Lessons Learned from Working at the English Epoch Times
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow Disciples!
Joining the Media
I joined the English Epoch Times six years ago, on June 1, 2012.
On that day, I arrived at the boys' dorm at 10:00 p.m., and met my manager (who was also living in the dorm at that time). I told him that I wanted to start right away, so he and I got up at 3:00 a.m. the next morning to leave home and distribute the English Epoch Times newspaper.
At that time, there were only two full-time people in the circulation department: my manager and myself. We were responsible for delivering around 5,000 newspapers per day, 5 days a week, throughout Manhattan. It was quite a task, and the situation back then wasn’t like how it is now, wherein we have vans, drivers and a budget to work with.
When I first joined, it was just my manager and me delivering papers on foot. Eventually, we got a bicycle, but the bicycle that we got didn’t have working brakes, and so when we wanted to brake, we had to stick our foot onto the tire to stop the bike. My manager would strap 5-6 bundles to my back and send me riding on the bicycle, which was an incredible experience: flying around New York City with 60 pounds of newspapers strapped to my back and no working brakes.
In the early mornings, I was responsible for placing papers into our paid boxes. This had to be done across a 10-mile stretch of Manhattan, starting at 3:30 a.m., rain or shine.
I remember one night in particular when, in the middle of winter, it was freezing rain, and I was delivering the newspapers to the paid boxes at 4:00 a.m. on my bicycle. I was wet and tired, my hands were cut up from the jagged edges of the metal boxes, but I was not miserable. Instead, I knew that what I was doing was saving sentient beings, and this understanding kept me going with high spirits.
I was later assigned to the sales department, where I spent four years, experiencing every role available: from learning how to do sales, selling ads to different verticals, coordinating ad production with the design teams, coordinating articles with the editorial teams and managing a small team of my own. After four years, I then moved into the digital department, where I became acquainted with all of the aspects of our digital business operations. After one year in the digital department, I was re-assigned and put back into the circulation department, essentially completing a full circle.
I feel like my journey was very much like that of the mysterious pass, which, after leaving the dantian, travels throughout the whole body, only to return to its original place; but it doesn’t return the same as before, for what is inside of it has been molded and enriched by the different environments that it has visited. Likewise, I started in one location, went around the whole company, only to return to the original starting point, after having been molded and enriched by the different environments and experiences in my previous roles.
I would like to share with you some of the xinxing improvements that I have made on this journey and the lessons that I have learned.
Improvement 1: Jealousy as the Root Cause of Negativity
At the Epoch Times’ large group sharing, we often discuss the topic of negativity. This has led me to consider negativity as it manifests in my life, especially since, for a long time, I have had a negative outlook and attitude in my own life and cultivation.
At one point, while I worked in the sales department, I was assigned a new manager. On the spectrum of managing styles, my new manager was extremely hands-off, to the point of giving me very little direction. He told me that he trusted me and that he was busy doing his own sales work, so he allowed me to plan my own schedule, and pursue whatever category of clients I felt like. This freedom resulted in me having an intense lack of direction, and being paralyzed with not knowing what to do.
I developed a very negative attitude towards my manager. I was filled with indignation and negative thinking about how poorly I was being managed. My negativity got to such a bad point that I would do as little work as possible in order to prove how bad "the system" was.
"That's why they look at the results, and if the result of a God's idea can achieve the goal, if it can truly achieve it, then all of them will go along with it. That's how Gods think. Also, if there's something lacking in it they'll unconditionally and quietly supplement it to make things more complete and perfect. That's how they handle things." (Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A)”
Instead of quietly supplementing my manager’s plan, I was unwittingly, quietly sabotaging it. However, one day as I was sitting around the office on a Friday afternoon, wondering what I could do, I had a sudden idea. An old client of mine who hadn’t advertised for years recently opened up a new store-front location. I began to sketch out and design new ideas for an ad that we can do for his new location: I found nice photos, played with the headlines, the fonts, and the body text.
As I was doing this, a thought suddenly hit me, “What a great work environment I have wherein I can just get an idea to do something and execute it without having to ask for permission!" I then walked over to the client’s store and presented my ideas. Two days later he signed the contract! I realized that I was viewing my working arrangement from a negative perspective and thinking that I was being held back. However, it wasn’t the situation that was holding me back, it was my own thinking! If instead of thinking that I was being neglected, I instead realized that my manager was busy and trusted me, had faith in me, and gave me the room to be creative, I would have achieved much, much more. A fellow practitioner once shared with me how negative thinking is never on the Fa, and I agree with him.
I dug deeper and tried to find out what the root cause of my negativity was.
I realized that the selfish root that led to my negativity was two-fold: My desire to be recognized as a capable person and jealousy. The way that this manifested was that when my boss asked me to do something, I would be reluctant to do a good job at it, because I knew that if it was done well, it would be my boss that would get the credit and the recognition, and not me. I was the one that wanted to be recognized. And I was jealous of his position. Therefore, when he didn’t give me specific directions, I wouldn’t go out of my way to figure out how to succeed because if I succeeded, it might be him that gets the credit, instead of me. So instead, I decided to do only exactly what he told me, and nothing more, because if I did more I might be proving that he is a capable leader.
"Because Dafa is so pure, righteous, and majestic, upon seeing such mighty virtue and power, and its positive qualities shining through as it saves lives, even gods are in awe, and no one would be so bold as to do negative things toward it. They would put up a positive front but still be trying to attain what they want—even forming something as large as they have in order to achieve their ends." (Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference)
I always looked at the above passage and thought of what terrible mindsets the old forces have.
It was only after I realized my own problem, that I saw that this was referring to me as well! On the surface I was complying with my manager, and I wasn’t openly hostile to the work. But I was actually trying to attain what I wanted (which was fame and recognition) and I was not truly putting my heart into the work. I was putting up a “positive front” but still trying to achieve my own ends.
This was a terrible and sinister mentality that was like a cancer to the One Body, it completely impeded us from saving sentient beings, and it separated me from others. I wished with all of my heart to relinquish this jealousy and desire for recognition from existence and melt into the One Body, melt into the Fa, and melt into the company so that my goals and aspirations are identical to the company’s: to expand and save even more people.
On this point, I would like to sincerely apologize to the managers who have worked with me over the past years.
Improvement 2: Muddle-headedness Can Only Be Remedied Through Fa Study
When I first joined the media, I was very diligent in my Fa study. Missing a day of Fa study would almost never happen, and I would study whenever I had an opportunity. My head was truly filled with the Fa, Hong Yin poems would pop into my head, and I was able to measure even subtle thoughts according to the Fa’s standard.
During this time, while I was in a truly good state, I was walking around the city and delivering newspapers by hand. Suddenly, my consciousness expanded tremendously, and I was able to simultaneously walk around on earth and deliver newspapers, while at the same time being up in the sky and watching myself from a vantage point of somewhere around 40 miles above the Earth’s surface. For a full half-hour, I was able to have this amazing state, wherein I was able to see the human world from a high vantage point while at the same time walking around New York City. I was able to see the relationship between virtue and vice, how doing good deeds was rewarded and doing bad things that damaged society were punished, and how righteous it was for me to walk around the city and deliver these golden, shining newspapers that were able to save people.
It’s hard to describe this state, but I knew that I was able to experience it because I was solid with my Fa study, and was able to measure my thoughts, even subtle thoughts, with the standard of the Fa.
However, I have not been able to keep up my diligent Fa study, and have slacked off in the years following this experience.
A few months ago, I had a vision that allowed me to see the method that the old forces were using to control me and make me ineffective at my work of saving people. In my vision, I saw my body as it manifested in another dimension, a dimension where time was very fast compared to ours and the formation of my thoughts was very slow. In that dimension my body was very large, and time seemed to move comparatively slowly — sort of like how in a movie, if there is a giant person walking through a city, he seems to move slower than the regular sized people.
In that dimension, I saw that the formation of even a single thought of mine, something that appears to be extremely fast (and almost instantaneous) in this dimension, actually goes through a long process, wherein it is influenced by a lot of notions and attachments that I hold.
As I was witnessing this scene, I realized that, fundamentally, I have never thought of myself as a diligent practitioner who truly wants to save sentient beings in his very bones. Whenever I thought of “diligent practitioners” who are completely devoted to saving people, I thought of some diligent practitioners from my local area, but in my mind they were far removed from me.
It was as if I was just a pretender, a fake, a phony — someone who looks diligent to others, and even looks diligent to himself, but is fundamentally pretending. I didn’t fundamentally think of myself as someone who can really save sentient beings wholeheartedly and truly help Master.
Because of this fundamental problem, I saw that in this dimension where my thought process was very slow, certain notions of mine were able to interfere, and lead my thought process astray.
For instance, I have a notion that my friends and family should think well of me, and think of me as being successful. This is disguised behind the justification that if they see me as successful, they will think highly of Dafa.
So what I saw the old forces do, was to take this notion of mine, and exploit it. For instance, if at work I completed a task and needed to decide what to do next, instead of having the thought to check my To-Do list to see what the next task should be, the old forces would use a notion that I should take a break, that I am exhausted, that I should do some research on something related to showcasing a successful veneer to my friends and family, etc. This causes me to lose focus, lose time, dilutes my willpower, and ultimately causes me to be ineffective in my work. Before I knew it, half an hour would go by with no work having been accomplished. This kind of scenario, compounded, steals the equivalent of weeks and months from me.
I saw in my vision that the old forces use these errant thoughts to entice my notions or attachments, like a carrot in front of a donkey, making me mentally chase illusions rather than think from the perspective of a practitioner.
These types of errant thoughts were allowed to run unchecked because my mind was not filled with the Fa. Because my Fa study had slipped, I was not able to watch and measure my subtle thoughts with the standard of the Fa. At first the change was subtle, but after a while of lackluster Fa study, being led astray in my thoughts by the old forces had become a habit.
Improvement 3: Not Being Productive and Wanting to Quit
Along this same line, I realized that I was being led astray by another notion: that just by virtue of working for the Epoch Times (regardless of how productive I was) I was fulfilling my vow in saving sentient beings.
In order for me to join the English Epoch Times, I gave up my college studies and uprooted my life in order to move to New York City. There is a part of me that has felt that this fact alone is already having done a lot. And so there were many days wherein I would sit at my desk and suffer the pain of an invisible pressure and be unable to get much of anything done. I would think: “I have already sacrificed so much!” Looking at these subtle thoughts, I see now that they were the work of the old forces, manipulating my attachments to either waste time or quit.
Looking inside, I realized that coming to the media and giving up "worldly prospects" was just the beginning, literally just the prerequisite, just the bare minimum, in order to begin the hard work of actually saving people within the media. I realized that I had a notion that, just by dint of not having quit after several years, I was contributing to the project, even if I wasn’t actually working very hard or being productive. I realized that if I was continually paralyzed by the crushing pressure (unable to do anything), I had two options: either figure out the attachments and notions that were causing the state and correct it, or leave and go elsewhere to do something else, since I wasn’t saving people just by sitting at my desk.
I had a dream that helped me to enlighten to this problem. In the dream, Master was lecturing on the Fa, and I was in the audience. After Master finished lecturing, he asked whether anyone had any questions to ask him. He called on me and I asked him, “Should I continue doing sales?” Master said something, which I don’t remember, and I immediately realized that what I should have asked him instead was, “How can I do sales better?” However, by then I was already awake.
This dream made me realize that by always questioning whether I should be doing what I am doing, I was allowing the old forces to take advantage of my uncertainty — allowing them to exploit the parts of my mind that are looking for reasons and ways to quit. It was as if, like the monk who climbs into the cave with the help of a rope, I didn’t cut off the rope, and instead was just sitting there, looking at the rope longingly, wondering whether I should climb down, wondering what life would be like elsewhere, and wondering whether I should take the skills that I have learned at the media and go do something else.
