Establish Your Mighty Virtue
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master, Greetings Fellow Practitioners!
It has been close to 14 years of cultivation within the Media Group as a western practitioner here in New York City. Upon a recent internal reflection, I realized several of my shortcomings and attachments. I would like to share about these experiences of joining and working at the Media Group with the practitioner community.
Part I: The Purity and Recognition of Our Vow
I remember taking a trip to Chicago to help clarify the truth. It was 2003 and I had only been practicing for a few years. I had studied the Fa, done the exercises diligently, and sent forth righteous thoughts at the set times, but playing a role in clarifying the truth was a lingering part of my cultivation. By that point in time, it was extremely apparent.
It was at that time I received a random call from a practitioner in my local area asking if I could drive a group of practitioners to Chicago for a truth-clarification event. It was a mid-week trip for a couple of days, and despite its break up of the work week, I decided to go.
I cannot express the joy I felt in my heart. To play an active role in saving sentient beings, to see such a large group of practitioners play a selfless role in Fa-rectification, and to be a part of the body of disciples as they went about this process. Many would take flyers and information, and the smiles on their faces helped to validate that we were having a significant effect.
I could feel a silhouette of Master’s smile on the horizon.
When we returned to my hometown in Ohio my heart was full. I joined a group of ordinary friends to catch up at a local pub. We talked and shared about what was going on in our lives and I had a chance to talk about my recent trip to Chicago. I was happy that I fulfilled my duty, that I had checked a box, and that I could return to the ordinary things of my life. Cultivation at that time seemed like a job that I could leave after the 9:00-5:00 was over, and here I was after work.
And then my cellphone began to vibrate for an incoming phone call. I recognized the number. It was the local coordinator practitioner. He said he was calling to ask me if I could go back to Chicago and take a few practitioners with me.
It was less than 12 hours since our return and I was unsure whether an additional trip made sense, so I told him I would call him back and let him know.
As I faded back into the conversations of my friends, I began to think through in my mind whether to make the trip. I weighed the pros and the cons, a couple of times over in what felt like an eternity of time, and before the point of rationalization could take hold, I heard a resounding voice from Master in my mind,
“Establish your mighty virtue!”
I flipped open the phone in what was only a few moments later and agreed to go. As unbelievable as it could be, my heart became even more full, and the sun’s light began to shine into the window of the bar even more brightly than before.
It was a recognition of my vow! And the moment was crystallized.
The next few weeks, months, and years since have passed quickly, yet the moment and Master’s words reflected from the Fa echo in my mind and heart.
My phone would ring and there would be many different trips, different projects, different efforts, and with each of them, I could hear Master’s words, and I would hesitate less and less to agree and play my role.
One of those phone calls came after an invite to come to work for the Epoch Times directly from the NYC office. It was the winter of 2004. I was unemployed at the time, and what seemed to be a myriad of thoughts built upon logic and rationality were all bridged once again.
“Establish your mighty virtue!”
Part II: On Jealousy and Competitive Mentality Within Cultivation at the Media Group
Master closes the section on Jealousy in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun with the following words,
“The issue of jealousy is very serious as it directly involves the matter of whether you can complete cultivation practice.”
While reading this section in the last several months, Master’s words would stand out more than ever, and I was put to a point of reflection. I wondered why I had not taken His words seriously amid the most recent course of my cultivation. Where had the purity of heart gone? That willingness to perform work and tasks selflessly, and a consistent process of looking within.
As I continued to reflect on this, I thought of the Media Group and the changing environment, and I was reminded of what Master said,
“The space of the universe is benevolent to begin with and embodies the characteristic of Zhen-Shan-Ren. At birth, one is assimilated to the characteristic of the universe. Yet as the number of lives increases, a collective form of social relations develops in which some people may develop selfishness and gradually their level will drop.” (Zhuan Falun)
When I first arrived at the English Epoch Times (EET) over 13 years ago, the office was small, a mere fraction of floor space compared with the space at the Media Group today. The size of our staff was small as well. Most of the tasks and responsibilities were shared. Editors would answer phones and deliver papers. Salespeople would write stories to make-up from the lack of knowledge across particular subjects, and reporters would work through the night and sleep at the office the night before a weekly printed edition was completed.
