Being a Falun Dafa Disciple
Greetings, Master. Greetings, fellow practitioners.
I'm originally from the UK but I now work in the media here in New York.
Becoming a Disciple
I came upon Falun Dafa in 2011 in the UK whilst searching the internet. Being an avid meditator for 20 years and always being on the lookout for something new, I instantly sensed that Falun Dafa was different from anything I had ever done before.
I found myself shortly afterwards living in Spain. Doing the exercises on and off, I viewed myself as being on a spiritual path, although in actuality I was like an octopus with my feet on many boats at the same time.
In Spain I befriended an older gentleman. We would meet occasionally and discuss spirituality and world affairs. One time while telling me about his discipline, he asked “Do you have a master?” he told me that, in order to advance further, I needed a master to guide me. This struck a chord with me and I thought about this during my time in Spain before being pulled back to the UK.
Upon my return to the UK I started working in London and soon afterwards, in early May of 2013, a week before Master’s birthday, although I was completely unaware of the coincidence at that time, I met a practitioner who corrected my mistakes in doing the exercises and introduced me to Zhuan Falun.
This immediately shook me to the core. Everything about this book and all its concepts were familiar to me. It was like an alarm clock had gone off inside me, and I sensed that everything I had done my whole life had been a precursor to this moment. I recall my discussions with this practitioner and reading how you should cultivate only one practice. I was a little apprehensive at first, fighting with my notions of commitment and questioning at the time if all this was too good to be true.
A few years prior I had met a grand master of the Shaolin temple through a friend. After a brief introduction to Shaolin Kung Fu, we formed a telepathic relationship and we communicated with him occasionally. As I was pondering my current predicament, he came to me one evening during meditation and told me, “This is your path, you must do this!” So I took the huge leap into the unknown and became a Falun Dafa disciple.
I soon became involved in various activities, and the following May I attended my first Fa conference in New York. It was shortly before then and only to continue afterward that I started picking up all these signs about New York, for instance in magazines and on television.
At the time I was considering a trip to India with my friend, a fellow practitioner, which would take place the following January. During meditation I heard a voice tell me, “Don’t go to India. Go to New York.” A few months later I saw an email from New York advertising training positions at the Epoch Times. The following January of 2015, I then found myself in New York.
Dealing with a Family Bereavement
In October 2017, my grandmother whom I had been close to passed away. This was my first experience since becoming a practitioner in dealing with a family bereavement. The last time I had seen her was before I left to come to New York in 2015. I knew even then that would be the last time I would see her. Still, it came as a surprise when it happened. I was contacted by a family member who told me she was in the hospital in critical condition and within the hour I was informed of her passing. At the time I was on a bus, reading my daily Fa study. The passage in Zhuan Falun that I had come to at the exact time I got the call was “Improving Xinxing” in Lecture Four.
“Cultivation must take place through tribulations so as to test whether you can part with and care less about different kinds of human qing and desires. If you are attached to these things, you will not succeed in cultivation. Everything has its karmic relationship. .... If this qing is not relinquished, you will be unable to cultivate. If you break free from this qing, nobody can affect you. An everyday person’s mind will be unable to sway you. What comes and replaces it is benevolence, which is a nobler thing. Of course, it is not easy to cut off this qing right away. Cultivation is a long process and a process of gradually giving up your attachments. Nonetheless, you must be strict with yourself.” (Zhuan Falun)
This passage really stuck out to me. It felt like I mustn’t be moved by all of this, like it was a test. This idea came over me, “How could I tarnish something as sacred as Fa study over qing?” So I resisted the urge to get emotional at least until I had finished studying.
The spirit of my grandmother then came to me and told me she was with my grandfather, who had passed on some 15 years earlier and that she was really happy that I had found my path, gesturing to my practicing of Falun Dafa.
A couple of weeks went by. The date for the funeral had been announced and I arranged my flight, keeping in contact with my family during this time. I had previously booked some time to spend with my family for 3 weeks over the Christmas holidays so this would now mean my taking two separate trips to the UK.
I had not been home in 2 years, so this would be the longest time I had spent with my family since becoming a practitioner and the longest time away from a practitioner environment. I was a little apprehensive. All these questions started popping into my head: “How would I cultivate? Would I be able to do the three things as well as play my role as a family member? How would my family view me now as a practitioner?” Since I certainly wasn’t the same person they knew even two years before.
I spent most of my 20s being wild. I took to drugs and alcohol and behaved rather recklessly. As a consequence I didn’t always see eye to eye with my family and had the occasional conflict. When I first found Falun Dafa, I was wary about clarifying the truth to my family, fearing I would appear zealous. So I was always a little reserved. Having left for New York I always wondered whether I had done enough to successfully clarify the truth to them fully.
The day before I was due to fly, I came across this passage in the Fa:
“As I’ve always said, after a Dafa disciple cultivates for even just a short period of time there will be a difference between him and non-practitioners, and how he understands things is different from them—absolutely different! You don’t sense the difference since your elevation took place bit by bit. But when a non-practitioner hears you speak he will sense that you are different from him. That’s the truth! Why is it that once you’ve started practicing, when you go back home and have a conversation with your family members, they will sense that you’ve changed? And isn’t this a common experience? It’s because you are different now!” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2016 New York Fa Conference”)
In the UK I quickly got myself into a routine. By getting up at 4 a.m. to send righteous thoughts, do the exercises, and study the Fa, I would be free to spend the day with my family. This seemed to work perfectly. During the week of my grandmother’s funeral, my Fa study seemed to be more prominent than ever, with passages constantly jumping out at me. It was like reading Zhuan Falun anew. On the day of the funeral I was reading Lecture Two, and every passage had a new meaning like never before.
“From a high level, we find that when a person dies, his Original Soul does not become extinct. Why doesn’t the Original Soul become extinct? In fact, we have seen that after a person is dead, his corpse in the mortuary is nothing but a body of human cells in our dimension. In this dimension, different cell tissues of the internal organs and all cells in the entire human body slough off while in other dimensions the bodies made of particles more microscopic than molecules, atoms, protons, etc., are not at all dead. They exist in other dimensions and still live in microscopic dimensions.” (Zhuan Falun)
Throughout the day I spoke to family members I hadn’t spoken to in a long while, and I even recall at one point speaking to my brother-in-law about the principles of Falun Dafa, Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. His eyes seemed to light up as I told him this.
Cultivating while going through this experience, I found, gave me a new insight into dealing with things more rationally and the ability to stand back and see things more from a cultivator's point of view. I also sensed how strong our notions that we form can be at times.
When I returned the second time, over the Christmas holidays a month later, the apprehension I had previously was no longer there. I quickly got into my morning routine and, other than the odd tribulation, things seemed to go well.
My parents had come out to visit me in the US briefly the previous year. I introduced them to the local Falun Dafa community, which really seemed to touch them. They even supported me when I attended a parade. My mother even seemed keen to learn the practice despite previous failed attempts I had made in the past. I was surprised to find she was still doing the exercises weekly and reading.
During this time, Shen Yun was being promoted, and I managed to help briefly with handing out flyers outside main theatre venues in London. It was so well coordinated that one of the theatre managers told us “we deserved a medal” for our hard work. Despite having difficulties for several years even finding a venue in London to hold Shen Yun, all ten shows this year completely sold out. I bought tickets for my parents, who saw the show later and loved it.
The night before I was due to fly home, my family kept dropping hints, asking me if I was looking forward to going back and telling me how great it was having me there. It was an emotional parting with my family, and I left with emotion tugging at my heart. I remember the strangest feeling as I sat on the plane nursing this melancholy: at a certain point flying over the Atlantic, something switched in my mind and suddenly the sadness was gone. Then I recalled why I was here: to assist aiding Master in saving sentient beings.
