machine, made me miserable. Talking to people about Shen Yun was one of my strengths. I could learn so much about people through conversations, eye contact and body language. I was lost when I had to work with a machine.
Also, given the new realities, I was stuck at home, and had to look at the monitor all day long. I had to decipher a huge amount of data to understand the needs and wants of our target audience. There were questions, such as why is method A a better idea than method B? Why does method C cost less? Which ads should I post and when should I post it to attract the most people? My head was spinning and I started to complain: “Shouldn’t the supervisors assign the staff based on their talents? I could hardly use my skills and talents now.”
As I was complaining bitterly, I realized that it was wrong to do so. After all, I am a cultivator.
“Sending righteous thoughts is of course done to clear out evil that blocks us from saving people, and there is little of the evil left, in fact. Clearing out evil is a good thing, of course. Could it not have an impact when so many people were sending righteous thoughts? It did have an impact. However, we need to look at what some people were sending out when sending righteous thoughts. They would be sitting there, palm erect, but their thoughts would not be righteous, “How come we’re taking this approach this year? I did a great job selling tickets last year. Why are they making me send righteous thoughts here when I could be out selling tickets? Why do we have to target society’s cultural mainstream? These tickets are so expensive—who’s going to buy them?!”(Laughter) While it sounds funny to hear this now, that was in fact an extremely widespread phenomenon. Do you realize that with all that being sent out, all around the world it formed into a sticky, glue-like substance, and it took just a very few evil beings to be able to interfere with you. It was not something that you could clear out, and it directly blocked our Dafa disciples’ ticket sales and blocked the Dafa disciples who were sending out true righteous thoughts. It was not something that could be cleared out.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa - Fa Teaching Given at the 2011 Washington DC Metro Area Fa Conference”)
I understood that I was sending out sticky glue-like stuff with my wrong thoughts. As my dimension was not clean, it affected ticket-sales. I needed to suppress my complaints and I should just cooperate unconditionally.
Defining the Target Audience
To understand our target audience better, a few practitioners and I visited some of the affluent neighborhoods to learn about their life styles and how they receive information. I found that more and more people are using the Internet and social media. The audience's feedback was very powerful, as it told us that more than half of those who viewed out ads liked what they saw. I thought that if we could identify the target audience, our cost would be lower than using conventional media.
Web promotion may be very effective, but the web itself is unfiltered. How can we function effectively in this messy place? Although I had some experience in web promotion, I had not done so in a systematic way. I told myself, to make the best out of this situation. There must be a reason why I was placed here. I trusted Master’s arrangements. If everything were to go smoothly, I could not find my shortcomings.
Our team started to explore different ways to reach our targets, based on market research. We started with a small number of ads to test the waters. Every day when I opened my eyes, all I could think about was the data and how I could adjust my strategies.
Two or three weeks before Christmas, I found that the ads I posted on a site for a 55+ group received many hits, but no ticket purchases. Half of the Shen Yun audience were over 55 years old. Targeting this age group was the easiest and should be the most productive. I thought: “I have spent so much time studying this group, why is it not showing some results? Besides we spent so much money, and yet no tickets were sold.” I asked myself if I had any attachments that blocked people from buying tickets.
Purifying Ones Mind
I was asked to help man a Shen Yun ticket sales booth near me and agreed, as I was not getting anywhere with my web promotion project.
Before I went out to sell tickets I always emptied my mind. It has become my second nature. On my way to the ticket booth, I calmed down.
All of a sudden a thought came to mind. “I am pursuing something. I was pursuing that the 55+ group would buy tickets. But this is about saving people. Is it right to pursue that?” This made me realize that I also needed to empty my mind before I was working online. Only when I do this without human notions, can the divine ability given by Master come to the surface.
When I dug deeper, I found that I was hoping that the group would buy tickets because I thought they would – it was all about me. However, it was Master who decided who should come. Also, as tickets were not selling, I was afraid of losing face. After finding so many attachments, I sent righteous thoughts to purify my mind.
At the ticket booth, an elderly man wanted to buy tickets because he had seen the ads online, but he did not know how to purchase tickets online. This made me realize that seniors needed very simple, clear directions on how to buy tickets. The ticket button should be highlighted and separate from the rest of the content. Also, seniors prefer to purchase tickets over the phone, so we should put the hotline number with the ad.
Within two hours, different groups of people who were 55+ came to the booth and showed me how to do a better job in reaching them online. At home, I adjusted the way I posted the ads and the tickets sold doubled within a few days.
To promote Shen Yun, we need skills learned in the human world, but we should not be limited by them. The most important thing is that we need to purify ourselves. I have found that many good ideas came to my mind when I emptied my mind.
The web promotion team has its Fa study and experience-sharing on the weekends or in the evenings, as everybody except me has a full-time job. We need to touch base twice a week to study the Fa, exchange ideas and share experiences so we can learn from each other.