There was no compensation for non-sales staff who worked day jobs and moonlit for EET in the evenings, and sales staff usually scraped by as well, barely making enough to pay bills. Regardless, there was an avid motivation and spirit of contribution. When you think of how a poor but warm family pulls together in tough times, this was a similar spirit and culture at EET. This was, of course, a reflection across the other media projects as well. However, these superficial aspects were grounded in our pure understanding of our contribution to the truth-clarification process and the saving of sentient beings.
Eventually, we would grow larger, and more staff would come. Tasks and responsibilities would more consistently be siloed into departments and divisions. Managers would be given specified responsibility, and skills and abilities were honed for particular roles, or roles would have specific benchmark requirements. And everyone would eventually be compensated, something which had never happened before.
All of which seems pretty natural for a growing business. Eventually, everything must evolve and become more mature, and the Media Group was formed and we were all housed under one roof.
The skills and abilities of each staff member were something far more than we had ever had before, and this helped to encourage and strengthen the future vision of our Media Group becoming the largest and most influential in the world.
Yet with the increasing size, skill, and organizational structure came the ever-increasing complexity of the environment, personalities and communication styles, an environment which a diligent Fa-rectification Dafa disciple would and should see as a positive. The opportunity to cultivate to an even higher-level in cultivation status and play an even larger role in saving sentient beings.
Over this time frame, I was encouraged and quit my full-time job to return and focus with a full heart on the media once again. I diligently focused on my knowledge and skills with regard to the strategy and revenue aspects of media and digital media business.
As I began to increase my knowledge and focus, it helped within the scope of work that I contributed to the Media Group. However, as time went on, the focus on cultivation would be less and less and like a see-saw teeter over to the scope of the ordinary.
At a glance, it would appear that little was wrong with this change, and I began to rationalize this process in my mind, after all, we are a business and the business aspects are extremely important. But over time on a deeper level, the purity of heart was gone, and the Media would become a focus for my ego, skill, personality, and ability as opposed to my cultivation and a vehicle for saving sentient beings.
Everything became a competition, and for others' individual successes that I began to quietly frown upon in my mind. On the surface, I would affirm their successes, but on a deeper level, I began to deviate more and more. This feeling continued to grow as the days went by.
“Genuine cultivation practice teaches following one path, and should not go astray. This also occurs among true practitioners, for mutual disrespect and not eliminating the attachment to competition can both easily lead to jealousy.” (Zhuan Falun)
Wanting a title, responsibility, and respect amongst practitioners became more important than the precious opportunity to fulfill my vow and support others in the saving of sentient beings.
With the increasing ego and selfishness also came a sense of resentment towards those I felt had done me wrong or those who eventually wouldn’t listen or work with me. There are those who I would work with, and those who I would simply decide to not work with. I came to see that these elements were also reflected across the cultivation environment at the media group in full.
Cooperation and collaboration became selective. Some practitioners would work with others they liked, while some practitioners who on a personal level weren’t well liked by particular individuals were excluded.
This selective cooperation quality would continue to expand and exclude Chinese staff in English discussions and meetings and exclude English/Westerners in Chinese discussions and meetings. And the divide continued to grow.
Cooperation and collaboration would devolve into words that were read and heard in Fa lectures, and often said aloud but not truly practiced at the media group.
Yet with all of this displayed before me in such an obvious fashion, I would once again fail to unconditionally look within and see these external elements as a manifestation of my own attachments to the competitive mentality and jealousy.
“Whether one succeeds in cultivation all depends on cultivating the heart. The same is true for everyone, and one cannot fall short even a bit.” (Zhuan Falun)
It is not that I hadn’t read this piece of Fa multiple times or that I didn’t understand or comprehend Master’s words of Fa. It’s that I had failed to put them into practice in my heart.