Dealing with Negativity
I came to a realization recently about dealing with negative thoughts. They are all around us all the time, and we need to be diligent in remaining righteous. Whenever we are in a situation that bothers us or things don’t go according to our plan, these are all perfect arrangements arranged by Master to help us improve. By letting go of our attachments, we become lighter and are able to see the bigger picture.
At times I have had to constantly remind myself whenever I had negative thoughts about where they come from. It reminds me of a time I was doing the exercises with a tranquil mind when all of a sudden my mind started to buzz with these negative thoughts about people and different scenarios. I started to ask myself where these thoughts were coming from. It was as if they had come from out of nowhere. I then literally caught this thought red-handed trying to enter my mind, like it had been planted by something else and was being waved in front of me, trying to hook onto my attachments for some explosive reaction. I realized then that these negative thoughts we have are often never our own.
“...if you can really hear some voices, if there are messages in your mind, or if some thoughts are interfering with you, you have to get rid of them. If they’re strong, you can treat them as a third party or as thoughts of others that have nothing to do with you. Why should I point this out to you this way? It’s because everything of yours is at your command. Your arms, legs, fingers, and mouth can move whatever way you want them to move. Why is that? It’s because they are yours. When you want to reach ding, the thoughts don’t become tranquil; the more you want them to be tranquil, the more restless they get. Are those thoughts you? Would you acknowledge them as you? They’re karma and notions that you’ve acquired throughout your life. That’s why you should regard them as a third party...” (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
I discovered this analogy that we are all cells of the same one body, each one of us our own individual cell. But when it comes to matters of achievement, only a cell. When it comes to the whole body, together we make this amazing, breathing machine of vastless capabilities. But if one of those cells becomes hostile to another cell, this is the basic analogy of a cancer forming in that body.
We must check on ourselves constantly, watch for conflicts, recognize that those same attachments we see in others also lie within ourselves, and have faith in Master, realizing that nothing happens by chance and everything is arranged.
“I often tell you about situations like this: When two people have a conflict both should look for the causes within themselves, asking, “What problem do I have here?” Each should search for his own problem. If a third person witnesses the conflict between the two, I would say that it’s not accidental for that third person to see it, and he too should think it over: “Why did I see their conflict? Is it because I still have some shortcomings?” (Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. Fa Conference)
Cultivating with the Heart You Once Had
I was meditating one time when Master’s phrase “Cultivate with the heart you once had, ...” (Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference) entered my mind.
For days afterwards I thought about and held that phrase close to me, wondering, “cultivate with the heart you once had,” what does it actually mean to “cultivate with the heart you once had?”
Then one morning during meditation, the phrase entered my mind once more. As I was pondering I suddenly saw this vision:
I was with Master descending into the three realms to help him with rectifying the Fa and saving sentient beings ...That was the heart I once had! Suddenly the meditation music became very loud, like a film score.
I then saw myself journeying alongside Master, life after life to the pinnacle of our glorious mission today. I saw that we are all merely actors on a stage being watched closely by the whole cosmos, with all the beings sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting our next move.
“...although Dafa disciples are cultivators, by appearance, they are hard to tell apart from ordinary people. That’s especially so when one cultivates among ordinary people, and even more so, when one cultivates in a setting as complicated as this. So it is hard for cultivators. I remember back when you first obtained the Fa, how as soon as you saw this Fa—particularly those in the first two of the three categories I’ve described before—your heart was truly just overjoyed! [You were thinking,] “This is wonderful! I’ve finally found it!” Weren’t all those thousands of years of reincarnating and waiting exactly for this? At the time, driven by the feeling from deep inside your being, you were able to renounce any human attachment and be determined to cultivate yourself well. That excitement could propel you to be diligent. But with the passage of time, that feeling was gradually lost. Human laziness, all kinds of human notions, and the array of chaotic things before you in society all combined to tempt you and interfere with you. Hence the saying, “Cultivate with the heart you once had, and consummation is certain.” (Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference)
Thank you, Master. Thank you, fellow practitioners. Please kindly point out anything inappropriate in my sharing.
(Presented at the 2018 New York English Experience Sharing Conference)