At first, when we were not as busy, we could all get online on time. But in December, people attended the online Fa study sporadically. I believed that it was important for us to keep the communication lines open, no matter what methods we used, be it traditional or through the web. As the coordinator, I had the responsibility to make sure that we kept in touch.
Whenever someone was absent from the meeting, I needed to update them. The more people were absent, the more time I needed to communicate with the absentees. I was unhappy about it because I was busy too. I would have much preferred to work on my own if I had a choice. But I knew that there must be a reason for me to be placed in this position. I knew that I was very attached to self. If people were critical of what I did, I didn’t take it well. To coordinate a team is to force me to let go of self. But, this all depends on solid Fa study. When conflicts happened, it really touched on the fundamental attachments that I held onto.
Challenges for a Coordinator
One day, a practitioner who seldom attends Fa study asked me if I could take over part of his responsibilities as he was just too busy. I agreed since I was experienced in those tasks. After some time, he asked me again. As he was not comfortable writing in English, he asked if I could take over that part as well. It is understandable as he came to Canada not long ago, and English was not his strong point. Since we needed to target the mainstream society, we needed good English skills, so I took it over. I identified the site, wrote the text, emailed him with detailed instructions, asked him to use a particular video to accompany the content and post it as soon as he could.
Two days later, he called because he could not find the video and asked if I could send it to him. I was really upset. The video files were kept in the video bank and everyone knew how to access them as we mentioned it often at the meetings. How is it possible that he still didn’t know? I did everything for him and if I had to write an email with instructions on how to access the video, I might as well do it myself. I could have done twice the amount of work. We could not afford to waste time. How could things drag on like this? But he was really busy as he usually called me at night between 10 and 11 p.m. I was upset, but thought that since I had more time, I would try to cooperate with him. I told him that I would do everything. He just needed to monitor the outcome after the ad had been placed.
A few days later, a few ads had not produced positive results, and I found that someone had left negative comments for two days and no one had deleted them. We post many ads online. The longer the negative comments were left there, the more loss we would suffer. I was furious. I had done everything, and he could not even monitor the results.
I could not get ahold of him, and so decided to take over his part since he did not seem to be responsible. It took me a few hours to go through all the comments. I realized that checking the comments also take up significant time and efforts.
Then he called me back and told me that he had to leave for an emergency business trip. He was on the road for dozens of hours and didn’t have access to the Internet. He didn’t have a chance to inform me either. I told him about the bad comments. He was really apologetic. He told me that he was just too busy.
This past incident made me realize that it was not easy for this practitioner. Although he had the technical skills, he did not have the time or the language skills for the job. It may look easy, but until you actually do it yourself, you do not know how hard it is. I took over and only asked him to check the results.
Interference Becomes Trivial
I found that the most effective posts tend to attract many negative comments. For a long time, I was worried about the negative comments.
“The bigger you perceive the challenges to be, the harder things will be to carry out, since 'the appearance stems from the mind'. And so the task will become increasingly burdensome. When I say 'the appearance stems from the mind', by that I also mean that the difficulty stems from your overstating the importance of the matter itself and seeing yourself in a lesser light. Don’t take any such things to be a big deal, for with something as significant as saving sentient beings you should just do what you are supposed to do, going about it in a composed manner. When you encounter things that don’t sound so good or that aren’t what you hoped for, don’t take it to heart, and just nobly and confidently do what you are supposed to. If you don’t let the evil’s interference sway you, bad factors won’t arise from you, the evil will become trivial, you will become towering and massive, and your righteous thoughts will be ample. That’s truly the case.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference X)
So why was I afraid? Isn’t that pursuit? Am I not asking for trouble? Master said, “The appearance stems from the mind.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference X)
I am doing something righteous. Therefore, I now post ads with a calm mind, and just delete any negative comments.
Some times when we were too busy to delete the bad comments, some audience members who had seen the show would reply with very positive comments such as, “This is a must see.”
My team members shared that practitioners from Mainland China can use their supernatural abilities to prevent the evil from seeing us. We tried to do our best, but if we were too busy to check, we asked Master to strengthen us, so those to be saved would not see the bad comments. Once our thoughts were righteous, the results were better.
Challenges Due to Attachments
Time flies! It has been eight years since I started to participate in promoting Shen Yun. Looking back, I have had many challenges; sometimes I slacked off; sometimes I did poorly in cultivation. I have too many attachments that I have not eliminated.
Oftentimes, I am a bit lost as to how to cultivate myself. It was my trust in Master that he would give me the very best that has kept me going. I just forge ahead without worrying too much. I remind myself that as long as my heart is affected, there is something to eliminate.
I constantly remind myself to look inward. Then, I remember that the difference between the old and the new cosmos is that one is selfish and the other is selfless.
“...whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism.”(“Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
I constantly remind myself to eliminate my selfishness and put what Master wants first. No matter what I do, I cannot forget that our starting point is to save people.
Thank you, Master, and thank you, fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2017 Canada Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference)