Validating Dafa Through Making an Animated Television Series
Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I am a practitioner from Taiwan. I started cultivating in Falun Dafa in 2001. I am honored to share my cultivation experiences with fellow practitioners.
1. Enlightening to the Preciousness of Sentient Beings
I have been working as a children’s program producer at NTD for 17 years. During the first six years, I produced six types of programs, from storytelling to games and lifestyle programs. I could not come up with any ideas for the seventh program. To get some inspiration, I referred to other practitioners’ programs.
I discovered a program that started around the same time as mine, which produced more than 100 episodes. I was surprised by the number of episodes one show could produce. I could not wait to start a new program when my current show reached 20 episodes. I asked myself why I was so different from others. The truth was that after acquiring the know-how of a new program, I started losing interest in the daily, repetitive routine, and my motivation eventually faded away.
My own child never liked watching the children’s programs I made for the past six years, but I never seemed to care. I continued creating a new program every year and was quite happy. After looking within, I realized I had a curious mentality and sought novelty. To me, creating children’s programs was never about the audience; rather, I did it to feed my own attachment. I irresponsibly wasted Dafa’s resources and led over ten team members to satisfy my personal desires. I discovered my selfishness and felt ashamed. I began to understand how to respect and treasure other people.
Maybe only regret could make me realize where I went wrong and what I should do in the future. I decided to make the seventh program a type that children would truly enjoy. We conducted a market survey focusing on primary school children aged seven to twelve. The survey determined that I should make cartoons going forward.
This finding gave me a huge headache. Both my team members and I did not know anything about cartoons. If we decided to do it, the current team would have be disbanded, throwing away years of resources and experience to learn something new from scratch. Building a new team is not easy. But after I calmed down to think about it, if cartoons are what children in that age group can accept as a method of clarifying the truth, I should not give up before trying. I decisively let go of the former team and started taking classes on animation alone at a tutoring center.
2. Animation Series Created by a Miracle
In order to understand and memorize what the teacher taught, I videotaped the classes. Each three-hour class took me four hours to review the video and take notes. I saw that I lagged far behind other students professionally, but I did not know how to catch up to them. I felt sad and often secretly wiped away tears in class. Although I was knocked down every time I went to class, the Fa made me stronger and indestructible. Every time I was knocked down, I was able to stand back up again.
I was an amateur. I had never even heard of the world-renowned animation company Pixar until I was almost 50 years old. I stayed up late watching many cartoons, reading the history of different countries and development trends, attended seminars, made friends with everyday people who worked at animation companies, and tried to understand the industrial ecosystem so that I could make up for what was lacking.
The more I knew about animation, the further away my goal felt, because I gradually realized that this was a huge project. I needed 1.7 million U.S. dollars, more than 30 professionals in various fields, and three to four years to complete this project. It was already difficult for an everyday company, not to mention an amateur who had only studied cartoons for three months. I struggled to make a decision to give up or see it through.
I thought if I really understood this industry, I should be able to find a solution. I remembered an animation teacher with 20 years of experience who could work with me to produce a pilot episode. We could then apply for funding assistance from the Taiwanese government. Since I could not afford to pay him but still hoped he could help, I felt I was in the wrong. For that reason, I never had the “courage” to ask the teacher.
While studying that Fa, I realized it was the so-called “courage” that prevented me from taking action and that it is a type of selfishness. If there is no “I,” then there is no “courage;” if there is no “human” factor, there is no “human” substance. If I do not consider “myself,” there would be no obstruction. It turned out that I am the only thing that can truly stop myself.
I explained my intention to do the animation series as an objective third party to the teacher. I told him that I am not doing this for financial gain or as a matter of interest. In this society filled with greed, I wanted to pass on a message that “virtue outweighs wealth and knowledge” to children through a beloved cartoon. I told him if the funding application was granted, then I would pay him; if not, I would not be able to. The teacher smiled and agreed to help me under two conditions: one was to have 33,000 U.S. dollars for the animation company to produce the pilot; the other one was to have an experienced animation director.
The bittersweet feeling overwhelmed me. The teacher finally wanted to help me voluntarily, but I still had two problems. I did not know a practitioner with directing experience. I had no personal savings left after years of working in the media as a volunteer. My manager at NTD did not encourage me to give up all my experience to start an unfamiliar, difficult program. But my manager saw my determination and introduced a new recruit to me. He happened to be an animation director. Moreover, a practitioner I had known for years agreed to provide the 33,000 dollars in just five minutes.
We could finally establish the new team and start work. We applied for funding assistance from the Taiwanese government after a series of efforts. However, our application was not successful. Just when everyone was disappointed, an overseas animation company miraculously offered to produce the animation for us. We again applied for financial assistance, only to be disappointed a second time.
We then heard that the overseas animation company had been granted full funding from its own government. That meant a foreign government was funding our cartoon project. Not only did the overseas animation company not need to be paid, but practitioners also played the lead role in this project and owned the copyright of the completed series. The whole team believed it was a miracle given by Master. Master helped us resolve the lack of manpower and funding. Master gave his disciples much more than we desired.
I did not know any of the practitioners before establishing the new team. Five key members who were team leaders had knowledge in specific fields of expertise. We were geographically separated and rarely met in person. Furthermore, some of us had never even met before. All team members had regular jobs and were working on this project part-time. I worked on the project full time from home, ensuring steady progress by organizing a weekly online Fa-study group, facilitating experience sharing, and distributing work.
Disappointment, desperation, depression, and irritation were unavoidable when coordinating with everyday people and practitioners. However, I felt very fulfilled during those days. The more hardships and difficulties I ran into, the more I was able to improve.
The collaboration with the overseas animation company did not go well. The company could not finish the work due to insufficient funding. As a result, the project was delayed for two years. The foreign government started to intervene, trying to find a solution. The government suggested that we sign a document that the company had completed the work so that they can disburse the remaining funds and thereby finish the work.
However, the fact was that the animation company did not complete the work. If I provided the falsified document, that would mean I had lied to produce this series, which did not align with the standard of a Dafa practitioner. On the other hand, this was our only hope. If I do not do this right, the project would be for naught, and six years of effort would have gone down the drain. It seemed that I could only choose one: a completed animation or cultivation. If I chose the animation, I had to give up the principles of a practitioner; if I chose the latter, I had to give up the animation.
I thought that practitioners should be the purest, that if we do not have elements of Dafa involved, what we do would not have energy, and sentient beings could not be saved. I also thought about other people’s losses if I decided to give up on the animation. The foreign government already disbursed the funding, but I had to be responsible to my team members and compensate them for the work they’ve done. The team reached an agreement that we’d rather lose the animation than provide a falsified document.
I informed the foreign government of our decision. However, I did not feel relieved. The more I thought about it, the less I understood. I looked within, asking myself if I was doing this project for myself and if I sincerely wanted to save sentient beings. I was certain my motivation did not come from selfishness.
I looked within further to see if the requirements of the Fa had been met during the process. Though I admit I had made bad decisions and mistakes, I corrected what I did wrong and did not slack off in my cultivation. If what I did was in line with the Fa, why couldn’t we accomplish the animation? Because the Fa is all-encompassing, we should not have to choose between doing the right thing and achieving success. Practitioners can definitely have both.
I negated my previous thoughts. I no longer believed that we should have nothing. We should have everything we deserve. We should realize our original intent to save sentient beings and validate the Fa by producing the animation, which would be liked by people and awarded at international competitions.
A few days later, the boss of the overseas animation company called. He told us that he had had a dream in which a god told him to complete the cartoon. The animation company changed their attitude and finished the work with great effort.
The animation series has now won 56 international awards around the world and has been nominated in 40 countries’ film festivals across five continents, including Hong Kong. To my surprise, many jurors did not categorize this animation series as a children’s program, but rather a film that can influence nations and even change the world. I know this series has been strengthened and become a Fa implement. The power of Dafa allows sentient beings to understand that Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance) is what beings need most.
The juror from Venezuela, one of the most violent countries in the world, described his country as a pressure cooker that could explode at any time. He did not want civil war to happen there. He believed this animated series could calm his fellow citizens and advocate peaceful dialogue. A Ukrainian audience member said their country needs this series badly; their country was going through armed conflict, and people were attacking each other like ignorant children.
A juror from India said that there is too much conflict, racial discrimination, anger and struggle happening around the world, and that this animated series can heal the world. A juror from the U.K. said our series is on par with those produced by Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks. A founder of a U.S. film festival was shocked that we did not get the award the year we were nominated. He invited us to Hollywood the following year to accept the highest honor. He wanted to award this honor to someone that can change the world.
Not only did film festivals take the initiative to award us without our submitting the series, we also received awards in categories we did not submit to. It seems that sentient beings’ knowing sides are honoring Dafa through this medium. I’m grateful that this animated series is having such a good effect around the world.
3. Having the Courage to Take Responsibility, Achieving the Best
“By leading you all in doing Shen Yun, Master is in fact giving you a model. I have made Shen Yun the best show in the world. At the very least, in the performing arts, in the field of the arts, it’s playing the lead role.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference”)
My understanding of the “lead role” is having maximized persuasion and influence, thereby effectively saving sentient beings on a large scale. If every truth-clarification project takes on the lead role in its field, think about it everyone, what would that be? Won’t everyone’s wish come true?
Take practitioners involved in the media for example. The goal of every program is to be the best in the world. All employees and managers should try to enrich themselves and achieve the goal by researching the best everyday people’s programs, improving ourselves in order to catch up to them, breaking out of our comfort zones, studying further to create personal breakthroughs, devouring knowledge in response to the constant changes in society, and eventually becoming top-notch professionals like the Shen Yun artists. If we work hard toward that goal, we will then be able to save more sentient beings with the greatest influence before the great elimination starts.
Maybe some practitioners do not have enough confidence or do not think the goal of taking the “lead role” is achievable. Our confidence comes from the Fa. We are neither alone nor fighting the battle alone. On the contrary, we are fortunate to have the greatest support in the universe. Master, Buddhas, Taos, and Gods are all looking after us under the premise that we truly cultivate. We will not be able to play the lead role if we do not truly cultivate. We cannot do it if we stray from the Fa.
“Can you do that by yourself? You cannot. These things are arranged by the master and performed by the master. Therefore, it is said that cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while transforming gong is done by one’s master. You can only have such a wish and think about it like that, but it is the master who actually does these things.” (Zhuan Falun)
Yes, at least we need to have the wish, dare to think about it, and have the courage to take on the responsibility in order to meet Master’s expectations for disciples. Master said in Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Canada, “Belief comes before seeing.” After believing in Dafa and taking action, we will be able to see what Master has given to sentient beings. What Master gives us always exceeds what we want.
Please kindly correct me if there are any shortcomings.
(Presented at the 2018 Washington DC Fa Conference)