Business skills and abilities are much needed within the media as we continue to develop, and we should hold ourselves to ever increasing standards. However, why we strive to increase these skills and abilities, and why we strive to increase the strength in them cannot be for the sake of ourselves or our egos. Nor can it be for the sake of recognition, reputation, or personal gain.
Skill and ability must be seeds which are planted in the fertile ground of a pure and righteous heart, with only our vow to save sentient beings as motivation. Only then can we see these abilities come into the fullest of fruition.
Part III: Sprinting to the Finish Line as a Fa-Rectification Dafa Disciple
My junior year in high school, I went on what some would call a vision quest. I decided I was going to try out for the basketball team.
I was just barely five foot tall, and had yet to play on the junior varsity team in my prior years, so trying out for the varsity team was far more than just a stretch.
Regardless, for some strange reason, I was motivated to try out. I loved basketball, and I wanted to play.
Tryouts for varsity consisted of conditioning and practice, and so for about five weeks every day we ran, we passed, and we shot the basketball.
I participated in a number of five on five full court practices with many of the varsity team members, but a shining star on the court, I was not.
On the final day of practice, we closed with our five-minute sprint, which consisted of sprinting for a full five minutes of laps around the gym.
Most of the varsity players would jog mildly fast and then slow to barely a jog by the end of the first lap.
As I began to jog into their pace, I realized I was going to be cut from the team, and I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face.
Did I really give my all? Did I really work my heart out for every play, every pass, every block and every steal, every shot?
As sorrow and regret began to sink in, instead of continuing the jog, I began to sprint in full.
Faster than I’d ever run on any prior day of those last five weeks. Faster than I could even pull a necessary breath.
As I began to lap, all the varsity players and our basketball coach who was talking with a football player, turned to look.
They both looked, and I passed them again, and they said, “look at him go.”
And I sprinted. And I sprinted. And I sprinted.
The next morning the coach came and pulled me out of homeroom. While standing in the hallway, he said unfortunately I didn’t make the cut.
He paused and then also shared that all of the varsity players held me in high respect for sweating it out and putting forth the effort.
I held back my tears, but I could see the coach was also holding back his as well.
This moment in time had sat in my memory for a while, but only recently would its full importance and impact be impressed upon me.
“What’s going to become of you practitioners who haven’t done well? You all like to see me smile at you, but you should know that I do that to encourage you and express my hopes for you. Given how time is so extremely pressing, have you thought about what’s going to become of those who haven’t cultivated well? Some people still have a chance, but some no longer do. For some there is still time left, and for some their only hope is to sprint. But if the person hasn’t laid an adequate foundation, and if the person’s understanding of the Fa is limited, how could he have the drive to persist? Have you been diligent? If you haven’t laid a solid foundation that’s built on the Fa, you won’t be able to do that. That kind of determination and firm sense of conviction come from the Fa.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference”)
Most recently I have begun asking myself, am I running, am I sprinting? Am I giving it my all? Am I cultivating with the heart I had as a new practitioner? Am I trying my best?
When the salvation of sentient beings hangs in the balance, am I working hard on my heart? Looking within? Shedding attachments? Letting go of resentment? Restoring and holding a buffer of compassion?
Am I supporting my fellow practitioners to become more diligent?
Am I supporting even those practitioners who would hold back support for me?
As a Fa-rectification Dafa disciple cultivates longer and longer, their focus is hardly on consummation, not from a focus on the self, but purely and righteously on the salvation of sentient beings. The material of selflessness, the material manifestation of their sacred vow.
But this is only something which can be achieved when we are reaching the standard set forth by Master.
I now realize that this moment in time in my youth was to be a reminder.
And to continually ask myself in cultivation particularly in this time period, am I running? Am I sprinting? Am I cultivating with the heart I had as a new cultivator?
Thank you, my fellow Dafa Disciples. I hope we can all sprint to finish together and fulfill our most sacred vow!
Please point out anything inappropriate.
(Presented at the 2018 New York English Experience Sharing Conference)