Master said in Lecture 6 of Zhuan Falun: "Your altered path of life is not allowed to be seen by others. If it is seen by others or if you are told when you will have a tribulation, how can you practice cultivation? Therefore, it is not permitted to be seen at all. Nobody from other schools of practice is allowed to see it, either. Even fellow disciples from the same school of practice are not allowed to see it. No one will be able to tell it correctly, because a life like that has been changed and is one for cultivation practice.”
I was really shocked when I read this, and I realized that after I began my cultivation, Master has re-arranged my entire life. The ordinary human course that I was on no longer exists for me, and instead I am on a path arranged by Master, a path that is one for cultivation practice. Looking at “what could have been” is pointless, and is just the playing out of qing. It was only after I stopped constantly thinking about quitting, and instead set my mindset to one of fixing problems, overcoming challenges and believing that Master has arranged for me the best path did things begin to work out.
Improvement 4: Not Willing to Delegate, Still Wanting the Credit
Now that I’ve taken on this new role of managing the circulation department, many challenges and opportunities for xinxing improvement have come up. For instance, upon taking up this role, I realized that I never learned to delegate responsibilities properly. Instead, upon coming into the department, I was trying to do as much as I could myself, which naturally led to me becoming overwhelmed and not much of anything getting done.
I shared with a fellow practitioner, and he suggested that I was stuck because: I believed that the task would only be completed well if I did it myself (which was a manifestation of my show off mentality, vanity, ego, and thinking too highly of myself), and also because I still had the attachment of wanting to be recognized, and I had the subtle notion that led me to think that if I didn’t do the job myself, then I wouldn’t “get the credit.”
However, I realized that whether I get the credit isn’t important in the least — what’s important is that the work gets completed, that the department moves forward, and that we all cultivate in the process. And contrary to my belief when I first took on this position, my role is more of a facilitator, with my task being mainly to allow other people to work smoothly, allow other people to shine, and to coordinate the efforts of many individuals to harmonize in one direction.
Like I mentioned earlier, reflecting on this process, I feel like I was the mysterious pass, who after leaving the dantian, travels throughout the whole body, only to return to its original place; but it doesn’t return the same as before, having been enriched by the different environments that it has visited.
However, I believe that I have not taken full advantage of this process, with the biggest reason being that I have not remembered to treat all scenarios that I come across as cultivation opportunities. Instead, I got lost and mired in the false illusions of the situation at the surface, I got lost in the emotional entanglements that come from different team dynamics, the petty squabbles, the flirtatious looks, and I didn’t use the opportunity to cultivate myself to the fullest.
Basically, as I was going through all of these myriad changes, I forgot that everything that I experience is only transient, temporary and what is truly important is to focus on cultivation and improving my xinxing within the different environments.
Because I didn’t take full advantage of the cultivation opportunities, I clearly see the gaps between where I am, and where I should have been by now, both in terms of my professional abilities, as well as my cultivation diligence and state. For example, as soon as I came into my new department, I was tasked with upgrading our distribution from weekly to daily, which involved a lot of new logistical work. I was also tasked with dramatically increasing the number of subscriptions. As I look ahead, I see that in the coming years the amount of work will be daunting as the Epoch Times is expanding across the U.S. and the world.
There are many attachments that I have not given up. I still have a difficult time focusing my willpower, many of my professional skills are underdeveloped (which makes my job performance quite amateurish at times) and, worse yet, I still possess the bad mentality of wanting to validate myself rather than validate the Fa which causes the greatest inability to accomplish the goal of truly saving sentient beings on a large scale.
However, I feel that Master has arranged for the wind to be in our sails and that he is guiding every step in both my and the whole media’s development. As long as I don’t impede Master, there shouldn’t be anything that we can’t do. In so saying, I’d like to take this opportunity and vow to work wholeheartedly to remove all of my human attachments and ordinary human habits of thought that keep me separated from the Fa. I will cultivate away all unrighteous elements (which are not truly me) and melt completely into the Fa.
If you see any shortcomings in my sharing, please kindly point them out.
Thank you all.
(Presented at the 2018 Washington D.C. Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)