Cultivating Myself Well While Properly Balancing My Studies and Academic Relationships
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I'm a young Dafa disciple, currently studying for my master's degree in Tainan City.
When I was in the third grade, my mother introduced my brother and me to Falun Dafa, and we used to study the Fa and do the exercises together. I had a really bad temper as a kid and was easily irritated and would frequently get angry. But Dafa has a magical power on me, and every time I study the Fa, the anger and unpleasant feelings disappear and I feel very comfortable and happy. For this reason, I have kept up with my cultivation practice in Falun Dafa. Dafa cultivation has become a major part of my life.
However, due to the influences of ordinary society, and especially the decades of learning in school, little by little I have accepted a lot of scientific notions that do not correspond to the standards of Dafa. My comprehension was also not good enough, so for a long time I did not understand the Fa very well and made limited progress in my xinxing improvement.
In the following presentation, I would like to share my experience of a really big xinxing test in terms of my studies and relationship with my university professor over the past two to three years, and how I overcame the problem through memorizing the Fa and looking within.
I remember when I was a kid, I had no concept about good grades and fame and fortune, but I was always very hardworking in my schoolwork. But under the influence of my fellow students, I started to care more and more about my grades, class rank, and feedback from teachers, etc. Later in junior high school, senior high school and university, I always took my studies very seriously and spent a lot of time studying and doing research. I was an outstanding student and got the chance to join a research lab much earlier than other students. However, I did not realize that my attachments – including being overjoyed, showing off, jealousy, and competitiveness, striving for fame and fortune – had grown so huge. I thought I was doing better than others and could not stand it when anyone surpassed me. Because of my attachments, it seemed like my abilities were appreciated by my professor and I was able to do much more research outside of the curriculum. But in fact, these extra projects were a really difficult burden on me, and they took up time needed for my normal studies. I often lagged behind in the Dafa-validation projects that I was responsible for. Even so, for a long time I did not realize that I was following the path arranged by the old forces, and I kept this very busy pace all the way to the end of my undergraduate studies and then continued on at the master's level.
After I got into graduate school, the professor had even higher expectations of me. I could not take the work pace and the pressure anymore. I was not able to balance the three things and the work in the lab, no matter how hard I tried, and it got to the point where the results were consistently not as good as I expected. I became very frustrated and unhappy and used to cry at night because of it.
Later, the situation became worse, and I cried almost every day and lost a lot of weight as well. I even started to wonder if I was suffering from depression. Although I kept studying the Fa on a daily basis, the situation sometimes got better but then got worse again, and there did not seem to be any fundamental improvement. This situation continued for more than a year.
Also during this time, I had gone abroad for a few months. Leaving my university allowed me to be away from the bad environment temporarily, but as soon as I got back, all the tribulations piled on top of me again. I knew I had to face my fundamental attachments.
At the time, I participated in the one-day Fa study in the south of Taiwan. We were asked to memorize the article “The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be” from The Essentials for Diligent Progress Vol.III. That was my first time memorizing the writings of Master. During the memorization process, I was surprised to see that those deep-rooted notions of mine were exactly the same as Master described in the Fa:
“Because pain is hard on people, they try to, consciously or unconsciously, ward off suffering in hopes of leading a more pleasant life. And so it is that in the pursuit of happiness people form ideas about how to avoid harm, how to live well, how to get ahead in society and achieve fame and success, how to acquire more for themselves, how to come out on top, and so on. To this end, as they gain experience people come to form notions about life; and those experiences, in turn, come to fortify these notions as people live out their lives.” (“The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be,” The Essentials for Diligent Progress Vol.III)
Only after memorizing this paragraph, did I seriously realize how deeply I was controlled by these stubborn ideas that interfered with my understanding of the Fa taught by the Master. So I decided to memorize one page of Zhuan Falun every day. I wanted to fill my brain with the Fa, instead of science. I would travel the way arranged by Master, not by my professor.
After I started to memorize the Fa, the biggest difference was that each day that something difficult occurred, a sentence of the Fa would always come to mind. This allowed me to better measure my conduct with the standard of the Fa, and I was able to discover my attachments hidden behind the tribulations in the lab, such as jealousy, competitiveness, being overjoyed, showing off, and the deep-rooted striving for fame and fortune. Miraculously, while I slowly gave up these attachments, I started to notice correspondingly subtle changes in the people around me. It became clearer and clearer to me, that all the tribulations in the lab were directly aimed at my attachments. I realized that the only way to solve the issues is to look within.
For example, I used to be the one who spoke the most during our regular lab meetings, and my ideas were always highly appreciated by the professor. One day, we needed to report our progress for a group assignment. The other students were not confident enough to speak, so I began as usual as the first one to express my ideas. However, this time the professor asked me to stop and let the others try to speak. I immediately felt frustrated and disappointed. But before long, I realized that I always liked to express my thoughts and grab the limelight, and this was actually a very strong attachment of showing off.
Moreover, in meetings or discussion with other students, I always thought it was necessary to argue all the minutiae and to make sure my ideas were fully expressed. I even criticized and pointed out all the small mistakes in others' ideas. I had not realized that this way of talking was too domineering and could offend others. Some classmates therefore considered me as a stubborn person and someone hard to communicate with. For a long time, I had no idea why some people would think of me as that, because I felt like I wasn't forcing them to follow me. Later, I read an experience sharing article on the Minghui website about competitiveness. It said that the attachment of competitiveness in other space was a small competitive monster. Only then did I realize that behind this notion of simply wanting to express my ideas, this incessant arguing over every little fact was a really strong attachment to competitiveness. After realizing this, I found it easier to stay calm and listen to others instead of being so eager to always express my own thoughts.
Before, I used to put the tasks from the lab as the first priority. If there was something important, I would always cancel other activities for the sake of the lab work. If there were Dafa activities, I would finish the assignment from the lab first, then take part in the Dafa activities. I thought that only in this way would non-practitioners think that I was hardworking, and I didn't want the professor to think that I spent a lot of time on Dafa-validation projects.
After a long time, I started to feel that this was not right, as if the professor had arranged my life for me instead of my following Master's arrangement. So, I adjusted my time management and put cultivation and Dafa activities as the first priority, and reduced my presence in the lab. However, this affected my status in the lab and it seemed that I was not as appreciated by the professor. The professor even let other junior students lead the research projects and I became their assistant. Though I could understand that the arrangement was reasonable and I knew that it was better for my cultivation, it still sometimes stirred up my attachments of jealousy and showing off. Through continuously studying and memorizing the Fa, I slowly realized that it was the striving for fame and fortune and the competitiveness behind these attachments, which I had not given up for a really long time. With this thought in mind, I was able to balance better my relationship with the professor. I thought that maybe it was not my mission to stay here and work for the professor like my fellow students, and perhaps I had a different path.
So I learned to look within whenever something stirred me, and tried to face and give up the related attachments without regret. Little by little, all my negative feelings and the tribulations with my professor, which were once so complicated, resolved themselves. The professor used to give me a lot of tasks and thought that only I could do the job, but then he started to assign the heavy duties to other students and even forgot to discuss the annual plan with me, so I ended up with extra time to study the Fa and could do the exercise more regularly. The other students were also doing very well with their tasks. I felt that Master had directed the tasks away for me, and the big projects that had been originally assigned to me were either canceled or reassigned to others. Therefore, in my second year of working on my master's, I was able to write my master's thesis and do the three things normally.
Through memorizing the Fa, many of my notions were fundamentally changed; I was no longer afraid to bear hardships and face tribulations. I was able to measure conflicts between people according to the Fa and could maintain my moral compass. I no longer felt like arguing with other people using science and logic all the time. Nevertheless, there was still a relatively big xinxing test during the time, which was aimed directly at my deep-rooted striving for fame and fortune. It was because I had taken on the notion of striving for fame and fortune since my early school days, and I thought that good grades and success were my birthright. I had unconsciously equated academic research results with the striving for fame and fortune, and did not realize that I was really striving just for fame and fortune instead of simply doing my duties well. Not long ago, a research article I wrote was published, but I was not listed as one of the authors. Because of this, I started to harbor resentment toward my professor. Later, through constant Fa study and exchanging with fellow practitioners, I was able to accept the situation and take the loss of fame lightly.
But what came next was that my professor seemed to be only taking advantage of my research results and was not teaching me anything new. I was asked to share the unpublished data from my master thesis with other students. It was really hard for me and I felt utterly uncomfortable with the request. One day after studying the Fa, I asked myself, what was it that kept stirring me so badly? Suddenly, the thought of believing in Master and believing in the Fa came to me; I was following the path arranged by Master; if Master had arranged the professor to behave in this way, then that meant that there must be something I needed to improve on. All of a sudden, I realized that it was for me to cultivate compassion. Even when being hurt by someone else, one should still relentlessly help and care for others. After I gave up my resentment, I was able to explain my situation to the professor in a peaceful manner. He showed understanding and did not ask me to share my data any more.
In conclusion, ever since improving my cultivation state, I do not spend as much time studying and doing research as before, but I try my best to do the three things well. However, my thesis and research progress have not lagged behind; on the contrary, I actually became more efficient and new ideas came to me very often. In the lab, I am not so eager to acquire new scientific knowledge or gain affirmation from my professors, but I try to measure my research according to the Fa. This has made my thoughts even clearer and my theories have been more easily approved by other professors. I was able to finish my master's thesis smoothly.
While writing this experience report, I also found many other attachments, including fear and low self esteem related to the thought that I had not cultivated well. Not long ago, the coordinator of the Dafa project I'm involved with asked me whether it was because I was so outstanding in my studies that I was so busy all the time and couldn't improve the quality of the project. I was stunned for a second and then realized that I need to keep on improving. It is not enough just to do well with my everyday tasks; I need to keep improving my xinxing and expanding my capacity so that I can really do well with my duties as a Dafa Disciple.
The above is just my understanding at my limited level. Please compassionately point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you Master, thank you fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2018 Taiwan Experience Sharing Conference)